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FEB
14
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Parents share why they love their kids' afterschool programs

By Rachel Clark

A West Virginia parent (L) and Alaska student (R) share why they love their afterschool programs. Photos via @WVSAN and @AKAfterschool.

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day with loved ones, family, and friends, many afterschool students, staff, and supporters are sharing from the heart why they love afterschool.

In addition to sharing on social media, parents from communities across the country have written heartwarming love letters to the afterschool programs they and their children rely on every day. The reasons afterschool is close to their hearts are as diverse as the afterschool field itself.

Afterschool supports working parents

For Pennsylvania mom Tami Reichman, the LifeSpan afterschool program offers job security and the priceless peace of mind of knowing her kids are safe and learning while she’s at work.

“As a single mom of two who is working full time while earning her bachelor’s degree, it’s important for me to have someplace safe for my children to go after school,” Tami shared with The Morning Call.

“With my job as a shipping manager, I can’t afford to miss days of work because of inclement weather or school holidays. LifeSpan offers care right at the school so my children have somewhere safe and supervised to go.”

Afterschool gives students the tools to achieve

Amanda Owens of West Valley City, Utah, loves her son’s afterschool program because it’s given him more confidence in school.

“For years my son struggled with reading. The help and tutoring he's received from the afterschool teachers has been immense,” Amanda wrote in The Salt Lake Tribune. “I cannot imagine how far behind in reading he would be without the afterschool program. Now he's no longer embarrassed to read. He even gets excited to read to his younger siblings!”

FEB
13
2017

STEM
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Apply for a two-day summit on engaging Latinos in STEM

By Melissa Ballard

GENIAL, Generating Engagement and New Initiatives for All Latinos, is a new National Science Foundation project focusing on increasing Latino participation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) within informal or out-of-school time environments. The goal is to bring together practitioners, community leaders, diversity-focused organizations, researchers, and media/marketing specialists from across the country to identify field-wide best practices, opportunities, emerging research questions, and gaps.

If you're passionate about engaging Latinos in out-of-school STEM, apply by Tuesday, February 28 to attend a two-day summit on June 5 and 6, 2017 at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, Calif. Participants will hear from dynamic keynote speakers and engage in conversations, panel discussions, breakout sessions, and networking to contribute knowledge and experience that will inform future research and practice in and advancement of the field.

Goals of the summit

  • Assess the current state of the field in providing effective informal STEM experiences for Latinos
  • Identify needs and gaps in informal STEM environments
  • Identify emerging research questions with an outlook toward the future
  • Contribute to a more informed informal STEM field

Who should apply?

GENIAL is seeking professionals with diverse perspectives of and experiences with engaging Latino communities in STEM learning. Leaders of community-based organizations, including afterschool and summer learning programs; cultural organization practitioners; researchers; policy-makers; and media, marketing, and technology professionals who:

  • Have at least two years’ experience and are currently employed in the United States in informal learning, nonprofit media or community-based organizations that serve Latino and/or other diverse and underserved communities
  • Are involved in and/or interested in applying best practices to engaging Latino audiences in informal learning environments
  • Are committed to sharing and implementing ideas from the GENIAL summit with colleagues and providing feedback

Cost

The cost for the two-day summit is $250. Selected applicants will receive a stipend ranging from partial to full coverage of travel expenses and the registration fee.

To apply

Submit this quick application by midnight PST on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.

Questions?

Email GENIAL@exploratorium.edu.

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Science
FEB
10
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Youth share how out-of-school programming prepares them for the workforce

By Rachel Clark

By Rachel Willis, Research Project Manager at the Kansas Enrichment Network.

Student Jessica Rodas speaks at the Kansas Workforce Summit. Photo via @KS_Enrichment.

We all know the statistics from the last decade. Employment growth in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) sectors is occurring at a faster rate than the growth rate projected for all occupations over the decade—13 percent compared to 11 percent, respectively.

At the most recent Kansas Workforce Summit, the Kansas Enrichment Network and other participants heard this reiterated again. We also learned about the importance of educating and preparing young people for jobs that cannot be automated, as well as teaching 21st century skills like communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem solving and critical thinking. While these concepts came as no surprise to us, we were excited that our fellow attendees from outside the out-of-school time field were hearing this message. It set the stage perfectly for our Youth Speak panel facilitated by the Afterschool Alliance’s very own Jodi Grant.

Jodi introduced an audience of business leaders and other workforce development stakeholders to out-of-school programming and the substantial body of research on the effects of quality afterschool programs. This audience was especially interested in afterschool’s role in improving school day attendance—as Jodi pointed out at the Summit, “the number one indicator for whether or not kids will get in trouble with the law, whether or not they graduate tends to be truancy. We have a direct impact on that in afterschool.”

Following this introduction, Jodi turned it over to four youth—one middle school student, two high school students and one graduate student—who answered questions about how their afterschool programs are preparing them for bright futures. The youth spoke about the opportunity to explore various career paths, learning how to work on a team, and improving their leadership skills. “The adults that we have supervising us help teach us important standards such as punctuality and communication, taking on responsibilities, following directions, and developing leadership skills,” student Patience Wagner shared.

FEB
10
2017

RESEARCH
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Learn to engage your team with data with a new webinar series from Public Profit

By Leah Silverberg

Interested in making your team more comfortable with data analysis? Want to learn more about professional learning communities? Feel like you can expand your program model? You should tune in to Public Profit’s new webinar series!

Public Profit is a research organization with expertise in evaluation and data that specifically works with nonprofits serving children, youth, and families. In the next few months, they will be offering free 30-minute webinars looking at ways to improve your organization’s model, and how to better understand and utilize your nonprofit’s data. 

1. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in Out-of-School Time (OST), February 28, 2017 at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)

Want to learn more about Professional Learning Community design, and how to make it work in your out-of-school time program? Register for PLCs in OST!

2. Quality in OST, March 14, 2017 at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)

Explore new ways of looking at your organization’s data and using it to create better quality OST programs with this Public Profit webinar. Enroll today!

3. Dabbling in the Data, April 25, 2017 at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)

Dabbling in the Data is the first step toward making your team more comfortable using your organization's data. Through field-tested team activities, Dabbling in the Data provides a back to the basics approach to delving into data analysis.  To learn new ways of refreshing your team’s statistics knowledge, sign up for the Dabbling in the Data webinar.

Can’t make the webinar? Check out Public Profit’s toolbox for Dabbling in the Data!

4. Training and Replication, May 24, 2017 at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)

Interested in expanding your program model, but do not have the guidance or training developed to do so? Join Public Profit for their Training and Replication webinar to learn tips for starting this process!

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learn more about: Events and Briefings
FEB
9
2017

POLICY
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Senators King and Burr introduce PACE Child Care Act

By Jillian Luchner

The Promoting Affordable Childcare for Everyone (PACE) Act of 2017 has been introduced in the 115th Congress by Senate co-sponsors Angus King (I-Maine) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.). In a statement about the bill, the senators expressed concern that low-income families are now spending more than 30 percent of their incomes on child care costs. 

The legislation (as explained in a summary of the act) would make important changes to the current Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) aimed at broadening supports for families with childcare needs. The bill includes provisions for:

  • Refundability so that low-income families would be able to benefit even if their tax contribution would be too low to allow the benefit of a credit. The Tax Policy Center has a good explanation of the difference between a deduction, credit, and refund.
  • Phased credit levels that begin as high as 50 percent and range down to 35 percent for higher income-families.
  • Inflationary adjustments that consider the increasing costs of childcare.

The legislation would also make changes to Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) by:

  • Increasing contributions from $5,000 to $7,500 annually that can be set aside pre-tax.
  • Tying the new $7,500 cap to inflation to account for increasing costs.

The bill would help families with school-age children cover the cost of afterschool and summer learning programs for children up to the age of 13.

The bipartisan bill’s introduction in the Senate comes on the heels of President Trump’s child care proposal, unveiled last fall during the presidential campaign, and developed in partnership with his daughter Ivanka. In mid-January, before taking office, Trump’s transition staff met with the Ways and Means committee to discuss the proposal which, in combination with new maternity leave provisions, would have a $300 billion price tag according to CNN reports.

Trump’s proposal would alter the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit so that any couple earning up to $500,000 (or individual earning up to $250,000) would be able to deduct up to the average cost of child care in their state. Additionally, low-income families that benefit from the Earned Income Tax Credit would be eligible for rebates of up to $1,200. The New York Times reports that families would choose between the new rebate for low-income families or the old CDCTC, so that additional benefits to these low-income families would be slight.  

Trump’s modifications to Dependent Care Savings Accounts, according to a CNBC article, would match at 50 percent a low income family’s saving up to $1000 for these tax-deductible accounts. The accounts could be saved and withdrawn tax free so long as they were spent on eligible expenditures such as “traditional child care, afterschool programs, and school tuition.” Tax analysts reported that this provision would also have greater effects for higher income tax-payers.

The White House “Issues” webpage does not currently list child care as a policy issue.  

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Legislation POTUS
FEB
8
2017

POLICY
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Senate confirms Trump nominee Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education

By Jillian Luchner

On February 7, the Senate voted to confirm Elisabeth (Betsy) DeVos as the new U.S. Secretary of Education (learn more about Secretary DeVos). Trump’s controversial nominee for the cabinet position received 50 votes in favor of her confirmation and 50 against. The vote that ran along party lines, with the exception of Sens. Lisa Murkoswki (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who broke from their party to vote “no.” The tie was broken in favor of DeVos by Vice President Mike Pence, marking the first time a cabinet nominee has been confirmed as a result of the vice president’s vote.

The confirmation caps off a contentious process that began soon after Trump announced his nominee. DeVos provided oral testimony in a Senate hearing on January 17. She then submitted responses to a reported 1,400 additional written questions submitted by members of the Senate.

Secretary DeVos has applauded the benefits of afterschool and STEM in her written responses, some of which were posted on The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog. A question from Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) referred to his work on reauthorizing the 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative in the Every Student Succeeds Act and asked DeVos how she planned to “support rich high quality learning experiences for students.” DeVos responded:

After-school programs are critical to the safety and continued learning for many students. There are many programs offered by wonderful local community groups and schools that offer valuable opportunities for learning. As you noted, the Every Student Succeeds Act included the reauthorization of the 21 Century Community Learning Centers, a program that helps to provide after-school services to many children. If confirmed, I will implement the law as intended and funded by Congress, including the 21 Century Community Learning Centers program.

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learn more about: Congress Department of Education
FEB
8
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: February 8, 2017

By Luci Manning

After School Program in Roanoke Gives Students Interest in Manufacturing (WDBJ, Virginia)

Breckenridge middle schoolers are learning skills that could one day lead to well-paying manufacturing jobs at Roanoke’s Maker Mart afterschool program. Students in the program work with drills and saws to get hands-on training that will help them learn math and technical skills in a fun, engaging way and prepare them for the workforce. “I want to trick them into that,” program director Kathleen Duncan told WDBJ. “….I want to have this starkly different feel than a lot of the stuff they are getting in a typical classroom.”

North Hollywood Students to Compete in Hackathon (Daily News of Los Angeles, California)

North Hollywood High School students will soon take part in a competition to hone their cybersecurity skills. The semifinal round of CyberPatriot IX: The National Youth Cyber Defense Competition is an anti-hacking competition that will test the students’ ability to repel simulated cyberattacks. Computer science teacher and coach Jay Gehringer said teaching cybersecurity skills is valuable for the future of both students and the country. “I really feel like I’m helping students pursue a career, I’m showing them something they might find interesting and I’m doing something that will make America a better place,” he told the Daily News of Los Angeles.

Women Raise $9,700 to Start Lab Girls Program (New Hampshire Union Leader, New Hampshire)

Each quarter, nearly 200 women in the organization 100+ Women Who Care Peterborough pick a nonprofit and each pledge to donate at least $50 to its cause. This quarter, they raised nearly $10,000 to jump-start Lab Girls, an afterschool STEM program aimed at empowering middle school girls. “It is a vote of confidence and belief in our region’s girls,”  Susie Spikol Faber, community programs coordinator at the Harris Center, which will run the program, told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “….The club will develop a network of girls supporting girls with women scientists as role models, encouraging young adolescent girls to keep connected to these STEM skills and grow their abilities.”

4-H Clover Colleges Grows After-School Programs (Hot Springs Star, South Dakota)

The local 4-H will soon offer special afterschool workshops in Custer and Fall River counties each month, giving students of all ages a chance to explore robotics, aviation, cooking, art, nature and more. The workshops will be offered to students of all ages, whether or not they belong to 4-H, as well as their parents. “This is a local effort and idea to provide more innovative, creative and diverse learning opportunities for our youth,” South Dakota State University Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor Brad Keizer told the Hot Springs Star. “The idea is to offer these workshops where the majority of our 4-H families would find them most convenient with their busy schedules.”

FEB
7
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Easy Valentine's activity: Share why your students love afterschool!

By Rachel Clark

This month, we’re celebrating the millions of reasons to love America’s afterschool programs, and we want to see why you and your students love afterschool!

Joining in can make for an easy and fun activity for your program in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. We’ve already seen programs in Washington and Alaska invite students to participate, with some unique and creative results.

Taking part is simple. All you have to do is:

  1. Download the toolkit.
  2. Make copies of the included We Love Afterschool sign.
  3. Ask students (and parents!) to fill them out.
  4. Snap photos of the finished product and share them on social media with the hashtag #AfterschoolWorks!

Ready to get started? Download the toolkit now.

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Marketing