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Snacks by Charlotte Steinecke
JUN
27
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Join us for a Day of Action to support summer learning

By Charlotte Steinecke

Summer isn’t a vacation for everyone. When schools close during the summer months, more than 25 million low-income students in America lose access to affordable food, safe places to spend the day, and opportunities to engage in learning and maintain the skills they’ve developed during the school year. And the effects don’t end when school is back in session: the culumative impact of academic skills lost each summer can leave low-income fifth graders up to three years behind their peers.

Summer should be for water slides, not achievement slides.

On June 28, the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) is bringing support for summer learning opportunities straight to Capitol Hill—and your help will be key! NSLA has set a few goals that supporters at home can help them meet:

  • Raise awareness among Congressional Members and staff of summer learning loss as well as the risks for young people related to health and safety during the summer
  • Share the impact of effective programs in their state or district, using both data and stories
  • Ask for support of key federal programs that support summer activities at the local level
  • Build a relationship with your elected officials and their staff

Mark your calendar for June 28 and be ready to send an email urging Congress to support funding for the programs that help students thrive year-round.

After the email, head over to NSLA’s website to learn more about Summer Learning Day (July 13). You can register your event and find resources for families and students, communities, and elected officials, along with factsheets and a calendar of events near you.

JUN
16
2017

IN THE FIELD
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What's afterschool got to do with the military?

By Charlotte Steinecke

U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan P. Idle.

Every day, our country is kept safe and secure by the brave members of our armed forces, who have dedicated their lives to serving their nation. But these individuals are more than soldiers – they’re parents, guardians, and members of their communities, and their lives out of uniform are filled with the familiar concerns of civilian life.

One of those concerns is the safety of their children in the hours after school, before parents can be home, and the opportunities afforded to kids to during this time.  The parents in our armed forces need to know that their children are cared for after the school bell rings, and both enlisted and civilian parents find that afterschool programs help them focus on the missions or  jobs before them. What kids are doing after school matters, too. Military leaders and civilians alike agree that afterschool provides important - opportunities for kids to be  engaged  in productive, hands-on educational activities.

JUN
15
2017

FUNDING
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Funding opportunity: Up to $1,000 for environmental service-learning

By Charlotte Steinecke

The future of the planet belongs to our kids, and afterschool programs offer one of the best opportunities for students and youth to engage in environmental stewardship projects that connect classroom experiences of environmental science with the real world. If your afterschool program has a focus on environmental service-learning and neighborhood improvement, you can help build those connections with the Project Learning Tree GreenWorks! grants.

Grant recipients will receive up to $1,000 to use for recycling programs, water and energy conservation initiatives, school gardens and outdoor classrooms, natural habitat restoration, and much more. Find inspiration for your project in the GreenWorks! guide, where you can read about successful action plans and find the best strategies to build a great proposal.

The deadline to apply is September 30 and funding will be distributed in December 2017.

JUN
8
2017

CHALLENGE
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Memorable moments from the Afterschool for All Challenge

By Charlotte Steinecke

We’ve had a whirlwind two days in Washington, D.C., working with afterschool youth, parents, program providers, and concerned community members in anticipation of meetings with members of Congress. The Afterschool for All Challenge kicked off with a day of workshops and sessions, followed by 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.).

On Wednesday, teams from 45 states and D.C. attended 200 meetings all across the Hill to bring the case for afterschool to the Capitol. The delegations got an early start with a prep session at 7:30 a.m. and met with elected officials throughout the day – and even into the evening.

The 2017 Afterschool for All Challenge was an inspiring event for friends of afterschool across the country! Here are a few snapshots from Tuesday and Wednesday:

JUN
6
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Evaluating afterschool: Answering questions about quality

By Charlotte Steinecke

By Jocelyn Michelsen, Senior Research Associate at Public Profit, an Oakland, California-based evaluation consultancy focused on helping high-performing organizations do their best, data-driven work with children, youth, and families.

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the fifth installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which answers some of the common questions asked about program evaluation. Be sure to take a look at the firstsecondthirdand fourth posts of the series.

Raise your hand if this scenario sounds familiar: you keep up with new research on afterschool by reading articles and newsletters, following thought leaders, and attending conferences—but it is still hard to sort through all the information, let alone implement new strategies. Research often seems out of touch with the realities of programs on the ground, and while many anecdotal examples are offered, how-to guidelines are few and far between.

As an evaluator consulting with diverse afterschool programs across the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, I frequently hear this frustration from program leaders. There is a real gap between the research and the steps that staff, leadership, and boards can take to build quality in their own programs. Additionally, it can be hard to sift through the research to get to the ‘why’—why implement these recommendations, why invest time and resources, why change?

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learn more about: Evaluation and Data
MAY
26
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Sign your organization to the HOST Coalition letter

By Charlotte Steinecke

With the Trump administration’s full FY2018 budget released just this week, it’s time for afterschool programs, professionals, and organizations to rally together and push back against a budget that would eliminate federal afterschool and out-of-school time funding.

The Healthy Out-of-School Time Coalition has drafted a letter to Congress that sends a strong, unified message in support of federal policies and programs that promote health and wellness for children across the country. The letter particularly mentions the ways afterschool, before-school, and summer learning programs provide a crucial link between federal health and wellness policies for children and the real life actions that help children grow up strong, active, and at a healthy childhood weight.

“With an established record of accomplishment, afterschool and summer learning programs should not be underestimated as potential 'game changers' in promoting wellness among young people and therefore funding that support these programs must be maintained,” the letter reads.

National or state organizations are strongly urged to sign the letter in order to demonstrate the broad support for healthy out of school time programs.

Read the letter here. To sign on, click here and complete the form by 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, June 2.

MAY
24
2017

IN THE FIELD
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In coal country, afterschool's a lifeline for working families

By Charlotte Steinecke

Photo courtesy of Monongalia County Schools Extended Day in Morgantown.

While some areas have started to recover from the Great Recession, some of the hardest-hit states continue to struggle with sluggish wage growth and limited employment opportunities. One of those states is West Virginia, where 1 in 4 children are growing up in poverty and well-paying union jobs, especially in the coal industry, are becoming rare.

Last month we had the opportunity to hear from parents in West Virginia. Tommy G. is a single father of three hit by the downturn of the coal industry. In a nearby county, Chastity and Brennan took on longer hours and a second job after their incomes were cut. And in Fairmont, a family of eight juggles the many of demands of work and kids. What do these parents have in common? They rely on afterschool programs—and say losing afterschool would result in financial hardship and put their ability to work in jeopardy.

West Virginia’s strong demand for quality, affordable afterschool options is made clear by America After 3PM, which found that the rate of participation in West Virginia’s afterschool programs more than tripled between 2004 and 2014. Hardworking parents, many of whom make ends meet with two or more jobs, find support for their affordable childcare needs in the form of aftercare, free and reduced-price food, homework and academic assistance, and more.

MAY
23
2017

POLICY
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Trump doubles down: $0 for afterschool

By Charlotte Steinecke

Afterschool funding is still on the chopping block.

The fiscal year 2018 federal budget is in, and it eliminates 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding completely. Despite an overwhelming display of support for afterschool from voters, communities, and lawmakers from across the political spectrum, the White House remains committed to cutting the programs that kids and families rely on. 

When the budget cut was floated back in March, the reaction was swift and absolutely clear: 

  • More than 1,450 diverse organizations signed a letter calling on House and Senate appropriators to reject President Trump’s proposal and fund 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) at or above its current level of $1.167 billion.
  • Eighty-one members of Congress (twice as many as last year) signed a bipartisan letter to House Appropriations Committee leaders urging them not to cut afterschool funding.
  • Researchers across the ideological spectrum spoke out about the value of afterschool programs.
  • Highly respected institutions posted new research summaries demonstrating that afterschool programs provide tremendous benefits – as nearly every study has clearly shown.
  • A Quinnipiac national poll found that 83 percent of voters oppose cutting funding for afterschool and summer programs, with just 14 supporting the administration’s position.
  • Congress provided a modest increase in Community Learning Center funding for the remainder of FY2017, enabling 25,000 more students across the nation to participate in afterschool programs.

As our executive director Jodi Grant put it, the budget cut would be “a stunning blow” to working families, “who count on afterschool programs to provide enriching, educational opportunities for their children during the hours after the school day ends and before parents get home from work.”

But kids are the big losers if this budget cut goes forward. A decade of research show that afterschool works to boost student success. National studies of students who regularly attend 21st Century Community Learning Centers found participants improved math and reading grade level performance, class participation, homework completion, and classroom behavior. For example, in Texas’ 21st CCLC programs, students were more likely to be promoted to the next grade, while a statewide longitudinal evaluation of the After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) program in California found that students participating received higher ELA and math assessment scores. For additional details on these evaluations and to read more state reports, download our 21st CCLC Statewide Evaluation Academic Highlights fact sheet.

And we know that the benefits of afterschool aren’t just for the children in the programs; parents with children in afterschool programs report being more focused at work and being able to work a full day.  That additional security has huge economic results for individual families and for the nation. In fact, according to a study by Catalyst and the Community, Families & Work Program at Brandeis University, parents with children in afterschool programs contribute an additional $50 to $300 billion more to the economy each year.

At a time when 1 in 5 children is unsupervised after the school day ends and nearly 19.4 million children are waiting to get into an afterschool program, “The administration’s proposal is painfully short-sighted and makes a mockery of the president’s promises to support inner cities and rural communities alike,” Grant added. Afterschool is working for millions of American families, and millions more have made it clear that there is immense unmet demand for programs—why would we want to shut them down?

It’s time to speak up in defense of afterschool. Our momentum is strong and we have fought back against one budgetary elimination before: we can do it again, and win. Email your representatives in Congress right now, and join us on June 7 for a national call-in day to tell your representatives that you will not accept elimination of federal afterschool funding. Together, our voices and our advocacy can make the difference that saves afterschool.