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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 Charlotte Steinecke
DEC
7
2017

STEM
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Promising practices: Hybrid tech/analog system grows STEM mentoring

By Charlotte Steinecke

Keshia Ashe and a student at Tubman Elementary

During CS Ed Week, we wanted to highlight an initiative that pushes the envelope on excellence in computer science and STEM. Keshia Ashe, the co-founder and chief executiver officer of ManyMentors, sat down to talk about afterschool, STEM mentoring, and fostering the growth of underrepresented communities in the STEM field.

In 2011, Keshia Ashe didn’t know she was starting a business. She just knew she saw a problem.

A graduate student at the time, Ashe was mentoring a group of tenth graders, many of whom were interested in pursuing medical school once they graduated. She reached out to friends in the field but kept hearing a familiar story.

“A lot of my friends said, ‘I can’t come, I’m busy, I don’t have the time to drive an hour to interface with the students,’” Ashe recalls. “At the time, Skype was really starting to gain some traction and not have so many technical difficulties, so my friends would Skype into the classroom to talk to the students. That’s really the nucleation site of ManyMentors. It was me trying to solve a problem with the students I was working directly with.”

ManyMentors is an organization that connects younger people to older people in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, using a hybrid strategy that combines face-to-face monthly mentoring meetings coordinated by onsite chapters with a mobile app that promotes sustained communication between mentors and mentees. In addition to more than 400 onsite mentors at six universities in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York, ManyMentors is opening a cohort of chapters in the D.C. region, with students from University of Maryland, Howard University, George Washington, George Mason University, and more.

DEC
4
2017

FUNDING
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Up to $500 for creative programs from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

By Charlotte Steinecke

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation is offering funding of up to $500 to design and implement a creative program for your school or library! Public schools, public libraries, and public preschool programs are encouraged to apply.

Previous successful projects have included a public story walk, a multicultural portrait project, a school garden, a bookmaking workshop, and an intergenerational storytelling day. Find more inspiration at the great mini-grant program gallery!

To apply, head over to the How to Apply for a Mini-Grant page. Watch the instruction video, read through the do’s and don’ts, and complete your online application by March 31, 2018.

Learn more at the FAQ page.

Looking for more funding opportunities? Check out our revamped Afterschool Funding Database! We’ve added new features so you can see when an entry was last updated and when the deadline is closing, as well as a host of new grant opportunities.

NOV
21
2017

LIGHTS ON
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STEM partners helped ignite curiosity during Lights On 2017

By Charlotte Steinecke

Afterschool STEM learning was one of our top themes for this year’s Lights On Afterschool, and with good reason. Afterschool programs provide an ideal space to connect kids to exciting, hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experiences, helping them engage deeply with these concepts in fun, inspiring ways!

Lots of afterschool programs used STEM as a centerpiece in their Lights On events. Here are a few of the ways programs celebrated STEM on October 26:

  • Students got ready for blast-off at the Mississippi Library in Fridley, Minn., with an activity to build their own rockets. Students and families designed and constructed their out-of-this-world space shuttles with a combination of science and art skills, led by library and afterschool program staff.
  • kidscommons Children’s Museum in Columbus, Ind., offered free museum admission for families with children age pre-K through 6th grade, with science, technology, engineering, art, and math activities available throughout the museum.
  • Think Together Liberty Elementary in Victorville, Calif. held a family night with student-taught 30-minute activity rotations, so students and parents could participate in mad scientist STEM unit lessons, including making moldable goo, engineering and testing different paper airplane designs, and creating monsters out of pipe cleaners and other materials.

This year’s Lights On Afterschool wouldn’t have been the success it was without the help of our amazing STEM partners. We’d like to give a big thank-you to STAR_Net, Association of Science - Technology Centers (ASTC), National Girls Collaborative, WGBH, STEMfinity, 4-H National Youth Science Day, and everyone else in the STEM world who contributed to a fantastic celebration!

NOV
10
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Introducing our inaugural class of Youth Afterschool Ambassadors

By Charlotte Steinecke

Through our Afterschool Ambassadors program, every year we recruit a cohort of program providers and advocates of special distinction and provide them with training, technical support, and modest funding to complete projects that raise the profile of afterschool in their communities. This year, we're very excited to announce that we're building on the success of that program, with our new Youth Afterschool Ambassador initiative!

Our first five Youth Ambassadors will each design and carry out a project showcasing the value of afterschool programs. In addition, they will write blog posts for Afterschool Snack about the importance of afterschool and travel to Washington, D.C., next year to participate in the annual Afterschool for All Challenge, where they will meet with members of Congress and their staff.

The five Youth Afterschool Ambassadors in this inaugural class come from four states. They are: 

  • Ruben Balderas from Walla Walla Washington’s WaHi FORWARD Afterschool Program  
  • Maya Irvine from Camdenton, Missouri’s Camdenton FIRST LASER Robotics Team  
  • Harli Jo McKinney from Stratford Oklahoma’s C3 Afterschool Program  
  • Kaleb Robertson from Green Bay, Wisconsin’s Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay  
  • Marisol Romero from Toppenish Washington’s 21st Century Community Afterschool and Summer Program at Safe Haven Community Center  

"The Youth Ambassador program is an incredible opportunity for students to share their experiences of afterschool and summer learning programs and the ways that participation in those programs have significantly impacted their lives," says Alexis Steines, director of field outreach at the Afterschool Alliance and manager of the Youth Ambassador program. "I look forward to seeing the creative advocacy projects our inaugural class of Youth Ambassadors is developing!" 

NOV
2
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Where were we during Lights On Afterschool 2017?

By Charlotte Steinecke

At the Afterschool Alliance, we spend a substantial part of our year focusing on Lights On Afterschool; when it finally happens, we’re running to keep up! We couldn’t wait to head out of the office (and sometimes out of the state) to explore the amazing programs and events that opened their doors to celebrate on October 26.

In our own words, here’s a small selection of where we were, what we saw, and who we met during this year’s Lights On Afterschool.

Andrews Air Force Base loves afterschool

"I had the pleasure of celebrating Lights On Afterschool with Matrice Brooks and the rest of the Youth Program staff on Andrews Air Force Base," said Shaun Gray, production and office manager. "As parents entered to pick up their kids, local youth programs were set up in the main area to offer sign-ups for sporting, art, and reading programs. McGruff the Crime Dog made an appearance but the highlight of the day was Sparky, a remote-controlled dog in a firetruck that sprays water."

Glowing bright in Tuscon, AZ

"We visited KIDCO, an afterschool program from the Tucson Parks and Rec department that serves 800 students during the school year and 1,200 students during the summer," wrote Andrea Szegedy-Maszak, our field outreach coordinator. "Their event was held in the beautiful Reid Park in Tucson, with an hour of lawn games before each KIDCO site performed a dance routine with a "decades" theme. More than 200 people attended the event, which kicked off with a group countdown until everyone cracked a glowstick and cheered for Lights On Afterschool!"

OCT
31
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Lights On Afterschool 2017 in pictures

By Charlotte Steinecke

Javan Ng Photography

This year might just be our most photogenic Lights On Afterschool yet!

The Empire State Building lit up the night in blue and yellow on the evening of October 26, the Lowry Bridge gleamed on the waters of Hennepin County, and social media buzzed with our amazingly successful “My Light’s On Afterschool” lightbulb challenge.

We saw amazing images taken with drones, the STATE Grill and Bar surprised us with a sweet shoutout, and the youngest afterschool advocate we’ve ever seen showed support for #LightsOnAfterschool. Middle schoolers from LEAP in Brooklyn blew us away with a musical extravaganza all about afterschool!

In the lead-up to October 26, the 50 statewide afterschool networks worked with 44 governors, including New York, Idaho, Florida, and Alaska, to proclaim Lights On Afterschool day. (We’ve got the Delaware and South Carolina proclamations in our office — love them!) We also saw a wonderful post proclaiming Lights On Afterschool day from the office of the mayor of Houston.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2z1P12E
learn more about: Lights On Afterschool
OCT
26
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Today is Lights On Afterschool!

By Charlotte Steinecke

Happy Lights On Afterschool!

Today is a day to celebrate the amazing impact afterschool programs have on the lives of millions of children every day. Thank you for everything you do to keep the Lights On Afterschool!

For the next 24 hours, our home page will be populated with a social media wall, showing all the action online. Join the party by using the #LightsOnAfterschool hashtag and challenge your friends to show their support by participating in the “My Light’s On Afterschool” Challenge.

If you’re not hosting an event today, use our lookup tool to find an event to attend near you!

We would love to see your pictures, as well — please send images of your event loa@afterschoolalliance.org with the name of the program and the location in the subject line.

Enjoy the celebration!

share this link: http://bit.ly/2yOcnIM
learn more about: Lights On Afterschool
OCT
19
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Easy, last-minute ideas for an amazing Lights On Afterschool!

By Charlotte Steinecke

Lights On Afterschool is just seven days away! While many programs are wrapping up their plans, some will only start planning this week. Luckily, we’ve got something for everyone over at our Last-Minute Ideas page. Use these ideas as the foundation of your event, or add an extra dimension to your celebration with another fun activity.

Looking for a few more easy ways to celebrate? We’ve got you covered:

  • Celebrate health and wellness by planning a make-your-own-pizza, -snack, or -taco night, with fresh and flavorful fixings that kids can mix and match to make their own meals. Polish it off by offering blank recipe cards so kids can write down their favorite combinations, decorate the cards, and take them home.
  • Bring art to your event with easy crafts and activities: Pinterest is full of instructions for tealight holders, galaxy and tornado jars, yarn pumpkins, dreamcatchers, and more.
  • Connect with your local library and ask if a librarian or staff member can come down to your event for a library card sign-up station. Then, host a read-aloud and encourage students to practice their peer-to-peer reading skills. Staple together some blank booklets so kids can write their own stories!
  • Plan a sidewalk parade around the block, showcasing student art, signs, and representations of all the activities you do in afterschool. Take pictures and tweet @ your reps with a message about why they should keep the #LightsOnAfterschool!
  • Take students on a nature walk or a field trip to explore the changing seasons. Encourage students to observe their surroundings and record their observations by taking notes and sketching points of interest. (Interested in more outdoor STEM fun? Check out the PLUM LANDING Explore Outdoors toolkit!)
  • Host a fall-friendly line or square dance party to get kids and parents moving at your event.

We’ve also got an activity so you can celebrate afterschool anywhere, with anyone: the “My Light’s On Afterschool” challenge! To join the challenge, just recreate our Lights On logo, snap a photo, and share it on social media with a message of support for #LightsOnAfterschool and a challenge to your friends and followers to participate. Head over to the Facebook event page for full details — and be sure to use our Facebook frame!