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Snacks by Leah Silverberg
JAN
18
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Promising practices: EPIC program introduces youth to rural employment opportunities

By Leah Silverberg

In 2014, a unique partnership formed between the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, The City After-School Program, and the Kansas Enrichment Network to introduce students to career pathways in Salina, Kans. Career opportunities can seem limited for many students growing up in rural communities but in Salina, many jobs go unfilled.

After the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey of local businesses, it recognized an existing need to fill certain jobs in the community. As part of the Chamber's long-term goal to support and sustain the workforce in Salina, the Chamber decided to focus on building the skills of Salina-area students. To start, the Chamber partnered with the Kansas Enrichment Network, the State’s afterschool network to support and expand access to out-of-school time learning. From there, Education Practice and Immersion for Credit (EPIC) was created to connect middle school students to career opportunities in Salina, in the hope that they will choose to pursue a career pathway in Salina in the future.

Over the past three years, EPIC has been piloted through The City, an afterschool program located at the local teen center. Using a digital badging system, each unit of EPIC focuses on an industry within Salina identified by the Chamber of Commerce survey as an industry of growth.

"The goal of the badges," said Eric Brown, former member of the Chamber of Commerce and founder of EPIC, "is to build hope, enthusiasm, and understanding of career exploration: what they [students] like and don’t like, and try to introduce career and college opportunities in junior high."

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
18
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool programs receive national honors for arts & humanities

By Leah Silverberg

It's time for a celebration! Twelve programs have been named the winners of the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards – several afterschool programs among them!  

Through a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards were established in 1998, and have been annually awarded for the past 19 years. 

With an emphasis on supporting programs that reach underserved communities, the award aims to recognize programs across the United States that support students' self-discovery and achievement through humanities and arts programming. In addition to the 12 awards presented to programs within the U.S., the award annually highlights one international program that provides exceptional programming to youth. Awardees receive a $10,000 grant, a year of capacity and communications support, and an invitation to Washington, D.C., to accept their award. 

 

NOV
28
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Promising practices: EVOLUTIONS prepares students for college and careers

By Leah Silverberg

Afterschool programs across the country are working with students to prepare them for future jobs. Of programs focusing on high school students, we see students getting real-world job experiences in afterschool, including paid internships, professional development training, practice building skills they will need in the workforce, and exposure to colleges and possible future career pathways. One of the programs highlighted in our latest issue brief, Building Workforce Skills in Afterschool, Evoking Learning and Understanding Through Investigations in the Natural Sciences (EVOLUTIONS) does all of this and more with their students. While talking with the program’s manager of public and youth engagement, Andrea Motto, we were impressed not only with what EVOLUTIONS does with its students, but how. 

EVOLUTIONS is located in New Haven, Conn., and is a part of Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. The program was created in 2005 in response to community focus groups identifying that the museum could do a better job engaging with the local community. As part of these focus groups, the community expressed that they did not view the museum as a resource that was accessible to them. Listening to these community concerns, EVOLUTIONS was born. By starting with youth, the museum could invest in bridging the gap, bringing youth into the museum in an attempt to increase community access.

NOV
13
2017

RESEARCH
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New report: Making summer learning a district-wide priority

By Leah Silverberg

Summer learning programs across the country are providing students with valuable opportunities to learn. However, for students from low-income families, quality learning opportunities can be sparse, and students from low-income communities lose more ground academically over their summer than their more affluent peers. Supporting summer learning, and making these programs a priority for school districts, can make a difference for these students year-round. Taking support for these programs to a district level and prioritizing summer learning can help ensure program quality, sustainability, and increase community buy-in.  

In an effort to support summer learning programs, The Wallace Foundation launched the National Summer Learning Project (NSLP) across five school districts nationwide in 2011. Evaluating the NSLP programs, RAND has explored outcomes for students participating in summer learning programs. Digging deeper, Making Summer Last: Integrating Summer Programming into Core District Priorities and Operations, a new report from The Wallace Foundation and RAND, explores how three of the school districts participating in NSLP integrated summer learning into their district priorities. The report evaluates interviews with district staff members and summer leadership staff involved in summer programming and highlights their recommendations for making summer a district-wide priority. Here are the report’s three main takeaways, including challenges, to integrate and prioritize summer learning programs into your school district:

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learn more about: Summer Learning
NOV
3
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Apply to join a new professional learning community!

By Leah Silverberg

The One Sky Institute is looking for mid-career professionals to engage with and explore new approaches to implementing and evaluating equitable STEM programming. Mentored by an experienced faculty of practitioners and researchers, participants will learn to broaden participation in STEM in their fields and come together as a community of professionals dedicated to increasing equity in the STEM ecosystem.

Scope of community activities:

  • A three-day workshop in Chicago, Ill., March 27 to 29, 2018
  • Six 90-minute virtual meetings throughout the year
  • Participation in the 2019 AERA conference in Toronto, April 5 to 9
  • Design and development of a mini-pilot project at your organization
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learn more about: Professional Development
OCT
27
2017

RESEARCH
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Creating high-quality arts programs in national youth-serving organizations

By Leah Silverberg

While research has shown that participation in the arts promotes positive youth outcomes, providing quality arts programming can seem like an unobtainable goal to many programs, especially those that mix various art disciplines into daily programming but do not have an arts focus. But a new report commissioned by The Wallace Foundation, Raising the Barre & Stretching the Canvas, shows that high-quality arts programming for multidisciplinary out-of-school time programs is obtainable — and how.

How do you provide quality arts programming?

With the goal of helping to improve and expand high-quality arts programming, The Wallace Foundation partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to create and pilot the Youth Arts Initiative (YAI) in Milwaukee (Wis.), Green Bay (Wis.), and St. Cloud (Minn.). The YAI drew from ten key principles of high-quality arts programming outlined in the 2013 study, Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs from Urban Youth and Other Experts: professional practicing artists, executive commitment, dedicated spaces, high expectations, culminating events, positive relationships, youth input, hands-on skill building, community engagement, and physical and emotional safety. With these principles in mind, the YAI programs:

  1. Hired practicing artists as staff.
  2. Created dedicated studio spaces for the arts.
  3. Supplied the tools and materials needed for the program’s art discipline.
  4. Engaged students in decision-making throughout the creation and execution of the program.
  5. Emphasized positive youth development principles.
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learn more about: Arts Partnerships
OCT
17
2017

STEM
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New AYPF article: 3 steps to afterschool STEM success

By Leah Silverberg

When making the case for afterschool STEM, one point often pops up: STEM learning experiences teach kids essential skills for their futures in college and careers. But how does that skill-building actually happen? And what strategies should afterschool programs use to harness it?

A new article from the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) highlights afterschool STEM programs that focus on career and college exploration initiatives. As part of STEM Ready America compendium, which features more than 40 authors, “Career and College Exploration in Afterschool Programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics” provides examples of afterschool and summer learning STEM programs that are preparing youth for their futures and supporting their engagement with the STEM field. Developed by STEM Next, with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, STEM Ready America discusses the importance of access for quality STEM programs, the evidence behind these programs, and the partnerships that make STEM learning successful.

In the article, AYPF highlights the best practices of three afterschool and summer STEM programs that intentionally introduce students to STEM fields, prepare them to study or have a career in a STEM field, and build skills that will benefit them in the workforce. Looking at SHINE (Jim Thorpe, Pa.), EVOLUTIONS (New Haven, Conn.), and Project Exploration (Chicago, Ill.) AYPF concluded that successful programs:

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learn more about: STEM College and Career Readiness