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Federal support for STEM and making in afterschool

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Federal support for STEM and making in afterschool

Picture a center filled with computers, paired with a wood and metal shop, combined with a sewing studio, mixed with an arts and crafts room, filled with people of all ages building and making things to solve problems – this is the foundation of a maker space. Maker spaces were born out of the “maker movement” and the pull toward a more DIY culture. The movement gained steam around 2005 with the publication of Make: Magazine (a guide to DIY projects and activities) and the start of Maker Fair exhibitions. Since then, creative people from all over the world have been developing spaces where community members can flock to learn about technology and gain the tools they need to create. 

While a key component of some maker spaces is an all-ages approach to learning, many maker spaces have offered youth-centered programming based on many of the best practices of hands-on and engaging science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities. Pioneers in this space have been organizations like the Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF), located in Baltimore City, which provides programming to nearly 1,600 youth per year. The program helps students learn web development, digital fabrication, 3D printing, and more, while offering their youth opportunities to earn college credit and develop valuable skills for the future workforce. However, not all maker activities require computers and 3D printers. Aside from the more expensive technology resources exists making with cardboard, paper, and simple circuits.

From the afterschool field we hear that there are two primary barriers in providing quality STEM programming that resonate with the possible barriers in providing maker programming: 1) Access to technology; and 2) Staff confidence and ability in teaching STEM content. Understanding the lack of technological capacity of many afterschool programs across the country, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) along with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) launched a pilot initiative completed in 2015 to develop and implement STEM-rich making activities for 21st Century Community Learning Center programs. The activities that were developed provide students with hands-on projects to create basic circuitry skills using LEDs, batteries, motors, and more and are available online to educators at no cost. Developed as six lessons implemented in 60-90 minutes each, the programming acts as an introduction to the engineering and design process and what it means to be a maker.

Building off of that initiative and as part of a larger push from federal agencies to engage youth in STEM learning opportunities in 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC), IMLS and the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) are now collaborating with eight children’s museums and science centers across the country to provide professional development surrounding making. Using a train-the-trainer method, the participating eight science centers will receive training from NYSCI staff then go back to their communities to provide the same professional development to 40 21st CCLC sites, reaching up to 1,200 youth participants. This along with the other interagency agreements from NASA, NOAA, and NPS to provide STEM learning in 21st CCLC programs will span over three years and total a $10.7 million investment in expanding STEM opportunities for youth across the country.

Explore the IMLS STEM-Rich Afterschool Making Project here.

Afterschool programs and a trauma-informed approach

“A trauma-informed, culturally responsive lens must be a part of everything we do.” This statement by Laura Norton-Cruz, Director of the Alaska Resilience Initiative, sums up the key message of last week’s Senate Afterschool Caucus briefing for Congressional staff which focused on...

BY: Chandler Hall      09/23/19

Appropriations update: Senate freezes FY20 education funding

By a vote of 301-123, on Sept. 19 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4378, the continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the government through Nov. 21. In total, 225 House Democrats and 76 House Republicans voted for the CR; three House Democrats, 119 House Republicans, and one Independent...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/20/19

FY2020 afterschool appropriations update: Spending deal reached

Last week the White House, Senate leadership, and House leadership announced that they had come to an agreement to increase spending caps for FY2020 and FY2021. The deal, which passed the House last Thursday and is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the president this week, would...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/29/19

Supporting student success afterschool and during the summer with 21st CCLC

On April 30, the Senate Afterschool Caucus, along with the Afterschool Alliance convened a briefing for Congressional staff highlighting recent research and program level experiences concerning the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative. Education staffers from the House and...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/02/19

Hearings and letters: Support broadens on Capitol Hill for 21st Century Community Learning Centers

For friends of afterschool, the last week of March has been a busy one in Washington, D.C., with both the House and the Senate holding education appropriations hearings and letters of support for 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool and summer learning programs submitted to...

BY: Erik Peterson      03/29/19

Trump administration proposes eliminating afterschool

Today the Trump administration released its fiscal year 2020 full budget proposal. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2019 (FY20) and, for the third year in a row, proposes to eliminate...

BY: Erik Peterson      03/11/19

The 116th Congress is here: What afterschool advocates need to know (Part II)

As January winds down and the partial government shutdown on hold at least until February 15, it is a good time to look at the new 116th Congress: what are the priorities; what might get accomplished, and what are the challenges and opportunities ahead from the afterschool advocate’s...

BY: Erik Peterson      02/04/19

The 116th Congress is here: What afterschool advocates need to know (Part I)

As January winds down and the partial government shutdown on hold at least until February 15, it is a good time to look at the new 116th Congress: what are the priorities, what might get accomplished, and what are the challenges and opportunities ahead from the afterschool advocate’s...

BY: Erik Peterson      02/01/19

Afterschool in the shutdown

The partial government shutdown that began on December 22, 2018, is now the longest in U.S. history. The primary federal funding streams that boost local afterschool programs have largely been spared because FY2019 funding for the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Defense and...

BY: Erik Peterson      01/22/19

Closing out the 115th session of Congress: Lame ducks and new beginnings

Congress is working furiously to conclude the 115th session while laying the ground work for the 116th session set to begin on Jan. 3, 2019. Top priority for this “lame duck” session is finishing work on the FY2019 spending bills as seven remain in a holding pattern as part of a...

BY: Erik Peterson      12/13/18

Bipartisan Youth Workforce Readiness Act announced

In late September, plans to introduce the bipartisan, bicameral Youth Workforce Readiness Act were announced in the House and Senate by Sen. Smith (D-Minn.) and Rep .Josh Harder (D-Calif.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.). The legislation would provide funding for hands-on skills education at...

BY: Erik Peterson      10/03/19

Appropriations update: Senate freezes FY20 education funding

By a vote of 301-123, on Sept. 19 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4378, the continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the government through Nov. 21. In total, 225 House Democrats and 76 House Republicans voted for the CR; three House Democrats, 119 House Republicans, and one Independent...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/20/19

Putting afterschool to work: Career exploration in out-of-school settings

By Jillian Luchner, Christopher Neitzey, and Austin Estes from Advance CTE. This is a cross-post of the first blog post in a series on the intersection of CTE and afterschool programs, exploring strategies and opportunities to bridge learning both in and out of the classroom. The original...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/25/19

Congress set to reauthorize afterschool and summer meal programs

Update, July 24, 2019: Reach out to Congress and urge their support of the Summer Meals Act via Rally Congress. As afterschool program educators and advocates, we know that a hungry child struggles to learn. According to data from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), more than 13...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/20/19

House appropriators propose substantial increase to 21st CCLC afterschool funding

Update: On May 8, the full House Appropriations Committee voted to approve the FY2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS) and Related Agencies Appropriations Act by a party line vote of 30 to 23, sending the bill on to the House floor. The approved bill included several changes...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/01/19

The 116th Congress is here: What afterschool advocates need to know (Part II)

As January winds down and the partial government shutdown on hold at least until February 15, it is a good time to look at the new 116th Congress: what are the priorities; what might get accomplished, and what are the challenges and opportunities ahead from the afterschool advocate’s...

BY: Erik Peterson      02/04/19

Public charge: What is it and what does it mean for afterschool?

One in four children in America lives in a household with at least one immigrant parent. Recently-proposed changes to the process of gaining citizenship could have major repercussions for communities and programs engaging with these families. Most importantly, these proposed changes could directly...

BY: Erik Peterson      10/30/18

Afterschool goes to college

After celebrating an updated law in Career and Technical Education (CTE) in July, it’s natural to ask “What’s next?” in the education landscape for Congress. One thing on the agenda is the Higher Education Act, or HEA, which governs federal investments in making quality...

BY: Jillian Luchner      10/09/18

Thank you, friends of afterschool!

In February of this year, parents, students, educators, and afterschool providers were faced with the prospect of the complete elimination of federal support for local afterschool and summer learning programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative—the second such...

BY: Erik Peterson      10/02/18

Opioid epidemic response legislation heads to House, Senate for final votes

Update Oct. 9: Both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly passed the final compromise opioid legislation (HR 6) in late September and early October – sending the bill to the president’s desk for signature this month. This summer both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly passed...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/28/18

Appropriations update: Senate freezes FY20 education funding

By a vote of 301-123, on Sept. 19 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4378, the continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the government through Nov. 21. In total, 225 House Democrats and 76 House Republicans voted for the CR; three House Democrats, 119 House Republicans, and one Independent...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/20/19

The time is now: Share your afterschool success story with senators

When Congress returns in September, the first thing on their agenda will be passing fiscal year 2020 spending bills. The House of Representatives passed all twelve of their spending bills earlier this year. The Senate waited on a budget deal, now signed into law, and will likely start with the...

BY: Erik Peterson      08/27/19

FY2020 afterschool appropriations update: Spending deal reached

Last week the White House, Senate leadership, and House leadership announced that they had come to an agreement to increase spending caps for FY2020 and FY2021. The deal, which passed the House last Thursday and is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the president this week, would...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/29/19

Supporting student success afterschool and during the summer with 21st CCLC

On April 30, the Senate Afterschool Caucus, along with the Afterschool Alliance convened a briefing for Congressional staff highlighting recent research and program level experiences concerning the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative. Education staffers from the House and...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/02/19

Hearings and letters: Support broadens on Capitol Hill for 21st Century Community Learning Centers

For friends of afterschool, the last week of March has been a busy one in Washington, D.C., with both the House and the Senate holding education appropriations hearings and letters of support for 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool and summer learning programs submitted to...

BY: Erik Peterson      03/29/19

Trump administration proposes eliminating afterschool

Today the Trump administration released its fiscal year 2020 full budget proposal. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2019 (FY20) and, for the third year in a row, proposes to eliminate...

BY: Erik Peterson      03/11/19

Midterm election 2018: First look at what the results mean for afterschool

With the dust still settling from the 2018 midterm elections, and several House and Senate races remain too close to call, there are a few conclusions to be made amidst the remaining uncertainty. At the beginning of Tuesday, all 435 House seats were up for grabs along with 35 of the 100 Senate...

BY: Erik Peterson      11/07/18

Thank you, friends of afterschool!

In February of this year, parents, students, educators, and afterschool providers were faced with the prospect of the complete elimination of federal support for local afterschool and summer learning programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative—the second such...

BY: Erik Peterson      10/02/18

Final education spending bill increases afterschool funding

UPDATE: Sept. 28: Today the president signed the FY2019 Defense-LHHS-CR spending bill into law. See our statement here for more information. UPDATE: Sept. 19: Yesterday by a vote of 93-7 the Senate approved the conference report for HR 6157, the FY 19 minibus carrying the Defense and...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/14/18

The countdown to the end of the fiscal year is on

The current federal fiscal year (FY2018) ends on September 30, leaving just more than two weeks for Congress to pass spending bills for FY2019. In advance of that deadline, friends of afterschool programs have already sent or made more than 35,400 emails and calls to Congress making the case for...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/12/18

The time is now: Share your afterschool success story with senators

When Congress returns in September, the first thing on their agenda will be passing fiscal year 2020 spending bills. The House of Representatives passed all twelve of their spending bills earlier this year. The Senate waited on a budget deal, now signed into law, and will likely start with the...

BY: Erik Peterson      08/27/19

FY2020 afterschool appropriations update: Spending deal reached

Last week the White House, Senate leadership, and House leadership announced that they had come to an agreement to increase spending caps for FY2020 and FY2021. The deal, which passed the House last Thursday and is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the president this week, would...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/29/19

Hearings and letters: Support broadens on Capitol Hill for 21st Century Community Learning Centers

For friends of afterschool, the last week of March has been a busy one in Washington, D.C., with both the House and the Senate holding education appropriations hearings and letters of support for 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool and summer learning programs submitted to...

BY: Erik Peterson      03/29/19

Trump administration proposes eliminating afterschool

Today the Trump administration released its fiscal year 2020 full budget proposal. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2019 (FY20) and, for the third year in a row, proposes to eliminate...

BY: Erik Peterson      03/11/19

Thank you, friends of afterschool!

In February of this year, parents, students, educators, and afterschool providers were faced with the prospect of the complete elimination of federal support for local afterschool and summer learning programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative—the second such...

BY: Erik Peterson      10/02/18

Final education spending bill increases afterschool funding

UPDATE: Sept. 28: Today the president signed the FY2019 Defense-LHHS-CR spending bill into law. See our statement here for more information. UPDATE: Sept. 19: Yesterday by a vote of 93-7 the Senate approved the conference report for HR 6157, the FY 19 minibus carrying the Defense and...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/14/18

The countdown to the end of the fiscal year is on

The current federal fiscal year (FY2018) ends on September 30, leaving just more than two weeks for Congress to pass spending bills for FY2019. In advance of that deadline, friends of afterschool programs have already sent or made more than 35,400 emails and calls to Congress making the case for...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/12/18

Federal afterschool funding update, August 24

On Thursday, August 23, the full Senate passed a combined spending bill package, including the FY2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS) spending bill and the FY2019 Defense spending bill. The LHHS bill was very similar to the one passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee...

BY: Erik Peterson      08/24/18

House appropriators maintain federal afterschool funding levels

The House Appropriations Committee marked up the FY2019 education and health funding bill on Wednesday, July 11, after a 13-hour session. The FY2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS) Appropriations Act sets funding levels for all federal education, human services, and health and...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/13/18

Federal afterschool funding update, June 27

June 29, 2018: Yesterday the full Senate Appropriations Committee passed their FY2019 education spending bill, sending it on to the Senate floor with full funding for 21st CCLC afterschool programs. See Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant’s statement here:...

BY: Erik Peterson      06/27/18

Thank you, friends of afterschool!

In February of this year, parents, students, educators, and afterschool providers were faced with the prospect of the complete elimination of federal support for local afterschool and summer learning programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative—the second such...

BY: Erik Peterson      10/02/18

Final education spending bill increases afterschool funding

UPDATE: Sept. 28: Today the president signed the FY2019 Defense-LHHS-CR spending bill into law. See our statement here for more information. UPDATE: Sept. 19: Yesterday by a vote of 93-7 the Senate approved the conference report for HR 6157, the FY 19 minibus carrying the Defense and...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/14/18

The countdown to the end of the fiscal year is on

The current federal fiscal year (FY2018) ends on September 30, leaving just more than two weeks for Congress to pass spending bills for FY2019. In advance of that deadline, friends of afterschool programs have already sent or made more than 35,400 emails and calls to Congress making the case for...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/12/18

House appropriators maintain federal afterschool funding levels

The House Appropriations Committee marked up the FY2019 education and health funding bill on Wednesday, July 11, after a 13-hour session. The FY2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS) Appropriations Act sets funding levels for all federal education, human services, and health and...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/13/18

Federal afterschool funding update, June 27

June 29, 2018: Yesterday the full Senate Appropriations Committee passed their FY2019 education spending bill, sending it on to the Senate floor with full funding for 21st CCLC afterschool programs. See Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant’s statement here:...

BY: Erik Peterson      06/27/18

June appropriations update: Current outlook for federal afterschool funding

 As we enter June, House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees and full Committees are in the midst of an aggressive FY 2019 schedule with the goal of passing all 12 spending bills by September 30, 2018, the end of the current federal fiscal year. The Labor, Health and Human Services,...

BY: Erik Peterson      06/04/18

Afterschool awesomeness prevails

When times feel uncertain, and our work seems never-ending, positive moments are all the more important. This can be especially true in advocacy, when a victory can be undone in a matter of minutes, and steps forward are often followed by leaps backwards. Endurance, hope, and determination...

BY: Jodi Grant      03/23/18

Afterschool funding preserved in proposed FY2018 spending bill, still under attack for 2019

  Update 2, March 23, 8 a.m.: After The House approved the $1.3 trillion FY2018 omnibus spending package on Thursday in a 256-167 vote, the Senate passed it just after midnight Friday in a 65-32 vote that averted a government shutdown. The bill now goes to President Trump for his...

BY: Erik Peterson      03/22/18

100+ members of Congress call for increase in afterschool funding

This week Reps. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) sent a bipartisan Dear Colleague letter signed by 111 members of Congress to House Appropriations Committee leaders Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) sending a clear message “…to support funding for...

BY: Erik Peterson      03/20/18

Administration slashes federal afterschool funding

Today the Trump administration released their fiscal year 2019 full budget proposal just days after Congress approved topline spending levels for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the...

BY: Erik Peterson      02/12/18

Afterschool and the 2020 presidential candidates

With the 2020 presidential election 16 months away, more than 25 politicians and business leaders have declared themselves candidates. The first round of debates for Democratic candidates has already happened, most candidates are in full time campaign mode, and the first primaries and caucuses are...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/26/19

House appropriators propose substantial increase to 21st CCLC afterschool funding

Update: On May 8, the full House Appropriations Committee voted to approve the FY2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS) and Related Agencies Appropriations Act by a party line vote of 30 to 23, sending the bill on to the House floor. The approved bill included several changes...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/01/19

Trump administration proposes eliminating afterschool

Today the Trump administration released its fiscal year 2020 full budget proposal. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2019 (FY20) and, for the third year in a row, proposes to eliminate...

BY: Erik Peterson      03/11/19

Afterschool in the shutdown

The partial government shutdown that began on December 22, 2018, is now the longest in U.S. history. The primary federal funding streams that boost local afterschool programs have largely been spared because FY2019 funding for the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Defense and...

BY: Erik Peterson      01/22/19

Career and Technical Education (CTE) bill passes into law with new opportunities for out-of-school time

On July 31, the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act” passed into law, reauthorizing the major federal legislation, colloquially known as “Perkins CTE,” which supports students’ educational pathways toward high-skill, high-wage, and...

BY: Jillian Luchner      08/02/18

How afterschool can fit with BE BEST

Recently the first lady, Melania Trump, launched a child-focused initiative titled BE BEST. The official BE BEST website states that ‘the mission of BE BEST is to focus on some of the major issues facing children today, with the goal of encouraging children to BE BEST in their individual...

BY: Tiereny Lloyd      05/17/18

Strategies to fight cuts highlighted in afterschool policy webinar

On Wednesday, the Afterschool Alliance hosted the webinar "Déjà Vu: The President's Budget Eliminates Afterschool Funding. What Happens Now?" providing the field with a blueprint of the challenges facing afterschool funding and what can be done to fight elimination of...

BY: Faith Savaiano      04/12/18

Afterschool awesomeness prevails

When times feel uncertain, and our work seems never-ending, positive moments are all the more important. This can be especially true in advocacy, when a victory can be undone in a matter of minutes, and steps forward are often followed by leaps backwards. Endurance, hope, and determination...

BY: Jodi Grant      03/23/18

Health & wellness efforts face deep cuts in FY19 budget proposal

Afterschool and summer learning programs provide comprehensive programming to help improve the health, safety, and overall wellbeing of students. However, the recent release of President Trump’s proposed FY 2019 budget threatens to negatively impact children’s health and safety in...

BY: Tiereny Lloyd      03/06/18

Bipartisan, bicameral Summer Meals Act would improve access to nutritious meals when school is out

Update, July 24, 2019: Reach out to Congress and urge their support of the Summer Meals Act via Rally Congress. Summer 2019 is here and members of Congress marked the occasion by introducing legislation that would greatly improve access to healthy meals during the summer months by making it...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/08/19

Congress set to reauthorize afterschool and summer meal programs

Update, July 24, 2019: Reach out to Congress and urge their support of the Summer Meals Act via Rally Congress. As afterschool program educators and advocates, we know that a hungry child struggles to learn. According to data from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), more than 13...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/20/19

Opioid epidemic response legislation heads to House, Senate for final votes

Update Oct. 9: Both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly passed the final compromise opioid legislation (HR 6) in late September and early October – sending the bill to the president’s desk for signature this month. This summer both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly passed...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/28/18

Making the case for afterschool as a protective factor against substance use, opioid addiction

In communities nationwide struggling with opioid and other substance use, afterschool and summer learning programs are playing a critical role by increasing resilience among young people, supporting positive youth development, and preventing future substance use among children and youth. On May 22,...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/24/18

This is Afterschool: Promoting Healthy Futures

Across America, 1 in 5 kids are alone and unsupervised from 3 to 6 p.m.1  These are the hours when juvenile crime, victimization, and drug use peak—and many parents are still at work.2 Studies show just how risky the hours after school can be: Youth who are not involved in...

BY: Jen Rinehart      05/18/18

How afterschool can fit with BE BEST

Recently the first lady, Melania Trump, launched a child-focused initiative titled BE BEST. The official BE BEST website states that ‘the mission of BE BEST is to focus on some of the major issues facing children today, with the goal of encouraging children to BE BEST in their individual...

BY: Tiereny Lloyd      05/17/18

OST offers opportunity for positive changes for children’s health

By Patricia Patrick and Sarah Sliwa of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Whether working to curb infectious disease, support emergency preparedness, or promote healthier lifestyle behaviors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public health approach involves...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/14/18

Health & wellness efforts face deep cuts in FY19 budget proposal

Afterschool and summer learning programs provide comprehensive programming to help improve the health, safety, and overall wellbeing of students. However, the recent release of President Trump’s proposed FY 2019 budget threatens to negatively impact children’s health and safety in...

BY: Tiereny Lloyd      03/06/18