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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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JUN
30

FUNDING
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New mini-grants are supporting digital badges in five states

By Nikki Yamashiro

Congratulations to the Rhode Island Afterschool Plus Alliance, the Maryland Out of School Time NetworkOregonASK, the Michigan After-School Partnership and the Ohio Afterschool Network for being awarded mini-grants of $10,000 to pilot digital badge projects in their states! 

Over the course of the next year, these five statewide afterschool networks will pilot new badge systems to offer digital badges to youth in afterschool and summer programs and/or offer digital badges to afterschool professionals.  

At the Afterschool Alliance, every day we hear stories of the range of activities and learning experiences students participating in afterschool programs are exposed to.  For instance, hands-on activities—such as creating and testing computer simulations of how a disease might spread; learning about health and wellness, as well as environmental science, through the cultivation of a community vegetable garden; and developing leadership skills through group projects that focus on collaboration and effective communication.  We also continuously review research demonstrating the multitude of positive outcomes associated with regular participation in quality afterschool programs. 

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learn more about: Digital Learning Inside the Afterschool Alliance State Networks
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JUN
16

IN THE FIELD
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State and national partners working together to promote healthful out-of-school-time programs

By Jen Rinehart

Last month, state afterschool leaders from across the country were together in Washington, D.C., to share strategies for advancing afterschool and to discuss the ways that afterschool supports students and families.  At the meeting, there was a lively discussion about the role of afterschool in supporting health and wellness for students. 

In recent years, national afterschool providers like the Y of the USA, the National Recreation and Park Association, and Boys and Girls Clubs of America have pledged to adopt the National AfterSchool Association’s  Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards.  To expand beyond the national organizations’ affiliates, several statewide afterschool networks are working to get more programs, regardless of their national affiliation, to adopt the standards.  For example:

  • The Maryland Out of School Time (MOST) Network is directly connecting programs with partners and resources that support healthful behaviors; serving as a clearinghouse of information, partnering with the US Tennis Association and working with the Governor’s Partnership to End Childhood Hunger by 2015 to help ensure healthful snacks and meals are served throughout the school year and during the summer.   Check out one of their resources: Eat, Play, Learn: Out of School Time in Action.
  • OregonASK and its partners have teamed up to offer a Health and Wellness Toolkit and Afterschool Curriculum.  During the 2013-2014 school year the curriculum was piloted at the Woodburn After School Program. The toolkit is available free from OregonASK for use by afterschool programs across the state and beyond.
  • In South Carolina, both the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance and the YMCA of Columbia have been playing a statewide leadership role.  The YMCA of Columbia partnered with the University of South Carolina to create and evaluate strategies to meet the standards and is now working to help other Ys across the state adopt and meet the HEPA standards using these tested strategies.  The South Carolina Afterschool Alliance is working with the South Carolina Obesity Council to include afterschool and the adoption of the HEPA standards as strategies in the South Carolina Obesity State Plan.  Finally, both organizations are working with the University of South Carolina to develop centers of excellence—programs that are making the most progress in implementing the standards, strategically located across the state to help other programs come on board. 

All three of these states are working closely with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which offers no-cost online tools and resources to help afterschool providers create healthful environments for young people.  Working together, state and national organizations can help ensure that local afterschool programs act as key partners in comprehensive efforts to ensure healthy futures for our youth.  Check out the resources, links and policy tools from the Afterschool Alliance here

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learn more about: Health and Wellness State Networks Community Partners
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JUN
11

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - June 11, 2014

By Luci Manning

Kids Out Of School Also Missing Subsidized Lunch (PBS Newshour)

Of the 21 million students who receive free and reduced price lunch during the school year, only 3 million receive federally funded meals during the summer.  While that figure shows that only a fraction of the students who would benefit from the summer nutrition programs are getting the support they need, Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, told PBS Newshour that there has actually been a 6 percent increase between 2012 and 2013 in the amount of students receiving federally funded meals during the summer. In the interview, Weill said there needs to be a greater effort to help these students attain quality, nutrient-dense meals in order to avoid the rise in hunger and obesity that typical occurs during the summer months.

King’s Summer Program Offers Musical Training (Des Moines Register, Iowa)

For some students at King Elementary School, the afterschool program they attend during the year doesn’t end when summer vacation begins.  Thanks to a partnership with the nonprofit Jane Foundation and a 21st Century grant, the school is able to offer music lessons during the summer.  Jane Magers, director and CEO of the Jane Foundation, was so eager to get involved  by providing donated instruments because, as she told the Des Moines Register, the organization “sees music as being critical to a child’s development, not only for the creative aspects but also to foster life skills.”

Applied Learning; After-School Program Reaches Finish Line (Herald and News, Oregon)

Thanks to an outstanding collaboration from businesses, nonprofits, a university and many members of the community, students in the Klamath Falls area have the opportunity to design and race model cars after school. Ponderosa Middle School students are putting the finishing touches on the hand held race cars that they designed in a 3-D modeling program with the help of Oregon Institute of Technology engineering students.  One of the OIT students told the Herald and News that this type of activity is a great way to introduce the students to a lot of different STEM fields, saying “You get basic aerodynamics, you get 3-D modeling, you get a little bit of physics and it seems to be a pretty fun environment where they get to enjoy themselves while doing it.”  The students will race their cars for the science fair at Oregon Tech Thursday.  

Suburban Teens Are On a Mission to Boost City Schools (Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin)

Two ambitious high school students from a Milwaukee suburb are stepping up to help their fellow students through a tutoring program they started called Kids4Kids.  The weekly program, which takes place at Milwaukee College Prep’s Lloyd Street Campus, is gaining in popularity as students from additional suburbs sign on to be tutors to inner city students. Chandlar Strauss, one of the co-founders, told the Journal Sentinel that she is hopeful that Kids4Kids can help “close the educational gap that exists between the city and suburbs and build a relationship between the communities.”  

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Health and Wellness Nutrition Science Summer Learning Arts Community Partners
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MAY
23

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - May 23, 2014

By Luci Manning

The Food Detectives (Citrus County Chronicle, Florida)

Once a week, ten afterschool students at Lecanto Primary School create a cooking show about nutrition, healthy living and active lifestyle.  The “Nutrition Detective” segment airs during the schools morning show and showcases creative, nutritious recipes and healthy living tips. “Each segment begins with a computerized girl who introduces the segment, then follows with a video created by students who are either cooking, reading labels or giving educational nutritional information,” the Citrus County Chronicle reports.   Physical education teacher and program organizer Dianna Bandhauer said she hopes to apply for future grants to offer students a salad bar or a grab-and-go healthy snack option.

Wendover Students Get Train Ride (Elko Daily Free Press, Nevada)

When students from West Wendover Elementary School’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers afterschool program boarded the Northern Nevada Railway train for an educational day on the rails they were transported back to the Old West.  The Ghost Riders of the Old Ely at Keystone Gulch gave the students quite a show as they reenacted an old fashioned train robbery, with robbers riding up on horses to invade the train cars.  West Wendover Elementary Principal Brenda Carter told Elko Daily Free Press that the kids really enjoyed the performance.   One first-grader told Carter, “I liked it when the train robbers came on. I was really scared, but it was a lot of fun!”  While the students, many of whom had never been on a train before, learned about the diesel train they were actually riding in, they also learned about how early steam powered locomotives worked. 

Mighty Writers Helps Kids Learn the Power of Their Words (Daily News, Pennsylvania)

After a career in journalism, Tim Whitaker decided to put his pen to a different use and started the Mighty Writers afterschool program in Philadelphia.  Whitaker envisioned a place where students could participate in an afterschool program or writing workshops and older youth could take SAT prep courses.  After launching the program in 2009 with a Lenfest Foundation grant, now Mighty Writers is growing and expanding.  The Daily News writes that the program has become a “treasured community resource,” and one student, Serenity Baruzzini, remarked, “I come because it gives me a sense of community.  A lot of good vibes come out of this place.”

Ballroom Dancing Is Introduced to Students in New Orleans and Jefferson Parishes Schools (Times-Picayune, Louisiana)

Ballroom dancing has become all the rage in New Orleans public schools and as a result some schools are integrating the new Mindsteppers program into physical education curriculum and other schools are starting afterschool clubs.  Mindsteppers teaches students to tango, waltz, swing, salsa and merengue.   Nathalie Gomes, world-renowned dancer and founder of Mindsteppers, told the Times-Picayune that not only does ballroom dancing improve students’ physical health, but “it also increases children’s self-esteem – especially for those who might not excel at traditional physical education activities – and places renewed emphasis on face-to-face interaction, rather than technology-focused “social networking.”

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Health and Wellness
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MAY
21

RESEARCH
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New MetLife Foundation issue brief: Keeping Kids Safe and Supported in the Hours After School

By Nikki Yamashiro

In New Britain, Conn., New Britain YWCA STRIVE is the only program in the area that provides academic enrichment, health and wellness programming, and positive youth development during the after school hours to middle school girls identified as at-risk.  A program alumnus from YWCA STRIVE shares:

“Growing up in New Britain can be tough [sic.] there are many factors that can distract a young person and guide them through the wrong path.  The transition from elementary school to middle school and middle school to high school can be rough on pre-teens and teens…The pressure to fit in for young people is very strong, especially for girls.  During my middle school career, I found comfort in a wonderful program offered at the YWCA STRIVE…This program helped me blossom… STRIVE became my safe zone… STRIVE was more than a program.  It was a sisterhood.”

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learn more about: Issue Briefs MetLife Innovator Awards Working Families Youth Development Community Partners
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MAY
15

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - May 15, 2014

By Luci Manning

Portsmouth Students Offer Community Service Through After-School Club (Virginian-Pilot, Virginia)

Students in the CARES (Christopher Academy Really Excels at Service) afterschool enrichment club enjoy volunteering in and around Portsmouth.  Christopher Academy Head of School Phyllis Shannon told the Virginian-Pilot that the “young children are very, very interested in helping other people, taking care of the environment, taking care of animals. We try to address those topics with our projects.”  Most recently, the students made “pillow pets” for children at the H.E.R. shelter by decorating white pillowcases with colorful drawings.  As part of the program students have also made cards for veterans, sang to the elderly, and made dog and cat toys, leashes and treats for the Portsmouth Humane Society. 

Lawrence Students Embrace Opera, Learn About More than Music (Eagle Tribune, Massachusetts)

When Lawrence students sing and dance to opera music at their Urban Voices afterschool program they are learning much more than rhythm and beats.  Erin Smith, who runs the program in Lawrence, told the Eagle Tribune that “opera incorporates all kids of art forms. It’s a wonderful way for them to express themselves through music and it takes it to a whole new level.”  Smith tries to incorporate the school-day curriculum into the afterschool lessons, like exposing the students to songs from around the world for multicultural day.  One student, Annykeisha, who was born in Puerto Rico, finds she benefits from the program because, “I don’t know much English and I learn more by singing the songs,” the Eagle Tribune reports. 

Fighting Childhood Obesity (Star-Ledger, New Jersey)

Ginny Ehrlich, chief executive of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and chief executive of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, wrote a compelling piece, featured in the Star-Ledger, about how New Jerseyans need to capitalize on the progress on efforts to reverse childhood obesity.  They wrote: “The school and after-school environments have an impact on children’s health.  Even if parents are trying to provide their children with nutritious food, young people spend the majority of their time in school and afterschool programs.  This is why we need to ensure that healthy choices are consistently available as the easy and appealing option – in schools, community centers, faith-based organizations, as well as home.”

Six Kids Living in a Brooklyn Homeless Shelter Will Bring Their Singing Act to Radio City Music Hall Next Month (Daily News, New York)

Six talented youngsters who make up the Tilden Hall Homeless Shelter gospel group were among 23 troupes chosen from more than 200 local acts to perform in the Garden of Dreams Talent Show at Radio City Music Hall on June 17. The talent show will give kids who struggle with illness and poverty a chance to shine.  Bill Barlett, the program’s director, told the Daily News that half of the students had not even been to Manhattan and none of them knew what an audition was before this experience.  

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Service Arts Youth Development
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MAY
2

RESEARCH
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New report: State of the State of Expanded Learning in California

By Nikki Yamashiro

Last month, the California AfterSchool Network released “State of the State of Expanded Learning in California 2013-2014,” a report detailing the afterschool landscape in California—providing information on the number of schools with expanded learning programs, the demographics of students served by those expanded learning programs, the variety of activities and learning opportunities provided to students, the positive impact expanded learning programs have on students who participate, and the unmet demand for high-quality expanded learning programs.

Key findings from the report include:

  • More than 4,400 afterschool, summer and year-round programs serve close to 430,000 students in California.
  • Expanded learning programs in California are serving a high-need population.  An average of 82 percent of students are eligible for free and reduced price meals at schools with expanded learning programs, compared to just 44 percent of students at schools without expanded learning programs.
  • Students in expanded learning programs see improvements in their academic achievement, behavior and engagement in school.  For example, an evaluation of Oakland Unified School District’s expanded learning program found that students with high levels of participation were more likely to score Proficient or Advanced on the California Standards Test and a high percentage of students indicated that the program helped them feel confident about attending and graduating college.
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learn more about: Education Reform Health and Wellness State Networks State Policy
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APR
24

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - April 24, 2014

By Luci Manning

In After-School Program, Girls Link Elegance of Dance and Math (Boston Globe, Massachusetts)

At the SHINE afterschool program in Boston, the “stereotype that girls don’t like math [is] completely absent from the room.”  The unique mentoring program for middle school girls boosts girls’ confidence in math by combining it with dance lessons.  Dance was what encouraged Kirin Sinha—founder of SHINE and a math, computer science, and engineering major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—to take on these male dominated fields, and now she’s helping encourage other girls do the same.  Sinha told the Boston Globe that by challenging themselves to learn hip-hop routines and solve math problems, the girls have significantly improved their math skills.        

Schenectady Students Use Free Time to Spruce Up High School (Daily Gazette, New York)

A once white hallway in Schenectady High School now brightens students’ days thanks to a group of students who spent their spring break painting a colorful mural.  Afterschool students from the 21st Century Extended Day program and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady designed the mural of the school’s patriot mascot.  “It’s really nice to have a color on the walls,” Junior Amirah Muhammad told the Daily Gazette, remarking that “it feels a lot brighter.  It gives the school character.” 

Three UT Students Raising Funds for After School Mentoring Program (Knoxville Daily Sun, Tennessee)

Three University of Tennessee students are raising money to support a Knoxville mentoring and afterschool program.  The students volunteer with Thrive Lonsdale to give the students, many of whom speak English as a second language, one-on-one tutoring and homework help.  The Knoxville Daily Sun reports that the UT students are raising money for Thrive Lonsdale so the nonprofit can continue to provide the children with a supportive, enriching space.

Willett Running Club Invites Community to ‘Run With the Owls’ (Davis Enterprise, California)

When the bell signaling the end of the day at Willett Elementary School rings, anywhere from 60 to 70 students make their way over to the field behind the school and start running.  The popular Challenge Club afterschool program, as one parent told the Davis Enterprise, “gets [the kids] some exercise after school, instead of going home and playing on the iPad.”  The students happily run for half an hour every Tuesday and Thursday, with even some passing the three mile mark.  The Challenge Club concludes the program each year with the “Running of the Owls” race that parents can participate in, too.

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Arts Youth Development
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