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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
24
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Introducing Stephanie Rodriguez, the new Director of STEM Policy

By Stephanie Rodriguez

Hi! Stephanie Rodriguez here, the new Director of STEM Policy at the Afterschool Alliance. I’m incredibly excited to advocate for the importance of out-of-school time STEM learning and its role in encouraging students to engage in and pursue activities and careers in STEM fields. My personal, lived experience with informal STEM learning experiences fuels my passion for afterschool STEM and brought me to the Afterschool Alliance, where I will work to impact policies that support opportunities for all youth to engage with STEM learning.

I join the Afterschool Alliance fresh off my tenure as an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation, where I worked on efforts to broaden participation in computer science and other STEM fields. Prior to the fellowship, I completed my PhD in immunology at Washington University in St. Louis where I studied the T-cell development process and devised innovative strategies to watch this phenomenon in live animals in real time using advanced microscopy techniques. While at WashU I also directed the Young Scientist Program, a 25-year-old program that engages St. Louis public school teachers and students in hands-on STEM experiences while providing critical resources to a community in need.

My own path to becoming a scientist was 100% paved by STEM experiences external to the classroom. In high school, I was part of an authentic research experience working at a Ball State University biochemistry lab through a program aimed at getting girls and underrepresented groups into STEM fields. The experience got me hooked on STEM, built my resume, connected me with mentors, and expanded my human capital and network. If not for that invaluable experience, I would not have been exposed to the STEM research enterprise nor had the confidence and interest to consider a career in a STEM field.

Afterschool STEM engagement is an opportunity all students should have access to and I am eager to jump into my new role and support policies that will make that happen!

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learn more about: Inside the Afterschool Alliance
JUL
18
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Meet Julie Keller, our Health and Wellness Intern

By Julie Keller

Hey, y’all! I’m Julie Keller, the new Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) Policy Intern at the Afterschool Alliance.

Within my role as the HEPA Policy Intern, I will be working with the director of health and wellness initiatives to advance state-level public policy and incorporate healthy eating and physical activity standards into out-of-school time programs. My past experience as a City Year AmeriCorps member and a Girls Inc. afterschool instructor gives me a unique perspective as I work on behalf of the out-of-school time community. I look forward to learning from the Afterschool Alliance team on the many ways to effectively support our youth at the national, state, and local level!

Throughout my childhood, I struggled with my health and lacked the education, resources, and opportunities to best take care of my mind and body. That experience cultivated my passion for the health promotion of youth and drove my college career at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In addition to receiving my B.A. in Psychology, I pursued a certificate in Health and Wellness, developed and implemented weekly life and health skills trainings for the Health and Wellness Department volunteers, facilitated alcohol and drug safety seminars for incoming freshman, and managed data collection and analysis for the university’s wellness collaborative of more than 20 departments.  Although these roles afforded me practical skills and training within the public health sector, my dedication to advancing equitable out-of-school health and wellness opportunities is motivated by experiences with my students during my time as a City Year Corps member.

As I transition from direct service to advocacy, my students’ resilience and ambition will keep me grounded and committed to advocating for an increase of access to quality afterschool programming. I am ready to support out-of-school time and early childhood providers and organizations through the advancement of healthy eating and physical activity policy!

JUL
13
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Meet our Communications Intern, Marco Ornelas

By Marco Ornelas

Hello! My name is Marco Ornelas and I am the communications intern for the summer here at the Afterschool Alliance. I am a senior at the University of California, Riverside where I major in Political Science with hopes of attending law school after completing my undergraduate education. I am also currently vice president of Delta Chi, a fraternity at my school, and a senator in UC Riverside’s student government, which represents the 11,000 students of the college of humanities.

I work as a classroom assistant at UC Riverside’s Early Childhood Services and recently worked on the 2016 presidential campaigns. My involvement in advocacy has allowed me to see firsthand the importance of ensuring every child gets a quality education. I am excited to work for Afterschool Alliance because I understand that children across the country depend on afterschool programs to compensate for the achievement gaps created during regular school hours. 

As the communications intern, I will work under the special assistant to the executive director and provide support to the communications team to advance our mission of increasing investments for quality afterschool education. I hope to help schools and organizations find the resources they need to fund afterschool programs in their communities. In addition, I look forward to informing the public of the benefits of afterschool programs and the dangers of defunding education.

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learn more about: Inside the Afterschool Alliance
APR
14
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Alliance among NAA’s Most Influential in Health & Wellness

By Charlotte Steinecke

We are proud to announce that the Afterschool Alliance has been named one of the National AfterSchool Association’s picks for Most Influential in Health & Wellness 2017.  Sponsored by The Walking Classroom, NAA’s Most Influential in Health & Wellness distinguishes “individuals and organizations whose service, action, and leadership align with and support the NAA Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) Standards and affect large numbers of youth, families, and afterschool professions.”

Honorees were profiled in the spring 2017 issue of NAA’s AfterSchool Today magazine. According to the feature, the Afterschool Alliance was honored for “bringing together national, state, and local organizations to promote [NAA’s HEPA] standards within state-level policies and legislation.”

Across the nation, healthy eating and physical fitness programs benefit millions of children in out-of-school time, playing an important role in building a generation of young people who are invested in living healthy, active lives. To get a snapshot view of the field, the Afterschool Alliance’s Director of Health and Wellness Initiatives Tiereny Lloyd offered some perspective on the challenges and victories of health and wellness programming in the afterschool field.

On health and wellness standards

“When the HEPA standards were introduced, they were rolled out with the larger nonprofit organizations—like YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs—that had the infrastructure to be able to disseminate information about the standards and support implementation. But for the programs that aren’t attached to those organizations, what about them? How do we reach those we don’t have direct access to—especially when they’re the ones who need it most? There’s a big communication gap.

Currently, 60 percent of afterschool programs know about the HEPA standard, which leaves 40 percent that do not. I would like to see 100 percent of afterschool programs at least know about them and almost that many actually utilizing the standards. The standards are very comprehensive, so it takes a lot of time and resources to complete all of them, but I would like to see every program using some form of those standards.”

APR
7
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Meet Charlotte Steinecke, our new Communications and Editorial Associate!

By Charlotte Steinecke

Salutations! My name is Charlotte Steinecke and I’m delighted to introduce myself as the new Communications and Editorial Associate at the Afterschool Alliance. It’s a privilege to join such a dedicated team united for a worthy cause, particularly at such a politically exciting moment. 

As the significantly older stepsister to two school-age boys, I get to see firsthand the way a good afterschool program helps students and parents in so many different ways. Getting to take that personal investment and make it the subject of my work every day is a wonderful opportunity! 

I come to the Afterschool Alliance from LivingSocial, where I was the editor on the travel vertical and worked closely with the marketing team. I’ve also worked at various nonprofits and corporate entities in D.C., including the Association of American Medical Colleges and ThinkFoodGroup. I’m a graduate of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, and an indefatigable proponent of holistic—and exceptional!—education at all levels.

As the Communications and Editorial Associate at the Afterschool Alliance, I’ll be managing the Afterschool Snack blog (hello, audience! We’ll be seeing a lot of each other.) and providing communications and editorial support across the organization. I’m thrilled to be able to contribute to the Alliance’s work supporting afterschool programs, providers, families, and students across the nation.

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learn more about: Inside the Afterschool Alliance
FEB
27
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Meet Maria Leyva, our new Development Operations Associate!

By Maria Leyva

Greetings, everyone! I am Maria Leyva, the new Development Operations Associate at the Afterschool Alliance. What a privilege it is to join such a stellar team. I will be working alongside passionate and dedicated individuals to advance the importance of afterschool and summer enrichment programs.

My interest and background in afterschool and summer programs stem from my own experience as a working parent. Thanks to afterschool and summer programs, my kids not only received homework help but were also exposed to music, interactive science activities, sign language, theater, comedy improv, and so much more.  So yes indeed, we must work together to support the critical work of the afterschool programs that nurture and strengthen our kids while supporting working families.

Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, I oversaw the development activities at the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ). This included grant writing, prospects tracking and research, and maintaining and nurturing foundation relations. In my time with CHEJ, I helped launch its annual fundraiser event, which convened a record-breaking number of supporters. Additionally, teamwork and diligence paid off when we secured the largest grant in CHEJ’s history. Prior to CHEJ, I held various positions with organizations including the county health department in Phoenix, Ariz.; Concilio Latino de Salud, a nonprofit agency dedicated to Hispanic health promotion; and the National Council of La Raza here in Washington, D.C.

As the Afterschool Alliance Development Operations Associate, I will work in collaboration with all staff to support the progress and timely submission of all foundation and corporate grant reports. Additionally, in collaboration with the Director of Development, I’ll be doing outreach and follow up to prospective donors, develop grant applications, and maintain a fundraising tracking system. Other priorities will be to research and identify new donor prospects while continuing to educate funders and the broader community about the value of afterschool and summer programs. I look forward to collaborating with everyone and contributing to the strong and steady growth of the Afterschool Alliance.

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JAN
31
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Meet Leah Silverberg, our new Research Assistant!

By Leah Silverberg

Hello Afterschool Snack readers! My name is Leah Silverberg, and I am the new Research Assistant here at the Afterschool Alliance. I am coming to the Afterschool Alliance as a recent graduate of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., where I completed a B.A. in Biology and Studio Art. During my time at Bard, I worked as a peer health educator and emergency medical technician on campus, and worked with first-year college students to improve science literacy as part of the Bard College Citizen Science Program. 

Throughout my time in elementary, middle, and high school, I was fortunate enough to have access to consistent afterschool programming, and I’m passionate about increasing accessibility to these programs for all students. As a product of afterschool, I know how much these programs assisted my parents, and I personally benefited from the educational support and social and emotional development afterschool programs provide.

As the new Research Assistant, I will be working with the STEM and research teams on a number of in-progress projects, like our new evaluations database and our STEM Program Profiles page. I am excited to be a part of the Afterschool Alliance team, and look forward to working with the amazing and passionate people that work here. 

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DEC
23
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Celebrating our AmeriCorps VISTAs' 2016 accomplishments

By Andrea Szegedy-Maszak

Members of the VISTA team gathered on the National Mall in September.

For the last five years, the Afterschool Alliance has been a proud sponsor organization for nationwide AmeriCorps VISTA projects. VISTA, which stands for “Volunteers in Service to America,” is a 50-year-old service program with the central mission of alleviating poverty through capacity building for nonprofit organizations. VISTA members are considered full-time federal volunteers during their one-year term of service.

Our VISTA program—and the scope of our VISTAs’ work to support the afterschool field—has grown significantly over the past five years. Most recently, we’ve added VISTAs dedicated to supporting the STEM Ecosystem Initiative, as well as VISTAs focusing on mentoring opportunities for young men of color. Read on to learn more about our VISTAs’ work and a few highlights from 2016.

Our VISTAs’ major highlights from 2016

Oklahoma STEM Ecosystem VISTAs Sabrina Bevins and Aleia McNaney have taken on leadership roles in the planning of a Women in STEM book club and event series surrounding the release of the film Hidden Figures, culminating with a screening of the film. Sabrina has signed on a number of female STEM professionals to mentor young girls in Tulsa over the course of the program.

Thanks to Sabrina’s successful partner outreach, Cox Media has agreed to run four radio campaigns in promotion of the program, and a local theater company has donated a screening room that seats more than 400. Aleia has been spearheading communications efforts for the Hidden Figures program, including designing promotional materials for a book drive held Tuesday, November 29 in support of the book club.

New Jersey Meals VISTA Jaimie Held has been making strides in expanding afterschool and summer meals for kids and families in Newark, N.J. Jaimie created partnerships with local food banks to host afterschool and summer meals open house events in 2017. She also scheduled an afterschool and summer meals open house in January 2017 at Newark’s Bolden Student Center to recruit new afterschool and summer meal sites.