|Photo by Alex Knapp.|
More than 70 attendees including dozens of staff representing Senators and Representatives from across the U.S. packed a briefing room in the Russell Senate Office Building last Friday, April 21, to hear from a panel of 21st Century Community Learning Center providers. Local afterschool and summer learning programs leverage the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative to provide quality learning experiences to young people when school is out. Representing 21st CCLC programs from urban, suburban, and rural locations across the country, the speakers spoke to the evidence that their programs achieve a wide range of meaningful outcomes for the 1.6 million children that participate in Community Learning Centers each year.
The briefing was organized by the Afterschool Alliance and the Senate Afterschool Caucus, chaired by Sens. Murkowski (R-AK) and Franken (D-MN), along with a host of afterschool stakeholders: After-School All-Stars, American Camps Association, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Save the Children, Communities in Schools, Every Hour Counts, National AfterSchool Association, National League of Cities, National Summer Learning Association and the YMCA of the USA.
Education policy staff for Senators Murkowski and Franken kicked off the event by welcoming fellow staff members and introducing panel moderator Jennifer Peck, president and CEO of the Partnership for Children and Youth based in northern California. Peck set the stage for the event by citing key research and evidence demonstrating the positive impact of 21st century community learning centers on student academic outcomes as well as on other indicators of student success. She then introduced the panelists who spoke about their programs, citing research and relating personal stories that demonstrate the profound life-changing effects of quality afterschool and summer learning programs.
From April 24 to 28, it's Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week! Sponsored by the National Afterschool Association, the week "is a joint effort of community partners, afterschool programs, youth and child care workers, and individuals who have committed to declaring the last full week of April each year as a time to recognize and appreciate those who work with youth during out-of-school hours." It's the ideal opportunity to thank and celebrate the nation’s roughly 850,000 dedicated and passionate afterschool professionals who work with our youth during out-of-school time.
From the Afterschool Alliance, thank you to the afterschool professionals who enrich the lives of their students and communities every day!
As Congress’ Memorial Day recess approaches, your afterschool program has an excellent opportunity to organize a site visit and show your representatives the important work your program is doing. Site visits are a fantastic way for new and established programs alike to build up relationships with elected officials, and for elected officials to see firsthand that afterschool works.
To kick start your site visit planning, here are some top tools and strategies for maximizing your site visit’s impact.
- Check out the Afterschool for All Challenge toolkit. You’ll find a general overview of how to host a successful site visit, some do’s and don’ts for a great event, and a sample invitation for you to send to your member of Congress. Our outreach strategies page also has a five-step plan to conducting a great visit.
- Explore a toolkit from a statewide afterschool network. The Indiana Afterschool Network’s toolkit contains tips, techniques, and templates to make a site visit a success. Read through the planning guide, use the event checklist, and learn how to pitch your site visit to local media to boost your event’s profile.
- Watch a webinar. While you’re developing your strategy, it’s helpful to hear firsthand accounts from other programs and afterschool advocates about their experiences conducting site visits. Check out our webinar on the impact of the president’s budget proposal, with tips from a program director on the best ways to maximize your site visit’s impact.
- Do your research. Know who your elected officials are and what subjects are most important to them. Having insight into a policy maker’s platform makes it much easier to design a visit that will persuade them: if a policy maker has repeatedly expressed concern about childhood obesity, highlighting the work your program does to encourage healthy eating and physical activity will resonate!
- Find your champions. Identify the students, parents, program staff, school officials, and other individuals who are best equipped to represent your program. Ask them if they’d be interested in attending the visit, give them some background on the official who will be present, show them a basic schedule, and encourage them to prepare for a conversation.
- Showcase your best programming. Select the programming you want to highlight during the visit—STEM learning sessions and other academic enrichment are often the top picks for visits. Include the policy maker in snack time and let them interact with your student representatives before facilitating a discussion between parent representatives and the policy maker. The opportunity to let an elected official talk with their constituents about the importance of afterschool is not to be missed!
- Follow up after the visit. The visit may be over, but the conversation has just begun! Be sure to send a thank-you message after the visit and stay in touch with your representative. Having a strong relationship with your elected officials is key to the long-term wellness of your afterschool program.
Finally, here’s some advice from Kim Templeman, a former Afterschool Ambassador and elementary school principal who hosted a successful site visit at her afterschool program:
“Be persistent. Don’t feel like you are imposing on the official’s time—they are there to represent you, and their job is to understand and get involved in what you do. … Be prepared to talk specifics. Don’t just say ‘we still need your funding.’ Explain to the official how you budget your program and show the official what funds support different activities. That way, the official can understand the reality of an afterschool program’s needs, and what your program needs most.”
By Maria Leyva
General Motors (GM) is investing in education programs that improve the presence and persistence of students studying science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)—and they are offering grants of $25,000 or more to do just that! GM is committed to “high-quality and relevant [STEM] learning, both inside and outside the classroom.”
Proposals should help scale strong evidence-based, innovative solutions to achieve the following outcomes:
- Increase the number of students who earn a degree in STEM that matches market needs
- Increase the presence, achievement, and persistence levels for underrepresented minorities in STEM field
- Increase the supply of qualified teachers for teacher training in STEM-related subjects
How to apply
Applicants must first submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) by May 12, 2017. Invitations to submit a full proposal are based on the merit of the LOI. Only 501(c)3 nonprofits are eligible, and all applicants must take an Eligibility Quiz. Find more information and application instructions on GM’s website.
Don’t forget, the Afterschool Alliance has many resources that can help you write your LOI and proposal! See our general research page and the Afterschool STEM Hub for STEM-specific messaging and supporting data.
More about General Motors' philantropic giving
GM is committed to fostering smart, safe, and sustainable communities around the world. Through its community investments, GM provides grantees with the tools and resources to push for meaningful change and find transformative solutions to make progress towards shared outcomes. Overall, philanthropic giving is guided by the following principles:
- Support for recognized local, regional, national, and global charities who provide unique programming and/or community outreach initiatives
- Broadening strategic partnership opportunities directed toward GM giving focus areas
- Supporting work that leverages GM’s commitment to empowering underserved communities around the world
By Luci Manning
Nearly a dozen girls have been spending their afterschool time learning to design clothes and use a sewing machine for a good cause. The girls in the Sew Bain afterschool club, part of Afterschool Ambassador Ayana Crichton’s Bain afterschool program, work three days a week to hand-sew clothing to donate to children in Latin America. “They are really very kind to one another and have become like a little family in here,” program head Rachel Bousquet told the Cranston Herald. “They give each other ideas, they are really encouraging each other and they help each other.”
Eight high school students recently had a chance to lobby for youth programs as part of a special trip to Washington D.C. The Youth Ambassadors pilot program, from Jackson-based Operation Shoestring and ChildFund International, brought the students to Washington to meet with U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and staff from the offices of several others members of the Mississippi delegation to discuss the importance of afterschool and summer programs in low-income communities in the U.S. and around the world. “It let our students know they can share their perspectives and that change is a complicated and protracted process,” Operation Shoestring executive director Robert Langford told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
In a letter to the editor of the Berkshire Eagle, 16-year old Julianna Martinez expressed worry that critical funding for her afterschool program will be eliminated under President Trump’s proposed budget: “Farm and Garden is more than just an after-school program. It’s a place where I can be myself and feel welcomed just as I am…. And it’s not just me. 21st Century programs like Farm and Garden mean so much to many of us youth. They provide activities to keep us out of trouble. They teach skills that help us be successful in the future…. I have never enjoyed anything as much as I enjoy being in Farm and Garden program. It has brought joy and warmth to my heart every week. Please, President Trump, do not take that away from me.”
Paws and Think has expanded its programming to pair dogs with struggling students to help them learn important life skills and spend time with a loving canine companion. Through the Pups and Warriors program, students at Warren Central High School train dogs who will soon go up for adoption, honing social and emotional learning skills and building confidence. “The dogs not only instill love and attention, they help the kids blossom,” Paws and Think executive director Kelsey Burton told the Indianapolis Star. The dogs benefit too, learning basic obedience skills that will help them be better pets once they’re adopted.
By Sharon Dziedzic-Blanco, Education Supervisor, City of Hialeah’s Young Leaders with Character, Miami-Dade County, FL.
Sharon Dziedzic-Blanco oversees two programs with 15 out-of-school time sites that have been working with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Out-of-School Time Initiative since 2013.
While many afterschool programs already support kids in making healthy choices by serving nutritious snacks or offering physically active games, we can have a bigger impact by adopting a comprehensive wellness policy that ensures these practices are uniform and long-lasting.
We’re using the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Out-of-School Time model wellness policy to develop a strategy that meets our wellness goals and aligns with national standards. We’re learning a lot along the way – and already seeing great progress!
That’s why we’re thrilled that the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, in partnership with the American Heart Association’s Voices for Healthy Kids initiative, launched a campaign called #WellnessWins about the benefits of wellness policies.
I’m excited to share three of the top-performing strategies we use to adopt wellness policies in our afterschool sites.
Reinforce healthy messages kids learn in school
When schools and afterschool programs coordinate wellness policy priorities, students receive a consistent message that their health is a priority, no matter the setting. Like Miami-Dade County Public Schools, we provide USDA-compliant snacks and encourage students to participate in at least 30-45 minutes of physical activity five days a week.
Elevate staff members as role model
Afterschool staff can set a healthy example by consuming nutritious foods and beverages and staying active. A wellness policy can provide staff with guidelines on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and become a positive role model for kids.
Encourage students to engage in wellness
We incorporate nutrition lessons into our afterschool program and summer camp to encourage kids to try new foods and learn new recipes. When kids have a hands-on experience, they’re more likely to be excited about practicing healthy habits for years to come.
Ready to follow our lead and achieve wellness wins in your afterschool program? Visit WellnessWins.org to get started today!
This post is presented as part of the Afterschool Spotlight blog series, which tells the stories of the parents, participants and providers of afterschool programs. The most recent Afterschool Spotlight illustrated how an Iowa afterschool program built a valuable partnership with local law enforcement.
|Photo courtesy of the Haddonfield Sun|
After three decades of serving as the director of Haddonfield Child Care, Denise Sellers finds herself thinking about one crucial concept: perspective.
“As I start to make the transition out of this role,” Denise says, “I find myself thinking more and more about new viewpoints. In 1986 I was the right person to hire because I understood the plight of the parents, but there might be something I’m missing as I become part of another generation. Fresher perspective is something that will help the program remain responsive and relevant in the future.”
But that’s not to say that the program isn’t responsive and relevant now. The community of Haddonfield, N.J. has benefited from the exemplary childcare provided by Denise and her team for more than 30 years. This year marks two celebratory occasions for the program: first, an alumnus has enrolled his own child in Haddonfield Child Care, giving the program its first second-generation student.
Second, Denise has been honored as a recipient of a New Jersey Women of Achievement Award. The Haddonfield Sun's recent profile on Denise describes the award as celebrating women who take leadership roles in improving their communities and dedicate their personal and professional lives to creating a positive and lasting impact on others. It’s a description that fits Denise to a T.
Denise describes Haddonfield as small and close-knit, with a vibrant spirit of volunteerism and plenty of overlapping attendance across community groups. It’s a recipe for high buy-in; when members of the Garden Club are also members of the Women’s Club, there’s an opportunity to make connections across the community and encourage reciprocity.
“Because they know me from other community groups, I was able to go to the Women’s Club as an afterschool professional and ask them to support funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers,” Denise says. “Haddonfield Child Care isn’t eligible for it, but we know how important it is for other communities in New Jersey. I was able to advocate on the part of other afterschool programs because my connections to other community groups were already there.”
We are proud to announce that the Afterschool Alliance has been named one of the National AfterSchool Association’s picks for Most Influential in Health & Wellness 2017. Sponsored by The Walking Classroom, NAA’s Most Influential in Health & Wellness distinguishes “individuals and organizations whose service, action, and leadership align with and support the NAA Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) Standards and affect large numbers of youth, families, and afterschool professions.”
Honorees were profiled in the spring 2017 issue of NAA’s AfterSchool Today magazine. According to the feature, the Afterschool Alliance was honored for “bringing together national, state, and local organizations to promote [NAA’s HEPA] standards within state-level policies and legislation.”
Across the nation, healthy eating and physical fitness programs benefit millions of children in out-of-school time, playing an important role in building a generation of young people who are invested in living healthy, active lives. To get a snapshot view of the field, the Afterschool Alliance’s Director of Health and Wellness Initiatives Tiereny Lloyd offered some perspective on the challenges and victories of health and wellness programming in the afterschool field.
On health and wellness standards
“When the HEPA standards were introduced, they were rolled out with the larger nonprofit organizations—like YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs—that had the infrastructure to be able to disseminate information about the standards and support implementation. But for the programs that aren’t attached to those organizations, what about them? How do we reach those we don’t have direct access to—especially when they’re the ones who need it most? There’s a big communication gap.
Currently, 60 percent of afterschool programs know about the HEPA standard, which leaves 40 percent that do not. I would like to see 100 percent of afterschool programs at least know about them and almost that many actually utilizing the standards. The standards are very comprehensive, so it takes a lot of time and resources to complete all of them, but I would like to see every program using some form of those standards.”