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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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JAN
21

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  January 21, 2015

By Luci Manning

Pupils Use Microscopes, Food Coloring to Study Dairy Foods (The Daily Item, Pennsylvania)

Oaklyn Elementary School students had a “dairy” fun time experimenting with milk during their STEM-focused afterschool program last week.  The program is designed to assist at-risk students having academic and behavioral issues, and get them interested in STEM subjects.  Each week focuses on a different food topic, and last week was dedicated to milk.  Students at one station observed curds and whey under a microscope.  At another, they separated the fat content, and at a third, they observed the effects of food coloring on different types of milk.  “They don’t get to do these kinds of things in school,” John Ryan, owner of Customized Tutoring Services, which coordinated the program, told The Daily Item.  “We’ve gotten a lot of good responses from the kids, the staff and the parents.”

Millburn High School Students Learn Philanthropy (The Item of Millburn and Short Hills, New Jersey)

Millburn High School alumnus Yale Levey has returned to his alma mater to train students in the art of philanthropy.  Through his ten-week afterschool program, students raised money and donated about $1,600 to several New Jersey charities.  In order to decide who to give to, the students interviewed representatives from each charity and evaluated their tax returns.  Levey noted that it was difficult for the students to choose some charities over others, but that’s the point of the program.  “It’s intended on being an experience that pulls you out of your comfort zone,” he told The Item of Millburn and Short Hills.  The students presented representatives of the selected nonprofits with checks during a ceremony on January 6.

District Finding Uses for Federal Grants (Mohave Valley Daily News, Arizona)

Children in the Bullhead City Elementary School District (BHCESD) are learning the art of drone photography, thanks to federal grants awarded to five of the district’s six campuses.  The 21st Century Community Learning Center grants, which total about $600,000, are allowing students to participate in dozens of afterschool activities that address a wide variety of student interests.  The students are learning to operate drones, write computer code and build rockets, BHCESD’s curriculum and professional development director Cynthia Neuzil told the Mohave Valley Daily News.

On the Bright Side: Group Shows Jumping Rope Not Just a Game (The Daily Star, New York)

The Red Hot Ropers Jumprope afterschool program in Cooperstown is in its 23rd year of helping students learn new skills, exercise and have fun.  Third-grader Lucy Hayes said her favorite routine is one she does with a friend where they trade shoes while jumping rope.  Adviser and elementary physical education teacher Connie Herzig said the program gives the students a lot confidence and brings their strengths to the forefront.  “I love the way it creates an opportunity for exercise in the winter months,” she told The Daily Star.  “It taps into creativity, cooperation and joy. The kids just love it.”  The group has several performances on its calendar in the next month, including February 8 at halftime of the State University College at Oneonta men’s basketball game. 

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Health and Wellness Science
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JAN
20

RESEARCH
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New report: Findings on expanded learning time in four states

By Nikki Yamashiro

Last week, the Center on Education Policy (CEP), based at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development, released “Expanded Learning Time: A Summary of Findings from Case Studies in Four States,” a report examining the strategies being used by schools and school districts to expand learning time, as well as the impact, challenges and successes of expanded learning time (ELT) initiatives.  While the report includes a number of insights regarding what ELT looks like at various sites and how schools and districts have implemented ELT, a central takeaway of the report is that ELT is just one way schools can help improve student achievement.  Authors of the study, as well as education leaders interviewed for the study, agree that although ELT can have a positive effect on student achievement in school if it is a part of school improvement efforts, it should be one of an assortment of strategies to improve student achievement. 

The report focuses on 17 low-performing schools within 11 school districts that have implemented expanded learning time.  The four states in which the school districts are located—Connecticut, Colorado, Oregon, and Virginia—have been granted Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) waivers, which means that they have greater flexibility on how to use certain federal funding streams for increased learning time, and a majority of the schools either received School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding or were identified as a “priority” school under ESEA waivers.  The report’s authors conducted site visits of all 11 school districts and a majority of the schools, interviewing close to 50 education leaders, including education officials, district leaders and school principals.  Below are key findings from the report:

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learn more about: Extended Day
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JAN
20

CHALLENGE
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Join us in Washington, DC for the 2015 Afterschool for All Challenge!

By Rachel Clark

This March, we’re teaming up with the National AfterSchool Association Annual Convention and afterschool professionals from around the country to meet face to face with Members of Congress and urge them to support the millions of kids and families who rely on afterschool programs. In 2014, participants from 46 states met with their US Senators and Representatives—this year, bring your powerful story to our nation’s capital to share with 2,000 afterschool professionals and with our federal elected officials.

This spring will be one of the most critical times on Capitol Hill for friends and advocates of afterschool programs. Congress will likely be rewriting federal education, child nutrition, juvenile justice and STEM legislation this year, making decisions that will impact access to quality afterschool, before school, and summer learning programs for millions of children. Your elected officials need to hear your voice and story to fully understand the value that these programs have on the lives of young people.

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool for All Events and Briefings
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JAN
20

STEM
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Guest blog: Student and families coding & making together

By Melissa Ballard

Ricarose Roque is a PhD candidate with the Lifelong Kindergarten research group at the MIT Media Lab.  She leads the Family Creative Learning project, a program that engages whole families to learn together with creative technologies.  She is also a member of the MIT Scratch Team, which designs and develops the Scratch programming language and online community for kids.  Previously, she helped to coordinate the Project GUTS afterschool program in Chicago, IL and worked on other educational technology projects such as StarLogo TNG, a programming and simulation environment for kids. 

With our rapidly changing world, how can we engage our youth and our communities as creators and inventors to shape an increasingly digital society?  I believe that engaging whole families in creative learning experiences with technology can build a necessary network of support as youth participate and pursue their interests in an ever-changing landscape.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science
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JAN
16

POLICY
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21st CCLC initiative eliminated in Sen. Alexander's ESEA reauthorization discussion draft bill

By Erik Peterson

As we previewed earlier this week, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization process officially kicked off late on Tuesday night with the release of Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) staff discussion draft reauthorization bill.  The proposed “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015” would replace the 2001 No Child Left Behind law and seeks to increases flexibility for states under a reduced federal footprint.  The proposed bill offers two approaches to annual testing requirements, makes teacher evaluation through test scores optional and eliminates a range of existing programs including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative that currently provides afterschool and summer learning programs to more than 1.6 million students.

Separately on Wednesday, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan responded to the Chairman’s draft by expressing serious concern with a number of provisions.  The tentative process moving forward includes a number of discussion sessions giving Senate HELP Committee members’ staff an opportunity to fully understand the 400-page bill, followed by negotiations to determine the legislation that will be marked up in the Senate HELP Committee likely during the middle of next month.  An ESEA bill could be debated on the Senate floor as early as this spring or summer.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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JAN
15

RESEARCH
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Finding afterschool data is as easy as 1, 2, 3

By Nikki Yamashiro

An interactive data dashboard was one of the exciting new features that we released last October in conjunction with our report, “America After 3PM: Afterschool Programs in Demand.”  The dashboard includes a decade of data that highlights the trends of afterschool program participation, the demand for afterschool programs, the supports provided by afterschool programs and parent satisfaction with these supports, and what parents have to say about the benefits of programs for their child and family. 

There is a wealth of information on our dashboard, and I know it can be a bit overwhelming to get started, so I’ve come up with these three simple steps to help:

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learn more about: America After 3PM
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JAN
14

POLICY
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USDA proposes new meal pattern requirements for the Child and Adult Care Food Program

By Sophie Papavizas

On January 9, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released proposed new rules (pdf) governing the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).  Every day, more than 3 million children and adults receive meals through CACFP in Head Start programs, child and adult day cares, emergency shelters, and afterschool programs.  The new meal pattern requirements align with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as required by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. These guidelines will help to ensure every meal received through the CACFP program is healthy and nutritious, including those meals served by afterschool programs through the CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals program.

Amongst the new guidelines is an allowance for tofu as a meat alternate and a requirement that flavored milk be fat-free.  The guidelines do differentiate between food items and serving sizes provided to infants, toddlers and pre-school age children in child care settings, versus meals and snacks served to school-age children in afterschool program settings. With these new guidelines the USDA has taken a step forward in providing nutrient rich meals to children.  Under the proposed guidelines, there will be no increase in funding accompanying the changes.

The USDA is now accepting comments on the proposed rules, details on what kind of feedback the USDA is looking for and how to submit can be found here (pdf).  There is a 90-day comment period.  All interested afterschool providers are encouraged to submit comments to the USDA.

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) will be hosting a webinar on January 27 at 1:30 p.m. ET, titled “New Healthier CACFP Meal Standards: What you need to know,” featuring USDA and FRAC experts.  Please refer to the FRAC website for more information and register for the webinar.

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learn more about: Federal Policy Health and Wellness Nutrition
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JAN
14

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  January 14, 2015

By Luci Manning

Static Cling! Kids Try to Make Cellphone Charging T-Shirts (The Brooklyn Paper, New York)

Pow! Caped Crusaders in Technology, a tech-centric afterschool program in Flatbush, is teaching sixth and seventh graders how to make wearable tech gadgets. For their first project, students created a shirt that can charge a cellphone. Once they finished the shirts, which feature pockets with a built-in phone charger and battery, the afterschool students presented their work to the rest of the class and took questions. Bobbie Brown, the site director of Brooklyn College Community Partnership, which runs the program, said the point of the program is to get kids thinking about making things. “Once they see that it’s not that hard, they’ll say ‘I can do this’,” Brown told The Brooklyn Paper. “Be more creative, take control. We’re really pushing that entrepreneurial spirit.”

Lafayette After-School Group Pairs Students with Mentors Who Are Architects, Engineers or Construction Professionals (Lexington Herald Leader, Kentucky)

Architects, engineers and other construction professionals are giving students a glimpse into their daily lives through an afterschool mentoring program. In the Lafayette High School ACE (architecture, construction and engineering) Mentor Program, professionals teach students about the basics of building and aid them as they work on complex hypothetical projects. The program allows students to be around people with similar interests and to imagine what their future careers might look like. Gene Toth, director of Lafayette’s pre-engineering program, told the Lexington Herald Leader that the afterschool group gives his students “a hands-on chance to actually meet with the architects and engineers that do this on a daily basis.”

After-School Program at Nursing Home Helps Young and Old (Duncan Banner, Oklahoma)

At Wilkins Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, an afterschool program for elementary students is bridging the generations. Through the Heart Bridge program, nursing home residents act as tutors and reading buddies for the students. The residents and the children love spending time together, and often connect as if they were relatives. “We have seen that children and school groups that come out always make the residents’ day,” Wilkins administrator and owner Melanie Wilkins told the Duncan Banner. “They just love to see the children and interact with them.” The average afternoon is packed with activity – the kids have a snack, read with the residents, work on art projects and attend field trips.

Teen Center Celebrated for Youth Outreach (The Herald, Connecticut)

The YWCA House of Teens, an afterschool program designed to give teenage girls advocacy and leadership skills, healthy habits and stronger self-esteem, will be honored today at a celebration with New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart. House of Teens keeps girls motivated to stay in school and take part in community activities. “Many of these girls need female role models to help them develop leadership skills and good decision-making skills,” YWCA associate director Tracey Madden-Hennessey told The Herald. In the program, girls participate in community service projects, like collecting food for nonprofits and highlighting ways to prevent domestic violence. 

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Science
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