This blog post was contributed by Laura Batt, director of educational programs at JASON Learning, an exploration-based organization that links students to real science and scientists. Laura works in JASON's out-of-school-time division, Immersion Learning, which focuses on developing multi-media ocean science curricula.
Following up on my colleague’s fantastic post on available resources on girls in STEM to celebrate Women’s History Month, I want to highlight a recent report from the Girl Scout Research Institute, “The State of Girls: Unfinished Business.”
The primary takeaway from this in-depth report that covers several key issues affecting girls’ healthy development is that there is progress to be proud of regarding girls’ educational attainment, reduction of risky behaviors, extracurricular activities and connection to technology. For example, the report found that there are 130 women enrolled in college for every 100 men, girls make up less than one-third of juvenile arrests and more than half of high school girls play on at least one sports team. However, as the report’s title implies, there’s still much more to be done.
This Weds., 3/26, raise awareness about the value of afterschool programs and support the Afterschool for America’s Children Act: S. 326!
Every afternoon between the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. children nationwide should have the opportunity to participate in engaging afterschool programs that support their learning and development and spark their passions and creativity. In recognition of the afterschool hours of opportunity from 3 to 6 p.m., on 3/26 use your own social media network to promote afterschool and build support for Senate Bill 326—the Afterschool for America’s Children Act.
The bipartisan Afterschool for America’s Children Act, S. 326 and HR 4086—led by Sens. Boxer, Murkowski and Murray in the Senate and by Reps. Kildee and DeLauro in the House—would reauthorize and strengthen the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative—the nation’s chief federal funding stream for afterschool and summer learning programs—by supporting innovative advances that support student success.
Quick ways you can take action!
By Jodi Grant
On Monday, the National AfterSchool Association released their list of the top 25 most influential people in afterschool. I was honored to be included on that list, along with our wonderful board members Terry Peterson and Lucy Friedman. The recognition provided a nice moment to step back and celebrate the hard work of our team, and to reflect on why this work is so important, and why we are so determined to expand afterschool resources nationwide.
We are dogged in our work because the people and programs in the afterschool field are nothing short of amazing. Afterschool programs are changing lives; saving a child from hunger; creating innovative approaches to learning; and developing our next generation of leaders, citizens and scientists. And they are doing it on a shoestring budget with a will that won’t quit and a mind for innovation.
There are hundreds of stories and people that come to mind, but I thought I’d share just a few examples of what drives us to get up and work as hard as we possibly can to give voice to the afterschool field. I’d love to hear your afterschool inspirations, too, so please take a moment and send in your thoughts in the comment field below.
Today the Wallace Foundation announced that they awarded a $799,000 grant to researchers at Teachers College, Columbia University to study if and how major community institutions can work together to address complex social and educational issues—such as educational reform—in Buffalo, New York, and two additional mid-sized cities.
The comparative study of collective impact—an approach that involves the collaboration of multiple sectors across a community to solve a complex social problem over an extended period of time—will examine the three cities’ efforts and discuss lessons learned, challenges and best practices. Topics the research team will look at include:
In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to recognize the incredible work being done in the afterschool field to encourage and support girls in STEM. Below are a selection of recent publications and a list of girl-serving afterschool and summer programs actively working on the best ways to engage girls in STEM learning.
And for a bit of history, all this month, the National Girls Collaborative Project is highlighting women who have made and are currently making a significant impact in the STEM fields.
What resources would you add to this list? Add your comments below or send us a tweet @afterschool4all!
- SciGirls Seven: How to Engage Girls in STEM (2013)
- Effective STEM programs for adolescent girls: Three Approaches and Many Lessons Learned (2013)
- Build IT: Scaling and Sustaining an Afterschool Computer Science Program for Girls (2012)
- Project Exploration’s Sisters4Science: Involving Urban Girls of Color in Science Out of School (2010). For a summary, see this research brief.
- The Girl Game Company: Engaging Latina Girls in Information Technology (2009). For a summary see this research brief.
- Evaluating Promising Practices in Informal Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education for Girls (2008). From the Girl Scouts of the USA.
- Encouraging Girls in Math and Science: A Practice Guide (2007). From the Institute of Educational Sciences and the Department of Education.
By Jen Rinehart
|Photo Credit: Youth Today—Read their coverage of the announcement.|
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to talk with a room full of mayors, city council members and education/policy advisors about the role of federal policy in local afterschool efforts. With a crowd like that, I certainly felt like I was standing on the wrong side of the podium!
It was a dynamic discussion about how federal policies related to 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants, Child Care Development funds and newly proposed initiatives—like Race to the Top-Equity and Opportunity—may impact local afterschool initiatives.
Many of the city leaders in the room were first drawn to afterschool because they recognized it as a strategy to keep their communities safe. After learning more about afterschool, they readily saw how keeping youth safe also supports working families, which is linked to worker productivity and therefore economic development. This necessitates a skilled workforce of the future, which brings you right back to education and safety again. In short, they were quickly sold on the importance of afterschool.
I’d like to take credit for the participants’ excitement about afterschool, but in truth it was most likely the result of an announcement made earlier that morning. Saint Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Chris Coleman, president of the National League of Cities, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan laid out a plan detailing how they would work together to boost partnerships among federal and local governments, schools, families, faith-based organizations, businesses, nonprofits and universities to advance learning, enhance student engagement and improve schools in cities across the country.
Bipartisan support and a great deal of advocacy from supporters of child care, afterschool programs and early education led senators to vote overwhelmingly yesterday in favor of reauthorizing S. 1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014. This was the first reauthorization of CCDBG since 1996.
The Afterschool Alliance supported the legislation and its recognition of the importance of including care for school-age children up to 13 years old. Given the research on the benefits of a continuum of care that begins with early education and extends into the school-age years of childhood, it's important to emphasize the value of quality school-age child care to achieve positive outcomes for children, including improved academic performance, work habits and study skills. The bill includes many common-sense measures to help protect children in child care, such as requiring providers to undergo comprehensive background checks and ensuring annual inspections are conducted.
The need for quality afterschool programs and child care for school-age children continues to grow, therefore adequate funding for CCDBG will be necessary for this legislation to have the most impact. The FY2015 spending process is scheduled to begin in earnest next month. In addition to ensuring adequate resources for CCDBG, the House must also pass a CCDBG reauthorization bill. The House Education and the Workforce Committee is reportedly planning a hearing on CCDBG for the morning of March 25. Take action here to support funding for CCDBG and other federal afterschool funding sources.