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JAN
11
2018

IN THE FIELD
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"I wanted to create something ... that shared the power and impact of my afterschool program"

By Guest Blogger

By Kaleb Robertson.

Kaleb is a senior at Green Bay West High School and was recently named a Youth Afterschool Ambassador for 2016-17 by the Afterschool Alliance. He has been attending the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay afterschool program for more than five years. This letter outlines his experiences in this program and how they have influenced his path and future successes.

I originally came to the Boys and Girls Club because I had friends who attended. While I initially thought it was just a place to hang out, I quickly learned that the Club had a lot more to offer afterschool and in the summer. Caring staff who serve as mentors, leadership development opportunities, and future planning are just a few of the benefits I have been able to experience. None of these things would have been possible for me if not for my afterschool program.

One of the first programs I joined was the Be Great: Graduate program. ‘Be Great’ is a program that matches a teen with a staff member or ‘graduation coach’. My coach, Greg, has made sure that I have kept good grades and stay safe. He’s someone I know I can talk to, even though he is my formal mentor. And there are lots of other Club staff who have helped me along the way. I am comfortable knowing that whenever I come to the Club, there is always someone I can go to for guidance, support, and advice.

The Club also has great leadership opportunities, including the Keystone Club. Keystone is a program that gives teens an opportunity to learn about and practice leadership and community service. Keystone members complete and document service hours, organize fundraisers, and serve as leaders within the Club, even helping to make decisions that impact other kids. I became involved with Keystone since I started coming to Club, and have served as the Keystone President. I even got to attend the National Keystone Conference in 2016!

Besides being a leader, the Club has also helped realize and plan my future. Ms. Tori, the Club’s Graduation Specialist, has helped me stay on track and get my college applications done. Along with helping me plan financially how to stay afloat with my money and pointing me towards many scholarship opportunities, she has also coordinated several campus visits so I have a better idea of what I’m looking for in a college.

For my Youth Ambassador project, I wanted to create something that I could give to people that shared the power and impact my afterschool program has had on me. I will be taking pictures of programs around the Club and turning them into a photo storybook. This way I will not only be able to tell my story to people, but also leave a copy of it behind for them to share with others. 

My afterschool experience has been nothing short of transformational. It has helped me stay on track to graduate and also helped me to realize what my future can look like. Every kid should be able to access the same opportunities that I have. Afterschool programs make a difference!

DEC
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
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"I want to be a beacon"

By Guest Blogger

By Kevin Hamilton, vice president for communications at the Student Conservation Association.

Welcome to the first post in our new blog series about the vital role that out-of-school time programs play in the social, emotional, and character development that youth need to navigate a complex, interconnected world. This series is made possible through generous support from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

Ranger Rece and colleauges at the Pittsburgh Parks & Recreation Department

It was about this time last year, at the height of the holiday season, that AmaRece Davis’ email popped up on my screen.

“I just want to thank SCA again,” he wrote, “and let you know that I’m living the dream.”

Few would have predicted that outcome just a few years ago. AmaRece, however, never had a doubt.

Rece, as he’s known, grew up in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh. It’s a tough neighborhood. Lots of poverty, lots of crime. By the time Rece was 15, his two older brothers were in prison and, he admits, he was headed in that same direction. Things took a turn that summer, however, when Rece joined the Student Conservation Association (SCA)’s local crew program. SCA, an organization perhaps best known for placing teen and young adult volunteers in places like Yellowstone and Yosemite, also provides opportunities to participate in environmental-focused programs for urban youth in America’s leading cities.

DEC
14
2017

IN THE FIELD
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How afterschool can support school meals: 3 activities

By Guest Blogger

By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, director of Community Partnerships at Alliance for a Healthier Generation.This article was original published on December 5, 2017 on the Healthy Out-of-School Time New & Notable blog.

Partnerships between school and afterschool educators are essential to ensure our community health efforts are sustained.

On November 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a new School Meal Flexibility Rule that will weaken nutrition standards aimed at reducing sodium and increasing whole grains for meals provided under the USDA’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

Afterschool programs that voluntarily adopted the National AfterSchool Association Standards for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity have the potential to be impacted by any weakening of school nutrition standards. In particular, if their school oversees the afterschool snack and meal program.

Below are three ways afterschool leaders can share their voice for healthy school meals while championing the power of afterschool.

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper

Shout your hard work creating healthy afterschool from the rooftop! Share the story of how your program is bringing the National AfterSchool Association Standards for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity to life.

Writing and submitting a letter is simpler than you think! Check out Tips on Writing Letters to the Editor.

Submit a comment on the flexibility rule

As someone who works directly with children and families, your voice is important. Share your feedback and questions with the USDA by January 29, 2018 using the online comment form. Five minutes is all it takes to share your essential perspective!

Encourage families to go on a #CafeteriaDate

In addition to these three tips, encourage families to schedule a time to go on a “cafeteria date” with their child. Want to learn more about this campaign and why building a relationship with your school lunchroom is so important? Visit http://www.thelunchtray.com/cafeteriadate/ and share your experience by using the hashtag #cafeteriadate.

OCT
24
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Youth-serving organizations can leverage a growing resource: volunteers age 50+

By Guest Blogger

By Sarah McKinney, Content Marketing Producer at Encore.org’s Gen2Gen campaign.

 

Diana Amatucci volunteers after school and during the summers at her local Boys and Girls Club in Charlottesville Virginia. A retired teacher, Amatucci knows that kids need more champions in their lives.

“For students who may not get support at home or who may struggle in the larger school setting, getting this one-to-one attention is invaluable,” she says. 

Millions of other adults over 50 have the skills, experience, and desire to influence young lives, transform communities, and strengthen the social fabric of America. 

How are you engaging people 50+ in your afterschool program? 

Encore.org — an innovation tank tapping the talent of the 50+ population as a force for good — launched the Generation to Generation (Gen2Gen) campaign to help. Gen2Gen’s goal: to mobilize one million people over 50 to help kids thrive.

So far, 110 organizations have joined with Gen2Gen — including the Afterschool Alliance, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the National 4-H Council, VolunteerMatch and more.

SEP
28
2017

LIGHTS ON
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America's #HealthiestSchools: 3 ways to team up for Lights On Afterschool

By Guest Blogger

By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, director of Community Partnerships at Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

The 2017 America’s #HealthiestSchools campaign is grounded in the shared belief that every child deserves a healthy school. Afterschool leaders are essential partners for healthy schools.

America After 3 PM tells us that 73 percent of families report that their child’s afterschool program is located in a public school building. That is some serious overlap! As afterschool programs across the country prepare to celebrate Lights On Afterschool, this is the perfect time for school and afterschool to collaborate.

 

AUG
1
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Afterschool-law enforcement partnership gives justice-involved youth a new path

By Guest Blogger

By Rachel Willis, research project manager at the Kansas Enrichment Network.

  

After celebrating early successes, the Spartan Explorers afterschool program will continue through the 2017-2018 school year. Begun in January 2017, the program is a partnership between Emporia High School and the Fifth Judicial District Community Corrections in Emporia, Kansas, developed to better engage high school youth who are involved with the judicial system, truant, or on probation.

Both school administrators and community correction officers recognized the need to keep youth safe and busy between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m., when juvenile crime is most likely to occur. During the 2017 spring semester, 17 youth attended the program where they were given the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities.

“It was important to connect with the students socially, emotionally and educationally,” says Community Corrections Director Steve Willis.

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
12
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Stop cuts to summer learning

By Guest Blogger

By Rachel Gwaltney, Director of Policy and Partnerships at the National Summer Learning Association. Rachel leads development and implementation of services, projects and partnerships that strengthen summer learning policy and build capacity of state and national leaders and organizations.

Ann Arbor Rec & Ed celebrating National Summer Learning Day 2016

"Summer learning is a well-documented solution to supporting the academic and social growth of all students, yet, it remains an under-resourced strategy for closing the achievement gap in our country."

-NSLA's Founder and CEO, Matthew Boulay, Ph.D.

The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) and a network of youth advocates recently came together to raise awareness about the importance of summer learning experiences, advocating for greater resources for local summer programming on Capitol Hill.

26 meetings with staff from offices representing ten states marked a productive Hill Day. Congressional staff from offices on both sides of the aisle reaffirmed the value of summer and afterschool programs and said they would work to maintain funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21CCLC) program.

Tomorrow is National Summer Learning Day and we’re counting on you to lift your voices to keep kids learning, safe and healthy! Here are three ways you can help:

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learn more about: Guest Blog Summer Learning Take Action