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Afterschool Challenge Snacks
MAY
25
2016

CHALLENGE
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You took the Challenge, and Congress listened!

By Robert Abare

On Monday, May 23, and Tuesday, May 24, the 15th annual Afterschool for All Challenge brought more than 150 afterschool advocates from across the country to Washington, D.C. for two days of learning, advocating, and celebrating out-of-school time programs. Thanks to the collaboration and enthusiasm of these participants—supported by messages to Congress sent from advocates nationwide—this year's Challenge was a huge success! 

Here are the amazing accomplishments of this year's Challenge:

  • More than 150 participants from 36 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
  • More than 160 visits to Congressional offices on Capitol Hill, many of which were attended by Members of Congress.
  • Workshops on the latest in afterschool, including child nutrition reauthorizationadvocacy during election season, and afterschool in rural America.
  • A panel discussion and Q&A with staffers of Members of Congress who played a key role in supporting afterschool programs in the nation’s new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
  • An Afterschool Showcase on Capitol Hill, featuring performances and demonstrations by local and national afterschool programs, and remarks by Senators and Representatives who championed out-of-school time programs in Congress.
  • Nearly 800 messages sent to Congress by participants of the Virtual Afterschool for All Challenge.
MAY
19
2016

CHALLENGE
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Amplify afterschool voices on Capitol Hill

By Robert Abare

Participants from 2014's Afterschool for All Challenge meet with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Next Tuesday, May 24, more than 150 afterschool advocates from across the country will descend on Capitol Hill for the 2016 Afterschool for All Challenge. This year's Challenge participants will build support for afterschool among national legislators at a critical time, as Congress prepares to determine funding levels for the only federal funding source for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers inititative.

Here's what we have planned for this year's Challenge:

Join the excitement! Take the Virtual Challenge

You can play a major role in boosting the voice of advocates visiting Congress by taking the Virtual Afterschool for All Challenge in your community.

Right now, you can help the most by sending a message to your representatives, asking them to increase funding levels for 21st CCLC by $133 million for FY2017, bringing the total to $1.3 billion and allowing 140,000 additional children to access afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs.

In just a single click, you can add your voice to our Thunderclap, which sends a syncronized blast of messages supporting afterschool on social media. If you're seeking a deeper way to get involved—and a lasting impact for your community—learn about setting up a site visit to your program.

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MAY
12
2016

CHALLENGE
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Q&A: How I pulled off a successful site visit at my afterschool program

By Robert Abare

Congressman Tom Cole meets with kids at Crooked Oak Elementary School in Oklahoma City.

Kim Templeman is an Afterschool Ambassador, principal of Crooked Oak Elementary in Oklahoma City, OK, and director of Success Through Responsive Enrichment and Mentoring (STREAM), a 21st CCLC afterschool program. Last month, the program hosted a visit by United States Congressman Tom Cole, who represents Oklahoma’s 4th district.

Want to plan a site visit to your program? Take the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge today!

Q: How did you lay the groundwork for Congressman Cole’s visit to your program?

A: I contacted the Congressman’s office through standard means: through the contact information provided on his website. I first called his office and left a message, and then followed up with a few emails. I also reached out to our other representatives at the state and national level, but I found Congressman’s Cole’s office was most receptive.

Initially, we hosted an visit with Congressman Cole’s field representative Will McPherson from his regional office in Norman, OK. After his visit, Will said he would try his best to arrange a visit with the Congressman.

Q: How did you kick off your site visit with Congressman Cole?

A: I started the site visit by providing the Congressman with some information about the state of afterschool programming in Oklahoma, which I found through the Afterschool Alliance's America After 3PM website. I explained to the Congressman how we rely on a grant from 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and how we use these funds to provide a number of services to our students, parents and community four days per week, like hands-on academic enrichment that supplements lessons from the school day.

Q: How did the students respond to Congressman Cole’s visit?

A: I explained to the students how lucky they were to receive a visit from a United States Congressman—I certainly never had an experience like this when I was their age! During Congressman Cole’s visit I also quizzed the students on their recent lessons regarding the legislative branch and Congress, which was a great way for the Congressman to see the students’ learning in action, and also for the students to see their lessons come to life.

MAY
3
2016

CHALLENGE
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10 reasons to take the Virtual Challenge this month

By Robert Abare

Nebraska State Senator David Schnoor visits the Linden Leopards Afterschool Program

As you might have heard, afterschool advocates from across the country are flocking to Washington, D.C. on May 23 to participate in the Afterschool for All Challenge, when they’ll be sharing powerful stories to boost support for afterschool among national legislators. Throughout May, we’re encouraging everyone to get involved closer to home via the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge.

Here are the top ten reasons to participate!

  1. Gain powerful allies for your program. Hosting a site visit with a local official or leader is a great way to cultivate an influential relationship with someone who may be able to pave the way for new sources of funding or more favorable local policies.
  2. Reveal your program’s worth. Hosting a site visit is also great way to show off the accomplishments of your program—from teaching kids new skills to keeping them safe and out of trouble.  Local leaders will remember the demonstrated value of your program when making important decisions in the future!
  3. Get the media talking about your program. If the local press agrees to attend and cover your site visit by a local leader, their coverage will help broadcast to your community what your program does every day and how it helps kids and working families. Seeing a local official in attendance will show readers or viewers that leaders value your program’s importance, too.
  4. Get your program published. Hosting a site visit that gets media coverage helps elevate out-of-school time as an issue in the minds of voters and candidates, which can build a critical foundation for making out-of-school time programs an election issue this November. If you’re not hosting a site visit, you can also grab the public’s attention by writing a letter to the editor or publishing a blog post.
  5. Make noise on social media. You can get people talking about your program on social media through a number of ways. Check out our helpful social media kit, or join our Thunderclap before May 23rd to help send a synchronized blast of messages in support of afterschool.
  6. Gather new followers. By making an effective push on Twitter, Facebook or other platforms for the Virtual Challenge, your program can gain new followers, who in turn will stay up-to-date on your program’s events, news and needs.
  7. Ensure funding for afterschool. By hosting a local site visit for the Virtual Challenge, you help the Afterschool Alliance demonstrate broad public support for afterschool and summer learning programs, and make the case for robust federal funding for these programs. You can get involved today by writing messages to your representatives through our action center.
  8. Teach kids important lessons. Hosting a site visit—or getting involved in afterschool advocacy in general—can be a great way for kids to learn about our nation’s government, elections and legislative process. Show them why it matters to get involved!
  9. Set the stage for future visits. After you host a successful site visit, first pat yourself on the back for a job well done! Then be sure to send your local leader a thank you note, and he or she—or even their successor—may keep your program in mind when planning events or site visits in the future!
  10. Have fun! Participating in the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge is a great way to celebrate the learning and enrichment that occurs in out-of-school time programs. No matter how you decide to participate, have fun and encourage others to share your appreciation for afterschool! 
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learn more about: Advocacy Congress Events and Briefings
APR
19
2016

CHALLENGE
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Take the Virtual Challenge, gain powerful allies for your program

By Robert Abare

Participants of 2014's Afterschool for All Challenge meet with Senator Dean Heller of Nevada

On Tuesday, May 24, more than 250 afterschool advocates will arrive in Washington, D.C. for the Afterschool for All Challenge, meeting with their representatives in Congress to show them why afterschool programs deserve their support. This year, you too can cultivate powerful afterschool allies closer to home by taking the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge.

The most powerful way to participate is to invite a local policy maker and their staff to visit your afterschool program. Site visits can reveal to policy makers the many benefits your program provides to the community—and can convince them to help protect and strengthen your program in the face of obstacles to funding and resources.

You can start planning your site visit today with these tips for a successful visit. Our Virtual Challenge hub offers all the resources you need to plan a successful visit, from do’s and don’ts to a sample invitation.

If you’re ready to attract valuable attention to your upcoming site visit, or if you simply want to build community support for your program, engaging the media is another great way to join the Virtual Challenge. Proven messages about the power of afterschool programs can raise awareness about your program’s impact and even attract funders or other community allies, and our resources make it easy to deploy them.

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learn more about: Advocacy Congress Events and Briefings
APR
4
2016

CHALLENGE
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Will you accept the Afterschool for All Challenge?

By Erik Peterson

Senator Barbara Boxer of California greets participants of last year's Afterschool for All Challenge.

On May 24, 2016, hundreds of afterschool advocates and youth will be bringing their powerful stories to Capitol Hill for the 16th annual Afterschool for All Challenge. We know it is difficult to travel to Washington, D.C. to make your voice heard, so we are bringing the advocacy opportunity to you with the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge, in which you can participate from your own community or computer!

Join us for the Afterschool for All Challenge: Take Action At Home webinar on Tuesday, April 12 at 1 p.m. ET to learn more about how you can participate and make your voice heard. The webinar will feature soon-to-be-released advocacy tools that will help you make the case for afterschool.

Congress needs to hear from you. 

You are the local experts on afterschool, so we're asking you to call, meet and email Congress on Afterschool for All Challenge day: May 24, 2016. Here in Washington, we'll be backing up your outreach at home through face-to-face meetings with key Members of Congress.

On May 24, take the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge at home—our upcoming Take Action Toolkit will have all the resources you'll need! Here are three easy ways to participate:

  1. Meet with your Congressional district offices or set up a site visit at your program.
  2. Call, tweet or email Congress and ask them to support funding for the afterschool programs working families rely on.
  3. Encourage your contacts to take action.

To help you get started, join us on April 12th for a webinar to walk you through how to successfully reach out to your Members of Congress with key messages during the virtual Afterschool for All ChallengeRegister now!

MAR
26
2015

CHALLENGE
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Guest blog: CAUSE fuels teens' passion for research

By Rachel Clark

Kimberly Casiano, Chris Castillo, Dimitri Francis, and Crystele Maldonado live in Camden, NJ and are members of the CAUSE program at Camden's Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium. This letter about their experience at the 2015 Afterschool for All Challenge was originally published in the Courier-Post.

We recently had the chance to travel to Washington, D.C., for a national conference about afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs. Not only did we get to meet other youth from across the country, we also had the chance to visit Capitol Hill and meet with members of Congress to share the ways these programs help teach our generation about science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

As 10th- and 12th-graders who attend several different Camden City schools and participate in the Community and Urban Science Enrichment (CAUSE) program at the Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium, we know firsthand how valuable afterschool STEM experiences can be.

In our afterschool program, we’ve had the chance to participate in a multiyear youth development program that teaches science-based content that enhances public speaking and professional skills. We’ve worked on research vessels, done water-quality monitoring of our local watersheds, participated in a multitude of science activities in natural areas and traveled to beautiful places we never thought existed.

A major experience in the program is the five-week summer camp in which CAUSE teens, including us, research and write curriculum to teach to Camden youth from grades K to 8. We use informal teaching to educate communities in the city and surrounding area.

We love our afterschool program, and having the chance to use science to develop our personal and professional skills has been fun and has given us lots of confidence. A year ago, we never imagined that we could make a difference by teaching youth and families in our community about keeping our waterways clean. Many of these people listen and even make an effort to become stewards of their environment.

We also thought it was an amazing experience to speak to congressmen and senators to support afterschool programs. The CAUSE program has also increased our interest in the math and science we learn in school. And it’s completely changed our thinking about college and careers. One hundred percent of CAUSE program participants graduate from high school and attend college. We plan to keep up that great tradition.

We know that there will be many more jobs in STEM fields in coming years and not enough people trained to do those jobs. Coming from groups that are especially underrepresented in those fields (Hispanic/black/women), we know how important it is to work hard and stay involved. Because of what we’ve learned in our afterschool program, we hope to help turn that trend around.

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MAR
16
2015

CHALLENGE
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Hundreds of afterschool advocates take to Capitol Hill; Congress listens

By Rachel Clark

Last week, more than 400 afterschool advocates and youth stormed Capitol Hill for the 15th Afterschool for All Challenge. Taking more than 250 meetings with Members of Congress and congressional staff, advocates cultivated new allies for afterschool—and got results: 

Friends of afterschool also took action from across the country.  Supporters who couldn't join us in Washington, D.C. sent more than 200 emails to Congress on Tuesday alone and more than 650 emails during the week of the Challenge, bringing us to a total of nearly 4,000 emails to Congress this year.  We're now nearly 40 percent of the way to our goal of sending 10,600 emails on behalf of the 1.6 million kids with 21st CCLC programs at risk—email your representatives in Congress now to help reach that goal.

More than 270 supporters also took part in our Thunderclap campaign, reaching nearly 225,000 members of their social networks.  Many supporters also joined our advocacy efforts on social media throughout the day by posting and tweeting at their Members of Congress to emphasize the importance of afterschool, with a few Members of Congress chiming in themselves—get a recap of the conversation on Storify.

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