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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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DEC
18

STEM
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Guest blog: New insights for improving afterschool science

By Melissa Ballard

Dr. Ann House is a researcher and evaluator who works on projects that explore innovative schools, science and STEM education, and out-of-school learning settings. She is based at SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning, a nonprofit, independent research organization. Currently, Dr. House is leading the “Afterschool Science Networks Study” which explores the state of science offerings and the external sources of support for science in California’s public afterschool programs.

How can students keep learning science when the school day ends? Afterschool programs are a natural fit for hands-on science and the development of inquiry skills, like posing questions, designing scientific investigations, and creating explanations based on observations. Afterschool programs have the potential to boost students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

To understand the support networks underlying current afterschool science offerings, SRI conducted a five-year study funded by the National Science Foundation to examine the state of science learning opportunities in California’s After School and Education Safety (ASES) program.

 

 

 

 

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science State Policy Community Partners
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DEC
17

RESEARCH
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Child Care Aware publishes new report on high cost of child care

By Sophie Papavizas

A few weeks after the bi-partisan reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Child Care Aware of America has published their annual report on Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, showing the increasing costs of child care in America.  In the recent release of America After 3 PM, the Afterschool Alliance also looked at the issue of costs, with 43 percent of parents citing the high cost of local programs as one of the major reasons for not enrolling their child in an afterschool program.

While the focus of the report is on child care for infants and toddlers, also included is data on the average annual cost of before and after school care for school aged children in each state.  The report compares these costs with the median income for both one parent and two parent households to calculate the proportion of family income going towards child care in comparison to other major expenses like housing and food.  Child Care Aware surveyed Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&Rs) State Network offices to obtain data related to the average cost of care in legally operating child care centers and family child care homes.  CCR&Rs pulled these numbers from the latest Market Rate Surveys and databases maintained by the networks.  Most data is from 2013, and older data from 2012 and 2011 was adjusted to 2013 dollars using the Consumer Price Index.

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learn more about: America After 3PM Federal Funding Federal Policy
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DEC
17

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  December 17, 2014

By Luci Manning

Culinary Classroom: Auburn Middle-Schoolers Compete in Junior Iron Chef Contest (Auburn Citizen, N.Y.)

Ten young chefs put their newly learned kitchen skills to the test during a Junior Iron Chef competition last week in Auburn, N.Y. Two teams of seventh- and eighth-graders made a potato and spinach hand pie they’d spent weeks modifying during an afterschool program. The competition followed several weeks of working together and learning cooking basics from professional chefs and Sarah Parisi, AJHS family and consumer sciences instructor. Organizers say the program has promoted teamwork and communication – there were no meltdowns or raised voices during the hour-long competition. “I’m really proud of them; their creativity really came out,” Parisi told the Auburn Citizen. “They’ve learned to trust each other.”

Boys & Girls Club Keeps 9-Year-Old on Positive Path (Orlando Sentinel, Fla.)

Christina Hagle developed a sharp edge to her personality after her father was taken to jail. She hid her homework, stole things and talked back to her mother – until she found the Boys & Girls Club of Lake & Sumter. Christina began going to the club after school, where she gets help with homework and participates in a variety of activities ranging from aquaponics – growing crops in water – to knitting. “The club is about teaching how to learn about different things that will protect you in life,” Christina told the Orlando Sentinel. Her mother, Tracy Kendall, said Christina has absorbed the club’s lessons on being honest and treating others with respect. “I watched my daughter grow from someone who was a troubled child to someone who is really secure with herself,” Kendall said.

‘Stellar Girls’ Keeps Science in Mind (Southtown Star, Ill.)

Men have always comprised the majority of professionals in the math and scientific fields, but Stellar Girls is hoping to change that. The iBIO Institute Educate Center’s afterschool program is designed to keep young girls interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and improve scientific literacy. Over the course of the full-year program, girls partake in 20 different hands-on activities focused on how STEM applications are used to “feed, fuel, sow and heal” the world. “Studies have shown that around fourth or fifth grade, girls start to get the message that math and science are just for boys,” Educate program vice president Ann Reed Vogel told the Southtown Star. “We want to help them stay interested and let them explore the bigger ideas available in STEM fields.”

Urban Gardening Yields a Bounty in Many Ways (Albany Times-Union, N.Y.)

Each year, the kids from 15-LOVE, a tennis program for inner-city youths, grow tomatoes, green beans, squash, onions, peppers, garlic and more in their urban garden, then use the fresh produce to create healthy recipes from scratch. “Each week, the kids make something different, from salads to personal pizzas,” Executive Director Amber Marino told Albany Times-Union. “It’s healthy and a lot of fun. The kids really get into it.” Growing vegetables and preparing meals with them is a revelation for many of the children, whose meals often come from cans, boxes or fast-food containers. 

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DEC
16

RESEARCH
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Making the case for afterschool using America After 3PM

By Nikki Yamashiro

To make a convincing argument, you need two essential components.  The first is a compelling story.  In the afterschool field, there is no shortage of compelling stories about the power of afterschool programs and their ability to keep kids safe, inspire learning and support working parents.  The second are data to support and substantiate your point.  This is where America After 3PM—our recently released national household survey on afterschool program participation and demand for afterschool programs—comes in.   

Last week, we hosted a webinar that focused on the variety of ways afterschool program providers, parents, students and advocates can use the recently released America After 3PM data to make the case for afterschool.  If you missed the webinar, you can still watch the recording or take a look at the PowerPoint presentation

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learn more about: Advocacy America After 3PM Media Outreach State Policy
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DEC
16

STEM
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Afterschool programs highlighted in White House Council on Women and Girls report

By Anita Krishnamurthi

The White House Council on Women and Girls recently released a report that examines a number of indicators that contribute to the well-being of women and girls of color, ranging from educational attainment to economic security to health and well-being. Of particular relevance to us, the Council highlights issues such as lagging behind in math and reading scores, school discipline issues, and under-representation in STEM education programs and careers as challenges and obstacles to educational attainment for this population.

We here at the Afterschool Alliance are delighted that the report recognizes afterschool programs for providing unique opportunities for elementary and secondary students in STEM.  One of the programs that the report highlights is the Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program, which is well known to many of us in the afterschool field.  The report focuses primarily on their partnership with the General Services Administration (GSA), and lauds their success in attracting and mentoring women and other minority students.  As we have reported before, the ACE Mentor program is extremely successful in that their students, including the female participants, enroll in college engineering programs at double the rate of non-participants.  

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learn more about: NASA Obama Science
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DEC
15

POLICY
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UPDATE: FY15 spending bill passed into law; includes increase in federal afterschool funding

By Erik Peterson

After a week of wrangling and late night sessions in Congress, the Senate passed the hybrid continuing resolution/omnibus government-spending bill HR 83 the evening of Saturday, December 13th. The final bipartisan vote in the Senate was 56 to 40. The House passed the bill two nights earlier on Thursday, Dec. 11th, by a bipartisan vote of 219-206. The bill funds most federal programs through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2015, and provides temporary funding for the Department of Homeland Security through a Continuing Resolution that expires on February 27, 2015. The President is expected to promptly sign the bill into law.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 funds the government at $1.014 trillion in discretionary spending in compliance with the bipartisan Murray-Ryan budget agreement of December 2013. Overall the Department of Education was funded at $70.5 billion, a decrease of $133 million compared to FY14. With regard to afterschool and summer learning programs, funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative was increased by $2.3 million for FY15, bringing the total to $1.152 billion, up from $1.149 billion in FY14.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget Department of Education ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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DEC
15

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Informing policy makers and the OST field on the opportunity gap

By Nikki Yamashiro

Sara Beanblossom is the director of communications and special events at the Indiana Afterschool Network, a nonprofit organization that inspires, empowers, and mobilizes the advocates, partners, and practitioners of afterschool and summer programs in Indiana.

AFTERSCHOOL AND SUMMER PROGRAMS CAN ADD 1,080 HOURS OF ACADEMIC ENRICHMENT TO A CHILD’S YEAR, EQUIVALENT TO THE NUMBER OF HOURS IN 144 SCHOOL DAYS. Yet, access is not equal. Low-income youth experience 6,000 fewer hours of enrichment and academic learning than their more affluent peers by the eighth grade (Hechinger Report, 2013).

Great piece of data, right?

The Indiana Afterschool Network (IAN) thinks so, too. That is why we are communicating this point and other important data to Indiana program providers to help them voice the need for and the impact of high quality out-of-school time (OST) programs to their policy makers and funders.

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learn more about: Advocacy America After 3PM Guest Blog State Networks State Policy
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DEC
10

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  December 10, 2014

By Luci Manning

Discovery Space Program Aims to Extend Science Education Past School Bell (Centre Daily Times, Pennsylvania)

An afterschool science program through Benner Elementary School and Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania is encouraging students to think like engineers. During one week, the students, split into groups by grade, were encouraged to build structure-like objects from an assortment of tools, including wooden objects, rubber bands, magnetic links and cards. “Our mission is to teach them that being an engineer is not just driving a train,” Discover Science executive director Allayn Beck told Centre Daily Times. “We teach them all the different ways of engineering, and encourage them to think critically if something doesn’t work out.” Organizers say they hope the program will return next semester to continue to interest students in science after the bell rings.

Stevens Elementary Teacher Gives STEM Subjects a Musical Remix (The Spokesman-Review, Washington)

Teacher Shawn Tolley is combining his two passions—music and computer science—to show fifth- and sixth-graders in his before- and afterschool program how to mix and master music, record audio tracks, synthesize sounds and create electronic music. His students dream of becoming disc jockeys, video game designers, sound technicians or audio engineers, and just a couple months into the program, they’re already learning how to record music, move around audio tracks and manipulate sound. “I’ve been interested in how music can work in electronics,” 10-year-old Faith White told the Spokesman-Review. “I want to make music for a video game when I get older, and it shows me how to do that stuff.”

Letter to the Editor: A Great Program (Hudson Register-Star, New York)

Germantown High School senior Joshua Wyant wrote a letter to the editor for the Hudson Register-Star about his experiences with the Germantown After School Program (GAP).  He writes: “One of the best things ever to happen at Germantown Central School was the implementation of the Germantown After School Program…Besides providing time for homework, GAP also provides kids with many things to do so it will never get boring…This program offers activities where the kids can learn something. These activities include things such as violin lessons, jazz lessons, computer classes, and crafts…GAP also offers the kids a structured, safe environment…Since this program is so great, other school districts should offer it at an affordable rate.” 

Pirate Underground a Space for Marshfield’s Creative Crowd (Coos Bay The World, Oregon)

After noticing several students on the outskirts of Marshfield High School’s social scene, librarian Peggy Christensen launched a new afterschool library program called The Pirate Underground. “I just wanted kids who did not feel like they had a place to belong or a club to join, that they were welcomed in the afterschool library program,” Christensen told Coos Bay World. So far the group has focused on creative writing, art and music. Community artists come in to mentor the students and lead art projects, and students are encouraged to explore their creativity through various exercises. “It’s a nice break from doing school work,” student Jessica Baimbridge said. “You’re sitting in a classroom for 45 to 50 minutes straight and here you get to do what you actually like.”

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learn more about: Media Outreach
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