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AUG
14
2017

RESEARCH
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How does afterschool contribute to military readiness?

By Leah Silverberg

U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue

In 2016, the Council for a Strong America released America Unprepared, showing data that more than 70 percent of young adults in the United States would not qualify for military service due to obesity and other health issues, poor academic performance, drug abuse, or involvement in crime. As a solution to this lack of “citizen-readiness,” the council suggested support for voluntary home-visiting programs, high quality early education, science-based nutrition standards for school foods, and the reinstitution of physical education programs.

We have one more suggestion: quality afterschool programs. Many afterschool programs are already tackling the issues of health and wellness, academic achievement, and child safety.

Fighting fit

60 percent of young adults are overweight or obese. For the military, this translates to 31 percent of all young adults who apply to serve being disqualified from service. Furthermore, lifetime obesity is determined during school-age years. While obesity remains a large problem in the United States, the percentage of schools that require students to take physical education has declined to only 77 percent.

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
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

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
11
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Afterschool gave me hope of a future I'd never known

By Guest Blogger

By Aaron Short, assistant head of staff at 21st Cranston Community Learning Center Bain +2/Kidventure Afterschool Program. Aaron attended the Youth Session of the 2017 Afterschool for All Challenge and spoke to his members of Congress about the impact of afterschool on his life.

From the start of my life, I was taught a few things from living in the ghetto of Cranston, Rhode Island: I didn’t have a chance in life outside there; it was okay to join a gang when your family loses everything; and the ghetto will be my life no matter how hard I try. If you asked me where these ideas were picked up, I couldn’t tell you, but it was inescapable.  By the time I was eight, my ex-friends were talking about how much they’ve stolen from grocery stores. Although I didn’t know it at the time, in the fifth grade I saw future gang members starting their careers at the tender age of 10.

My mother worked her hardest to give me a better life, but the mounting costs of daycare and the needs of my newly-born sister kept moving us lower and lower towards poverty. I still remember a point when we were being threatened with eviction because we couldn’t afford to live in our small apartment. My school’s schedule didn’t help the situation, as my mother having to take her lunch break to drop me off at school and had to leave in the middle of the work day to pick me up. And anyone who starts a job with few credentials and leaves halfway through the year can’t hold that job for very long. The choice was simple: I could be safe after school, or we could have dinner.

JUN
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: How one rural town is investing in Alaska's future workforce

By Guest Blogger

By Thomas Azzarella, director of the Alaska Afterschool Network. This blog was originally published on the Alaska Afterschool Blog on June 6.

Photo courtesy of Eric Filradi

Nearly two-thirds of Alaska’s cities, towns, and villages are accessible only by plane or boat, which makes having a strong aviation workforce critical to having a strong state economy. Qualified and experienced employees in the aviation industry are in high demand throughout the state, especially in rural communities.

The 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) in Nenana is addressing this demand by preparing youth living in rural Alaska for this crucial industry.

Nenana is a small rural town of approximately 400 residents. Nenana City School District is comprised of one K-12 grade school that serves nearly 200 students. Approximately 100 of these students are enrolled in the school’s boarding facility, the Student Living Center, for grades 9-12. These students come from villages and towns all over the state, many of which attend school in Nenana because of the limited educational offerings in their home village. 

Nenana’s Community Learning Centers program expands the school’s educational offerings after school by providing tutoring, career-tech programs, and opportunities for building self-confidence and leadership skills. Among these offerings is the school’s Aviation Mechanics program, which is preparing high school students for high-paying jobs in Alaska’s aviation industry.

MAY
26
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Not The Onion: Horses, surfboards, and cyberattacks in afterschool

By Jodi Grant

Photo by Pete Markham

Despite a wealth of research showing the importance of afterschool and widespread popularity with parents, students, teachers and community leaders, programs have never been more threatened. This week the president decided to double down on his call to eliminate afterschool funding in his 2018 budget proposal, leaving 1.6 million kids’ with no where to go after school. It’s a serious matter with implications for Americans across the country.  The cut has caught the attention of major national media, local media across the country, and late night comedians and Saturday Night Live.  

The Afterschool Alliance isn’t exempt from the heightened publicity. On Monday, we had our first mention in The Onion, which wrote a satirical piece on the Secretary of Education’s new plan to replace 21st Century Community Learning Centers with afterschool polo programs across the country.

I was flattered to be mentioned, but as in all great satire, the piece contained a lot of truth. If the Secretary of Education did call me, I’d be thrilled to tell her about pretty amazing afterschool programs. I haven’t heard of afterschool polo yet, but given the creativity and ingenuity local communities across the nation have developed, I would not be surprised. Afterschool programs keep kids safe, boost student success, and help working families – and quite often, they also blow your mind.

MAY
24
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 24, 2017

By Luci Manning

After-School Funding Is a Smart Public Investment (Springfield News-Leader, Missouri)

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams argues for 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding in a Springfield News-Leader op-ed: “Over the long run, these programs can improve social-emotional skill development, classroom behavior, school attendance and high school graduation rates. That matters a lot to those of us in law enforcement because high school dropouts are three times more likely to be arrested and eight times more likely to be incarcerated than those who graduate…. By every measure, funding for these important programs is an investment that parents, kids and taxpayers can bank on in the years to come.”

Hamilton Couple Helps Youth Gain Valuable ‘Experience’ (Journal-News, Ohio)

Students in the Hamilton Boys and Girls Club can now earn the privilege of participating in special activities by regularly attending afterschool programs and demonstrating positive behavior, according to the Journal-News. The Club’s Experience program has been active for a year, providing the students with positive environments and enrichment activities like college visits, camping and art—opportunities that they may not normally have access to. “It’s fun for them to be able to try some of these things that they may not have the chance to be exposed to otherwise without the Experience program,” founder Krista Parrish said.

UPS Club Mentors High School Students to Broaden World of Computer Science (News Tribune, Washington)

A new program is helping Lincoln High Schoolers learn the fundamentals of coding alongside college students from the University of Puget Sound’s Beta Coders club. The diverse group of UPS computer science students tutors the teens in coding and animation, aiming to show them that anyone can pursue a future in STEM. “Many people see computer science to be an intimidating field that only a select few can strive in,” junior and club leader Sofia Schwartz told the News Tribune, “but I wanted to show people that it isn’t so complicated after all.”

Students Work with Horses as Part of After-School Club (Daily Nonpareil, Iowa)

Each week, ten fourth- and fifth-graders from Longfellow Elementary School have the opportunity to ride horses at the Seefus Riding Stable as part of a special afterschool program. Students take turns riding and learning to care for the horses and riding equipment. “Students get to interact and learn something they may not be learning in the classroom,” fifth-grade teacher and club leader Cassie Wall told the Daily Nonpareil. “It’s a really different experience and they can find out they do have passions for things other than what they’ve known.”