Snacks by Molly Tomlinson
By Molly Tomlinson
More than 300 students from 11 New Orleans area schools will perform African and Brazilian drum and dance, modern and hip-hop dance, ballet, steel pan, and creative movement at the sixth annual Young Audiences’ Winter Spotlight next week. “Our programs provide a safe haven for students and an affirmative way of expression, surrounding and engaging them in positive arts education. The Winter Spotlight allows our city to see the amazing things our children are doing,” Young Audiences Director of After School and Summer Programs Jon Cosper told The Times-Picayune.
In Roanoke, afterschool students are participating in three NASA challenges, including a recent “Parachuting onto Mars” mission where students designed a parachute, picked out materials, constructed and troubleshooted the mission. The challenges are part of the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Center pilot program, STEM Challenges. Students from Virginia, Michigan and Colorado are participating, The Roanoke Times reports. The Roanoke middle school is 1 of 8 Virginia schools in the program.
Horton’s Kids, a nonprofit group that provides one-on-one tutoring and educational support to student’s from the District’s Ward 8, helps more than 500 students each year with literacy and math skills. Students are tutored in U.S. House of Representatives office spaces, which are donated to Horton’s Kids for use on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons by the chairmen of the Judiciary, Appropriations, and Education and the Workforce committees. The tutors receive no compensation but say the rewards they get during the afterschool tutoring sessions are their own form of compensation. Volunteer tutor Alyssa Przybyl, who works at the Department of Veteran Affairs, told the Washington Post, “It just feels good at the end of the day.”
A recent report from Rhode Island KidsCount found that high school graduation rates in the state’s poorest cities improved at more than twice the rate of the rest of the state during the last five years. The graduation rate in Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket increased 10% since 2007, to 66% in 2012. During the same five-year period in the rest of the state, the graduation rate increased 4% to 83% in 2012. At the Providence Grad National Summit discussing the report, “state Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist emphasized efforts to raise the state’s graduation rate, including improving literacy in the early grades and afterschool and summer math programs for high school students,” the Providence Journal reports.
By Molly Tomlinson
“The gap between school hours and traditional work schedules still exists. Latch-key kids are still around. School districts and nonprofits offer programs for after-care or extended-day programs, but all have a cost and limited space. It's an area of education that has remained a no-man's land,” Ginnie Grant with the Tulsa World writes. Grant argues that more resources should be put into afterschool programs because, “After-school hours can be used to put the lessons of the school day into practice.”
To turn the library into more of a “learning center,” Somerville Public Library created an After-School Academy to help the library broaden its scope and redefine its mission. In addition to the library’s new afterschool tutoring program, it is also offering free GED preparation classes from the local community college and now opens its doors on the weekends to let patrons use the Internet or do school work, the Associated Press reports.
A cast of second- through sixth-grade afterschool students will perform “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” based on the Charles Schulz animated special, as part of the “Junior Theatre” program at Nevada’s annual Winterfest celebration. The show will be directed by Iowa State University senior Zack Hackbarth. He told the Iowa State Daily, “This is the first time many of the kids in my show have ever done theater, so my hope is to inspire them to continue exploring their interests in the arts throughout the rest of their school years.”
“Learning how to manage money doesn’t have to be a tedious, boring process, students at Harper’s Choice Middle School are realizing — with the help of a computer game, financial literacy can actually be fun,” the Baltimore Sun reports. Junior Achievement of Central Maryland, in partnership with Walt Disney Imagineering and the T. Rowe Price Foundation, is offering “The Great Piggy Bank Adventure” to afterschool students. In the game students learn about good verses poor financial decisions, interest rates and diversifying investments.
By Molly Tomlinson
and Girls on the Run of Montgomery County Executive Director Elizabeth McGlynn and Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant co-authored a piece in the Montgomery County Gazette
on the importance of afterschool programs in advance of Girls on the Run of Montgomery County’s 5K fun run on Sunday. They write: “As Montgomery County working moms, we long ago learned what every other working parent can tell you: That every-afternoon chunk of time that starts with the final school bell and ends when parents arrive at home can be filled either with angst or peace of mind, depending on whether your kids are under the watchful eye of caring adults and constructively occupied. After-school programs are a terrific solution, and that’s one reason we’ve both spent years working to make sure such programs are available… Sunday, the girls will be joined by parents, after-school providers, teachers, school administrators, community partners, elected officials, and others — all united by their desire to celebrate the girls’ accomplishment, and to show their support for after-school programs. We hope that message is heard, loud, clear, far and wide!”
826DC serves more than 2,000 children in and around the Columbia Heights neighborhood each year inspiring them to become better readers, writers and students. 826DC offers free afterschool tutoring, bookmaking sessions, and in-school writing, storytelling and publishing workshops. “The tutoring center is one of eight 826 locations across the country honored this month with the Library of Congress’ first-ever Literacy Award, meant to recognize organizations working to address illiteracy in America,” the Washington Post reports.
“Dozens of Palm Terrace Elementary School students rallied recently to draw attention to the need for more after-school programs,” the Daytona Times reports. Kenneth Walker, who works at the school, told the paper that there are millions of children nationwide who are unsupervised and at risk each weekday afternoon.
By Molly Tomlinson
SayDaNar, a Burmese community group in Lowell, has expanded its tutoring offerings, adding an extra day of programming, cultural activities and summer excursions to better meet the needs of refugee youth. Last year, the program was struggling with too few tutors to look after the growing number of refugee children who had arrived in Lowell with little to no formal education and who spoke no English. After a story about the program ran in the Lowell Sun in September 2012, more than 30 residents from Lowell and nearby communities stepped forward to help tutor. Now, “Burmese families are growing their sense of ownership as Lowell residents as they became more involved in the program and began working with volunteers who see the immigrants as part of their community,” the Lowell Sun reports.
“An after-school program hosted by college students aims to give Gardiner Area High School students a chance to express themselves creatively outside the classroom and make up for reduced art opportunities at school,” the Portland Press Herald reports. Starting this fall, three University of Maine at Augusta students are mentoring and working with high school students four days a week at the Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center. Program organizers say they started the program because there was a need for more artistic opportunities for high school students, especially afterschool.
The Wyoming Afterschool Alliance has begun work on a curriculum to teach students about energy development and natural resources in the state. The Associated Press reports that, “the program will teach children in all grades about Wyoming’s coal, oil, gas, uranium and renewable energy industries, as well as about Wyoming's natural resources.” The Wyoming Afterschool Alliance is working with the University of Wyoming, Chevron Energy Solutions and Teton Science Schools to develop the curriculum.
The Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens has teamed up with schools and state agencies to host the Heart 2 Heart Hugs Campaign designed to collect new winter items for students across the state who are homeless or in the foster care system, the Dover Post reports. The program launched at an event with Lt. Gov. Matt Denn, Dover Mayor Carleton E. Carey, Rep. Bill Carson (D-Smyrna) and several members of the Caesar Rodney Board of Education at William Henry Middle School. At the middle school the campaign is being headed up by the school’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers afterschool program, though all students will be eligible to participate.
By Molly Tomlinson
Santa Fe’s public radio station, KSFR, reported on the award-winning Project GUTS program. The Afterschool Alliance presented the Santa Fe Institute with an award for its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related afterschool program for middle school students at its Lights On Afterschool event over the weekend. The Santa Fe Institute’s Irene Lee told KSFR the rigorous computing program allows middle-schoolers to design and develop test models simulating real-world questions.
Hundreds of students in Grand Rapids gathered together to celebrate Lights On Afterschool last week.
Carrie Teer, site coordinator for the Grand Rapids Public School’s LOOP afterschool program at East Leonard Elementary, said if not for the programs, many students would be going to empty homes after school because their parents still are at work. “That's the other message stressed by the nationwide celebration, the need for resources so more children can attend safe, structured environments. Due to funding cuts, Grand Rapids has gone from 34 to 25 sites, leaving 600 kids without programs,” MLive.com reports.
Deputy Speaker Upendra Chivukula was the keynote speaker at the Raritan Valley YMCA’ Lights On Afterschool celebration last week. At the event Chivukula said, “Investing in enrichment programs is extremely valuable to our youth; they keep children safe and improve academic performance and school attendance,” the Star-Ledger reports. “These benefits are not just restricted to classroom performance, but improve behavior and promote a healthy lifestyle… Parents can rest easy knowing their children are being cared for responsibly while involving themselves in fitness activities and enrichment programs.”
Chadron Public Schools celebrated the success of its afterschool program last week with a Lights On Afterschool event at the primary, intermediate and middle school sites. Libby Uhing, who took part in the Lights On Afterschool event with her daughter Eliana, told The Chadron Record that the afterschool program is “a little more laid back, but [the students] get so much academic enrichment,” and that the afterschool program provides a safe place with enthusiastic staff for kids to spend time at.
By Molly Tomlinson
In an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun, President of the Baltimore City Council Jack Young questions whether $1.25 million in federal funding to hire police officers could be better spent. Young wrote: “Friday's news was another reminder of the widespread misbelief that spending scarce dollars hiring additional police officers is somehow wiser than strategic investments in programs with a proven track record of reducing recidivism rates and preventing juvenile delinquency. I believe that this money could be better used to hire additional recreation workers or after school employees who would engage our young people in positive activities that could help prepare them for college and the workforce.”
One hundred middle school students spent time this week at Camp Widjiwagan learning leadership, communication and cooperation skills. The students were chosen from afterschool programs that participate in the city’s Nashville After Zone Alliance, a network of free afterschool programs for students who otherwise might not be able to afford outside activities. Candy Markman, Mayor Karl Dean’s director of afterschool initiatives, told The Tennessean that the attention on afterschool activities is part of a push to improve high school graduation rates. “If middle school isn’t an engaging experience, kids sit in ninth grade and never get out of it,” she said. “This is our last, best chance.”
Dozens of Des Moines area girls donned white lab coats and goggles Wednesday to experiment with the idea of a career in science and find out firsthand what it would be like to work at DuPont Pioneer from women in the company, WHO-TV reports. The girls participate in the Chrysalis Foundation’s afterschool program.
“Area high school students will be able to expand their horizons, catch up on missed credits, join clubs and get help with their homework after school through a five-year program just getting underway,” the Merced Sun-Star reports. Thanks to a new 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, students from Atwater, Buhach Colony, Merced, Golden Valley and Yosemite high schools can take part in the After School Safety and Education for Teens program. “The neat thing about (ASSET) is the sky’s the limit on what each component will involve,” said Program Director Kelly Bentz. The free afterschool program will have homework assistance and credit recovery and program leaders envision enrichment classes like beat and rhyme labs, art and fashion design, photography and video editing labs, leadership and service learning, intramural sports and dance and music instruction.
By Molly Tomlinson
Rosalind C. Barnett, a senior scientist at the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, and Caryl Rivers, a journalism professor at Boston University, wrote a guest editorial for the Los Angeles Times on the universal worry of working parents—Are my kids safe after school? They wrote: “The combination of shorter school days and the lack of after-school child care creates a mismatch for many full-time employed parents, especially mothers… In these cost-cutting times, the number of after-school programs is shrinking, school libraries and many playgrounds are no longer open after school, and city streets are increasingly unsafe… There's a fledgling movement to create and expand after-school programs, but effective programs are few and far between. In fact, such programs and policies are often not costly to implement. Compared with the huge losses for companies because of employees' stress and anxiety over this issue, the cost of providing secure after-school environments is trivial. We all have a stake in helping working parents be as productive on the job as possible. We can't get there if constant worry about their children is draining parents' energies and diverting their attention. Happily, a win-win scenario is cheap and close at hand — if we only have the will to create it.”
In an interview with the Columbus Ledger Enquirer
Judge Glenda Hatchett says that strong education systems, including afterschool programs, should be part of the complicated solution to crime. She said: “In so many of our communities I think there's just despair that's generated by poverty and under-education. People feel trapped in cycles and have turned to crime because they feel there are no other options. And that's a very, very sad commentary. I'm a big proponent of us having strong education systems everywhere and a strong proponent of after-school programs. I think that's a time when a lot of our children are getting into trouble and are being recruited by gang members and thugs. If we can raise our community in terms of education and poverty issues, housing that's stable and safe, people having good jobs to support their families, then we can significantly reduce the problems of drugs and crimes in those areas.” Judge Hatchett is also a member of the Afterschool Alliance’s Leadership Circle
“The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce and Tacoma Public Schools have formed a partnership to launch the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, an after-school program that will guide up to 24 high school students through the process of starting and running a business or social movement,” The News Tribune reports. Students will write a business plan, pitch ideas to investors, get funding for and legally register their business, participate in a trade show and launch their business, all while earning school credit.
By Molly Tomlinson
Toledo’s Afterschool Meal Program is expanding and plans to deliver more meals to students in afterschool programs, The Blade reports. The program will serve more than 75,000 meals, an increase of 20,000 meals over last year, at 10 additional sites.
About 50 girls at Mohave Accelerated Learning Center got tips on how to look pretty and serious information about health and self-esteem at the afterschool program’s third “girls’ day” observance. Event organizer Grace Hensley, who runs the afterschool program, told the Mohave Valley Daily News, “They don’t have to be beautiful for anybody else. Or to attract a guy or to fit in. They should be beautiful for themselves.”
High school senior Eric Holleran plans to spend his afternoons helping nearly two dozen first- through fourth-grader afterschool students learn to love reading. Holleran was selected as Delaware’s National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador. He was awarded a $1,000 grant so that he and 10 peers can spend one hour a week for six months tutoring children at the Clarence Fraim Boys & Girls Club in Wilmington in reading and writing. “My goal is to help them improve their grades, but I’m also hoping to help them grow personally by showing them that people who enjoy school aren’t the geeks and nerds that society makes them out to be,” Holleran told the Middletown Transcript. “I want them to learn that reading is actually fun and, hopefully because we’ll all be high school students instead of adults, they’ll feel like it’s a sort of cool, too.”
U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) was interviewed on MSNBC’s NewsNation to discuss the violence that continues to plague the streets of Chicago. When asked about how to reach young adults, particularly young black men, and how to help them get away from gangs, she said: “Nothing stops a bullet like a job and we need to look at that too. At a young age, we need to start working with our young men on other choices, alternative choices and jobs, afterschool programs, mentoring and things like that.”