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MAR
5

POLICY
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Guest blog: Former Secretary of Education emphasizes importance of afterschool in education reform

By Rachel Clark

Cathy Stevens is the Program Director for the White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship at the Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman University.

Former U.S. Secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor Dick Riley told an audience of decision-makers charged with undoing decades of educational inequities in South Carolina that afterschool and expanded learning are a key part of the comprehensive, “collective impact,” education reform needed for rural and poor school districts.

In late 2014, after a 21-year lawsuit, Abbeville v. State, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the state is failing to provide its students with an minimally adequate education as required by the state’s constitution. To say this was a long time coming is putting it mildly. In response to this lawsuit, a new 17-member legislative task force began meeting in February to develop plans for revamping the school system, especially for the 33 largely poor and rural plaintiff school districts. Former U.S. Secretary of Education and South Carolina native, Richard W. Riley, opened the task force’s first meeting on February 23rd with commentary that emphasized the value of afterschool and expanded learning as part of the broader legislative response.

“Engaging, hands-on academic enrichment opportunities are needed in each elementary and middle school to help struggling students. Such opportunities also should leverage the inspiration of master teachers and the community spirit of mentors and tutors from youth, arts, culture, faith-based, science, community and business organizations,” he emphasized.

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learn more about: Education Reform Guest Blog State Policy
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MAR
4

POLICY
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Bipartisan Summer Meals Act introduced in Senate to help close hunger gap

By Erik Peterson

Child nutrition program reauthorization efforts have taken a strong step forward with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introducing the bipartisan  Summer Meals Act of 2015 (S. 613). The legislation would significantly improve the reach of the Summer Nutrition Programs so more children can access healthy meals in supportive summer learning and afterschool programs. The bill would also simplify the administration of the program for sponsors.

The bill proposes the following improvements:

  • Improve the area eligibility test to allow community-based organizations to participate if 40 percent of the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Currently, a summer meal site must meet a 50 percent threshold which keeps many communities from participating. This change would make summer meals eligibility consistent with 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative guidelines. Maps have been developed for each state to show how many more areas would be served under this proposed change.
  • Allow local government agencies and private nonprofit organizations to feed children year-round—afterschool and in the summer—through a single Summer Food Service Program process. This would remove duplicative paperwork and confusing administrative rules that discourage participation.
  • Provide funding for transportation grants to fund innovative approaches and mobile meal trucks. Transportation is one of the biggest barriers to participation, especially in rural areas.
  • Allow all sites to serve a third meal. Many summer meal sites provide child care to working parents and run all day and for extended hours, but are only able to serve a maximum of two meals with federal funds.

The Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program over the summer period, provide free meals at participating summer sites at schools, parks, other public agencies, and nonprofits for children under 18. They provide children the nutritious meals they need to keep hunger at bay and remain healthy throughout the summer. They also support summer learning programs and help draw children into educational, enrichment, and recreational activities that keep them learning, engaged, active, and safe during school vacation.

A companion bill is expected to be re-introduced shortly in the House. The Afterschool Alliance has joined dozens of other groups in support of the legislation. 

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learn more about: Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning
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MAR
4

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  March 4, 2015

By Luci Manning

All ACEs for Students as They Earned Scholarships (Polk County Democrat, Florida)

At the ACE (Architecture, Construction and Engineering) afterschool mentoring program annual banquet, half a dozen students won scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 each. Teams comprised of the 30 students in the program made presentations to judges on their project for the year – a remodeling of the Bartow High School Culinary Arts Academy, complete with a model using architectural LEGO bricks. The teams were judged on their exterior scale model, their concept level drawings, the use of sustainable elements, the structural narrative and the proposed building schedule. Culinary Arts Academy instructor Rosalind Chan was impressed with the students’ ideas. “I love all the designs and see how any one of them could make our facilities so much better,” she told the Polk County Democrat. “They all did a great job and provided solutions to all the problems we proposed to them.”

Africa, Overlooked by Syllabus, Is Focus of Club (Riverdale Press, New York)

By the end of seventh grade, Whitney Wyche, whose family is of African descent, had learned about Ancient Greece and Rome, British kings and French monarchs – but not about African civilizations. When she heard about a new afterschool program focused on African history, she signed up. “I thought it would be great to see where I come from,” she told the Riverdale Press. Each week, about 10 students meet to discuss everything from African history to current events. While most of the elementary school curriculum focuses on the slave trade and other tragic elements of Africa’s history, the class is a place to dispel misconceptions. The program will culminate with a week-long trip to Ghana in the spring, which students have been preparing for by learning about Ghanaian culture and communicating with pen pals.

Boyle Teens Flip Out to Teach KSD Students (Danville Advocate-Messenger, Kentucky)

The room is anything but quiet with squealing students running and preparing for their afterschool gymnastics class at the Kentucky School for the Deaf. The elementary-age program is led by Boyle County High School sophomore Ellie Begley and junior Maddi Karsner. “It’s a great opportunity for the Boyle County students to work with our students – it’s a cultural exchange,” KDS staff interpreter Sarah Williams told the Advocate-Messenger. The teens rely heavily on the help of interpreters, parents and teachers to communicate with the children, but they’re learning some words and phrases in American Sign Language from the students. The program has helped the KSD students gain confidence, stamina and much more.

Gift Buoys Tutoring Program (Clayton News-Star, North Carolina)

Local philanthropist Durwood Stephenson recently donated six computers to the afterschool Next Level Tutoring program at First Missionary Baptist Church in Smithfield. More than 30 students of all ages come to First Missionary for help with their homework. First Missionary also works with a food bank to feed kids and has woven exercise into its afterschool program with help from the U.S. Tennis Association. Pastor Larry Honeyblue said the goal of the program is to reduce poverty by making sure children succeed in school and receive the education they need to thrive. “Believe it or not, if you educate a child, they’ll change their outlook because their opportunities change,” he told the Clayton News-Star. “Doors open that wouldn’t open, and it makes children feel better about themselves.” 

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learn more about: Academic Enrichment
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FEB
27

IN THE FIELD
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Advocates continue taking action to urge Congress to #Invest3to6

By Rachel Clark

As debate on ESEA reauthorization reached the floor of the House of Representatives, afterschool supporters continued calling on Congress to save 21st CCLC and invest in afterschool and summer learning programs.  Thanks to advocates from across the country, we're now a quarter of the way toward the goal of sending 10,600 emails to Congress by March 10 on behalf of the 1.6 million kids at risk of losing programs if 21st CCLC isn't protected—with less than two weeks to reach that goal, be sure to email Congress now if you haven't already.

This week, we also launched a Thunderclap campaign to coincide with the Afterschool for All Challenge on March 10, when hundreds of afterschool advocates will meet with Members of Congress face-to-face to share their stories and urge them to protect afterschool funding.  If you can't make it to the Challenge, you can still add your voice—joining the #Invest3to6 Thunderclap will schedule a message to be blasted out from your Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr account on March 10 at 1PM EST (one time only!).  The message is customizable, so if you have an extra minute, be sure to tag your representatives in Congress and use our America After 3PM dashboard to add stats from your state.

This week in the spotlight for going above and beyond in support of afterschool programs: Advocates from Tennessee, Texas, and YMCA of the USA, who took their messages to legislators at their state Capitols and on Capitol Hill this week.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Congress ESEA Federal Policy Legislation
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FEB
27

STEM
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Opportunity to partner with a library

By Dan Gilbert

Children building a “ball contraption” in the Discover Tech exhibit at Mary Wood Weldon Public Library. From: http://www.starnetlibraries.org/gallery.html

We’ve talked a lot about how science centers and museums can be great partners, and we wanted to let you know that libraries can be great partners as well.  That’s why the Afterschool Alliance is excited to introduce a great new partnership opportunity around STEM learning!

STAR_Net, a national initiative to bring museum-quality science exhibits into libraries, was developed by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute, and has extended the invitation to libraries around the country to apply to host one of three interactive STEM exhibitsDiscover SpaceDiscover Earthand Discover Tech.

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learn more about: Science Community Partners
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FEB
27

POLICY
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Upcoming webinar: How changes to CCDBG will impact school-age care

By Erik Peterson

Please join the Office of Child Care (OCC) at the Department of Health and Human Services for a webinar-based discussion of school-age afterschool and summer care issues, including the impact of the newly reauthorized Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act.

Following a brief presentation by OCC on various pieces of the new law, there will be an opportunity to ask questions.  In advance of the webinar you can learn more here about the new Child Care Development Block Grant Act and potential changes.

All school-age care providers are welcome to join the free webinar, as are child care advocates and state-level groups.  You can register here for this webinar, which is scheduled for March 3, 2015, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. eastern time.

After registering you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the webinar.

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Federal Funding Federal Policy
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FEB
26

POLICY
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ESEA reauthorization debate heads to floor of House of Representatives

By Erik Peterson

UPDATE: House Republicans opted not to hold a vote on HR 5 the ESEA reauthorization bill today as had been planned and instead adjourned for the weekend. It is unclear if the House will attempt to vote on the ESEA bill next week or if a longer postponement will take place. Media reports suggest the bill did not have the votes to pass.

The debate on the floor of the House of Representatives began this morning on the House Republican Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill. A final vote is expected to take place tomorrow morning. The last time the bill was reauthorized was 2002, and Congress has been trying to reauthorize the current statute since 2007.  According to Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who is managing the debate on the House floor for the Majority, HR 5, the Student Success Act, reduces the Federal footprint in education; empowers parents; supports effective teachers; and restores local control.  The White House has issued a veto threat on the partisan bill.

HR 5 does not reauthorize the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, which could lead to more than 1.7 million students losing access to desperately needed afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs that keep students safe, inspire learning and provide a lifeline for our hard working families.  While the bill does create the Local Academic Flexible Grant that would fund “supplemental student support activities such as before, after, or summer school activities, tutoring, and expanded learning time,”  it also allows the same funds to support school day activities, such as academic subject specific programs, adjunct teacher programs, extended learning time programs, dual enrollment programs and parent engagement.  At a time when local and state funding is declining, it is likely that this grant would predominantly be used to fund activities during the school day.  

While more than 100 amendments to the bill were filed this past Monday, including five supporting afterschool programs, the House Rules Committee only made 44 “in order” as they were ruled germane to the bill and debated on the House floor.  One of these amendments  focused on afterschool and was offered by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA). Also, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, will offer the last amendment – most likely tomorrow morning - which is the Democratic substitute bill, though it will fail along partisan lines.

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FEB
26

FUNDING
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Guest blog: Creating healthy spaces for kids during out of school time

By Rachel Clark

Katie Giles is a project manager at the Out of School Time Nutrition and Phsyical Activity Initiative (OSNAP), a project of the Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center.

“Some of the biggest changes we’ve seen afterschool programs make are ensuring that drinking water is served to kids and setting program policies not allowing in unhealthy drinks and foods during their program.  The OSNAP Learning Communities give programs a feeling of support- that they aren’t making changes related to physical activity and nutrition alone.”  Max, YMCA

Afterschool programs provide children and families with many benefits—from a safe caring space to academic enrichment opportunities.  Afterschool programs also have the unique potential to be health-promoting environments for children.

We know that most children do not get enough opportunities to be active, eat and drink healthy foods and beverages, and spend time in spaces free of unhealthy advertisements on TV and the internet.  The time that children spend in afterschool programming can be time that they are physically active, drink water rather than sugary beverages, and eat healthy snacks—with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  Afterschool providers can give children these health benefits and they can do it with minimal time and cost.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Health and Wellness Nutrition
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