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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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JUL
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Closing the achievement gap for Latino kids

By Guest Blogger

By Diego Uriburu, co-founder and executive director of Identity.

By age 16, Elam had been out of school for two years. Although he’d dropped out of school the first time, he knew he needed to turn his life around and that the best way to do that was to complete his education. Going back to school was extremely difficult, but that’s where Elam found Identity, an organization that provides afterschool programs for low-income Latino students in Montgomery County, Maryland.

“I enrolled in school and worked hard, but my passion and my escape was soccer,” Elam says. “That’s how I first met Coach Efrain Viana, who came to school to recruit for the Identity league. What I liked immediately was that everyone got a chance and was treated like family. I wasn’t alone anymore. Identity pushed me to work hard in school as well as on the field, and to take every opportunity presented. Opportunities like college — Coach Efrain connected me with coaches at Washington Adventist University. I started last fall with a full scholarship.”

Elam’s story is just one of the examples of afterschool making a difference to the youth who need it most. But the futures of young people like Elam have been put in jeopardy as the administration moves to eliminate funding for afterschool programs.

JUL
11
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Afterschool gave me hope of a future I'd never known

By Guest Blogger

By Aaron Short, assistant head of staff at 21st Cranston Community Learning Center Bain +2/Kidventure Afterschool Program. Aaron attended the Youth Session of the 2017 Afterschool for All Challenge and spoke to his members of Congress about the impact of afterschool on his life.

From the start of my life, I was taught a few things from living in the ghetto of Cranston, Rhode Island: I didn’t have a chance in life outside there; it was okay to join a gang when your family loses everything; and the ghetto will be my life no matter how hard I try. If you asked me where these ideas were picked up, I couldn’t tell you, but it was inescapable.  By the time I was eight, my ex-friends were talking about how much they’ve stolen from grocery stores. Although I didn’t know it at the time, in the fifth grade I saw future gang members starting their careers at the tender age of 10.

My mother worked her hardest to give me a better life, but the mounting costs of daycare and the needs of my newly-born sister kept moving us lower and lower towards poverty. I still remember a point when we were being threatened with eviction because we couldn’t afford to live in our small apartment. My school’s schedule didn’t help the situation, as my mother having to take her lunch break to drop me off at school and had to leave in the middle of the work day to pick me up. And anyone who starts a job with few credentials and leaves halfway through the year can’t hold that job for very long. The choice was simple: I could be safe after school, or we could have dinner.

JUN
23
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Afterschool programs change the lives of young refugees

By Guest Blogger

By Susanna Pradhan, an alumna of ourBRIDGE for KIDS in Charlotte, N.C. Susanna is a rising sophomore at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and attended the Afterschool for All Challenge in Washington, D.C. as part of the Youth Track. 

In 1998, I was born to a Bhutanese refugee family in Sanischare Camp in Eastern Nepal. As refugees, we were isolated from the rest of the world and deprived of our basic rights. We were abused at work, making less than a dollar a day.

Growing up in the slums of Nepal, my only hope for a better future was through education. My father was a teacher and my mother the pharmacist, albeit an informal one, in our camp. My parents were respected individuals in our camp and from a young age I wanted to become a respected individual as well. Seeing my mother cure the sick sparked my interest in the medical field. I dreamed of becoming a doctor and carrying on my mother’s healing work.

Everything changed when my family was given the chance to come to the United States. After a lengthy process, we arrived in Charlotte, N.C., in April of 2009. In August, I started my first school in America as a sixth grader at Eastway Middle School. It was only then, when I was faced with the reality of life in the United States, that I realized how horrible our Nepal conditions really were. America was living in a future so advanced it was unimaginable. There are so many details of everyday life that many take for granted; because of my experience in Nepal, I can appreciate the details that many overlook.

JUN
22
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Educators convene town hall against cuts to afterschool & summer

By Ursula Helminski

“Looking back, I don't know where I would have been without afterschool pushing me [and] showing me right from wrong." - Ashley, After-School All-Stars, AFT Tele-Town Hall

On June 12, in a show of united concern and support, the education, afterschool, community school, and health communities came together for a national tele-town hall to discuss the devastation that President Trump’s proposed cuts would wreak on Americans, and what we can do about it. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) organized the call-in event, in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance, the Coalition for Community Schools, Learning Forward, and the National Association of School Nurses.

Teachers, nurses, afterschool youth, working parents, and community school leaders shared personal stories about the programs and supports that will be lost if the cuts are made.

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
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:

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
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Afterschool set me on the path to success

By Guest Blogger

By Ashley Castillo, an alumna of After-School All-Stars in Orlando, Fla. Ashley shared her story on Capitol Hill on April 21, at a panel of expert speakers sharing their stories and experiences in defense of 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding.

As one of the thousands of students my afterschool program has helped, I would like to share a little bit about myself and tell you how much this program has meant to me and my family.

Like thousands of kids across the nation, growing up during these times has been very hard. For as long as I can remember, my family always struggled to get by. Both of my parents are deaf, and as of recently, my mother has had problems with her vision. It has always been difficult for them to hold steady jobs and provide for me, my brother, and my sister. We had to move constantly and often lived in places that were so bad that no one else should ever have to live there. These struggles caused many fights and issues between my parents and they eventually got a divorce.

I don’t think people realize how these kinds of problems affecting adults can turn around and affect kids. In my case, I became very shy and did not talk a lot in elementary school. I kept a lot of my feelings inside and did not participate in many activities. I did not feel safe in my neighborhood and my parents could never afford to put me in an afterschool or summer program.