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SEP
18
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: Michigan Engineering Zone

By Marco Ornelas

As the home of the American auto industry and birthplace of Motown, Detroit has always been a hub for American ingenuity and creativity. But in 2013, Detroit became the largest American city to declare bankruptcy after decades of economic. The city officially exited bankruptcy in 2014 following a debt restructuring plan, but many feel that the work to get the city back on track has just begun.

Still, the transformation that’s begun in the heart of downtown Detroit, which city leaders and residents are working to channel into the outer neighborhoods, signals hope. The residents of Detroit have worked hard to fight widespread economic hardships and earned their home the nickname “Renaissance City.”

What is catalyzing the economic revival of this city? Efforts like the University of Michigan’s Michigan Engineering Zone (MEZ) are definitely a helping hand in restarting the economic engine.

SEP
15
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Standing up for immigrant kids

By Guest Blogger

By Sil Ganzó, executive director of ourBRIDGE for KIDS

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, ourBRIDGE for KIDS is an afterschool program focused on helping newly-arrived and first-generation American children achieve academic success and integration into the community through innovative instructional methods and a celebration of cultural diversity. Our students represent more than 20 cultures from Southeast Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America.

In my role as executive director, I often have the opportunity to present our work to representatives of various corporations and foundations and meet potential advocates, volunteers, and donors who will further our mission of creating a community that embraces refugees and immigrants. The questions, feedback, and constant surge of ideas improves our program and makes my job truly exciting, and I love it. I like to think of myself as a fearless, outspoken advocate, but recently this notion was put up to the test.

SEP
13
2017

POLICY
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Diverse voices gather on Capitol Hill to testify for afterschool

By Jillian Luchner

On September 12, 2017 the Senate Afterschool Caucus led by Senators Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Franken (D-Minn.) hosted a “Back to Afterschool” briefing highlighting a diverse panel of experts from the military, health, education, government, and philanthropic sectors. Each speaker attested to the value of afterschool and summer programs from their unique vantage point and the need for a combination of federal, state, and local support.

Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant opened the panel by noting that the research on the positive impacts of afterschool programs is clear, and programs across the country are making a huge difference for students and families.

“The effectiveness of high quality afterschool and summer programs,” Grant stated, “should not be in question. Support for these programs runs wide and deep.”

AUG
28
2017

IN THE FIELD
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New resource guide for bringing computer science to your program

By Leah Silverberg

In 2016, we set out to learn more about computer science in afterschool programs. What did we find? Afterschool programs really want to provide computer science to their students! A full 97 percent of programs that had offered computing in the past said they were “extremely likely” or “likely” to offer it again, and 89 percent of programs that had never offered computing education rated their interest in offering such programming as “high” or “medium.”

However, there are common obstacles that get in the way. First of all, computer science can be intimidating — especially for educators without a background in the computing field — and finding knowledgeable staff can be difficult. Beyond that, finding a quality and affordable curriculum can be a challenge, especially for programs that have never offered computer science before.

In the past few years there has been a lot of progress in creating computer science resources for afterschool and summer programs to make it easier for providers to offer computer science options to their students, but there is still a long way to go. So, we took the first steps and compiled a guide to get you started. Here is a sneak peak of some of the tips and resources:

AUG
22
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Promising Practices: Columbus State Community College's ESL Afterschool Communities (ESLAsC)

By Leah Silverberg

This year we were happy to announce the Columbus State Community College’s ESL Afterschool Communities (ESLAsC) as the winner of the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award. As the award winner, ESLAsC was featured in our new issue brief “Afterschool providing key literacy supports to English language learner students,” highlighted in a program profile, and received $10,000, which enabled them to provide summer programming to 120 youth this summer. In preparation for our issue brief, we caught up with Florence Plagenz, supervisor of ESLAsC, to hear a bit more about their programs.

Columbus, Ohio, is home to an estimated 45,000 Somalis and an estimated 44,000 Latinos. Responding to the high concentration of immigrant populations in the city, ESLAsC—which serves 100 percent English language learners, most of whom are from low-income families— provides necessary supports for these families. However, becoming such an integral resource took a lot of trust building and self-evaluation.

AUG
8
2017

IN THE FIELD
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How to bring older adult volunteers into youth-serving organizations

By Elizabeth Tish

“Every child deserves a web of support, and every older adult has something to give.”

That is the motto of the Generation to Generation (Gen2Gen) campaign, a national effort launched by Encore.org to inspire adults over 50 to make a positive difference in the lives of children and youth. By dismantling the age barriers between generations and connecting youth and children to older adults through positive, everyday interactions, Gen2Gen aims to improve the lives of people across the age spectrum: empowering older adults to give back to their communities and rebuilding the villages that raise our children.

As personal testimonies and research point to benefits for kids and older adults alike, intergenerational friendships and interactions present themselves as a path to creating closer-knit and happier communities. In particular, informal learning and childcare programs stand to benefit from an invested, diverse cohort of volunteers—making afterschool programs prime opportunities to bring senior volunteers into the lives of school-age children.

Are you interested in getting involved with the campaign? Here are a few ways get started:

JUL
27
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Promising Practices: A deeper dive into Raider's ARK

By Leah Silverberg

Since 2015, the Afterschool Alliance has partnered with the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to distribute the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award to recognize an outstanding afterschool program that has provided literacy supports to its students. While there can only be one official award recipient, there are always so many programs that we wish we could honor and reward as well—Raider’s ARK (Academics Reinforcing Knowledge), located in Arcadia, Wisconsin, is one of these programs.

Arcadia is a small rural community in western Wisconsin with a population of around 3,000. Between 2000 and 2014, Arcadia’s Hispanic population rose from 3 percent to 35 percent, and this past year the Hispanic population in the public elementary school rose to 73 percent. As a result, the need for supports for English language learners has substantially grown.

Looking to include the program in our Dollar General afterschool literacy issue brief, we reached out to Nancy Boehm, the program coordinator for Raiders ARK, and had an amazing conversation about what makes Raider’s ARK so special, and how they support their students.

When Boehm joined, Raider’s ARK had been using a relatively unstructured program that prioritized homework support. That wasn’t where the future of program was heading.

“I am someone who likes a lot of organization and structure,” Boehm explained, “but that organization and structure should be focused on fun activities, where students know what is expected of them and have a safe and engaging place to be. There should be opportunities for enrichment, and learning, and continued learning, but for it not to look or feel or smell or sound like school, even though we are housed in a school building.”

JUL
26
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: July 26, 2017

By Luci Manning

After-School Unicycle Program Gains Traction across Texas Schools (Daily Texan, Texas)

Austin schoolteacher Jimmy Agnew is teaching students self-confidence and team-building skills through a unique activity – unicycling. Agnew’s nonprofit, One Wheel Many Children, grew out the Uni-Saders afterschool program he started back in 2009, and he now teaches students across Central Texas how to unicycle, building up other skills along the way. “Learning to unicycle is about a balance of cognitive thinking and physical awareness, and we teach kids to learn together as a team,” Agnew told the Daily Texan. “It’s the same thing we want to teach kids in the classroom, to problem-solve and challenge themselves.”

Young Activists March for Hunger (Boston Globe, Massachusetts)

About 200 children marched by the Massachusetts State House last week raising awareness of food insecurity among children and urging support for federal food programs. The students are part of the Freedom Schools summer programs in Boston and Somerville, which are inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and aim to close achievement gaps and reduce summer learning loss while focusing on global and domestic social issues. Event organizers say protests like last week’s march teach children how to lead and take action to effect change. “It’s been fun because a lot of us want to help people who don’t get a meal everyday,” 10-year-old Emilly Gomes told the Boston Globe.

What’s Working: Learning Is Just as Important in the Summer (Huffington Post)

Allan Golston, president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation U.S. Program, wrote in the Huffington Post praising summer learning: “Every summer, students are at risk of losing two to three months in reading and about two months of math skills. For low-income youth, this risk often becomes the reality…. Summer is first and foremost about allowing kids to explore, have fun, and explore their passions. But as SOWA [School’s Out Washington] and other organizations show us, there’s no reason we can’t combine play and learning. Students are better for it in the end.”

Summer Program Helps Students Explore Heritage and History (Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico)

More than 100 elementary and middle school students are spending their summer learning about New Mexico’s history and culture through project-based, hands-on learning experiences. Hands on Heritage takes students on field trips and encourages them to read and participate in STEM projects to explore the architecture, agriculture, food, and prehistoric life of the region. “I believe social studies gets put on the back burner a lot these days, because it’s not tested,” Ed Gorman, El Camino Real history teacher and a leader of the program, told the Santa Fe New Mexican. “Something like this helps kids get out and learn about New Mexico’s culture and history, to learn about this wonderful melting pot that New Mexico is.”