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MAR
26

RESEARCH
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New infographic illustrates that Texas afterschool programs work

By Nikki Yamashiro

Taking findings from recent evaluations on Texas Afterschool Centers on Education (Texas ACE), this new infographic illustrates the number of supports Texas ACE programs are providing to their students—including academic assistance and enrichment—and the academic gains their students are making. 

We’ve featured Texas ACE program results in our Evaluations Backgrounder and our report, Taking a Deeper Dive into Afterschool: Positive Outcomes and Promising Practices, but this infographic helps the research and data spring to life and hones in on the important information to know.  Findings highlighted include:

  • Texas ACE serves more than 175,000 students at close to 900 centers across the state.
  • Looking at a metropolitan district in Texas, 5th and 7th graders who attended the Texas ACE program for more than 120 days saw improvements in their math and reading scores.
  • Students who regularly participate in 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) show both academic and behavioral improvements.

Also included in the infographic are data points from a national evaluation of 21st CCLC programs and two large research studies on afterschool programs that demonstrate that 21st CCLC programs help their students succeed.

But don’t take my word for it:  I hope you take a look at the full infographic yourself, as well as check out our Evaluations Backgrounder, to read more about the wealth of research and data that show that afterschool programs are helping students learn, thrive and grow academically, socially and emotionally, in Texas and across the country.

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MAR
26

CHALLENGE
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Guest blog: CAUSE fuels teens' passion for research

By Rachel Clark

Kimberly Casiano, Chris Castillo, Dimitri Francis, and Crystele Maldonado live in Camden, NJ and are members of the CAUSE program at Camden's Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium. This letter about their experience at the 2015 Afterschool for All Challenge was originally published in the Courier-Post.

We recently had the chance to travel to Washington, D.C., for a national conference about afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs. Not only did we get to meet other youth from across the country, we also had the chance to visit Capitol Hill and meet with members of Congress to share the ways these programs help teach our generation about science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

As 10th- and 12th-graders who attend several different Camden City schools and participate in the Community and Urban Science Enrichment (CAUSE) program at the Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium, we know firsthand how valuable afterschool STEM experiences can be.

In our afterschool program, we’ve had the chance to participate in a multiyear youth development program that teaches science-based content that enhances public speaking and professional skills. We’ve worked on research vessels, done water-quality monitoring of our local watersheds, participated in a multitude of science activities in natural areas and traveled to beautiful places we never thought existed.

A major experience in the program is the five-week summer camp in which CAUSE teens, including us, research and write curriculum to teach to Camden youth from grades K to 8. We use informal teaching to educate communities in the city and surrounding area.

We love our afterschool program, and having the chance to use science to develop our personal and professional skills has been fun and has given us lots of confidence. A year ago, we never imagined that we could make a difference by teaching youth and families in our community about keeping our waterways clean. Many of these people listen and even make an effort to become stewards of their environment.

We also thought it was an amazing experience to speak to congressmen and senators to support afterschool programs. The CAUSE program has also increased our interest in the math and science we learn in school. And it’s completely changed our thinking about college and careers. One hundred percent of CAUSE program participants graduate from high school and attend college. We plan to keep up that great tradition.

We know that there will be many more jobs in STEM fields in coming years and not enough people trained to do those jobs. Coming from groups that are especially underrepresented in those fields (Hispanic/black/women), we know how important it is to work hard and stay involved. Because of what we’ve learned in our afterschool program, we hope to help turn that trend around.

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MAR
25

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  March 25, 2015

By Luci Manning

Linton 6th-Graders Work to Help Save Monarch Butterflies (Linton Herald-Times, Indiana)

Two Linton-Stockton Junior High School students are working to create a habitat for monarch butterflies in Indiana. Suzie Rock and Emma Brinson, both 12, formed the afterschool Miner Monarch Club in order to educate fellow students and the community about the dwindling population of monarch butterflies that spend their summers in Indiana. The girls received a $1,000 grant from the Greene County Community Foundation to run the program, which usually has 15 to 20 students at its Thursday meetings. The club recently ran butterfly-related activities and games for Lincoln-Stockton first-graders to educate them about the monarchs. They are also planning to plant butterfly gardens at their school and other locations. “They’re really good planners and doers,” sixth-grade science teacher and club sponsor Cara Graves told the Linton Herald-Times. “They are very passionate about it.”

Mountain Bay Gets a Day with a Packer (Wausau Daily Herald, Wisconsin)

The Mountain Bay Elementary School afterschool flag football club earned a visit from Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jared Abbrederis last week. The school is part of the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, which is sponsored by the National Football League and the National Dairy Association and aims to get students active at least 60 minutes a day. In addition to flag football, Mountain Bay also has a walking club and a healthy eating program. The students tracked their healthy initiatives throughout the year and earned a visit from Abbrederis, according to the Wausau Daily Herald. “Growing up, I remember my mom used to always send me and my two sisters outside – whether it was snowing out, or 20 below or 100 degrees,” Abbrederis told the students. “We had to go out, get our energy out and have fun. That’s important for you guys, too.”

Money Flows to Help Kids in Community (Tulare Advance-Register, California)

Thanks to $2.1 million in grant funding from the U.S. Dept. of Justice, the new Closing the Circle to Reduce Crime and Delinquency program will provide a variety of programs and services to youth to teach them leadership and keep them off the streets.  “We ask ourselves how we can connect students to law in a positive way,” Tulare County Office of Education extended learning director Adam Valencia told the Tulare Advance-Register. “It’s another way to make connections so students can feel like they’re part of something bigger.” By the end of the three year project organizers expect to add law enforcement officers throughout the county and afterschool programs in rural communities.

Hoosiers Give Assist to After-School Program (Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska)

Before their NCAA tournament game last week, the Indiana Hoosiers basketball team visited the Abide Network afterschool program in Omaha to chat with the students about their dreams and goals. About 20 children from kindergarten through sixth grade attend the afterschool program, where they have a meal and study with volunteer tutors. This time, they paired up with the basketball players to talk about what they want to do with their lives. Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said he hoped his players would encourage and inspire the children, who come from some of Omaha’s most dangerous neighborhoods. “These kids are not forgotten,” Crean told the World-Herald. “These kids have a future.” 

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MAR
25

NEWS ROUNDUP
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National After-School Summit Media Roundup

By Rachel Clark

Schwarzenegger and Paige: Why Congress should keep funding afterschool programs (The Washington Post, Washington, District of Columbia)

There are more than 60,000 children who go to sleep every night in a juvenile detention center, and 2.6 million of our high school students will drop out before they ever graduate high school. We can do better. We both believe that education is a basic civil right for all, and that education does not end when the bell rings at the close of a school day. As the former governor of California and U.S. secretary for education, we fought to support federal funding for afterschool programs to support the lifelong learning of our children. We stood together at a summit in 2003 to fight for these programs, and now we have come together again. Today, as Congress debates the elimination of $1 billion in critical funding for afterschool programs that could affect 1.6 million students, we are both deeply concerned and prepared to fight for these programs which help some of our most at-risk students.

Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is calling on Congress to preserve federal funding for after-school programs (KABC-LA, Los Angeles, California)

Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is calling on Congress to preserve federal funding for after-school programs. Schwarzenegger took part in a national summit on public school funding. The conference was held at USC and included education, business, and law enforcement leaders from around the country. A congressional committee is considering a plan to eliminate federally funded after-school programs and transfer the money to individual states. Critics of federal cuts say low income areas would be the hardest hit.

Why should cities invest in after-school programs? Five mayors explain (Youth Today)

After-school programs are helping reduce gang activity, crime and child obesity, five mayors of U.S. cities said Tuesday at the National After-School Summit, a one-day conference in Los Angeles. Fort Worth, Texas, had a gang issue, said its mayor, Betsy Price. In response, the city put money toward after-school and late-night basketball programs and crime went down, she said. Mayor Jeffrey Lunde, of Brooklyn Park, Minn., said youth crime went down 41 percent after his city created after-school programs. “We’re not a big city,” he said. “We don’t have money to gamble.” But funding after-school programs provided a return, he said. Mayors Karl Dean of Nashville, Tenn., and Cherie Wood of South Salt Lake, Utah, agreed that investment in after-school programs had an impact on crime. Wood cited a 64 percent drop in youth crime in South Salt Lake.

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MAR
25

IN THE FIELD
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"Don't Terminate Afterschool Programs"

By Ursula Helminski

So said former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the National After-Summit Summit, which sent a rallying cry across the nation to invest in the afterschool programs that are keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn and helping working families. Mayors, entrepreneurs, education experts, technology leaders and more spoke to the value of afterschool programs for children, families, communities and our nation. Even the audience—whether in the room or viewing online—took part in amplifying the call for more afterschool resources.  Using the Summit’s tweet4afterschool.com feature, more than 1,000 tweets were generated during the gathering, calling out key stats on afterschool outcomes to Members of Congress. 

Summit organizers have made plans to keep the momentum going. Tweet4afterschool.com will feature a new post weekly for advocates to click and send in one stroke. And a short video unveiled at the event is available for all in the afterschool field to download and use to help build support. 

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MAR
24

STEM
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White House Science Fair features afterschool

By Sophie Papavizas

Yesterday, March 23, the White House hosted the 5th annual White House Science Fair, featuring 35 projects presented by students underrepresented in STEM fields and the release of private-sector commitments to support President Obama’s Educate to Innovate campaign.  Amongst the students presenting were students participating in the FIRST Robotics program, including the “Supergirls” Junior FIRST Lego League Team from Daisy Girl Scouts troop 411 in Tulsa, OK, who came up with the idea for a battery-powered page turner to help people with disabilities that have trouble turning a page.  One young computer scientist, Anvita Gupta, used machine learning to teach a computer to identify potential new drugs for cancer, tuberculosis and Ebola.  She also founded an afterschool computer science club for middle school girls.  For more information about all the students participating, check out the Science Fair’s website.

In a press release, the White House also announced commitments totaling $240 million from corporations, universities and foundations to the Educate to Innovate campaign to support STEM learning.  This brings the total campaign commitments to $1 billion over the last five years.  Here are some of the commitments focused on supporting informal STEM learning opportunities:

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MAR
23

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: It's time to invest in afterschool, not cut

By Rachel Clark

A Message & Invitation from Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

I have been an advocate for afterschool programs for over 25 years and I am thrilled to welcome leaders from education, afterschool, government, business, and nonprofit organizations who share my passion for protecting America’s greatest resource—our kids—to a National After-School Summit.  Tomorrow, afterschool representatives from 47 states will meet at the USC Schwarzenegger Institute in Los Angeles to reiterate their commitment to afterschool programs and to remind Congress that these programs are not just another line in the budget.  We know firsthand that afterschool programs help kids succeed in school and in life. 

Over the past decade, demand for afterschool programs has continued to climb.  19.4 million children would sign up for an afterschool program—if one were available.  In fact, for every child in a program, another two are waiting to get in.  

It’s no wonder demand is high. Afterschool programs are helping address some of the most critical issues we face, like preventing juvenile crime, preparing kids for college and the workforce, and reducing alarming high school dropout rates.  83 percent of parents with a child in an afterschool program say programs help reduce the likelihood that kids will commit crimes, use drugs, or become a teen parent.  Youth who participate in afterschool programs are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college.  These outcomes produce a strong return on investment: every $1 invested in afterschool programs saves taxpayers $9.

With a proven track record of impact and cost-effectiveness, afterschool programs are a no-brainer.  Yet the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, which provides afterschool programs to 1.6 million kids across the country, is threatened with extinction.  Our nation, and our youth, cannot afford to lose afterschool programs.  In fact, cities, states, the federal government, and the private sector should be pitching in with greater investments.  

I hope you’ll join me and innovative industry leaders and mayors from across the United States for this important conversation.  Tune in to the live webcast of the National After-School Summit and let Washington know that you support the protection and expansion of afterschool programing. 

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MAR
23

POLICY
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21st Century Community Learning Centers: Effective support for local afterschool programs

By Jodi Grant

For more than 15 years, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative has provided resources for local afterschool programs, which in turn support student success, keep children safe and are a lifeline for working parents.  Not surprisingly, parents report that they are pleased with their children’s afterschool programs: close to 9 in 10 parents with a child in an afterschool program say they are satisfied with the program overall.  Further, an overwhelming body of research shows that afterschool programs help increase school day attendance, improve grades, narrow the achievement gap and contribute to social and emotional well-being.  In particular, afterschool programs supported by the 21st CCLC initiative are helping raise student achievement, as shown by more and more studies published each year.  

I was surprised, therefore, to read that one researcher from a prominent think tank is harkening back to a controversial 21st CCLC study he led, released more than a decade ago to a critical response, as a reason to question federal support for the initiative.  He also points to a meta-analysis of existing research on afterschool programs released earlier this month, even though the authors state that their results “…cannot be generalized to draw conclusions about the effect of after-school programs beyond the outcomes examined in this study.”  Many of the outcomes examined in the meta-analysis were not even stated goals of the programs reviewed. 

It is a proven fact that afterschool programs work incredibly well.  New research from Dr. Deborah Vandell, previewed at the Society for Research in Child Development last week, shows that afterschool programs are on par with early childhood programs in supporting reading comprehension and math achievement.  And a number of recent state-level evaluations of 21st CCLC make a convincing case that this federal initiative is succeeding in positively impacting students and families:  

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