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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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Snacks by Nikki Yamashiro
JAN
22

RESEARCH
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Afterschool programs inspiring students with a connected learning approach

By Nikki Yamashiro

Today, afterschool programs are providing their students a host of learning opportunities—from designing websites to writing poetry to gardening, he list goes on and on.  But what many afterschool programs share is the way in which they approach creating learning opportunities for their students—finding new ways for students to take part in activities that are relevant to them, while building academic and workplace skills and knowledge.  Afterschool programs have been among the pioneers in applying a connected learning approach—creating a learning environment for students that builds on their interests; introduces them to new passions; provides mentors and a supportive peer network; and links this engagement to academics, careers and civic participation. 

Our new report, “Afterschool Programs: Inspiring Students with a Connected Learning Approach,” discusses the role afterschool programs play in the ecology of learning, where programs can help bridge the divides that exist in terms of access to additional learning opportunities, access to caring mentors, and access to resources and peer networks that can excite young people about the acquisition of knowledge.  The report also dives into connected learning, exploring this educational approach that is the intentional linkage of ones’ interests, peer groups and academics, and how it capitalizes on the benefits of all three areas to create a learning experience that is both powerful and enduring. 

Included in the report are examples of afterschool programs that are offering connected learning opportunities that join together their students’ interests, peer networks and academics, as well as key takeaways from programs.  For example, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, students at Createch Studio—a partnership between the St. Paul Public Library and the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department—are able to help design the program’s space, can take part in a youth advisory council and provide input on activities offered at the program.  Students can take part in a variety of activities—such as videography, dance, design and photography—where they have the ability to create, remix and share their work.

If you’re interested in learning more about connected learning, be sure to take a look at the “Resources” section at the end of the report that includes information on networks for educators, additional reports and websites focused on connected learning.

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JAN
20

RESEARCH
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New report: Findings on expanded learning time in four states

By Nikki Yamashiro

Last week, the Center on Education Policy (CEP), based at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development, released “Expanded Learning Time: A Summary of Findings from Case Studies in Four States,” a report examining the strategies being used by schools and school districts to expand learning time, as well as the impact, challenges and successes of expanded learning time (ELT) initiatives.  While the report includes a number of insights regarding what ELT looks like at various sites and how schools and districts have implemented ELT, a central takeaway of the report is that ELT is just one way schools can help improve student achievement.  Authors of the study, as well as education leaders interviewed for the study, agree that although ELT can have a positive effect on student achievement in school if it is a part of school improvement efforts, it should be one of an assortment of strategies to improve student achievement. 

The report focuses on 17 low-performing schools within 11 school districts that have implemented expanded learning time.  The four states in which the school districts are located—Connecticut, Colorado, Oregon, and Virginia—have been granted Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) waivers, which means that they have greater flexibility on how to use certain federal funding streams for increased learning time, and a majority of the schools either received School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding or were identified as a “priority” school under ESEA waivers.  The report’s authors conducted site visits of all 11 school districts and a majority of the schools, interviewing close to 50 education leaders, including education officials, district leaders and school principals.  Below are key findings from the report:

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learn more about: Extended Day
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JAN
15

RESEARCH
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Finding afterschool data is as easy as 1, 2, 3

By Nikki Yamashiro

An interactive data dashboard was one of the exciting new features that we released last October in conjunction with our report, “America After 3PM: Afterschool Programs in Demand.”  The dashboard includes a decade of data that highlights the trends of afterschool program participation, the demand for afterschool programs, the supports provided by afterschool programs and parent satisfaction with these supports, and what parents have to say about the benefits of programs for their child and family. 

There is a wealth of information on our dashboard, and I know it can be a bit overwhelming to get started, so I’ve come up with these three simple steps to help:

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learn more about: America After 3PM
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DEC
16

RESEARCH
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Making the case for afterschool using America After 3PM

By Nikki Yamashiro

To make a convincing argument, you need two essential components.  The first is a compelling story.  In the afterschool field, there is no shortage of compelling stories about the power of afterschool programs and their ability to keep kids safe, inspire learning and support working parents.  The second are data to support and substantiate your point.  This is where America After 3PM—our recently released national household survey on afterschool program participation and demand for afterschool programs—comes in.   

Last week, we hosted a webinar that focused on the variety of ways afterschool program providers, parents, students and advocates can use the recently released America After 3PM data to make the case for afterschool.  If you missed the webinar, you can still watch the recording or take a look at the PowerPoint presentation

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learn more about: Advocacy America After 3PM Media Outreach State Policy
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DEC
15

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Informing policy makers and the OST field on the opportunity gap

By Nikki Yamashiro

Sara Beanblossom is the director of communications and special events at the Indiana Afterschool Network, a nonprofit organization that inspires, empowers, and mobilizes the advocates, partners, and practitioners of afterschool and summer programs in Indiana.

AFTERSCHOOL AND SUMMER PROGRAMS CAN ADD 1,080 HOURS OF ACADEMIC ENRICHMENT TO A CHILD’S YEAR, EQUIVALENT TO THE NUMBER OF HOURS IN 144 SCHOOL DAYS. Yet, access is not equal. Low-income youth experience 6,000 fewer hours of enrichment and academic learning than their more affluent peers by the eighth grade (Hechinger Report, 2013).

Great piece of data, right?

The Indiana Afterschool Network (IAN) thinks so, too. That is why we are communicating this point and other important data to Indiana program providers to help them voice the need for and the impact of high quality out-of-school time (OST) programs to their policy makers and funders.

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learn more about: Advocacy America After 3PM Guest Blog State Networks State Policy
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DEC
1

IN THE FIELD
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Closing tomorrow: survey on afterschool snacks and meals

By Nikki Yamashiro

Does your afterschool program provide snacks?  Are you an afterschool program provider who would like to offer food, but are unable to do so?  Complete this short survey by Tuesday, Dec. 2 and help us identify how providing afterschool snacks and meals has changed over time, and what barriers afterschool programs face in providing food.

With your help, we can better understand the landscape around providing afterschool snacks and meals. 

If you are interested in learning more about afterschool meals, nutrition education and physical activity in an afterschool setting, visit our Afterschool Meals web page.

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learn more about: Equity Nutrition
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NOV
10

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: Inclusive Out-of-School Time

By Nikki Yamashiro

This blog post was originally published on the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability’s (NCHPAD) blog, which promotes information sharing around increased participation in physical activity among people of all abilities.  Nora Niedzielski-Eichner, executive director of the New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN), is a contributing author to this blog post and works to raise the profile of the OST field in New York and strengthen OST programs across the state, including promoting the importance of inclusion of youth with disabilities in afterschool, expanded learning, and out-of-school time opportunities.  For additional information regarding afterschool programs providing an inclusive environment where students of all abilities can learn and grow side-by-side, read “Afterschool Supporting Students with Disabilities and Other Special Needs,” a joint issue brief by MetLife Foundation and the Afterschool Alliance.

The purpose of this article is to promote inclusion of youth with disabilities in after-school, expanded learning, and out-of-school time programs. For the purposes of this article, the term “include” and “inclusion” embodies the values, policies, and practices that support all youth, those both with and without disabilities, to participate in a broad range of out-of-school time activities.

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learn more about: America After 3PM Equity Guest Blog Issue Briefs State Networks
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OCT
31

RESEARCH
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Are we an opportunity nation?

By Nikki Yamashiro

Yesterday I tuned into a webinar hosted by Opportunity Nation on their 2014 Opportunity Index (my colleague wrote a blog post last week that offers a more in-depth description of the Opportunity Index).  The primary purpose of the webinar was to take us through what indicators were used to calculate the Opportunity Index, why these indicators were selected and how to use the index overall in our own work.  What struck me the most while they were describing each indicator is that while overall opportunity in America has improved since they first conducted their study in 2011, there are still significant areas of the country where an individual’s chance of economic mobility is severely limited by the conditions of opportunity in their community.  For example, a child growing up in Fayette County, Ga., has an opportunity grade of B and a child growing up in Cecil County, Md., has an opportunity grade of C when looking at the two counties’ poverty rate, the percentage of adults with an associate’s degree or higher, the preschool enrollment rate and the percentage of disconnected youth.

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learn more about: Equity
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