Earlier this month, Champions® and the National AfterSchool Association released their second annual “Out-of-School Time Survey.” The survey found an overwhelming majority of elementary and middle school superintendents believe in the academic, social and behavioral benefits afterschool programs provide to their students. In addition to viewing afterschool programs as an environment where children can improve their core academic skills—such as reading, math and science—96 percent of superintendents agree that the most important afterschool programs improve study skills and more than 9 in 10 superintendents surveyed agree that the most important afterschool programs increase students’ social interactions and engagement (92 percent). More than 4 in 5 superintendents say that the most important afterschool programs are those that offer activities not present during the traditional school day (82 percent).
A key take away from this survey is that school superintendents understand the true value of afterschool programs and recognize that schools and students benefit from support of afterschool programs. Schools aren’t alone in the charge to ensure that all students receive a quality and well-rounded education. Afterschool programs are able and willing partners to prepare students for success in school, career and life.
This week is National Volunteer Week, a special time to recognize the extraordinary contributions of volunteers across the country.
Afterschool professionals understand the importance of volunteers. These dedicated individuals are key to ensuring all children have access to high quality afterschool programs. Volunteers fulfill a number of different roles, from serving as tutors and mentors to educating students on specific subjects. They also fundraise for these programs and can manage certain aspects of program operations Without volunteers, many afterschool programs would not be able to serve the 8.4 million students they reach.
Community volunteers are not the only people afterschool programs rely upon. Volunteers from the major national service programs, including AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA, also play important roles in many afterschool programs. During their year-long service commitments, AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA members manage volunteers, fundraise, promote program sustainability and work directly with enrolled students. These volunteers are critical to the day-to-day operations of many afterschool programs.
If you are an afterschool program volunteer, thank you for all that you do! If you manager or work for an afterschool program, be sure to take some time this week to thank your volunteers.
Jeff Cole is the associate vice president of school-community partnerships for the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and Network Lead for the Nebraska Community Learning Center Network.
As a first time participant in the Afterschool for All Challenge, I really didn’t know what to expect as we were filing into the Russell Senate Office Building. Having nominated Kristin Williams, Director of Community Initiatives at Omaha’s Sherwood Foundation, as Nebraska’s Afterschool Champion (a MUCH deserved recognition for all her work promoting afterschool programs in high poverty schools in Omaha and across the state), I knew state level advocates would be recognized for their work. I didn’t realize that a bipartisan group of senators and representatives would be joined by other national advocates and young people from nearby programs at the “Breakfast of Champions” to make such a strong case for why afterschool programs are so important for our nation’s future before heading to meetings on Capitol Hill.
I was especially hearted by Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) comments in support of S. 326, which strengthens the crucial federal 21st CCLC grant program, highlighting how important afterschool programs are for residents of her largely rural state. I was honored to have the opportunity to chat with and share my enthusiasm for rural afterschool programs with Sen. Murkowski as she was leaving the ornate and historic Kennedy Caucus Room.
I carried this enthusiasm for the importance of rural afterschool programs over into the meetings that I had with 4 of Nebraska’s 5 Congressional delegations after the “Breakfast of Champions.” Retiring Sen. Mike Johanns met with our group and reflected on his understanding of the importance of afterschool programs that he gained while serving as Nebraska’s governor.
|Sen. Barbara Boxer at the "Breakfast of Champions"|
Following rousing speeches by Sens. Boxer (D-CA) and Murkowski (R-AK) last week during the "Breakfast of Champions," the bipartisan Afterschool for America’s Children Act, S. 326, wasintroduced in the Senate today. Sens. Boxer (D-CA), Murkowski (R-AK) and Murray (D-WA) introduced the Afterschool for America’s Children Act that reauthorizes the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative and builds on past afterschool and summer learning program success. The bill number, 326, symbolizes the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. when young people should have quality learning and enrichment opportunities.
- Strengthens school-community partnerships to include sharing of data and resources, the ability to better leverage relationships within the community and provide an intentional alignment with the school day.
- Promotes professional development and training of afterschool program staff.
- Encourages innovative new ways to engage students in learning that looks different from a traditional school day, with an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); and physical activity and nutrition education. Supports approaches that focus on individualized learning that provide a variety of ways for students to master core skills and knowledge.
- Provides accountability measures that are connected to college- and career-readiness goals and show student progress over time toward meeting indicators of student success including school attendance, grades and on-time grade level advancement.
- Ensures that funding supports programs that utilize evidence-based, successful practices.
- Increases quality and accountability through parent engagement, better alignment with state learning objectives, and coordination between federal, state and local agencies.
- Does not prioritize any one model of expanded learning opportunities over another.
- Maintains formula grants to states that then distribute funds to local school-community partnerships through a competitive grant process.
Next week on Feb. 7, the Afterschool for All Challenge is an opportunity to raise your voice right in your own community to support the quality afterschool and summer learning programs that inspire young people to learn, support working families and keep children safe. Over the last 11 years several thousand parents, educators, young people and afterschool champions have come to Washington, D.C., and Capitol Hill to make the case that afterschool, before school and summer learning programs are critical to the success of young people and a lifeline for parents.
This year we are changing it up and not asking advocates to travel to Washington, D.C., for the Afterschool for All Challenge. Because budgets are tight and times are uncertain at afterschool programs we are instead calling on friends of afterschool programs to call, meet in home district offices and email Congress on Afterschool for All Challenge day: Feb. 7, 2013. Here in Washington, we will be backing up your outreach at home through face-to-face meetings with Congress, as we team up with over 40 state teams who will be in Washington for the conference of the National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks.
The results of the last 11 years of afterschool advocacy are clear: federal support for afterschool and summer learning through the 21st CCLC has grown—from being able to help 40,000 students access support in 1998 to helping more than 1 million young people last year. We know afterschool works and champions of afterschool are excellent at making the case:
- The Promising Afterschool Programs Study found that regular participation in high-quality afterschool programs is linked to significant gains in standardized test scores and work habits. (University of California, Irvine, 2007)
- A meta analysis of 68 afterschool studies concluded that high quality afterschool programs can lead to improved attendance, behavior and coursework. Students participating in a high quality afterschool program went to school more, behaved better, received better grades and did better on tests compared to non-participating students. (Durlak, Weissberg & Pachan, 2010)
- The Promising Afterschool Programs Study found that students reported improved social and behavioral outcomes: elementary students reported reductions in aggressive behavior toward other students and skipping school; middle school students reported reduced use of drugs and alcohol, compared to their routinely unsupervised peers. (Policy Studies Associates, Inc., 2007)
Today the members of the 113th Congress were sworn in on Capitol Hill where they face a full agenda from sequestration to appropriations. The new Congress includes some new faces in addition to the return of several long time champions of afterschool programs.
Prior to the election, the House Afterschool Caucus stood at 72 bipartisan members. As a result of election, 12 members will no longer be on the House Caucus. Six retired or resigned while four lost re-election and two won election to the Senate: Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN). Work will begin in the new Congress to recruit additional members to the Caucus. Among those retiring was Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI), founder of the House Afterschool Caucus, whose seat was won by his nephew Dan Kildee. Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) continue as co-chairs of the House Afterschool Caucus.
In the Senate Afterschool Caucus, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) remains chairwoman. Prior to the election there were 34 bipartisan members of the Senate Afterschool Caucus. Going into the 113th Congress, six Caucus members have retired. Additionally, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has joined the Afterschool Caucus.
On the House Education and Workforce Committee, as previously mentioned Rep. Kildee retired. In addition to being founder of the House Afterschool Caucus, Mr. Kildee was also ranking member of the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) will replace Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) as chairman of the subcommittee. Other key champions of afterschool that will not be in the 113th Congress include Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Todd Russell Platts (R-PA), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Jason Altmire (D-PA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Judy Biggert (R-IL) who also championed STEM education and social and emotional learning. In total, there will be 76 new representatives in the 113th Congress.
Most Congressional races have been called and vote counts are winding down: so what do the results mean for youth and children; and for supporters of afterschool and summer learning opportunities? From key Committee leadership to the House and Senate Afterschool Caucus, here is a rundown of potential impact:
Prior to the election, the House Afterschool Caucus stood at 72 bipartisan members. As a result of election, 12 members will no longer be on the House Caucus. Six retired or resigned while four lost re-election, and two won election to the Senate: Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN). Work will begin in the new Congress to recruit additional members to the Caucus. Among those retiring was Rep. Kildee (D-MI), founder of the House Afterschool Caucus, whose seat was won by his nephew Dan Kildee.
In the Senate Afterschool Caucus, prior to the election there were 34 bipartisan members. Going into the 113th Congress in January, six Caucus members have retired. Two new senators were members of the House Afterschool Caucus previously: Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN).
On the House Education and Workforce Committee, as previously mentioned Rep. Dale Kildee retired. In addition to being founder of the House Afterschool Caucus, Mr. Kildee was also ranking member of the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee. Other key champions of afterschool that will not be in the 113th Congress include Rep. Woolsey (D-CA), Rep. Platts (R-PA), Rep. Kucinich (D-OH), Rep. Altmire (D-PA), Rep. Hirono (D-HI) and Rep. Biggert (R-IL) who also championed STEM education and social and emotional learning. In total, there will be 76 new representatives in the 113th House of Representatives.