A new grant competition will award $150,000 to libraries, museums, and other nonprofits to provide hands-on learning opportunities this summer for youth across the country to help make the online experience more civil, safe and empowering. The Project:Connect Summer Youth Programming Competition is administered by the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC), with support from the MacArthur Foundation through a grant to the University of California, Irvine, and in partnership with the Born This Way Foundation. Grants will support a series of local hands-on events July through September where young people collaborate and compete through activities such as hackathons, maker spaces, digital journalism and communications labs, and mentoring workshops. Programs must be based on the understanding that learning happens anywhere, anytime and should be equitable, social, participatory, and reflect kids’ interests. Applications are due June 10. More information can be found on the Digital Media and Learning Competition website.
It seems these days that if you’re keeping up with what’s happening in education, you can’t help but hear about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Last week, our vice president for policy and research, Jen Rinehart, wrote a stellar blog that not only walks you through what the Common Core State Standards are, but explains why they were developed, what they mean for education policy and the valuable role the afterschool field can play to support learning under the Common Core.
To keep up the Afterschool Alliance’s drumbeat of providing the afterschool field with helpful information connecting afterschool and the Common Core, I tuned in to “Leveraging Expanded Learning Opportunities to Support Common Core Implementation,” a webinar hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and America’s Promise Alliance. The webinar featured Jenell Holsted, Ph.D. of University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, who discussed a recent brief, “Making the Connection: Next Generation Learning and Expanded Learning Opportunities,” and Sarah Cruz, director of expanded learning opportunities at the Statewide Network for New Jersey’s Afterschool Communities (NJSACC), who shared information about New Jersey’s statewide pilot training program that helps providers align their programming with the Common Core State Standards.
As you've probably heard by now, we've partnered with the Noyce Foundation to offer the Afterschool STEM Impact Awards. We are inviting applications for two $10,000 awards to recognize afterschool STEM programs that are showing great youth outcomes. We have started to receive applications and I hope that we get a lot more! It's a terrific opportunity to showcase your great program, help us highlight why afterschool must be an integral partner in STEM education, AND win $10,000 for your program.
Eligible programs must have been running for two years and working with students in grades 4 through 8. We invite applications in two categories:
- Afterschool programs that are a strong partnership between an afterschool provider and a STEM-rich institution(s), which include science centers or museums, nature centers, universities, government labs, STEM-related businesses, or other similar institutions. Programs may focus on any STEM topic.
- Afterschool programs that have a strong computing and/or engineering component.
We recently held a webinar to answer questions and go over the review criteria we will utilize for the STEM Impact Awards. You may also be interested in taking a look at the slides from our prior webinar on “Defining youth outcomes for afterschool STEM programs” available on the same "Archived Webinars" page.
Additional details are available on the award website, along with a link to the online application. Applications are due by May 15, so don’t delay! We encourage all applicants to review the questions and generate their responses prior to beginning the online application. Once you begin filling out the online application, you must finish. Answers cannot be saved or returned to at a later date.
We look forward to receiving your applications and learning more about the terrific programs engaging our young people in innovative STEM learning experiences all across the country.
Join us on Thurs., May 9 at 2 p.m. EDT as we discuss the role that afterschool programs can play in addressing youth violence.
According to a nationally-representative survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 3 high school youth reported being in a physical fight within a 12 month period, and 1 in 6 high school youth reported carrying a weapon on one or more days within a 30 day period. These alarming statistics underscore the need for quality afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. Providing an outlet for positive self-expression, access to caring adult mentors, and a community of supportive peers has been proven to be a winning formula for curbing aggressive behavior and empowering youth to be agents of change in their communities.
This webinar will highlight specific violence prevention strategies and federal funding streams for afterschool programs engaging in this work. Carleen Wray, executive director of the National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), will discuss how to empower youth to make their schools and communities safer through crime prevention tactics, conflict management and service projects. Ben Forman, executive director of Teens Run DC, will also discuss how the combination of mentoring and a distance running program encourages positive youth behaviors by helping them work toward personal goals.
With the sequester now in effect, 3,400 AmeriCorps positions are expected to be cut. A recent story in the Baltimore Sun illustrates the concern that many afterschool providers have about the implications these cuts might have for their programs. At the Mother Seton Academy, a school for low-income children in Baltimore, AmeriCorps members serve in a number of vital roles, including helping out the afterschool program. As the school faces budget constraints and teachers are overworked, AmeriCorps members expand the capacity for schools and nonprofits to serve.
During a time of budget cuts, AmeriCorps members make all the difference in overcrowded classrooms, afterschool programs that keep kids safe or in tutoring programs that lower dropout rates. A recent blog post on Service Nation argues that the small living stipend offered to AmeriCorps members costs the country far less than the price of a teenager who drops out of school. With the wide range of services that AmeriCorps members offer, cuts to the program will undoubtedly have a large impact.
AmeriCorps currently engages more than 75,000 men and women at more than 15,000 locations including nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community- and faith-based groups across the country. During their year of service, AmeriCorps members help communities with a wide range of issues including disaster services, economic opportunity, education and healthy futures.
By Jen Rinehart
While volunteering in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom recently, I noticed a stack of kindergarten math workbooks that proudly advertised, “Aligned with the Common Core State Standards.” It was a clear sign that the Common Core standards have arrived in classrooms across the country and a reminder to me that the Afterschool Alliance can help afterschool providers better understand Common Core and what roles afterschool stakeholders can play in supporting learning under the Common Core.
So what are the Common Core State Standards? They are a set of standards in reading/language arts and math that resulted from several years of collective thinking by teachers, researchers and leading experts in the education field about what students should know and be able to do in mathematics and English language arts. Prior to the Common Core, most states had their own individual sets of standards.
Why do the Common Core State Standards exist? Proponents of Common Core argue that with the adoption of the standards, students who move from state to state, and especially students in military families who might make multiple moves in a K-12 career, will have a smoother transition because the schools in each state will be working from the same set of high expectations about what kids in each grade should be able to do. They also point out that states can share instructional resources like textbooks and even assessments, which are currently under development and expected to be rolled out during the 2013-2014 school year. As you might imagine, there are alsoeducation leaders who question the value of Common Core, particularly since the Common Core were not pilot tested prior to roll out to nearly all states, and who view Common Core and the related assessments as costly (both for the country and our children’s futures) experiments in learning.