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MAY
13

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  May 13, 2015

By Luci Manning

Teaching Science (and More) Through Bunnies (New York Times, New York)

The Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE) provides low-cost community programs for Spanish-speaking families in Long Island, including a weekly afterschool program called Ciencia en CMEE. Leah Oppenheimer, a social worker who works in the afterschool program, told the New York Times that Long Island’s Latino families “constitute a large, underserved population when it comes to education and culture,” and that CMEE hopes to fill the gap of available programs. Ciencia (“science” in Spanish) creatively weaves together a variety of subjects in its sessions. This week, the topic was bunny rabbits. The class explored the biological differences between European hares and New World cottontails, discussed how rabbits were introduced to Australia from Europe and created bunny-themed artwork.

Can Gaming Become an Interscholastic Sport? (Indianapolis Star, Indiana)

Video games are often a solitary activity, but Kerwin Rent hopes to gather isolated gamers with afterschool gaming clubs at Indianapolis schools. The games in Rent’s programs include sports, auto racing and fighting, no shooting games or extreme violence, and in order to qualify for city championships students also have to complete educational online exercises, including essays about technology. Rent hopes video gaming can offer a niche for students who don’t want to participate in sports or music and teach them about tech careers. “These are the kids who will build our software applications and solutions on the tech side in the future,” he told the Indianapolis Star.

Class Goes to the Dogs (Siskiyou Daily News, California)

A 6-foot-tall, 120 pound Malamute/shepherd mix named Bandit is helping children who have trouble reading. Every Wednesday, Bandit sits and listens while struggling readers and students with behavioral issues in the Safe After School Program read him stories. SAFE teacher Dawn Wallace said she’s already noticed drastic changes for students in just four months – kids with behavioral problems are increasingly kind to Bandit, and her students are growing more enthusiastic about reading. “He’s a very attentive audience for a child that is struggling,” she told the Siskiyou Daily News. “He’s a nonjudgmental party that the children can just be with.”

YES Students Planning Fundraiser for the Homeless (New Britain Herald, Connecticut)

Students in the Vance Elementary School Youth Enrichment and Sports (YES) afterschool program recently held a community pasta dinner to raise money to support New Britain’s homeless population. The YES program includes homework help, wellness instruction, sports activities and even acting lessons, but the core of the program is a “random act of kindness project,” which each participating school selected at the beginning of the year. Vance students chose to learn more about the homeless population and, after six months researching the issue of homelessness, sponsored a fundraiser for a local church to help with supplies for the weekly dinners they provide to the area homeless. “YES is important because our kids realize that doing good for others makes you feel good,” school district extended day programs facilitator Nancy Puglisi told the New Britain Herald.

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MAY
13

IN THE FIELD
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#MoveInMay with afterschool programs

By Shaun Gray

National Physical Fitness and Sports Month is the perfect time to celebrate afterschool and summer programs that are keeping kids active and healthy, and for programs to cement their commitment to combating the childhood obesity epidemic—we know from America After 3PM data that they’re doing a tremendous amount to encourage healthy habits that kids can keep with them for life.

Programs looking to foster healthy practices in the out-of-school time space have plenty of resources to explore. The Healthy Out-of-School Time (HOST) Coalition serves as a hub for the latest in physical activity and healthy eating news from afterschool and summer learning programs, from research to activities and ideas, as well as physical activity resources. The Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) Standards can also be found on the HOST Coalition’s website, along with background on how the standards were developed, offering guidelines to help programs effectively foster healthy behaviors.  First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign offers even more resources to encourage active and healthy lifestyles, from key facts to simple steps for success.

To learn more about the state of healthy afterschool programs in your community, dive into our America After 3PM dashboard—compelling statistics about parent demand and satisfaction for these programs help make a strong case for the importance of afterschool. And to help make the case, check out these eye-catching infographics that can be used to grab people’s attention and share key America After 3PM findings. The research is clear: Afterschool programs are vital resources to keep kids active and healthy. Celebrate National Physical Fitness and Sports month by spreading the word!

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MAY
13

RESEARCH
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Guest blog: The Journal of Expanded Learning Opportunities establishing a new research resource for the afterschool field

By Nikki Yamashiro

Dr. Kimberley Boyer is the executive director of the Central Valley Afterschool Foundation (CVAF). In 2014, CVAF launched the Journal of Expanded Learning Opportunities (JELO)—a peer-reviewed, online, open-access publication—where she serves as the chief editor. The JELO connects research and promising practices throughout California and the nation, fostering a dialogue that engages both researchers and practitioners in the field.

Evidence-based programming is becoming a major thrust in expanded learning. While a multitude of research about the impact of expanded learning exists, it is not always easy to find. This was the dilemma I encountered when I started working for the Central Valley Afterschool Foundation in 2007. I remember approaching our then executive director at that time, and expressing the need to develop a resource that houses reliable studies and research about the positive impacts of afterschool programs. I said, “What about developing an academic journal that can house work like this? Then researchers, practitioners, legislators and advocates can have this information.” Now, I also mentioned to her that I was completing my dissertation that focused on afterschool programs and was beginning my search to find a journal to submit for publication. I found that there was very few to none of these specific journals available. Fast forward to 2014 and the Journal of Expanded Learning Opportunities (JELO) was born. It took a few years and a few journal name changes, but the JELO is finally here and I couldn’t be more proud to share it with the field.  

The creation of the JELO was further spurred by the interest of OST/expanded learning program providers, educational administrators, community members, and young people in the Central Valley of California to create such a project. As more experts joined the conversation, the discussion grew to incorporate research and programs within California and throughout the nation. The mission of this journal is to foster the discovery, collection, and dissemination of scholarly research and deeper learning from a variety of disciplines related to out-of-school-time or expanded learning time. This work builds upon Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success, edited by Terry K. Peterson, Ph.D. This groundbreaking compendium contains studies, reports and commentaries by more than 100 thought leaders including community leaders, elected officials, educators, researchers, advocates and other prominent authors. Very few academic journals dedicate themselves primarily to the field of expanded learning. Research in this field is being sought out by institutions of higher learning, as well as policy makers and advocates. From an academic standpoint, this area of research has grown to the point that merits the development of a publication like the JELO. From a policy and advocacy standpoint, the JELO increases public awareness of the field of expanded learning, but also supports empirical research. Finally, from a practitioner standpoint, the JELO provides guidance and insights about innovative practices that are being applied elsewhere.

Our inaugural issue launched in the spring of 2014 and our second issue was just released. The second issue of the JELO features a dialogue between Michelle Perrenoud, of Los Angeles County Office of Education, and Dr. Deborah Vandell, of University of California, Irvine, on the topic of the networks and systems which support the expanded learning field. Three articles are featured that focus on the value of networks and systems. Two articles discuss the importance of on-going communication between school day and afterschool providers to maximize student impact. The third article articulates the importance of staffing structure, staff knowledge, and external partners as key factors associated with effective inquiry-based science opportunities in expanded learning programs. To download both issues of the JELO and to learn about submitting an original article, please go to: http://www.centralvalleyafterschool.org/case-for-afterschool/the-journal-of-expanded-learning-opportunities-project/.

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MAY
6

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  May 6, 2015

By Luci Manning

Texas Kids Need More After-School Options (TribTalk, Texas)

Andy Roddick, a former professional tennis player, and Molly Clayton, executive director of the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time, advocated for more state funding for afterschool programs in TribTalk: “Over 935,000 Texas schoolchildren are unsupervised in the critical hours after school… But despite continually unmet demand and positive academic outcomes, current public and private investments in after-school and summer programs are simply not enough. Federal funding for these programs, which is already unable to meet the growing demand, is at risk. Local governments and private philanthropy have been working to fill in gaps, but they can’t do it alone. The state of Texas has a much bigger role to play in ensuring that these programs are available, affordable and high quality.”

School Gardens Sprout in Central San Joaquin Valley (Fresno Bee, California)

Visalia Unified School District launched Growbiotics, an afterschool gardening program, last fall, and it’s already so popular that most of its 25 elementary schools have waiting lists. Each child gets one square foot of the garden, where it is their responsibility to plant seeds and seedlings, remove weeds, water the plants and harvest what they grow. They also regularly measure and record air and ground temperature. In the fall the students grow broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, carrots, spinach and beets, and spring gardens include squash, carrots, tomatoes, herbs, eggplants and lettuce. “I like how we can all come together and plant and harvest stuff,” fifth-grader Faith Bither told the Fresno Bee. “You can learn and do something fun.”

St. Paul Students Explore Jazz in Mobile After-School Program (St. Paul Pioneer Press, Minnesota)

The Mobile Jazz afterschool program is introducing students to jazz. At the twice-weekly program, 80 middle and high school students get a lesson from local professional musicians then break into smaller, concentrated groups – poets and songwriters, instrumentalists, singers and dancers, and those interested in audio production and the technical side of music. Students performed for their peers and the community at the culminating exhibition last week. Program creator Andrew Fischer said he hopes to give kids a place where their creativity can flow freely. “These little people need a safe environment to come out, to express themselves,” he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press

YWCA Children Go on Mother’s Day Shopping Spree (Deseret News, Utah)

Mother’s Day can be a hard time for women in domestic violence shelters, but a YWCA afterschool program and the nonprofit Women’s Edge are doing what they can to help. Nearly 40 students in the afterschool program participated in an all-expenses-paid Mother’s Day shopping spree Monday. Each child was paired with a Women’s Edge hostess, who helped the children find gifts for their moms and adhere to the $50 per mother budget. Kids selected bags, books, dresses and jewelry at marked-down prices, taking care to consider their moms’ favorite colors. “It’s cool to see how selfless kids can be,” Fred Meyers Jewelers sales associate Clark Henrikson told Deseret News. “They’re so excited to be able to be so generous.” 

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MAY
6

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool biking programs build career skills and get kids active

By Rachel Clark

America After 3PM data shows us that afterschool programs are keeping kids active in plenty of unique ways. To highlight just one of the many activities programs are leveraging, we’re celebrating National Bike to School Day by featuring some of the programs that are empowering physical activity through biking.

  • In Kansas City, the FreeWheels for Kids program helps middle schoolers stay active and also empowers them to become leaders for healthy change in their community by teaching them how to fix bikes, build nature trails, and raise their voices in support of a bike-friendly community.
  • iCan Shine partners with public school districts around the country to host afterschool bike programs to enrich the lives of people with disabilities by offering the opportunity to learn to ride a bike—according to the organization, over 80% of people with Autism and 90% of people with Down syndrome never learn to ride a two-wheel bicycle.
  • Cycles of Change offers youth in Alameda County, California, opportunities to learn bicycle mechanics, earn bikes of their own, and go on “pedal-powered adventures” that get youth active while exploring their neighborhoods.
  • In Chicago, a DePaul University senior has pioneered Four Star Bikes, a workshop-based afterschool program that offers career skills while promoting activity in the community by teaching high schoolers to repair and build bicycles for community members.

Interested in finding a youth-focused bicycle program in your community this National Bike Month?  The International Bicycle Fund offers a directory of youth programs in the United States, Canada, and around the world. 

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MAY
5

IN THE FIELD
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Take a moment to celebrate afterschool educators this Teacher Appreciation Week

By Rachel Clark

Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4 through 8) is a great moment to thank our teachers, who devote their careers to educating youth. Teachers strive every day not only to provide an exemplary education to their students, but to offer a boost of confidence, or extra help, or a welcoming presence that kids can count on. Many even continue their day after the school bell rings by supporting students in afterschool programs – and many of our future teachers are afterschool educators who catch the teaching bug in programs.

This week, join NEA and the National PTA to say “Thank You” to an educator in your life, whether that’s an afterschool educator who inspires you, a loved one working in the education field, or a teacher who changed your life. Share your gratitude with the hashtag #ThankATeacher beginning on National Teacher Day (May 5) for a chance to receive a $100 VISA gift card to give to your favorite teacher for supplies!

Though we can’t ever thank educators enough, National Teacher Day and Teacher Appreciation Week serve as great reminders to reflect on the individuals who dedicate their lives to helping kids succeed, whether in school or out.

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MAY
4

FUNDING
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Citi Foundation, America's Promise Alliance launch $3 million fund

By Michael Burke

The Youth Opportunity Fund, led by the Citi Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance, has announced the availability of grants to nonprofits working in innovative ways to place low-income young adults on a path towards college and career success. The $3 million Fund will award one-year grants up to $250,000 to nonprofit organizations in 10 target U.S. cities: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Newark, St. Louis, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The Fund is part of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative – a three-year, $50 million commitment to give 100,000 low-income youth in the United States the opportunity to develop the workplace skills and leadership experience necessary to compete in a 21st century economy. The Citi Foundation has selected America's Promise, the country’s leading alliance of organizations and communities committed to improving the lives of young people, to provide technical assistance and convene grantees to collaborate on the most effective ways to expand youth economic opportunity in their communities.

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. The Foundation invests in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy" approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill its mission and drive thought leadership and innovation.

 To learn more, please refer to the following guidelines or contact opportunity@americaspromise.org for information about eligibility or how to apply.

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APR
30

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Baltimore is not burning

By Rachel Clark

Ellie Mitchell is the Director of the Maryland Out of School Time Network.

The last few days in Baltimore have been disappointing though not shocking to any of us who live and work here. The media coverage as you might expect has sensationalized what have been high impact, but relatively isolated incidents of looting and property destruction.  There will be a high economic impact, an even greater emotional impact.  Hard to believe the Orioles played a game to an empty stadium yesterday.

Of greatest concern to us at the Maryland Out of School Time Network has been the involvement of young people and how the media has portrayed young people in Baltimore City.  We are working with a number of organizations to highlight the positive contributions of young people—many have been involved in the clean up—and to underscore how the lack of opportunity in the city has contributed to the sense of despair that is the precursor to this kind of violence.

On Monday morning, I was at the high school, Frederick Douglass, which is directly across from the mall where the altercation between police and students began.  I was working with a group of students who produce a TV show called Baltimore Pioneers.  I can tell you the full story about how students ended up engaging with police there has not been told.  On Monday afternoon as the worst of the incidents began, I was with a group of advocates at a press conference prior to a City Council hearing where the City Council voted unanimously to increase funding for out-of-school time and community school programming in the city, a positive step for the community.  The resolution is non-binding but is intended to send a message to the Mayor prior to her sending her budget to the City Council for approval.

Today we are focused on getting out in the community and providing support where we can and also thinking longer term about providing trauma informed care training, and participating in the forums to support youth voice and leadership.  Baltimore is just the most recent stop of this train.

To learn more about the important work being done by youth programs in Baltimore, visit MOST’s Facebook page, where they have highlighted some of the positive contributions young people are making in the community.

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