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MAY
23
2017

POLICY
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Trump doubles down: $0 for afterschool

By Charlotte Steinecke

Afterschool funding is still on the chopping block.

The fiscal year 2018 federal budget is in, and it eliminates 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding completely. Despite an overwhelming display of support for afterschool from voters, communities, and lawmakers from across the political spectrum, the White House remains committed to cutting the programs that kids and families rely on. 

When the budget cut was floated back in March, the reaction was swift and absolutely clear: 

  • More than 1,450 diverse organizations signed a letter calling on House and Senate appropriators to reject President Trump’s proposal and fund 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) at or above its current level of $1.167 billion.
  • Eighty-one members of Congress (twice as many as last year) signed a bipartisan letter to House Appropriations Committee leaders urging them not to cut afterschool funding.
  • Researchers across the ideological spectrum spoke out about the value of afterschool programs.
  • Highly respected institutions posted new research summaries demonstrating that afterschool programs provide tremendous benefits – as nearly every study has clearly shown.
  • A Quinnipiac national poll found that 83 percent of voters oppose cutting funding for afterschool and summer programs, with just 14 supporting the administration’s position.
  • Congress provided a modest increase in Community Learning Center funding for the remainder of FY2017, enabling 25,000 more students across the nation to participate in afterschool programs.

As our executive director Jodi Grant put it, the budget cut would be “a stunning blow” to working families, “who count on afterschool programs to provide enriching, educational opportunities for their children during the hours after the school day ends and before parents get home from work.”

But kids are the big losers if this budget cut goes forward. A decade of research show that afterschool works to boost student success. National studies of students who regularly attend 21st Century Community Learning Centers found participants improved math and reading grade level performance, class participation, homework completion, and classroom behavior. For example, in Texas’ 21st CCLC programs, students were more likely to be promoted to the next grade, while a statewide longitudinal evaluation of the After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) program in California found that students participating received higher ELA and math assessment scores. For additional details on these evaluations and to read more state reports, download our 21st CCLC Statewide Evaluation Academic Highlights fact sheet.

And we know that the benefits of afterschool aren’t just for the children in the programs; parents with children in afterschool programs report being more focused at work and being able to work a full day.  That additional security has huge economic results for individual families and for the nation. In fact, according to a study by Catalyst and the Community, Families & Work Program at Brandeis University, parents with children in afterschool programs contribute an additional $50 to $300 billion more to the economy each year.

At a time when 1 in 5 children is unsupervised after the school day ends and nearly 19.4 million children are waiting to get into an afterschool program, “The administration’s proposal is painfully short-sighted and makes a mockery of the president’s promises to support inner cities and rural communities alike,” Grant added. Afterschool is working for millions of American families, and millions more have made it clear that there is immense unmet demand for programs—why would we want to shut them down?

It’s time to speak up in defense of afterschool. Our momentum is strong and we have fought back against one budgetary elimination before: we can do it again, and win. Email your representatives in Congress right now, and join us on June 7 for a national call-in day to tell your representatives that you will not accept elimination of federal afterschool funding. Together, our voices and our advocacy can make the difference that saves afterschool.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget Economy POTUS
MAY
22
2017

STEM
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Guest blog: Engaging families using the 5Rs

By Charlotte Steinecke

By Margaret Caspe and M. Elena Lopez of the Global Family Research Project. Global Family Research Project is pleased to share tips on tapping into students’ greatest resources - their families. Please feel free to use the visual on the 5Rs in your own materials and outreach.

A second grader named David, his parents, and his baby sister walk into a library and are transported into space.

No, it’s not the plot for a new edition of the Magic Tree House.

It’s STAR_Net—a project that supports libraries in providing hands-on, interactive science and technology learning experiences for their communities. Here’s what happened:  

David’s afterschool instructor reached out to invite families to a local library event on a Saturday afternoon after parents expressed interest in enrolling their children in programs focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). On the day of the event, librarians and afterschool instructors talked with the families about their knowledge of particular space and STEM concepts. David and his dad built a model solar system and his parents were able to connect to other families by competing in a quiz show game. In essence, the library and afterschool program worked together to reimagine how afterschool programs provide learning opportunities that involve families in meaningful ways.

These processes—reaching out to families, raising up their interests, reinforcing their knowledge, allowing them to relate to each other, and reimagining services and programs—are important ways that afterschool programs and libraries can jointly enage families in children’s learning. At Global Famiy Research Project, we call these the 5Rs. When afterschool and library leaders convey the value of family engagement and support a climate of innovation with the 5Rs, it becomes possible to design exciting learning experiences for the whole family.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science
MAY
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Afterschool set me on the path to success

By Charlotte Steinecke

By Ashley Castillo, an alumna of After-School All-Stars in Orlando, Fla. Ashley shared her story on Capitol Hill on April 21, at a panel of expert speakers sharing their stories and experiences in defense of 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding.

As one of the thousands of students my afterschool program has helped, I would like to share a little bit about myself and tell you how much this program has meant to me and my family.

Like thousands of kids across the nation, growing up during these times has been very hard. For as long as I can remember, my family always struggled to get by. Both of my parents are deaf, and as of recently, my mother has had problems with her vision. It has always been difficult for them to hold steady jobs and provide for me, my brother, and my sister. We had to move constantly and often lived in places that were so bad that no one else should ever have to live there. These struggles caused many fights and issues between my parents and they eventually got a divorce.

I don’t think people realize how these kinds of problems affecting adults can turn around and affect kids. In my case, I became very shy and did not talk a lot in elementary school. I kept a lot of my feelings inside and did not participate in many activities. I did not feel safe in my neighborhood and my parents could never afford to put me in an afterschool or summer program.

MAY
18
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Make each day healthier for all children with Voices for Healthy Kids

By Charlotte Steinecke

As the only online national network of people focusing on helping kids grow up at a healthy weight, the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center (formerly PreventObesity.com) is the place where leaders and organizations connect with hundreds of thousands of health and wellness supporters in advocacy efforts and policy implementation.

Childhood obesity remains a serious issue confronting kids across the nation, and the out-of-school time programs in which they participate have a lot of opportunities to help improve their health. From the food choices families make and food preparation to food affordability and the physical activity kids experience each day, there’s a lot to do to build a network of people that can make change happen.

Check out the list of active campaigns, explore the advocate toolbox, and sign up to receive updates on the latest news about helping kids in your community live, play, and learn healthier. 

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Nutrition
MAY
17
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 17, 2017

By Luci Manning

After-School Programs at Risk – Will Jerry Brown Help? (Sacramento Bee, California)

Advocates rallied yesterday at the California State Capitol to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to support funding for afterschool programs. The event was organized by the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance, and speakers included several state senators and assemblymen. Following the rally, advocates delivered more than 8,000 letters to Gov. Brown expressing support for afterschool programs, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Charlie Dent Says He’ll Try to ‘Protect’ After-School Programs Trump Wants to Cut (Allentown Morning Call, Pennsylvania)

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent recently visited a Communities in Schools afterschool program at Washington Elementary School, expressing his support for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which President Trump’s most recent budget proposal defunded. “We’re going to try and do what we can to protect a lot of these programs that help children coming from challenging socio-economic circumstances,” Dent told the Allentown Morning Call. More than 700 Allentown School District students could lose access to afterschool programs under the president’s budget proposal. 

Young Entrepreneurs Host Expo to Show Off Their Products (Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Nebraska)

Fifth- and sixth-grade students at Mitchell Elementary School are learning to develop and launch their own businesses through a 14-week afterschool program. EntrepreneurShip Investigation, sponsored by Western Nebraska Community College, teaches students how to sell and market products, culminating in an expo held earlier this month where students showed their work to their classmates. “It’s important for these children, because even though they may never want to be an entrepreneur, it gives them an appreciation for what their future bosses go through,” program head Ellen Ramig told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald.

Students Work Around-the-Clock During 27-Hour Space Mission (Marietta Daily Journal, Georgia)

Six elementary school students blasted into space last week on the Intrepid, a trailer-turned-simulator in the Russell Elementary School parking lot, while their classmates worked in Mission Control to monitor the simulator’s altitude, speed and trajectory. The 27-hour launch simulation was the culmination of a unique afterschool program that teaches elementary schoolers the ins and outs of space exploration. Russell’s space program has been sending its young astronauts up in the Intrepid every year since 1998, according to the Marietta Daily Journal, building their teamwork and problem-solving skills along the way. 

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learn more about: Budget Federal Funding Science
MAY
16
2017

FUNDING
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An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Collaborating with communications

By Maria Leyva

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the latest installment of "An insider's guide to funding afterschool," a blog series by the development team at the Afterschool Alliance, featuring strategies to successfully fund and sustain out-of-school time programs.

As fundraisers, we know that projecting the best information about our organizations is a key way to win new supporters and keep existing ones. The right messaging strategy can bolster support from donors and funders, and establish and increase your organization’s credibility. A close partnership with your organization’s communications team can make that happen.

Here’s a few ways collaboration with communications professionals can bring keep your fundraising strategy sharp or bring it to the next level.

Consistency is key

When writing a grant application, an annual letter of appeal to donors, or an email to a prospective new donor, it’s crucial to produce fundraising messaging that is consistent and aligned with the overall language and messaging of your organization. Delivering clear, consistent, and accurate messaging builds interest and trust in your organization while keeping current donors connected and loyal to your mission.

Because effective fundraising materials aim to inform prospective or current donors about the work of your organization, make an effort to coordinate with your communications, media, or quality control team to review your content. These staff are skilled in message framing, proofing, and polishing, and can review the accuracy of the information you’re presenting. Additionally, they can ensure your fundraising materials use the organization’s color palette, images, and logo. Details like visual branding and effective copy are foundational to conveying the best possible impression of your organization to prospective funders and external audiences.

MAY
15
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Join the #GirlsAre campaign to celebrate girls in sports!

By Charlotte Steinecke

  

There’s a health and wellness crisis facing girls in the United States, and it’s playing out—or not playing out—in physical education classes and field days across the country. Compared to their male peers, girls are far less likely to achieve the recommended amounts of physical activity, and girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys by the time they reach age 14.

To combat this worrying trend, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Clinton Foundation are teaming up for their second year of the #GirlsAre campaign. You can join the #GirlsAre social media movement to showcase the strength of girls, sign a pledge to celebrate girls’ athleticism, and write an empowering note to your younger, athletic self. 

In a statement of support for the #GirlsAre campain, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation and board member of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Chelsea Clinton said, “Data shows that across the United States, less than 50 percent of middle school girls get the recommended amount of physical activity each day. Why does this matter? This gap in physical activity results in fewer opportunities for girls to develop critical teamwork, confidence, and leadership skills that will help them thrive throughout their lives – as well as to be physically healthy.”

Bringing together more than 40 media partners, nonprofit organizations, and influential voices, the #GirlsAre campaign will run from May 15 to June 4, coinciding with National Physical Fitness and Sports Month in May. Join the movement on Facebook and Twitter!

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learn more about: Health and Wellness
MAY
12
2017

POLICY
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New career education bill includes opportunities for afterschool

By Jillian Luchner

Update, May 17: (H.R. 2352) unanimously passed out of the House Education and the Workforce Committee on May 17, 2017.

Original post, May 12:

On May 4, Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) introduced the Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353) to provide more opportunities for coordination and collaboration across sectors that support student career pathways.

The proposed bill emphasizes the importance of employability skills and makes career exploration an allowable use of CTE funding as early as the middle grades (5th grade and beyond). Community-based providers, such as afterschool programs, are explicitly mentioned as eligible entities, which should smooth the way for afterschool programs to be considered school district partners. Additionally, intermediaries that support districts are required to have experience coordinating partnerships with community-based providers, making afterschool programs a great fit for the role.

The legislation would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which is overdue for an update. It mainly replicates last year’s H.R. 5587, which passed with a vote of 405-5 in the 114th Congress, and will authorize the CTE program with $1.133 billion in funds for FY18, growing to $1.213 billion in 2023. To see how this year’s bill has changed from last year’s proposed legislation, see this Education Week article.

A bill summary on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce webpage reviews some of the important updates in the proposed legislation, including:

  • Providing more flexibility on how to use the federal funds
  • Emphasizing coordination across federal- and state-led programs
  • Enhancing partnerships and public input between community and business representatives

The timing is right for a new CTE law. The federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, takes effect this fall and includes updated language around workforce development in the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, along with encouragement to work across federal programs. Passage of an updated CTE bill that gives afterschool providers a more explicit role in planning and providing programming would be another crucial step towards providing students with more seamless in- and out-of-school experiences that propel their future plans and career paths.

For now, make your voice heard! Afterschool professionals can continue to inform local, state, and federal lawmakers of the great work they are doing to prepare youth for careers—see one great example here. Programs can also begin or build upon conversations with CTE State Directors, local school boards, superintendents, and principals to strengthen connections with the education system.