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AUG
30
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: August 30, 2017

By Luci Manning

Making Good Choices: Teen Center Fosters ‘Healthy Lifestyle Skills’ (Lake County Suburban Life, Illinois)

The Warren Township Teen Center offers teens a safe space to explore different activities, work on homework, receive guidance from adult staff members and socialize with their peers. Staff believe the center helps to decrease community violence by giving youths access to structured, beneficial activities during afterschool hours, and hope that other communities will adopt similar programs. “I think it would be very helpful in communities that don’t have anything for youth to do,” Warren Township Supervisor Suzanne Simpson told the Lake County Suburban Life.

Programs Level the Slippery Slope of ‘Summer Slide’ (Baltimore Sun, Maryland)

Montgomery County council member Nancy Navarro and Building Educated Leaders for Life CEO Lauren Sanchez Gilbert argue for increased funding for afterschool and summer programs in the Baltimore Sun: “The summer slide is about academics and economics. After all, educational inequality is a major reason for the current shortage of qualified adults who can contribute to the economy…. Yet federal funding for out-of-school-time educational programs is in jeopardy…. The stakes are too high to leave any child behind because of their race, income, or zip code. Increasing access to summer and after-school programs is not only an investment in today, it is an investment in our collective economic future.”

‘The Children Learn to Read by Singing’ (Virginian-Pilot, Virginia)

For 14 years, a free reading program has helped youths living in low-income and subsidized housing in Hampton Roads keep up their literacy skills during the summer months. Some 100 students in kindergarten through high school participated in the camp this year, which operates on an interactive curriculum meant to make reading fun. Students complete reading tests before and after the program and have demonstrated measurable improvements throughout the years. “This year we had improvement results as much as 68 percent,” program director Krystle Francis told the Virginian-Pilot. “And during the summer months; that’s huge.”

After School Music Program Proves Extremely Successful (KTUL, Oklahoma)

The nonprofit Harmony Project Tulsa gives music lessons to low-income students who may not have access to instruments outside of school. The program pairs professional musicians with youths, helping them develop a fun hobby and increasing their overall academic success. According to KTUL, Harmony Project participants performed 30 percent better on their third grade reading tests last year than their classmates who did not participate in the program. 

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learn more about: Summer Learning Arts In The News
AUG
9
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: August 9, 2017

By Luci Manning

With Help of a BMX Pro, at-Risk Youth Pedal Their Way to a Better Future (Fresno Bee, California)

A biking afterschool program at Sequoia Middle School is steering students away from dangerous decisions and toward a fun, positive learning environment. BMX Jam, started by former BMX racing professional Tony Hoffman, helps students who are struggling at school and at home by giving them a place to develop friendships, improve their grades and build self-esteem. “In the program, you talk to each other, you help each other and you become kind of like a family,” participant Danny Orozco told the Fresno Bee.

Learning to Inhale: At This Camp, Breathing Is Fundamental (WAMU, District of Columbia)

Youths at a unique summer camp in Patuxent, Maryland are not just taking hikes and sleeping in cabins – they’re learning how to control their asthma. According to camp co-director Bernadette Campbell, the week-long program is meant to help students learn coping techniques that could make all the difference in case of a sudden asthma attack. “They know how to save their lives, they have a sense of empowerment and they know they can do it,” Campbell told WAMU.

Sponsors Visit STEM Programs Aimed at Fighting Summer Learning Loss (New Britain Herald, Connecticut)

Representatives from several companies and organizations that sponsor summer learning programs in New Britain got a chance to see how their money was being used through two site visits and information sessions last week. The funders visited the district’s two Summer Enrichment Experience (SEE) locations to witness how students in elementary and middle school benefit from the STEM-based program that fights summer learning loss. “We have seen the success with SEE,” New Britain High School superintendent Nancy Sarra told the New Britain Herald. “…We know that if we keep them in the summer… we can change their trajectory for learning and staying engaged in school and graduating on time.”

Swimming Skills Aren’t Just for Dreamers (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania)

Pittsburgh students from all socioeconomic backgrounds are building healthy habits through Summer Dreamers, a swimming-focused summer learning program. “We’re teaching the kids a skill, a lifetime skill,” Obama Academy swim coach Mark Rauterkus told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “And we’re also spending a lot of time in fitness, so they’re getting stronger more endurance. They’re learning about exercising, kinetic movement, and their teamwork and sportsmanship.” The program combines swimming and water polo lessons and other traditional camp activities with academic classes, helping to mitigate summer learning loss, build students’ self-confidence and keep them fit.

AUG
2
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: August 2, 2017

By Luci Manning

If You Think This Camp’s Unusual, You’re Dead Right (Riverdale Press, New York)

A cemetery may not seem like an obvious location to host a summer camp, but for some 20 students from the Bronx, it has been the perfect place to spend time outside while learning about the history of their community. The summer program hosted by the Woodlawn Cemetery teaches students about the art and architecture in the graveyard, and introduces them to some of the people buried there, including famous figures like Miles Davis and salsa singer Celia Cruz. “If you don’t get young people to be stewards of a historic site, who’s going to care for it?” Woodlawn director of historical services Susan Olsen told the Riverdale Press.

Hundreds of Maryland Students Get to Know Careers That Could Follow High School (Washington Post)

More than 400 Montgomery County teenagers spent the past three weeks shadowing employees at health care centers, police departments, research labs, construction companies and more through a new program that gives students a glimpse into possible future careers. At Summer RISE (Real Interesting Summer Experience), students worked an average of 20 hours a week and earned a $300 stipend while learning about what paths they could take after high school or college. “Not only is this great for the kids to give them something to do, but also to show them that opportunities exist and they don’t have to live somewhere else to get an interesting job,” program director Will Jawando told the Washington Post.

STEMMING the Tide, Broadening Possibilities (Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi)

A Jackson summer camp is working to close the gender and racial gaps in STEM fields by empowering dozens of young black girls to explore engineering and other technical fields. The Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK Jackson) is an all-female STEM camp for third- through fifth-graders that engages students in hands-on, team-based engineering activities under the guidance of mentors. The program builds girls’ confidence and increases their comprehension of basic engineering and math concepts that will help them later in life. “A lot of boys become engineers but SEEK proves that girls can accomplish just as much,” participant Karis McGowan told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

From Skyhook to STEM: Kareem Abdul Jabbar Brings the Science (NPR)

NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul Jabbar is trying to narrow the opportunity gap for Los Angeles youths through his Skyhook Foundation and Camp Skyhook. The nonprofit offers public school students access to a free STEM-focused summer camp in the Angeles National Forest, where they’re able to interact with nature up close by taking water temperatures, studying soil and forest samples and learning about local wildlife. “We try to give them an idea that they are all worthy of going on and doing great things in chemistry and biology and physics and math and all those things…. They’re curious about it, so we try to get them to keep making inquiries and sniffing up that tree,” Abdul Jabbar told NPR

JUL
28
2017

RESEARCH
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Guest blog: Q&A with an afterschool researcher

By Guest Blogger

In May, the proposed FY2018 budget eliminated funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), the only federal funding stream dedicated to before-school, afterschool, and summer learning programs. In the budget, a justification given for the elimination of funding was that there is no demonstrable evidence that 21st CCLC programs have a positive impact on the students attending the programs. Although we have highlighted the existing body of research underscoring the difference 21st CCLC programs are making in the lives of students participating in programs, we decided to go directly to the source, asking someone who has conducted evaluations on 21st CCLC programs for 14 years. 

We posed a few questions to Neil Naftzger, American Institutes for Research (AIR), about his evaluation work related to 21st CCLC programs specifically, and the afterschool field broadly. Below are answers to two of the questions we asked, with our emphasis added in bold, which establish that there is in fact clear evidence demonstrating that 21st CCLC work for students. 

What are the strongest findings across your research on 21st CCLC programs? Do you see any important non-academic benefits from afterschool and summer learning programs?

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.” 

JUL
19
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: July 19, 2017

By Luci Manning

Don’t Miss Out on Many Portland Learning Programs That Combat ‘Summer Slide’ (Press Herald, Maine)

“Summer is an opportunity for students to enjoy long, lazy days of fun, relaxation and new experiences. But if learning isn’t a part of those experiences, students are at risk of the ‘summer slide.’ Research shows that summers without quality learning opportunities put youth at risk of falling behind in core academic subjects such as math and reading,” wrote Portland Public Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana in the Press Herald in support of Summer Learning Day last week. He continued, “I am proud of the Portland Public Schools’ many partners, who are committed to working with us to ensure our students continue learning and thriving during the summer break.”

Letter: Worthy Reading Program on Chopping Block (Union-Bulletin, Washington)

A letter-to-the-editor in the Union-Bulletin from Walla Walla’s Sue Parish calls for continued funding for 21st Century Community Learning Programs “to give all our students a strong future.” She wrote: “This past week, the country celebrated National Summer Learning Day with events at learning programs for kids throughout the country. Luckily for our kids in Walla Walla, there are currently over 400 kids involved in amazing summer learning opportunities, at a multitude of different sites around town. Not only do these activities keep kids safe and engaged when school is out, but they keep students math and reading skills sharp, working to avoid the loss of skills that the student worked so hard to gain throughout the school year…. Sadly, the current administration’s budget proposes to eliminate all funding for this worthy program. Please stand up for all kids and urge our senators and representatives in Congress to reject this proposal, and instead protect funding for this program.”

Pint-Sized Ornithologists Work Towards Closing Achievement Gap In Pinellas County (WUSF, Florida)

Nearly 8,000 Pinellas County students are participating in Summer Bridge, a six-week summer learning program that is teaching students from Maximo Elementary School all about birds, including hands-on learning opportunities with field trips to Seaside Seabird Sanctuary. Shana Rafalski, Executive Director of Elementary Education for Pinellas County Schools, told WUSF that the district believes that the Summer Bridge program is worthwhile and valuable. She said, “We’ve got data that does support that children who attend do fare better as they enter into the new school year.”

Marilyn Mosby Invests in Youth, Community Engagement Amid Baltimore Violence (Baltimore Sun, Maryland)

Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby kicked off her Junior State's Attorney program recently, with a pinning at its opening ceremony. The six-week summer program takes young people on tours of various aspects of the criminal justice system, including meetings with Baltimore’s mayor and judges and a law school-style mock trial competition at the program’s end, the Baltimore Sun reports. This year, the program’s third, more students were accepted and the city’s YouthWorks program are paying teens to participate.

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