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Welcome, 2017-2018 class of Afterschool & Expanded Learning Policy Fellows!

By Jen Rinehart

Torrance Robinson from FLUOR speaks to the 2016-2017 Fellows about corporate engagement

Sixteen leaders in the field of afterschool and expanded learning nationwide have been selected as White-Riley-Peterson (WRP) Policy Fellows as part of a partnership between the Riley Institute at Furman University and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Through deep discussion of case studies led by policy change-makers, the fellowship equips graduates with a real-world understanding of sound policy-making for afterschool and expanded learning. In the ten-month program, which begins in October, fellows will study afterschool/expanded learning policy and develop and implement state-level policy projects in partnership with their statewide afterschool networks and the national Afterschool Alliance.

"Attending the White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship was as not only rewarding academically but also for creating network partners across the country,” said Darren Grimshaw of the Burlington Police Department, a recent fellow. “The manner in which policy development was presented allowed for the collaboration of fellows and the input of subject matter experts in the field of afterschool programming. This policy fellowship experience has also given me the tools necessary to continue building much needed partnerships between law enforcement and out-of-school programs. This was an amazing hands-on experience."



Guest blog: Sen. Barbara Boxer to be honored at BOOST Conference

By Guest Blogger

By Meg Gneiting, Marketing Manager at BOOST Collaborative. "Barbara Boxer Keynote Announcement: BOOST Conference 2017" was originally published on the BOOST Breakfast Club Blog.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the 2017 BOOST Conference Keynote Speaker, former Sen. Barbara Boxer! 

BOOST Collaborative and the Afterschool Alliance invite you to join us in honoring Sen. Barbara Boxer at this year's BOOST Conference in Palm Springs, Calif. Jodi Grant, Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance, will be presenting Sen. Boxer with an OSTI (Out of-School Time Innovations) Award on Wednesday, April 19, followed by a keynote address, audience Q&A, and book signing.

Schedule: April 19, 2017

  • 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: OSTI Award, keynote, audience Q&A
  • 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: Meet the authors, meet & greet, book signing

Be sure to purchase your keynote book today! Log in to your online account to add or call us at 619-23-BOOST (619-232-6678).

About Barbara Boxer

A forceful advocate for families, children, consumers, the environment and her State of California, Barbara Boxer became a United States Senator in January 1993 after 10 years of service in the House of Representatives and six years on the Marin County Board of Supervisors. In January 2017, she stepped down after four terms in the Senate.

A champion of quality public education, Senator Boxer wrote landmark legislation establishing the first-ever federal funding for afterschool programs. Her law now covers 1.6 million children. She worked tirelessly to expand afterschool programs nationwide as chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus.

A strong supporter of the 1994 crime bill, she has worked to fund anti-gang programs, pass the Violence Against Women Law (VAWA), and the Community Policy "COPS" Program. Her bill to prevent the criminal use of personal information obtained through motor vehicle records was signed into law and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read more about Barbara Boxer.

About the BOOST Conference

The BOOST Conference will take place April 18-21, 2017, in Palm Springs, Calif. The deadline to register for the BOOST Conference is March 24, 2017.



Weekly Media Roundup: October 5, 2016

By Luci Manning

Former Trash Field Becomes School Garden (Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico)

Fifth-grade teacher Shannon Ryan and her Lavaland Elementary afterschool gardening club transformed a trash-strewn field into a tidy community garden. Students in the club rake and weed the garden, plant and set up new beds and pick their own fresh produce. Depending on the season, students grow everything from tomatoes and peaches to squash and kale. “They see where food comes from and how to make it themselves without the processed chemicals – they enjoy that a lot,” Ryan told the Albuquerque Journal. “They can take the skills and translate it at home to provide for their own families.”

Students Band Together to Try to Save Monarch Butterflies (Associated Press, Massachusetts)

Students in the Hayden-McFadden elementary afterschool program Let’s Move Beyond the Bell and Bristol County Agricultural High School are doing their part to save the monarch butterflies at Buttonwood Park and Zoo the Associated Press reports. The monarchs are dependent on milkweed plants, which the students are planting in special gardens throughout the zoo. The program gives them a chance to work with their hands and learn more about ecology, while also helping to bolster the monarch population, which has declined by 90 percent in the last decade.

Emanuel Moves to Deliver on Promise to Boost Mentoring Program (Chicago Sun-Times, Illinois)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has taken the first step in implementing his citywide campaign against violence with a $3 million investment in Becoming A Man (BAM), a mentoring program for middle- and high-school boys. The investment is part of a three-year, $36 million campaign to expand the mentoring program to all 7,200 eighth-, ninth- and tenth-grade boys in Chicago’s 20 most violent neighborhoods. “We know this stuff works,” BAM director A.J. Watson told the Chicago Sun-Times. “When young people have an opportunity to engage with people invested in them who take the time to understand their needs, hopes and dreams, they feel more connected and more empowered.” The program currently serves 2,700 students and so far has increased graduation rates while decreasing crime rates among the young men involved.

UC Is Joining Boys & Girls Clubs to Boost University Enrollment (EdSource, California)

The University of California system is hoping to boost its enrollment of low-income and underrepresented minority students through a new partnership with three Boys & Girls Clubs in the state. UC will lead campus visits and provide academic counseling and financial aid advice to club members, many of whom never knew college was an option. The schools will also be making sure students are taking the right classes and standardized tests for UC admission. “We want to give them the sense they can aspire to a UC, and we are prepared to do everything to help them to be ready to be UC eligible,” UC Board of Regents chairwoman Monica Lozano told EdSource.  



Senate passes unanimous resolution in support of Lights On Afterschool 2016

By Robert Abare

Today, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution in commemoration of the 17th annual celebration of Lights On Afterschool. U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus, along with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) praised the passage of the resolution, which recognizes the only national celebration of afterschool programs and their role in keeping kids safe, insipiring them to learn and helping working families.

"I am so pleased that the Senate recognizes the importance of high-quality afterschool programs,” said Senator Boxer. “These programs help keep our children safe, improve student performance and enrich our kids’ education with activities like music, art, sports and so much more.”

“Afterschool programs provide an enriching environment for students once the school day has ended,” said Senator Collins. “By engaging young people in academic and physical activities, these programs enhance students’ education and help promote healthy habits. In addition, afterschool programs provide parents with peace of mind knowing that their children are in a safe and structured setting.”

This resolution is co-sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Al Franken (D-MN).

Senator Boxer authored legislation in 2001 that lead to the first major national investment in afterschool programs. Last year, Senator Boxer’s Afterschool for America’s Children Act was included in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was signed by President Obama last DecemberThis provision not only ensured a dedicated source of federal funding for afterschool, but will help to modernize the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, improve states’ ability to effectively support quality afterschool programs, and ensure afterschool activities complement the academic curriculum.

Register for Lights On and you could win!

Next month, more than one million people are expected to attend more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events across the nation. It's not too late to start planning an event in your community! Register for Lights On Afterschool by October 6, and you'll be entered to win a prize pack from WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS, which allows kids to author and publish their very own children's books!



How an afterschool program recruited a US Senator as a powerful ally

By Robert Abare

LA’s BEST has long been creating Better Educated Students for Tomorrow—since its founding in 1988, the program has grown to serve over 25,000 kids at 193 elementary schools across Los Angeles, particularly in neighborhoods vulnerable to gangs, drugs and crime. US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has been an ally of the program for almost just as long, dating back to her first site visit to LA’s BEST in 1992.

Hosting Boxer at a site visit was a critical way for LA’s BEST to establish a relationship with the Senator, who then boosted the profile of the program locally and nationally while securing funding for programs across the nation. Most recently, Boxer helped accomplish this goal by working to preserve and strengthen the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative in the nation’s new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Boxer, who is retiring after her term ends in 2016, recently capped off her championing of LA’s BEST and afterschool in general by visiting the program for a final site visit earlier this month. During the course of her visit, she interacted with kids as they showed off the many opportunities offered by the program, including digital learning and coding lessons, a dance performance and learning math through Legos.

Boxer held a press conference following the visit, where she took questions from both the media and youth who participate in LA’s BEST. Boxer described how her experiences with LA’s BEST inspired her to become a national champion of afterschool.

“…when I saw [LA’s BEST], I knew I had to take it nationwide. And we did it together,” she said. “We created that national program, which serves more than a million kids every single day and it’s because of LA’s BEST…”

Gurna elaborated on how the partnership between LA’s BEST and Senator Boxer not only benefitted LA’s BEST, but afterschool across the USA. “The relationship with Senator Boxer is ideal because it developed from her being inspired by our program to her becoming a national advocate for afterschool.”

“This is a great example of how elected officials need to have a personal experience with a program to see what they are accomplishing,” Gurna explained. “Officials need to see how afterschool provides critical experiences that expand learning and horizons, and see how afterschool opportunities are not that different from what they want their own kids to experience.”

“Our more than 25 year relationship with Senator Boxer is testament to the fact that we have to get officials out there meeting kids, staff and seeing the power of afterschool with their own eyes.”

Gurna added, “Elected officials just need an access point—and any high quality afterschool program can fill that role.”



US Senator praises Afterschool Ambassador named 2016 Champion for Kids

By Robert Abare

From L to R, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) with Afterschool Ambassador Julie Wild-Curry at the 2016 Afterschool for All Challenge in Washington, D.C.

Current chair of the Alaska Afterschool Network and Afterschool Ambassador Julie Wild-Curry has been recognized for her advocacy for Alaska's youth and out-of-school time programming by being named a 2016 Champion for Kids by the Alaska Children’s Trust. Wild-Curry is the Director of Afterschool Programs for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District and a White-Riley-Peterson Fellow.

Throughout her 25 year career, Wild-Curry has advocated for increased out-of-school time opportunities for children and working families, both in Alaska and across the country. Her work helped create a strong out-of-school time network in Fairbanks, AK, which has ensured families have the support they need, and that more children have access to safe and enriching environments during the after school hours.

A letter from Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was read at a reception celebrating Wild-Curry’s receipt of the Champion for Kids award on Wednesday, August 17. “What many people here this evening may not know about you is that, in addition to being an outstanding program director and mentor, you are a national leader for after school programs,” said the Senator of Wild-Curry.

The Senator went on to praise Wild-Curry’s work, in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance, in drafting and advocating for the Afterschool for America’s Children Act, which sought to strengthen the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative (21st CCLC). “The bill reflected your many years of experience and your commitment to ensuring that children have the most enriching, safest after school and summer experiences possible,” she said.

Senator Murkowski added, “I was proud to sponsor that bill because I know that whatever you recommend is worth supporting. That bill became law with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act this past December.”

Indeed, the Every Student Succeeds Act preserved and strengthened 21st CCLC despite significant challenges, an accomplishment that would not have been possible without the support of champions in Congress like Senator Murkowski and advocates like Wild-Curry.

Through the Champion for Kids award, the Alaska Children’s Trust annually recognizes an individual that has demonstrated dedication and commitment in working toward eliminating child abuse and neglect by ensuring that children are living in safe, supportive, and nurturing communities. 



August Congressional recess is great time for site visits

By Jen Rinehart

Amanda Colecio, 13, shows off a robot that she helped build through the SHINE program. (AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS Copyright, Zubek-Miller Photography.)

Every August, the Afterschool Alliance encourages afterschool providers to think about inviting Members of Congress, who are back in their home districts for much of the month, to come visit programs. The Afterschool Alliance offers tools to help plan a site visit, case studies of past site visits, and Q & A blogs with providers who have successfully hosted visits to make it easy to host a policy maker at a program.

Last week, I joined Congressman Lou Barletta (R-PA-11) along with his chief of staff, a staff member from Senator Casey’s office, numerous state legislators and legislative staff and local superintendents for a visit to the SHINE Afterschool Program in Jim Thorpe, PA. The SHINE Afterschool Program, funded in part by a grant from 21st Century Community Learning Centers, started in three centers that served 90 students across two counties. This year, it will serve 1,200 students from 16 centers in Carbon, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties.

Creativity and flexibility are key to a successful site visit

SHINE is no stranger to organizing site visits, but they faced a unique challenge that other providers might also face in mid-late August:  no students. SHINE offers summer programming, but it had ended by last week. In August, SHINE's model shifts to focus on home visits as they gear up for a new school year. So, SHINE did what they always do; they innovated. They invited a group of guests to Carbon Career & Technical Institute and arranged for staff, students and parents to give the invited guests a sample of what SHINE has to offer to students and families.

During the visit, we heard about the philosophy and quality principles behind SHINE, we experienced a home visit with one of the SHINE home visit teachers, we observed students engaging in activities similar to the opportunities they have during the school year, and we heard from a grandmother who is raising her grandchildren and values what SHINE has offered her grandkids over the years.

Policy makers praise the benefits of afterschool

Reflecting on his first visit to SHINE in 2011, Rep. Barletta said, “This program is exactly what we need to change the direction and lives of our children… Changing the direction and lives of our children is the best thing we can do for America.”  Rep. Barletta views SHINE as not only a model program for Pennsylvania, but for our country. State Senator Yudichak talked about meeting children and parents who talked about how much SHINE empowered them and how impressed he was by the evidence based, data-driven program that has a success record spanning more than a decade. In his words, “SHINE is improving lives in the classroom, after school and in the community.”

After seeing students using computer design software to design and build cars, program robots and test out engineering skills by building bridges, it became clear why Barletta and Yudichak are such champions. In the end, it was a grandmother who stole the show, by revealing her heartfelt appreciation for SHINE and the help and safety it provides her grandchildren despite lots of challenges.

Congratulations to Rachel Strucko, Director of SHINE and the Pennsylvania Afterschool Network, PSAYDN, for getting state and federal policy makers and local media to see what SHINE is all about, and why state and federal investments in afterschool are so important.  



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.