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MAY
4
2016

RESEARCH
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Webinar recap: Afterschool in rural communities

By Erin Murphy

Afterschool programs are an integral partner for rural communities: keeping kids safe, inspiring learning and supporting working families. The Afterschool Alliance recently explored the current state of afterschool in rural communities in our America After 3PM special report, The Growing Importance of Afterschool in Rural CommunitiesLast week, we followed up on this issue in our audience-centric webinar, Afterschool in rural communities: what you need to know.

Afterschool participation in rural communities has increased over the last five years to 13 percent, or 1.2 million children. However, unmet demand for afterschool in rural communities is high; for every one child in a program, there are three more who are waiting to get in. Based on an online survey of individuals registering for this webinar, the three guest speakers—Marcia Dvorak, director of the Kansas Enrichment Network; Steph Shepard, director of Altoona Campus Kids Klub and Dan Brown, director of Abilene’s Before and After School Program—were asked to speak about topics that were of most interest to survey respondents. These topics were funding and sustainability, transportation, partnerships, parent engagement and recruiting and retaining program staff.

As director of the Kansas Enrichment Network, Marcia provides support to many rural afterschool programs, and she shared a few tips on creating high-quality rural afterschool opportunities.

  • Utilize your state network! Networks are a great resource for providers with information on funding opportunities, curriculum, professional development and more.
  • Messaging is key. Speak to the needs of your community, highlight how afterschool can meet these needs and emphasize the cost effectiveness of programs.
  • Support advocacy with research. Use good data sources to make the case for afterschool programs.
  • Consider diverse funding sources. Funding is always one of the biggest challenges to afterschool programs. Consider 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), national corporations, NSF, NASA, and community businesses and foundations.
  • Quality is key. High-quality programs are more effective and gain community support. Adhere to state and federal guidelines, considering issues such as dosage, professional development and programming offered.
  • Professional development. Many organizations provide free webinars online that act as great learning opportunities for staff at little-to-no cost for the program.
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learn more about: Equity Rural School Improvement
MAY
4
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 4, 2016

By Luci Manning

A Journey to Medicine (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania)

Over the past seven years, nearly 100 African-American teens have explored a potential career in medicine thanks to the Gateway Medical Society’s mentoring program, Journey to Medicine. Kids in the program receive hands-on basic medical training, academic tutoring, and guidance on how to get into college and beyond. “African-American males are the group with the lowest representation in medicine, and this group had a vision to change that,” Rhonda Johnson, a Gateway Medical Society board member, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Eli Paperboy Reed Lifts Young Voices in the Gospel Spirit (New York Times, New York)

When musician Eli Paperboy Reed visited the Gospel for Teens afterschool program in 2013, he proposed a new class in quartet singing, a looser style of music than the other choir programs at the Mama Foundation for the Arts. Since then, he has been dropping by once a week to teach groups of young men gospel songs and instill in them the confidence to sing their hearts out on street corners. Mama Foundation executive director Vy Higginsen says the class has been therapeutic for the students involved. “So whether you decide to pursue a music career or be a veterinarian, it really doesn’t matter,” she told the New York Times. “When you take the music with you, you’re taking your own therapy with you.”

Students Show Off at Maker Expo (Cincinnati Enquirer, Ohio)

Reverse-engineered light sabers, 3-D printed water bottles and sumo-wrestling robots—all designed and built by high school students—were on display at last week’s World Maker and Inventor Expo, an event put on by NKY MakerSpace. Students from four counties convened at Boone County High School to see what kinds of projects their peers have been working on in STEM classes and afterschool programs. Boone County Schools expanded learning opportunities coordinator Ryan Kellinghaus called the event a success and said “Parents see the power in how we’re making education fill the needs of our community and our economy…The interactive element of this education is important and it’s why we put together workshops (at the MakerSpace).”

Students Give a Helping, Artistic Hand (Journal Review, Indiana)

The newly renovated Darlington Community Center now features a colorful mural showcasing the best parts of town, thanks to the Sugar Creek Elementary School’s art club. Fifth graders in the afterschool club worked together to design the mural, presented their design to the Darlington Town Council and raised all the money to make the project happen. Town Council Member Kim Carpenter said she and her fellow councilmembers were impressed with the presentation and thrilled the students wanted to be involved. “It is great to see the kids become invested in our local community project,” she told the Journal Review.

MAY
3
2016

CHALLENGE
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10 reasons to take the Virtual Challenge this month

By Robert Abare

Nebraska State Senator David Schnoor visits the Linden Leopards Afterschool Program

As you might have heard, afterschool advocates from across the country are flocking to Washington, D.C. on May 23 to participate in the Afterschool for All Challenge, when they’ll be sharing powerful stories to boost support for afterschool among national legislators. Throughout May, we’re encouraging everyone to get involved closer to home via the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge.

Here are the top ten reasons to participate!

  1. Gain powerful allies for your program. Hosting a site visit with a local official or leader is a great way to cultivate an influential relationship with someone who may be able to pave the way for new sources of funding or more favorable local policies.
  2. Reveal your program’s worth. Hosting a site visit is also great way to show off the accomplishments of your program—from teaching kids new skills to keeping them safe and out of trouble.  Local leaders will remember the demonstrated value of your program when making important decisions in the future!
  3. Get the media talking about your program. If the local press agrees to attend and cover your site visit by a local leader, their coverage will help broadcast to your community what your program does every day and how it helps kids and working families. Seeing a local official in attendance will show readers or viewers that leaders value your program’s importance, too.
  4. Get your program published. Hosting a site visit that gets media coverage helps elevate out-of-school time as an issue in the minds of voters and candidates, which can build a critical foundation for making out-of-school time programs an election issue this November. If you’re not hosting a site visit, you can also grab the public’s attention by writing a letter to the editor or publishing a blog post.
  5. Make noise on social media. You can get people talking about your program on social media through a number of ways. Check out our helpful social media kit, or join our Thunderclap before May 23rd to help send a synchronized blast of messages in support of afterschool.
  6. Gather new followers. By making an effective push on Twitter, Facebook or other platforms for the Virtual Challenge, your program can gain new followers, who in turn will stay up-to-date on your program’s events, news and needs.
  7. Ensure funding for afterschool. By hosting a local site visit for the Virtual Challenge, you help the Afterschool Alliance demonstrate broad public support for afterschool and summer learning programs, and make the case for robust federal funding for these programs. You can get involved today by writing messages to your representatives through our action center.
  8. Teach kids important lessons. Hosting a site visit—or getting involved in afterschool advocacy in general—can be a great way for kids to learn about our nation’s government, elections and legislative process. Show them why it matters to get involved!
  9. Set the stage for future visits. After you host a successful site visit, first pat yourself on the back for a job well done! Then be sure to send your local leader a thank you note, and he or she—or even their successor—may keep your program in mind when planning events or site visits in the future!
  10. Have fun! Participating in the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge is a great way to celebrate the learning and enrichment that occurs in out-of-school time programs. No matter how you decide to participate, have fun and encourage others to share your appreciation for afterschool! 
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learn more about: Advocacy Congress Events and Briefings
MAY
3
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Thanks for helping us celebrate environmental education last month!

By Erin Murphy

This video developed by Beyond School Bells, Nebraska's Statewide Afterschool Network, explains the importance of environmental education, and why afterschool programs should be a part of this mission.

The Afterschool Alliance spent the month of April exploring, promoting and celebrating environmental education (EE) in afterschool. We’ve learned a lot about the current state of EE in afterschool and how programs can overcome challenges to implement high-quality environmental education. We hope you’ve learned a lot, too—check out the resources below to keep the afterschool EE movement going in the months and years to come.

Earth Day tweetchat

To celebrate Earth Day on April 22, we hosted a tweetchat exploring the importance of environmental education, its current state in afterschool, and how programs and individuals can support this mission.

Missed the conversation? Check out our Storify recap to learn about the goals and benefits of environmental education, and what resources and best practices to use when developing or improving your program.

This event couldn’t have been a success without our partners’ support and participation: National Environmental Education FoundationNational AfterSchool AssociationNational Recreation and Park AssociationClick2Science, Boost CollaborativeWGBH’s Plum LandingEarth ForceSave the BayScience Action ClubZooCrew, and National Summer Learning Association.

MAY
2
2016

POLICY
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Preparing tomorrow's workforce for college and careers is everyone's business

By Jillian Luchner

In earlier times, most employers bore the sole responsibility for hiring and training their staff. As the economy became more complex, governments started to realized that schools could help support workforce development by preparing students for in-demand careers in the local economy. Today, afterschool programs, museums, libraries and other community based providers are providing critical support in preparing the workforce of tomorrow.

Out of school time programs like Afterschool All Stars' CEO, Schools and Homes in Education (SHINE), and Afterschool Matters are introducing students to careers, developing employability skills, and providing spaces to innovate and practice the entrepreneurial skills employers demand. From organizing apprenticeships to giving students the resources to design robots, software and health devices, to providing career visits and guest speakers, these programs can play an essential part in preparing students for careers.

This year, Congress is considering reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006 (Perkins CTE). The law, now 10 year old, provides funding for school districts to establish career pathways that coordinate school training with the needs of the local economy.

However, the current law does not explicitly mention community based providers as a valuable partner in preparing students. The update, which is now being considered, should. School makes up only about 20 percent of a student’s waking hours each year, and the opportunities to explore careers and develop skill sets extend far beyond the experiences of the school day.

The Afterschool Alliance has submitted recommendations on how the Perkins CTE law can be updated to expand opportunities for students, communities and employers. Congressional staff suggest the Senate draft CTE bill, led by a bipartisan effort of Senators Enzi and Casey, is in its final stages and will be released soon. In the House, majority staff are preparing for the bill led by Education and the Workforce committee chair Representative Kline to reach the floor by July, which means getting the draft, bill and markup completed by that time.

Preparing our students for the careers of the future is a big task, and it will require a broad spectrum of partners. The CTE bill, which has a possibility of passing this year, can help set the stage for greater collaboration.

APR
28
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Let's put afterschool front and center this election year!

By Jillian Luchner

You've probably noticed—it's an election year! And, it’s a big election year at that! Not only is the presidency up for grabs, but all 435 House of Representative seats and 34 of 100 Senate seats will be decided this November, and that’s just at the national level! For advocates of afterschool and summer programming, now is a great time to get our future decision makers thinking about important issues.

We know that afterschool and summer programs help keep youth safe and engaged, support working families, prepare the future workforce, and improve student well-being. Now, we need to make sure our candidates also understand the value of afterschool programs and, once they become elected officials, the importance of supporting afterschool. We’ve prepared the following resources to help you turn afterschool into an election issue this year.

  1. The Campaign for Afterschool Toolkit: A comprehensive guide to afterschool advocacy during an election year, including how to mobilize support, sample talking points and outreach materials, social media support, the do’s and don’ts for non-profit organizations, links to helpful resources, and more.
  2. The Candidate Resource Guide on Afterschool: This guide is designed to be given to any candidate for office, and is filled with information they need to see afterschool as an essential piece of their platform that provides solid returns on investment. The guide is separated into 6 main sections showcasing research and polling data on ways afterschool complements and strengthens work being done to support working families, build safe communities, advance academic achievement, promote STEM learning and career readiness, encourage health and wellness, and close opportunity gaps. Please read and distribute broadly. Remember to provide a copy to all candidates for particular office. Afterschool, after all, receives frequent and broad bi-partisan support.

Other resources to check out:

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learn more about: Advocacy Election
APR
28
2016

POLICY
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New nutrition standards for afterschool programs released

By Erik Peterson

 
USDA photo by Lance Cheung

On April 22nd, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Kevin Concannon announced strengthened nutrition standards for food and beverages served to children in afterschool programs and day care settings at the annual conference of the National Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Sponsors Association.

School age children in participating afterschool programs, as well as young children in child care settings and adults in senior care, will now receive meals with more whole grains, a greater variety of vegetables and fruits, and less added sugars and solid fats. The science-based standards introduced in this final rule will elevate the nutritional quality of meals and snacks provided under the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) to better align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and to be consistent with the meals children receive as part of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). The At-Risk Afterschool Meals program, which provides meals to more than one million children each afternoon, falls under the CACFP guidelines.

In addition to afterschool programs, CACFP provides aid to child and adult care institutions and family or group day care homes for the provision of nutritious foods that contribute to the growth and development of children and the health and wellness of older adults and chronically impaired disabled persons. Through the CACFP, over 4 million children and nearly 120,000 adults receive nutritious meals and snacks each day as part of the care they receive.

This is the first major revision of the CACFP meal patterns since the program's inception in 1968, and will require meals and snacks provided through the CACFP to better reflect the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the nutritional issues facing young children and adults today. These changes are a meaningful first step in improving CACFP participants’ access to nutritious foods. The updated meal patterns also better align with the National Afterschool Association Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards, which foster health and well-being practices in afterschool programs nationwide through science-based standards for healthy eating, physical activity and screen time.

The new standards were carefully designed to make significant, achievable and cost-neutral improvements to the nutritional quality of the meals and snacks served through CACFP. USDA focused on incremental changes that balance the science behind the nutritional needs of the diverse CACFP participants and the practical abilities of participating afterschool program providers, child care centers and day care homes to implement these changes. By setting an implementation date of October 1, 2017, the final rule provides ample lead time for centers and day care homes to learn and understand the new meal pattern standards before they are required to be in full compliance.

USDA will provide in-person and online trainings and is developing new resources and training materials, such as menu planning tools, new and updated recipes, and tip sheets, to ensure successful implementation of the new nutrition standards. Additionally, the Afterschool Alliance plans to hold webinars for afterschool program providers participating in the CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals program who will be impacted by the new meal pattern requirements.

Additionally, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) will host a webinar "New Healthier CACFP Meal Standards: What you need to know" on May 9, 2016 at 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM EDT. Click here to register.

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learn more about: Nutrition
APR
27
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: April 27, 2016

By Luci Manning

Getting Their Hands Dirty (Quad-City Times, Iowa)

Students at Frances Willard Elementary School, Rock Island will get to enjoy squash, corn, green beans, strawberries and rhubarb this fall thanks to the work of 16 kids in the school’s afterschool program. The garden project is run by three local AmeriCorps workers as part of a collection of educational programs they provide to the community through the Nahant Marsh environmental education center. “The project usually involves the kids getting more connected to the outdoors and fostering stewardship of our natural world,” AmeriCorps worker Grace Griffin told the Quad-City Times. The students will tend the garden throughout the summer then harvest the produce this fall.

After School Is ‘Sweet Spot’ to Draw Girls to STEM (Youth Today)

High school sophomores Mandy Lee, Joan Monti and Xiu Ti Wang first began to identify themselves as scientists when they collected DNA from strawberries, visited the American Museum of Natural History and examined rocks as part of Girl Scout Troop 3106. Their Scout leader Maryann Stimmer sees the Girl Scouts and other afterschool programs as the key to unlocking the scientific potential of girls. Rather than focusing on student performance like regular-day teachers, afterschool staff can focus on identity, which is a bigger predictor of whether students will go into science and math fields, according to Stimmer. “After school is the sweet spot for STEM,” she told Youth Today.

State Grant to Help Bellingham Students Learn with Nature (Bellingham Herald, Washington)

Earlier this week, Washington Governor Jay Inslee joined a group of students from Northern Heights Elementary School as they explored the forest near their school, catching garter snakes and playing hide and seek behind trees and bushes. The outing, part of Wild Whatcom’s afterschool program, followed Inslee’s announcement that the nonprofit will receive a $20,000 No Child Left Inside grant from the state’s Parks and Recreation Commission to expand its outdoor education programs. “The evidence shows—and there is good evidence of this—that small, little experiences like this really turns kids on to science, turns them on to nature, turns them on to what’s wild in our state,” Gov. Inslee told the Bellingham Herald.

Adams Youth Center Kids Give Back on Earth Day by Making Reusable Bags Packed with Food (Berkshire Eagle, Massachusetts)

The Adams Youth Center Inc.’s afterschool program did its share to help the environment this Earth Day by making 40 reusable bags through The BagShare Project, which produces eco-friendly bags made from recycled materials to encourage people to use fewer plastic bags. Volunteers at the Council of Aging also participated in the project, and together the two groups made over 100 reusable bags. “The bags are made by 6-year-olds, teens, tweens and elders, demonstrating that greening up/reusing is everyone’s responsibility,” The BagShare Project founder Leni Fried told the Berkshire Eagle. The bags were delivered with monthly food supplies for people in need across the area in honor of Earth Day.