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FEB
22
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: February 22, 2017

By Luci Manning

SHINE Afterschool Program Students Donate Blankets to Ruth’s Place (Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, Pennsylvania)

Students in a STEAM-focused afterschool program recently used their skills to give back to those in need in their community. Middle school students in the SHINE afterschool program made blankets by double-knotting strips of fabric, and then donated the finished products to Ruth’s Place, a temporary shelter for homeless women. “It was a chance to do something with friends and to do something for other people,” 13-year-old Rita Palchanis told the Times-Leader. The blanket donation was the first part of the program’s new community service initiative called “Giving Back through Engineering.”

New Big Brothers Big Sisters Program Taking Root in Blacksburg (Roanoke Times, Virginia)

Adults and children are pairing up to learn about science as part of the new Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center Mentoring Program, an offshoot of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia. Through the program, 33 adult “bigs” are paired with “littles” to perform science experiments, work on art projects and spend time bonding and learning from each other. Mentors act as positive role models for the youths while maintaining a friendly, casual relationship. “We do experiments a lot in science [class], but not like this,” 12-year-old Jaseph Cagas told the Roanoke Times.

Lego Robots Help Teach Kids about Engineering, Math (Deseret News, Utah)

While building things out of Legos and playing computer games may seem like plain fun, students in the Zaniac science and technology program are actually picking up valuable engineering and technical skills in their afterschool sessions. The program stresses hands-on experience and peer-based learning to engage young people in STEM subjects. “We try to give kids that opportunity, not teach in a lecture-based environment where we stand at the front of the class,” Zaniac franchise development manager Zane Brandt told the Deseret News. “Put something in their hands that may be too advanced for them and let them learn as they play.”

Kenney, Hite Announce Afterschool Program for All Philly Students (Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is building on the pre-kindergarten and community schools plan he launched last year with a new Out-of-School Time Initiative, which he announced last Thursday with Managing Director Mike DiBerardinis and School Superintendent William Hite Jr. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the initiative will be rolled out over several years, funded both by the city and partnerships with the school district and philanthropic foundations. The program aspires to involve all 250,000 students in the city in out-of-school time programs over the next seven years. The initiative will focus on literacy for kindergarten through third-grade students and workforce development for ninth- through twelfth-graders. 

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learn more about: Robotics Science Service Literacy
FEB
15
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: February 15, 2017

By Luci Manning

Aspire High Teaches Eager Middle Schoolers about College Life (The Signal: College of New Jersey, New Jersey)

An out-of-school time program in New Jersey is showing underprivileged students that college can be part of their future. Aspire High arranges college visits for middle schoolers, pairing them with mentors at each university who talk to them about college life and how to build the important social and academic skills that will put them on the path to higher education. Many of the students would be the first in their families to attend college and may not see it as a realistic option. “What people don’t realize is that this one Saturday can change the lives of so many kids,” Aspire High president and co-founder Lillian Perez told The Signal..

Teens Beat Goal for Book Drive (Daily Item, Pennsylvania)

A group of teenagers far surpassed their goal of collecting 150 books during a book drive meant to fill a new multigenerational community center that will open later this year. The Regional Engagement Center’s Teen Leadership Club has been meeting for months to plan programs and activities for the new recreation center, which will include study spaces, an afterschool café and exercise classes for people of all ages. “I hope it’s a place where kids who have difficulties can come and break some bad habits,” 17-year-old Brandy Inch, a member of the club, told the Daily Item.

McKinley Boys & Girls Club Offers Homework Help for Students Who Need It Most (Billings Gazette, Montana)

The Boys & Girls Club of Yellowstone County has expanded its outreach to homeless students, providing more struggling youth with academic assistance, a free dinner and a safe place to spend time after school. The club’s Power Hour homework help program gives students a chance to build academic self-confidence and complete their work, something they may not be able to do if they don’t have a structured home life. “They can be the example in class instead of feeling bad that they don’t have their homework done,” McKinley Elementary School principal Nikki Trahan told the Billings Gazette.

IWU Prof Starts The Brain Kitchen (Chronicle-Tribune, Indiana)

Students are developing healthy habits and academic discipline at The Brain Kitchen, a new afterschool program developed by Indiana Wesleyan University professor Amanda Drury, the Chronicle Tribune reports. Throughout the week, students receive homework help and cooking lessons and participate in guided exercise activities, with the aim of stimulating their brain development and learning important life skills in a fun, engaging environment. 

NOV
29
2016

FUNDING
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3 tips on nominations for the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award

By Nikki Yamashiro

After two years of reading nominations for the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award, the staff at the Afterschool Alliance has learned a lot about the work accomplished by the afterschool field. We’ve seen students becoming reporters and editors in a Dane County, Wisconsin, afterschool program that focuses on publishing student-run newspapers for the area. We’ve discovered an afterschool program in Atlanta, Georgia, that works with the area’s immigrant and refugee population, providing one-on-one support and a literacy curriculum designed for English language learners to ensure that students are academically prepared to enter high school.

We’ve also learned the qualities shared by strong nomination forms, and the mistakes commonly made by nominators. For these reasons, as well as to help answer frequently asked questions about the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award (still accepting nominations!), we hosted a webinar on Nov. 10. In the webinar, we shared insights on the award process, answered audience questions, and offered tips to filling out the nomination form. 

The call for nominations doesn’t close until Dec. 16, so you still have time to nominate a program!  Here are three tips to consider from the webinar before getting started:

1. Be an advocate for your program.

How can you differentiate your program from the other programs that are being nominated? Think about how your program is helping meet the needs of your students, parents and/or community. Is there something about the community the program serves that should be highlighted? Is there strong data that demonstrates the positive impact of the program? There are a number of open-ended questions in the nomination form; use each question as an opportunity to highlight for reviewers the role that the program is playing to help its students. Be an advocate for your program and make the strongest case possible to help reviewers recognize its value.

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity Literacy
OCT
27
2016

FUNDING
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The Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award is back!

By Nikki Yamashiro

We are so excited to announce the return of the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award!  With the generous support of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the Afterschool Alliance is once again looking for stellar afterschool programs that provide students with integral literacy learning opportunities to develop their reading, writing and critical thinking skills. This year, the focus of the award is on English language learners and the ways afterschool programs ensure that these students have the reading and writing abilities they need to thrive.

Nominations for the $10,000 Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award are now open.  Here are three tips to help you get started:

  1. Download a PDF version of the nomination form to review the questions ahead of time and see what information you need gather on the program you are nominating.

  2. Send us any questions you have about the award and/or nomination form that we can answer during our upcoming webinar on Nov. 10, "What Reviewers Want: Insights on Nominations for the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award."

  3. Tune in for the webinar on Nov. 10, where we’ll cover the qualities of a promising nomination form and common critiques of past nomination submissions from people who have been involved in the review process.

Nominations are due by December 16, 2016

Be sure to share this opportunity with your friends and colleagues! We’re looking forward to reading about the great work supporting English language learner students that is taking place in afterschool programs across the country.

OCT
26
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: October 26, 2016

By Luci Manning

After-School Program Seeks to Inspire Students (NBC Washington, District of Columbia)

Students in the After-School All-Stars program at Hobson Middle School are taking a different kind of STEM class:  one focused on science, travel, entrepreneurship and math. The students celebrated Lights On Afterschool by planning theoretical trips to places like New Orleans and Puerto Rico, learning the foundations of jazz music, expressing themselves with design and business plans and inspiring each other to change their worlds. The program serves 300 children in four D.C. schools and hopes to bring in an additional 200 children by the end of the year. “It’s a very different space,” Afterschool Ambassador Daniela Grigioni told NBC Washington. “It allows children to develop a different skill set than during the school day.”

Governor Emphasizes Importance of Reading in Visit to KCK Boys and Girls Club (Wyandotte Daily, Kansas)

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback emphasized the importance of literacy and inspired Reading Roadmap students to reach for the stars last week as part of Lights On Afterschool at a Kansas City Boys & Girls Club. The afterschool program targets children in low-income families who are struggling to read. “You learn to read, it’s going to open gateways for you to go all over the world,” Gov. Brownback told the students. “Maybe someday some of you are going to go to the moon, even…. I want you to work really hard, study hard, I want you to get straight As in school, I know you can do it.” The governor signed a proclamation for Lights On Afterschool Day, according to the Wyandotte Daily.

'Bright Futures' a Hit at Franklin Middle School (Hometown Life, Michigan)

The Bright Futures afterschool program is encouraging 350 students in nine Wayne-Westland schools to learn and grow their academic, art, leadership and time-management skills. The free program provides a meal, homework help and a variety of enrichment activities for youth. Eighth-grader Jael Smith said the program inspires her to push past her boundaries and plan more for her future. “I’ve learned to go outside my comfort zone,” she told Hometown Life. “I think that’s a really important part of growing up and being successful. You can’t really get anywhere without getting out of your comfort zone.” The program celebrated Lights On Afterschool last week with stations highlighting students’ achievements in math, art, film making, physical activities and science.

Local YMCA's Run for Lights On Afterschool Project (KVRR, North Dakota)

Nearly a thousand students from 23 area YMCA sites participated in a 1K run last week to highlight the importance of afterschool programs. The YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties has held the annual Lights On Afterschool run around Island Park for 16 years. "It's watching the kids grow, watching the families really appreciate what you do and all the hard work you put into making sure that the kids have somewhere to go after school and somewhere safe to be," Site Coordinator Kelsi McClaflin told KVRR.

OCT
6
2016

IN THE FIELD
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How a summer learning program helped one community's literacy problem

By Jodi Grant

For the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD), English language literacy is both an essential and a challenging aspect of students’ learning. More than 91 percent of SAUSD’s 53,000 students are Hispanic and 60 percent are learning English as a second language. More than 90 percent are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch.  It’s clear that developing literacy skills is crucial for these students to succeed in school, career and life.

Many students fall behind over the summer, especially in reading. The National Summer Learning Association reports that every summer, low-income youth lose two to three months in reading while their higher-income peers make slight gains… By fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave low-income students 2 1/2 to 3 years behind their peers.

Parents seek to overcome the “summer slide” through summer learning programs. According to our America After 3PM household survey, 62 percent of California parents say they want to enroll their children in a summer learning program, 77 percent agree that summer learning activities help kids maintain academic skills and 90 percent support public funding for these programs.

Teaching literacy through the power of publishing

Leaders at the SAUSD summer learning program, Engage 360°, were looking for a creative way to help students make gains in writing and literacy, so they turned to the WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS program. It helps young people in grades K-12 to become writers, and therefore more comprehensive readers, by allowing them to author and publish original stories inspired by artwork on pre-illustrated (yet wordless) children’s books. Engage 360° operates at SAUSD’s elementary school locations, serving approximately 4,000 students over the summer.

“We wanted to counteract learning loss over the summer and make it fun for kids to work on their literacy skills and English language proficiency,” said Michael Baker, SAUSD’s District Coordinator of Extended Learning Programs.

Through collaborative and independent processes, kids in the WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS craft original stories—including characters, plotlines and setting descriptions. Their stories are saved online for students and educators to access and then printed professionally.

“WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS disguises literacy education as fun,” said Meredith Scott Lynn, WRiTE BRAiN’s Founder & CEO. “It’s a project-based approach to literacy. Kids in the program have to invent real worlds for the imaginary characters in the books. They have to solve the real world problems posed by working in a group comprised of individuals with differing opinions and perspectives, and then create the processes by which the imaginary characters in their books solve their own problems.”

Baker praised the program’s structured approach to promoting creativity. “One of the major hurdles kids face when writing is the question of ‘what do I write about?’ WRiTE BRAiN addresses this question in a systematic way, guiding students step-by-step as they work together and independently to build valuable 21st century skills.”

“When kids go home, they all want to talk about their books with their parents,” Baker added. "They take ownership of their work and are proud of it.”

SEP
21
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: September 21, 2016

By Luci Manning

Summer Reading Success Spawns After-School Program (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri)

After two summers of hosting a successful reading program, St. Louis County Housing Authority executive director Susan Rollins and social worker Kellyn Holliday decided to offer literacy support to students throughout the year at a new afterschool program. Two housing development activity centers now have active and growing libraries where youth can boost their reading skills and take books home to read. The program has even attracted the attention of St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, who was so impressed with students’ improved reading scores he drafted a $20,000 federal block grant for the program. “It is the best kind of investment St. Louis County can make,” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Students Row from Camden to Philly to Help Kick off Delaware River Cleanup Initiative (Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania)

Seven students from the Center for Aquatic Sciences’ afterschool program rowed across the Delaware River in a whaleboat last week to bring attention to a new initiative to clean up the watershed. The initiative, River Days, will consist of 40 events over the next six weeks geared toward river cleanup and general environmental education. The center’s afterschool program offers youth aquatic-based activities like kayaking and teaches them the science behind water. “Watching these young people come in today, certainly it’s about the future,” Philadelphia managing director Michael DiBerardinis told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s about their connection to the river, but it’s also about the healthy future of this region and of our planet.”

Portal Offers Path to Harvard (Boston Globe, Massachusetts)

In 2008, Harvard University started the Ed Portal, an afterschool program pairing Allston-Brighton high schoolers with Harvard student mentors to improve study habits and prepare for their futures. Now, eight years later, the program is sending its first graduate to Harvard. Kevin Yang, who just began his freshman year at the university, is one of hundreds of students to attend the Ed Portal over the years, where he worked with his mentor on school projects and explored possible career options in biomedical engineering or neurobiology. “It was definitely an important support mechanism for me,” Yang told the Boston Globe. “It was a place where I could decompress and figure things out.”

Soccer Helps Young Refugees Take a Shot at a New Life in the U.S. (New York Times, New York)

Refugee students from 40 different countries are finding their confidence and self-worth on the soccer field as part of Soccer Without Borders (SWB). Using soccer and afterschool classes in English, art and science, the program aims to help refugee students acclimate to life in the U.S. “All the families that our kids are coming from have made so many sacrifices to have their kids achieve a better life,” SWB Baltimore chapter director Casey Thomas told the New York Times. “We, in turn, definitely prioritize supporting the academic success of our kids.” 

SEP
7
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: September 7, 2016

By Luci Manning

A $1 Million Gift for Homework Aid (Los Angeles Times, California)

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation donated $1 million to the Los Angeles Public Library to expand the free afterschool homework centers that serve LA Unified schools’ 16,000 homeless students. The centers give students access to computers and printers and offer academic assistance. “We know that the hours immediately after school are crucial to the success of many young people,” Library Foundation of Los Angeles president Ken Brecher told the Los Angeles Times. “The generosity of the Broad Foundation helps to make our student zones true safe havens and productive centers for students to do their homework now and in the future.”

Lafayette Fourth-Graders Learning About Government, Engagement (Daily Camera, Colorado)

About 60 fourth graders at Alia Sanchez International Elementary are learning about the importance of civic engagement through the Lafayette Peer Empowerment Project. Students in the afterschool program learn about how local government operates, then identify problems within their city, state or country and write persuasive essays to officials to encourage them to address these issues. “It’s a really good topic to learn about,” fourth-grader Josue Cordova told the Daily Camera. “It helps our community to encourage kids to help out.” The group recently had a visit from Lafayette Mayor Christine Berg, who explained how the city council and the mayor work with various departments and community organizations to run the city.

Childhood Literacy: Fort Worth Leaders Take Aim at Reading (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas)

Fort Worth city officials, schools, community organizations and businesses are collaborating on a new initiative to improve child literacy, aiming to get all Fort Worth third-graders reading at grade level by 2025. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said the project will reach students through afterschool and summer programs at schools, libraries and community centers, and will also target young children to make sure they enter kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed. “Every program we touch will have a literacy component,” Price told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Schools can’t do this alone. It’s daunting, but this is a city that very much has a can-do spirit. We’ve got to. There’s too much at stake.”

OUT OF THIS WORLD: Russell Elementary’s Space Program to Continue Exploring the Final Frontier (Marietta Daily Journal, Georgia)

Every May, a crew of Russell Elementary School students in the Russell Space Center’s afterschool program set off on a 27-hour simulated space mission, but this year’s program was in jeopardy until Atlanta area businesses donated time and supplies to fix the program’s space simulator. Over the course of the school year, student astronauts take off in the “Intrepid” space simulator while their peers run mission control, using complex math and science skills to handle the launch. Program head Chris Laster told the Marietta Daily Journal that the students work with minimal teacher input and use teamwork and problem-solving skills to make sure the astronauts get home safely. After this summer’s improvements and upgrades, the simulator’s roof should last another 25 years.

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learn more about: Science Working Families Literacy