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JAN
8
2018

IN THE FIELD
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How to make afterschool health and wellness resolutions a reality

By Tiereny Lloyd

At the beginning of each year, most of us set personal goals that we would like to accomplish. Although the list of New Year’s resolutions vary from person to person, eating better and exercising more are two of the most popular resolutions we make. As we start the year, let’s not only resolve to make healthier choices for ourselves but to also commit to creating heathier learning environments for our children. 

Since out-of-school-time programs provide a host of supports for students, finding an effective, easy-to-implement healthy eating and physical activity strategy can be somewhat challenging. To that end, here are a few tips to help you improve the health and wellness of students in your programs.

Set clear, individualized, and achievable goals

Start with the end in mind by identifying clear, achievable goals that are specific to your program. When developing goals, keep in mind that they should be measurable, budget-aware, and suited to your staff capacity. A good resource to establish appropriate physical activity and nutrition program goals are the National AfterSchool Association’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards. Remember, you don’t have to achieve every standard at once or in one year. Take your time and go at a pace that makes sense for your program.

JAN
5
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Conquering the high school transition with Road Map to Graduation

By Guest Blogger

By Roger Figueroa, program coordinator at Latin American Youth Center - Maryland Multicultural Youth Center. 

The transition for rising ninth graders is one filled with twists, turns, pitfalls, and barriers: the new and often larger environment, changes in academic responsibility, increased number of peer influences, and a new social structure can all be overwhelming. The LAYC-Maryland Multicultural Youth Center Road Map to Graduation program aims to create a supportive pathway for students.

The program seeks to provide wrap-around services to support students during their transition through Road Map workshops, an intensive five-week summer bridge program, after-school academic assistance, individual development plans, case management, and parent engagement.

JAN
4
2018

IN THE FIELD
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"Afterschool is so important to small, rural communities like our town"

By Guest Blogger

By Harli Jo McKinney

Welcome to our new blog series introducing the inaugural class of Youth Ambassadors! Building on the success of the Afterschool Ambassadors program, the Youth Ambassadors program connects five young people with alumni Afterschool Ambassadors to serve as mentors as each Youth Ambassador designs and carries out a project showcasing the value of afterschool programs. In addition, Youth Ambassadors will travel to Washington, D.C., next April to participate in the annual Afterschool for All Challenge, where they will meet with members of Congress and their staff. 

My name is Harli Jo McKinney. I am from Stratford, Oklahoma. I am in 9th grade. I am a cheerleader, I play basketball, and I love to sing. I am so excited to be a part of the Afterschool Alliance as a Youth Ambassador. Afterschool has been a big part of my life. Since beginning school, I have always had an afterschool program. It has taught me so much and given me the extra push to be who I am. It has helped to make me a confident and outgoing person.

Stratford is a small town with a population of 1,500 and our school has about 700 students from Stratford and nearby towns. There are not a lot of jobs in our town. Parents have to drive at least 20 to 30 miles to get to their jobs. This leaves their children with nowhere to go afterschool.

Our afterschool program gives these students a place to go. My program helps us with homework and gives us opportunity to experience and learn new things every day. We do really fun things like cooking, photography, gymnastics, and robotics. We are adding a drone class that we are all really excited about.

Afterschool is so important to small, rural communities like our town. It gives our children a safe place to go and parents do not have to worry about them. There need to be more afterschool programs just like mine all over the country!

I would like to showcase the need for afterschool in my Youth Ambassador project. In my video production, I hope to convey the significant difference in rural communities with and without afterschool programs. I am excited for this opportunity to be a part of the Afterschool Alliance Youth Ambassador program!

JAN
3
2018

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: January 3, 2018

By Luci Manning

Neighborhood Center Is a Hit with Residents (Chico Enterprise-Record, California)

Anaheim’s new community center at Ponderosa Park is attracting locals of all ages to its afterschool programs, nutrition classes and educational workshops. The newly refurbished center opened last month and features a dance studio, a gym with a full basketball court, a kitchen, classrooms and a special area for teens, according to the Chico Enterprise-Record. The center’s afterschool program will give students a chance to get homework help, participate in physical activities and explore new hobbies.

New Music Program Aims to Boost Kids’ Self-Esteem (Palm Beach Post, Florida)

Musicians from the Symphonia, a renowned South Florida chamber orchestra, are sharing their love of music with members of the Boys & Girls Club of Delray Beach through afterschool violin lessons. The Building a String Orchestra and Self-Esteem program aims to reach underprivileged children who may not have opportunities to play the violin to show them how versatile the instrument can be while building their self-confidence. “Music is such a significant way to help youth learn and excel in school, gain confidence, and become productive citizens in society,” club director Janice Clemmons told the Palm Beach Post. “It teaches discipline without the kids even realizing it.”

New After-School Program Promotes Healthy Eating Habits (Columbus Telegram, Nebraska)

Megan Owens, a Columbus Community Hospital dietetic intern, will be teaching elementary children about healthy foods, exercise and body positivity in a new afterschool program beginning this month. In “Food, Fitness & Fun,” students will participate in interactive nutrition and fitness activities, learn to make healthy snacks and build a positive relationship with food and exercise. “We’ll talk about what goes into making healthy choices, appropriate portions and avoiding mindless eating while sitting watching TV,” Owens told the Columbus Telegram. “We also want kids to know that getting their bodies moving can be fun.”

New LGBTQ+ Program Planned in Athens (Athens Messenger, Ohio)

Athens’ first-ever afterschool program geared specifically towards LGBTQ+ students will begin next week, providing marginalized adolescents a safe place to spend time after the school day ends and a chance to build a community among their peers. The program, PRISM, will be free and open to students of all genders, and will be run entirely by adult volunteers from the community, according to the Athens Messenger. PRISM will offer students activities in art, music and other areas of interest, and allow them to make connections with other youths and adults who have experienced the same struggles that they have. 

JAN
2
2018

IN THE FIELD
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New Report: Using ESSA to support learning through arts integration

By Leah Silverberg

A new report from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and The Wallace Foundation, "Review of Evidence: Arts Integration Research Through the Lens of the Every Student Succeeds Act," explores the evidence base for arts integration and the ways in which funding from the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) can be used to integrate arts into other academic subjects. While the report mainly explores how ESSA funding can be used to support arts integration during the school day, afterschool programs are included as a promising opportunity for ESSA-funded arts integration.

Linking the arts to other subjects, and using art as a means to teach math, history, language arts, or other traditional subjects, has been associated with positive youth outcomes – especially for students from low-income communities. This report, however, is the first comprehensive look at the evidence base associated with arts integration written with the intent to help stakeholders make the case for funding to support arts integration in and out of school.

This report is especially timely given that many ESSA funding streams require or favor programs that can show evidence-based success. Within ESSA, different funding streams require varying levels of evidence rigor - evaluated by a four-tier system that classifies evidence as “strong,” “moderate,” “promising,” and “under evaluation.”

 

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learn more about: Arts
DEC
22
2017

POLICY
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The year in federal afterschool policy

By Erik Peterson

Federal afterschool policy in 2017 had ups and downs, and plenty ‘firsts.’ It was the first time a president proposed complete elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative – the primary source of federal funding support for local school and community based afterschool and summer learning programs. However, 2017 also saw the largest advocacy push on record by afterschool advocates – with tens of thousands of Americans making the case for continued federal afterschool support. And the year saw a record level of funding for Community Learning Centers, providing access to programs for almost 2 million young people. 

21st Century Community Learning Centers

Early in the year both the president’s “skinny budget” and final FY2018 budget proposed the elimination of all funding for Community Learning Centers. The afterschool field’s response was rapid and powerful. Afterschool allies reached out to Congress with more than 79,400 calls and emails, energized supporters to turn out at town halls in their communities, and prompted more than 1,400 local, state, and national organizations to sign a letter in support of Community Learning Centers. Champions of the program on Capitol Hill showed strong support for Community Learning Centers as well, with 81 members of the House coming together across party lines and signing a letter spear headed by Reps. David Cicilline and Lou Barletta. In addition, a perfectly-timed National Afterschool Summit at University of Southern California put afterschool all over the news and social media including coverage on CNN and Extra with Mario Lopez. 

In a huge win for afterschool, the final appropriations bill for FY2017, passed in early May 2017, increased Community Learning Centers funding to $1.192 billion, a $25 million increase over the FY2016 level, and a record amount of funding for the program. The funds mean almost 2 million children in all 50 states will have access to quality, locally-run afterschool and summer learning programs. While funding for FY2018 is still uncertain as the country is operating under a continuing resolution that expires on December 22, 2017, support for Community Learning Centers in Congress remains strong.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Policy
DEC
22
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Highlights from 2017: A busy year for afterschool!

By Faith Savaiano

As the Afterschool Alliance team wraps up the last of our 2017 to-do items, we reflect back on a year that can only be described as ‘eventful’!

News from the Hill

In March, the president proposed complete elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative – the primary source of federal funding support for local school and community based afterschool and summer learning programs. In response, 2017 also saw the largest advocacy push on record by afterschool advocates – with tens of thousands of Americans making the case for continued federal afterschool support. Afterschool allies reached out to Congress with more than 79,400 calls and emails, energized supporters to turn out at town halls in their communities, and prompted more than 1,400 local, state, and national organizations to sign a letter in support of Community Learning Centers.

Thanks to the efforts of dedicated after school advocates, the final appropriations bill for FY2017, passed in early May 2017, increased 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding to $1.192 billion, a $25 million increase over the FY2016 level, and a record amount of funding for the program. The funds mean almost 2 million children in all 50 states will have access to quality, locally-run afterschool and summer learning programs. While funding for FY2018 is still uncertain as the country is operating under a continuing resolution that expires on December 22, 2017, support for Community Learning Centers in Congress remains strong. (Read more about state and federal policy in 2017.) 

Growing the field

The Afterschool Alliance also had a productive year training volunteers and advocates who continue to work hard to bring quality afterschool programming to youth all over the country. In 2017, we hosted 38 AmeriCorps VISTA members serving in 18 states across the country in programs that focus on afterschool sustainability, afterschool and summer meals expansion, afterschool STEM expansion, or young men of color mentoring and literacy.

Additionally, we trained 15 new advocates who make up the 2017-2018 Afterschool Ambassador class. We also announced an inaugural class of five Youth Afterschool Ambassadors. The youth ambassadors are working in their local communities to help others understand the value of afterschool and summer learning programs. Each student is supported by an adult mentor who is an alumnus of the Afterschool Ambassadors program and will complete a project in their community advocating for afterschool and summer learning programs. Their year will culminate in April with when they will attend the Afterschool for All Challenge with their ambassador mentor — check the blog in the coming weeks for guest blogs and profiles as our Youth Ambassadors introduce themselves!

Events, projects, and campaigns

Speaking of the Afterschool for All Challenge, this year’s June event featured a showcase on the Hill with speakers including Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). Teams from 45 states and D.C. attended 200 meetings all across the Hill to bring the case for afterschool to the Capitol. And supporters at home kept the phones were ringing off the hook! While we were on Capitol Hill, afterschool supporters made 761 phone calls and sent 3,286 emails to their representatives in Congress.

Our other successful events this year included the third National Afterschool Summit in April, in which we worked with the Schwarzenegger Institute and the After-School All-Stars to host an incredible gathering of sports stars, celebrities, military leaders, education leaders, students and more to voice their collective support for quality afterschool programming.

In October we had a hugely successful Lights On Afterschool included 8,000 registered events across the country. With unprecedented online engagement, thanks to our “My Light’s On Afterschool” light bulb challenge and all that posts shared from across the country, #LightsOnAfterschool was trending on both the west and east coasts on October 26.

What's next?

While this year had many successes, we’re already looking ahead at the challenges to come. While we expect to again face many of the same obstacles on the Hill in the coming months, we’re optimistic that the broad support and passionate advocacy that afterschool programs enjoy will help us fight the battles that may lay ahead. We cannot wait to come back in the New Year ready to continue our mission to bring quality afterschool programs to our nation’s youth.

DEC
21
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Wallace & RAND brief: ESSA can support SEL

By Jillian Luchner

Since the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) originally passed in December 2015, afterschool partners have been able to use their expertise in youth development to build on the newfound flexibility that ESSA provides for states, districts, and schools around the country toward the goal of well-rounded support for all students. An especially promising avenue for the field is the new opportunities that have arisen around social and emotional learning (SEL). Numerous studies have shown that social and emotional learning can support many areas of student development and achievement, but there have historically been few opportunities to advance SEL through the formal education system. While ESSA does not explicitly mention SEL, there is a strong case to be made that the bill provides a wealth of new opportunities to advance SEL interventions both in and out of school.

On December 13, RAND researchers in coordination with researchers at the Wallace Foundation hosted a webinar highlighting how SEL interventions fit into the structure of ESSA. Focusing largely on the findings of the RAND Corporation’s recently published brief, “How the Every Student Succeeds Act Can Support Social and Emotional Learning,” presenters shared some good news: RAND has identified a menu of 60 SEL interventions that meet the requirements laid out by ESSA.