By Shaun Gray
"I believe that afterschool programs are an essential part of bettering our youth. Afterschool programs have helped me learn and grow, and will help other students do the same."
– Gabby, age 17
This has been an incredible year for the Afterschool Alliance! Thanks to your support of our work, more students like Gabby are taking advantage of expanded educational opportunities. Our highly-publicized landmark research study, America After 3 PM , released this October, found that more than 10 million children now participate in afterschool programs, a 57% increase over the last 10 years. However, for every student currently in an afterschool program, parents report that there are two more waiting to get in—that’s 20 million students whose parents would enroll them if an afterschool program were available.
You can help support afterschool programs and our year-round work, by doing your holiday shopping online through Amazon Smile. It’s easy. On your first visit to smile.amazon.com, select the Afterschool Alliance as your charitable organization, then browse through the tens of millions of products that Amazon Smile has to offer and are eligible for donations. The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to us.
This past year has seen some remarkable achievements in advocating for more afterschool investments and expanding afterschool resources to support this work.
You can help ensure that all children have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs that keep them safe, inspire them to learn and help America’s working families.
By Luci Manning
Thanks to a $6,000 donation, the GANAS (Guide, Advise, Nurture and Support) mentoring program opened a fifth site last month at the St. John’s Episcopal Church in San Diego, CA. At GANAS, youth aged 9 to 14 can participate in afterschool activities led by trained mentors and local high school students, who serve as positive role models and help steer youth away from gangs and drugs. The program provides snacks and encourages children to share news of the day and play brain games. Pat Braendel, the program’s founder, told San Diego Union-Tribune, “The program develops critical thinking and leadership skills that help kids build confidence and healthy, balanced minds and bodies.”
Vanisha Williams attributes her confidence and sense of pride to an African-American studies class she took in college. Hoping to pass on this eye-opening experience to younger students, Williams began an afterschool program called “Sons of Sankofa” to teach seventh through twelfth grade students about black history, hopefully giving them pride and a sense of self in their community. In the Akan language of Ghana, “Sankofa” translates roughly to “reach back and get it.” “It’s about taking what’s good in the past and bringing it to the present for positive progress,” Williams told Northern Valley Suburbanite. “I feel that’s necessary for any success.” Sons of Sankofa will incorporate technology and social media to better engage students as they learn.
Last week, Montrose, CO area elementary school students, with the help of park rangers, worked on hands-on projects to learn about the Colorado River system at their 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool program. Students built a replication of the river system and subjected a model town to pollution and precipitation to demonstrate effects on the watershed. Teachers at the Montrose Elementary After-School Program have planned many other unique and highly creative projects for students, with titles like “Boredom Blasters” and “European Escapades.” “The growth and the quality that we’ve been able to build and establish, and… the amount of children we have every day in our program is amazing,” Director Erica Jiron told the Montrose Daily Press.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative encourages chefs to visit schools and educate children on healthy snack options. In that spirit, Duquesne University Executive Sous Chef Zachary Puhala recently taught fifth and sixth-graders in CASTLE—Clairton’s After-School Teaching & Learning Experience—how to make hummus and applesauce. Puhala believes the key to getting children to eat healthier is getting them engaged in cooking and finding ways to make nutrition fun – in this case, by letting them crush chickpeas and mash apples to make healthy snacks. CASTLE program coordinator Greg Spotti hopes the students will apply what they’ve learned at home, thereby promoting healthy eating in their communities. “It's not something that has to be done at school,” he told The Daily News. “They can take this learning and share with their family and pretty much everybody else.”
By Ed Spitzberg
Many afterschool programs stoke the creative fires of the kids who participate in them. Sometimes it is that yearning for the arts that draws kids to these programs to start with – and once there, they also gain many other skills, from confidence, to public speaking, to creative expression.
Each year, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, honors some of these premier programs with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. Each honor comes with a $10,000 award, presented during a ceremony at the White House led by First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) Council was established by the Texas Legislature in 2013 in order to improve quality and access to expanded learning opportunities in the state, including afterschool and summer programs. On November 1, the ELO Council published its first report, 2016-2017 Statewide Strategic Plan for Expanded Learning Opportunities, with the support of the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time (TXPOST). In the report, the council states that “high-quality ELO programs provide safe places, support economic growth, and help close the academic achievement gap by offering supplemental activities that support but do not replicate the general education program.”
Close to 16 million children live in a food-insecure household, where they are without consistent access to food. Afterschool programs can—and do—play an important role in promoting healthy lifestyles for youth, in part by proving a nutritious snack or meal in the afternoon. The Afterschool Alliance is seeking to learn more about the state of afterschool meals through an online survey.
We need your help to better understand the landscape around providing meals after school. Complete a brief survey by Monday, Nov. 24—which is a follow up survey to one conducted two years ago—and you can help us identify how providing afterschool snacks and meals has changed over time, and what barriers programs face to provide afterschool snacks and meals. The survey should only take eight minutes to complete.
Check out our Afterschool Meals web page for more information on afterschool meals, nutrition education and physical activity in an afterschool setting.
By Dan Gilbert
Map it. Track it. Change it. Share it.
Developed by the BAVC Producer’s Institute for New Technologies, Map Your World is an incredible new project inspired by the PBS Independent Lens documentary The Revolutionary Optimists.
Map Your World’s new participatory mapping platform puts the power of new technologies into the hands of youth. The platform enables youth to map, track and improve their communities while sharing stories with each other and the rest of the world. It provides youth with the freedom to pursue issues that they’re passionate about while giving them the ability to visualize and share data and compelling stories.
Today the Senate followed the action of the House of Representatives this past September and passed S.1086–The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014: Amended Version. The bipartisan, bicameral bill represents a compromise of the legislation that passed the Senate in March by a vote of 96-2. Due to the changes in the House version, the Senate has to pass the bill again before sending it to the president’s desk to be signed into law. This marks the first time in 18 years that comprehensive Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization legislation has passed both the House and Senate.
The bill that passed reflects a bipartisan agreement reached by Congressional leaders in mid-September to reauthorize CCDBG after several months of negotiations by Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.), George Miller (D-Calif.), Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) and David Loebsack (D-Iowa), as well as Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), and Richard Burr (R-N.C.). The agreement will enhance transparency, strengthen health and safety protections, and improve the quality of care for children of low-income families aged birth to 13.
Legislation that would provide affordable and timely background checks to afterschool program providers still has a chance to pass during the 114th Congress. The Child Protection Improvements Act (CPIA - S. 1362 and H.R. 3902) would provide afterschool and other youth-serving organizations with access to nationwide FBI fingerprint searches of potential volunteers at a reasonable cost and turnaround time. The legislation addresses inadequacies within the current background check system, which include: lack of access to nationwide checks, high cost and an often-lengthy response time.
In the wake of the 2014 midterm elections, time is running out for Members of Congress to pass CPIA before Congress adjourns in December. The legislation enjoys strong bipartisan support and this month the Afterschool Alliance joined MENTOR and 20 other youth serving organizations in signing letters to Senate and House leaders in support of the bill.