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Staying connected & distributing resources: Afterschool’s response to COVID-19

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Staying connected & distributing resources: Afterschool’s response to COVID-19

Despite closures and social distancing, many providers are finding ways to stay connected with students and families. Afterschool programs are using remote check-ins with their students and families to ensure they’re safe and have the resources they need. A few of the strategies we’ve heard include holding community calls with families using video platforms like Zoom, conducting weekly one-one-one calls with students or parents, or dropping off resources such as activity kits, learning supports, or devices to support online learning. Programs are using check-ins with families to share resources and information on food and meals, financial assistance, unemployment benefits, and local mutual aid efforts, and to identify needs in these areas as well as around learning and access to technology.

  • At the Grulla Texas ACE (Afterschool Centers on Education), which is supported by a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, 20 percent of attendees are recent immigrants, 100 percent are bilingual/speak English as their second language, and qualify for the free- and reduced-price lunch program. To support virtual programming, ACE teachers provide activity kits for video classes such as woodworking or ceramics that can be picked up with grab and go meals. For families without access to transportation, ACE staff deliver meals and activity kits to families' houses. Materials are also translated to Spanish.
  • Breakthrough Greater Boston, which has provided targeted summer instruction, afterschool programming, mentorship, and college access guidance to middle and high school students in the Boston area for nearly 30 years, is holding community Zoom calls each week for their students, teachers, and staff to connect, and are doing 1-on-1 calls with every student each week to ensure that their students have access to educational resources and services. During those call, staff use the opportunity to check in on their students' and families' physical and mental health and access to care, food availability, potential need for emergency financial supports, and any technology supports needed.
  • At the Washington, DC, chapter of 826 National, staff are working with students remotely to help them process their feelings about COVID-19 through creative writing projects. They’re also regularly checking in with students, making sure they have writing materials, and providing pre-recorded workshops. Staff are even working one-on-one with some students online to help them turn their writing into professional publications.
  • The staff at the Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg, West Virginia, who now work entirely from home, check in with families via phone and video conference on a weekly basis to make sure families are healthy and safe. Staff also lead regular video “teen chats” and provide other virtual Club activities and challenges to stay in touch with students and community members.

Looking in for info to share with your families? Check with your state’s afterschool network.  Many have created COVID-19 resource sites; for example, New Mexico and Wyoming afterschool networks have released resource hubs, where parents can find information about meal sites, school closure maps, curricula, and more.

Check out our COVID-19 afterschool resource site and join our learning community on this topic.

Meet Afterschool Youth Ambassador Aundre Smith

Aundre Smith is 15 years old and lives in Galveston, Texas. He has attended the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston his whole life and appreciates the opportunities and sense of community that he has found at the Club. Whether it was taking a break after school to play basketball with his...

BY: Erin Hegarty      02/05/21

Youth Voice Week: Join us in celebrating the power of youth voices!

Mark your calendars: starting Thursday, February 4 through Friday, February 12, the Afterschool Alliance will be shining a spotlight on our seven incredible Youth Ambassadors. During Youth Voice Week, each day will be dedicated to a different Youth Ambassador whose story we will be sharing on...

BY: Erin Hegarty      01/29/21

Community Learning Hubs: Coming together to support students during the pandemic

A guide to how Hubs work & examples in place  As schools began shutting their doors and moving to virtual classrooms last spring, afterschool programs and youth development organizations stepped up to help students and families with access to the internet, learning support, meals, and...

BY: Alexis Steines      01/28/21

Wrapping up: Afterschool in 2020

As 2020 comes to a close, I am hoping it is a year we will never have to repeat. At the same time, I reflect on this year with a tremendous amount of pride and gratitude for afterschool; I am blown away by the ability of our field, our allies, and our team to quickly pivot in the midst of a...

BY: Jodi Grant      12/28/20

Access to COVID-19 vaccines for out-of-school time program staff

Update: January 5, 2021: As an update to the request detailed in the blog below regarding out-of-school time workers being classified as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” for the purposes of COVID-19 vaccination eligibility, a change was made by the CDC Advisory Committee...

BY: Erik Peterson      12/22/20

New resources to support Park and Recreation & OST professionals in the fight against substance use & mental health disorders

By Lauren Kiefert, NRPA program specialist. As parks and afterschool settings continue to play a larger and more substantial role in contributing to community health and well-being, the substance use and mental health epidemics are no exception. Combined with the negative impacts of COVID-19,...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/18/20

My afterschool experience: Before and during the pandemic

By Malika Ali, an 11th grader in New Jersey. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. I wake up around 6:30 AM to the sound of my blaring alarm clock and hear birds chirping faintly in the background. I somehow manage to get out of bed and start getting ready for school. I wake up my siblings, brush my teeth, change...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/14/20

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BY: Marisa Paipongna      12/07/20

Youth stories: Raising student voices during difficult times

By Erin Hegarty and Riley Whitlock. Afterschool has long been a space for lifting up youth voices and providing young people with the confidence and tools they need to share their ideas and their stories. Our youth are among the most powerful voices we have to shape our future in a way that...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/04/20

Views from VISTAs: Updates from November 2020

AmeriCorps’ Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) work to alleviate poverty by providing indirect service to their communities. Our afterschool VISTAs and the work they do are essential to the expansion of afterschool access for the children who need it most, especially in the fields...

BY: Marisa Paipongna      12/03/20

Community Learning Hubs: Coming together to support students during the pandemic

A guide to how Hubs work & examples in place  As schools began shutting their doors and moving to virtual classrooms last spring, afterschool programs and youth development organizations stepped up to help students and families with access to the internet, learning support, meals, and...

BY: Alexis Steines      01/28/21

Access to COVID-19 vaccines for out-of-school time program staff

Update: January 5, 2021: As an update to the request detailed in the blog below regarding out-of-school time workers being classified as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” for the purposes of COVID-19 vaccination eligibility, a change was made by the CDC Advisory Committee...

BY: Erik Peterson      12/22/20

My afterschool experience: Before and during the pandemic

By Malika Ali, an 11th grader in New Jersey. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. I wake up around 6:30 AM to the sound of my blaring alarm clock and hear birds chirping faintly in the background. I somehow manage to get out of bed and start getting ready for school. I wake up my siblings, brush my teeth, change...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/14/20

Building Healthy Habits: New initiatives from Alaska that are helping to keep kids and families safe

Ensuring that children, youth, and families are healthy is a priority now more than ever due to the pandemic. Before the pandemic, afterschool programs already played key roles in making sure that youth stay healthy, providing opportunities to be physically active, offering snacks and meals to...

BY: Marisa Paipongna      12/07/20

Mitigating ongoing stress of a pandemic: A toolkit for caregivers

By Bre Gentile, Ph.D.  and Molly Peterson, Msc. What do neighborhood scavenger hunts, family meals, talking about your feelings, and eight hours of sleep have in common? They are all ways that caregivers can help their families and young children lessen the impact of stress! Founded by...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/27/20

Program Spotlight: Youth from Sitar Arts Center talk about the impacts of COVID-19

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BY: Guest Blogger      06/17/20

Afterschool supports learning and recover: May 21-28

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/21/20

Afterschool and vaping prevention: Free online resources to help incorporate prevention into your programming

Image by Sarah J. from Pixabay As we navigate new terrain during this year's Mental Health Awareness Month, the COVID-19 pandemic is opening up new conversations about how we can safeguard and strengthen the mental well-being of children, young people, and families. Thoroughout May,...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/19/20

Trump administration hosts call with nonprofit leaders amid pandemic

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BY: Guest Blogger      03/25/20

Recap: Education stakeholder briefing from ED, CDC & USDA

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BY: Jillian Luchner      03/20/20

"Black girl be you"

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BY: Guest Blogger      02/02/21

Youth Voice Week: Join us in celebrating the power of youth voices!

Mark your calendars: starting Thursday, February 4 through Friday, February 12, the Afterschool Alliance will be shining a spotlight on our seven incredible Youth Ambassadors. During Youth Voice Week, each day will be dedicated to a different Youth Ambassador whose story we will be sharing on...

BY: Erin Hegarty      01/29/21

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BY: Guest Blogger      01/25/21

Wrapping up: Afterschool in 2020

As 2020 comes to a close, I am hoping it is a year we will never have to repeat. At the same time, I reflect on this year with a tremendous amount of pride and gratitude for afterschool; I am blown away by the ability of our field, our allies, and our team to quickly pivot in the midst of a...

BY: Jodi Grant      12/28/20

My afterschool experience: Before and during the pandemic

By Malika Ali, an 11th grader in New Jersey. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. I wake up around 6:30 AM to the sound of my blaring alarm clock and hear birds chirping faintly in the background. I somehow manage to get out of bed and start getting ready for school. I wake up my siblings, brush my teeth, change...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/14/20

Youth stories: Raising student voices during difficult times

By Erin Hegarty and Riley Whitlock. Afterschool has long been a space for lifting up youth voices and providing young people with the confidence and tools they need to share their ideas and their stories. Our youth are among the most powerful voices we have to shape our future in a way that...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/04/20

Youth voice and self-expression in afterschool: Journaling, poetry, and spoken word

Photo courtesy of The Gender Spectrum Collection. By Sam Piha, founder and principal of Temescal Associates and co-founder of the Learning in Afterschool & Summer (LIAS) project. This article was originally published on Learning In Afterschool & Summer’s blog and has been...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/23/20

Madison School & Community Recreation works with local school district to provide transportation, meals & virtual learning support

By Nina Holtz, coordinator at Burness Communications. Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) has a history of working closely with its local school district. In a normal school year, MSCR serves about 1,500 students in 15 afterschool programs located mostly in elementary schools....

BY: Guest Blogger      09/15/20

VOX 5: Reasons why 'Black-on-Black crime' is not a valid argument against the Black Lives Matter movement

By Zariah Taylor. Zariah, 15, attends Carver Early College and wrote this article as part of her work as a student at VOX ATL's afterschool program. This article was originally published on VOX ATL on July 24, 2020 and is republished the article with their permission. The...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/08/20

"Find your golden nugget": How the Boys & Girls Club of Central Iowa is adapting to COVID

By Katy Lenard, senior associate at Burness Communications. Since COVID-19 hit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa—which serves more than 2,300 participants annually, from kindergartners to seniors in high school, across seven sites in Des Moines—CEO Jodie Warth and her staff...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/25/20

Introducing the Wallace Foundation's new SEL podcast

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      02/25/21

Wrapping up: Afterschool in 2020

As 2020 comes to a close, I am hoping it is a year we will never have to repeat. At the same time, I reflect on this year with a tremendous amount of pride and gratitude for afterschool; I am blown away by the ability of our field, our allies, and our team to quickly pivot in the midst of a...

BY: Jodi Grant      12/28/20

New resources to support Park and Recreation & OST professionals in the fight against substance use & mental health disorders

By Lauren Kiefert, NRPA program specialist. As parks and afterschool settings continue to play a larger and more substantial role in contributing to community health and well-being, the substance use and mental health epidemics are no exception. Combined with the negative impacts of COVID-19,...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/18/20

New report offers lessons for school-afterschool partnerships around SEL

Last month, the RAND Corporation published the first report on the Wallace Foundation’s expansive Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative (PSELI), “Early Lessons from Schools and Out-of-School Time Programs Implementing Social and Emotional Learning.” PSELI is a...

BY: Dan Gilbert      11/13/20

Madison School & Community Recreation works with local school district to provide transportation, meals & virtual learning support

By Nina Holtz, coordinator at Burness Communications. Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) has a history of working closely with its local school district. In a normal school year, MSCR serves about 1,500 students in 15 afterschool programs located mostly in elementary schools....

BY: Guest Blogger      09/15/20

New toolkit helps OST educators make the case to leverage OST assets in school district reopening plans

By the Michigan After-School Partnership. This blog post was originally published on the MASP's blog and has been reposted with permission. MASP’s new toolkit is filled with advice, sample letters, online resources and talking points for addressing school district decision-makers about...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/21/20

Dear Beautiful Black Boy, Dear World

Photo taken by Seneca Wells, Life Pieces To Masterpieces By Life Pieces To Masterpieces. Life Pieces To Masterpieces uses artistic expression to develop character and leadership, unlock potential, and prepare African American boys and young men to transform their lives and communities....

BY: Guest Blogger      08/14/20

50+ national groups sign letter urging schools to look to afterschool and community partners in reopening process

This week more than 50 national groups signed a letter to the field urging meaningful inclusion of afterschool and community partners in planning and implementing the 2020-2021 school year for students, families and communities. The signatories, who represent a broad range of community partners,...

BY: Jillian Luchner      08/03/20

Afterschool Alliance releases blueprint for how afterschool programs & community partners can assist as schools reopen

From the White House to governors' mansions, there is currently a lot of discussion occurring about how and when schools should reopen for the 2020-2021 school year. That conversation ultimately will need to happen in the local communities of about 13,500 school districts nationwide, and each...

BY: Jodi Grant      07/14/20

$1.35M for middle school out-of-school time programs

We’re thrilled to announce the winners of the New York Life Foundation’s 2020 Aim High grant competition, representing a $1,350,000 investment in middle school out-of-school time (OST) programs serving disadvantaged youth in communities across the nation. The Aim High initiative is part...

BY: Dan Gilbert      06/30/20

New resources to support Park and Recreation & OST professionals in the fight against substance use & mental health disorders

By Lauren Kiefert, NRPA program specialist. As parks and afterschool settings continue to play a larger and more substantial role in contributing to community health and well-being, the substance use and mental health epidemics are no exception. Combined with the negative impacts of COVID-19,...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/18/20

Mitigating ongoing stress of a pandemic: A toolkit for caregivers

By Bre Gentile, Ph.D.  and Molly Peterson, Msc. What do neighborhood scavenger hunts, family meals, talking about your feelings, and eight hours of sleep have in common? They are all ways that caregivers can help their families and young children lessen the impact of stress! Founded by...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/27/20

$1.35M for middle school out-of-school time programs

We’re thrilled to announce the winners of the New York Life Foundation’s 2020 Aim High grant competition, representing a $1,350,000 investment in middle school out-of-school time (OST) programs serving disadvantaged youth in communities across the nation. The Aim High initiative is part...

BY: Dan Gilbert      06/30/20

Tools to Build On: Resources and guides for parents and educators

In 2017, the Afterschool Alliance created a suite of webinars, strategy guides, and resource lists to understand and address hate and bias. This campaign, “Tools to Build On: Creating constructive climates in out-of-school time,” is a hub of information and assets to help parents and...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      06/03/20

Our work is more critical than ever. Time to raise our voices even louder.

These are enormously difficult times, and every child and every family has been affected by the health and justice crises our country is facing. All of us in this field have dedicated ourselves to promoting equity by improving access to high-quality afterschool and summer programs. We have long...

BY: Jodi Grant      06/02/20

5 ways that afterschool buffers toxic stress

By Erin Hegarty and Lena Hoffman.  As we navigate new terrain during this year's Mental Health Awareness Month, the COVID-19 pandemic is opening up new conversations about how we can safeguard and strengthen the mental well-being of children, young people, and families. Thoroughout...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/29/20

Afterschool and vaping prevention: Free online resources to help incorporate prevention into your programming

Image by Sarah J. from Pixabay As we navigate new terrain during this year's Mental Health Awareness Month, the COVID-19 pandemic is opening up new conversations about how we can safeguard and strengthen the mental well-being of children, young people, and families. Thoroughout May,...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/19/20

How to build empathy through virtual learning: Bite-size Empatico Skills

We begin Mental Health Awareness Month under unprecedented conditions. As we navigate this new terrain, the COVID-19 pandemic is opening up new conversations about how we can safeguard and strengthen the mental well-being of children, young people, and families. Thoroughout May, we'll be...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/04/20

Breaking the cycle of substance use at Camp Mariposa

By Rose Frey, winter intern for 2019-2020 at the Afterschool Alliance. Photo courtesy of Camp Mariposa's website. There are more than 9 million children in the U.S. that are living in a home with a parent who uses illicit drugs, and these children are at high-risk for a host of issues....

BY: Guest Blogger      03/06/20

Becoming Trauma-Informed: How YMCAs in New Jersey area transformed their approach

By Gina Hernandez, MA, YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge and South Amboy (MEWSA). It is 4:45 p.m. in a Middlesex County, NJ afterschool program. Two children are arguing over a glue stick. “I want that!” exclaimed 6-year old Jenny as she stomped over to a staff...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/08/19

Meet Afterschool Youth Ambassador Angeles Mejia-Sierra

Angie Mejia-Sierra is 15 years old and from Oakland Park, FL. Angie sees her afterschool program as a safe place filled with people that care. During her time in her program, Angie has participated in a variety of activities including acting, social-emotional learning, and slam poetry - Angie...

BY: Leah Silverberg      02/12/21

Meet Afterschool Youth Ambassador Quinn Stanford

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BY: Erin Hegarty      02/11/21

Meet Afterschool Youth Ambassador Minche Kim

Minche Kim is 16 years old and lives in River Vale, New Jersey. For her afterschool program, Minche participates in her high school's FIRST Robotics team, the Pascack Pi-oneers. For Minche, the Pi-oneers is a safe space where she gets to meet new friends and work with them to solve problems....

BY: Leah Silverberg      02/10/21

Meet Afterschool Youth Ambassador Debbie Adekunle

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BY: Erin Hegarty      02/09/21

Meet Afterschool Youth Ambassador Anayre Martinez

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BY: Leah Silverberg      02/08/21

Meet Afterschool Youth Ambassador Aundre Smith

Aundre Smith is 15 years old and lives in Galveston, Texas. He has attended the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston his whole life and appreciates the opportunities and sense of community that he has found at the Club. Whether it was taking a break after school to play basketball with his...

BY: Erin Hegarty      02/05/21

Meet Afterschool Youth Ambassador Javonna Grimes

Javonna Grimes is 19 years old and lives in Minneapolis, MN. Throughout high school, Javonna participated in the Minneapolis Beacons (Beacons) afterschool program. At Beacons, Javonna received homework assistance and participated in the Black Student Union – a student-run group. Even after...

BY: Leah Silverberg      02/04/21

Second round of competition open now: Submit your stories to be considered as an Afterschool Alliance Youth Ambassador

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BY: Erin Hegarty      08/10/20

Young people are speaking up for what they believe in. Let’s amplify their voices!

Youth voices are more important than ever. That is why, this year, we want to amplify the voices of young people as part of our coverage of this moment in afterschool—and as part of our Youth Ambassador selection process.  We are asking youth (13 years or older) to submit a short...

BY: Erin Hegarty      06/19/20

"At first I just joined afterschool clubs to pass time... not knowing that they would open so many doors for me."

By Noof Hezam, 2020 Youth Afterschool Ambassador from Michigan. My name is Noof Hezam and I will be sharing with you my journey in afterschool activities and how they have transformed my life. Growing up I was always interested in afterschool clubs and programs, so it was no surprise that I...

BY: Guest Blogger      02/25/20

Introducing the Wallace Foundation's new SEL podcast

Released just this week, the Wallace Foundation’s new project, “The Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Podcast,” features in-depth conversations with school, school district, and out-of-school time leaders about their experiences working together to help children...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      02/25/21

New resources to support Park and Recreation & OST professionals in the fight against substance use & mental health disorders

By Lauren Kiefert, NRPA program specialist. As parks and afterschool settings continue to play a larger and more substantial role in contributing to community health and well-being, the substance use and mental health epidemics are no exception. Combined with the negative impacts of COVID-19,...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/18/20

New report offers lessons for school-afterschool partnerships around SEL

Last month, the RAND Corporation published the first report on the Wallace Foundation’s expansive Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative (PSELI), “Early Lessons from Schools and Out-of-School Time Programs Implementing Social and Emotional Learning.” PSELI is a...

BY: Dan Gilbert      11/13/20

Meeting the needs of the whole child in the era of COVID-19

It is no secret that the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought havoc upon the country’s education system. Schools and districts around the country have rushed to cobble together distance learning strategies while community partners have scrambled to find ways to meet the...

BY: Dan Gilbert      09/11/20

Mitigating ongoing stress of a pandemic: A toolkit for caregivers

By Bre Gentile, Ph.D.  and Molly Peterson, Msc. What do neighborhood scavenger hunts, family meals, talking about your feelings, and eight hours of sleep have in common? They are all ways that caregivers can help their families and young children lessen the impact of stress! Founded by...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/27/20

$1.35M for middle school out-of-school time programs

We’re thrilled to announce the winners of the New York Life Foundation’s 2020 Aim High grant competition, representing a $1,350,000 investment in middle school out-of-school time (OST) programs serving disadvantaged youth in communities across the nation. The Aim High initiative is part...

BY: Dan Gilbert      06/30/20

5 ways that afterschool buffers toxic stress

By Erin Hegarty and Lena Hoffman.  As we navigate new terrain during this year's Mental Health Awareness Month, the COVID-19 pandemic is opening up new conversations about how we can safeguard and strengthen the mental well-being of children, young people, and families. Thoroughout...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/29/20

How to build empathy through virtual learning: Bite-size Empatico Skills

We begin Mental Health Awareness Month under unprecedented conditions. As we navigate this new terrain, the COVID-19 pandemic is opening up new conversations about how we can safeguard and strengthen the mental well-being of children, young people, and families. Thoroughout May, we'll be...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/04/20

How Horton's Kids is serving kids in their community during COVID-19

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BY: Chandler Hall      04/27/20

Lessons learned & opportunities to grow after A Nation At Hope's first year

On January 29, America’s Promise Alliance held a Whole Child Movement Convening: A Year After a Nation at Hope. A day of panels and conversations followed, all focusing on critical questions building on the work of the initial report: what do we know, where have we come, and what’s...

BY: Jillian Luchner      03/03/20