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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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JUL
9

STEM
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Interactive toolkit to guide STEM role models toward success

By Taylor Moore

Techbridge has recently released a free, online interactive toolkit to help potential role models develop skills to engage girls and underrepresented youth in STEM.  The Role Models Matter Toolkit currently provides 10 mini-lessons for role models to help plan, structure and implement their visit with students.  Each unit comes with a video showing role model Josetta Jones, a patent attorney and chemical engineer, in action demonstrating each step to successfully interacting and communicating the lessons to the student participants.  The toolkit provides lessons on key topics like role model impact, ice breakers for relationship development, advice on using the engineering design process and guidance on how to connect the STEM experience to possible career options for the participants.  If you have any potential STEM role models looking to engage with youth, their work can benefit from this holistic toolkit approach.

Techbridge is a nonprofit based in Oakland, Calif., that offers science, engineering and technology-based afterschool and summer programs for girls.  Since 2000, the organization has engaged with more than 4,000 girls in grades 5-12 in hands-on learning and career exploration.  The Role Models Matter Toolkit is part of Techbridge’s Role Models Matter initiative to help prepare STEM professionals for outreach and is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation

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learn more about: Science Youth Development Community Partners
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JUL
2

POLICY
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Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act passes Senate, strengthens supports for youth

By Erik Peterson

Last week the Senate voted 95-3 to pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. The bipartisan, bicameral bill seeks to improve the nation’s workforce development system. As discussed in a previous blog, the legislation focuses in part on providing comprehensive supports and programming for out-of-school young people. Those provisions from Title I of WIOA include:

  • Expanding the definition of out-of-school youth to encompass young people ages 16 to 24 who are not attending school, have dropped out of school, and face extensive barriers to work and to completing their education. Title I targets 75 percent of youth funds to provide services for out-of-school youth.
  • Addresses eligibility issues that can make it difficult for local areas to develop comprehensive, cross-system approaches to serve youth who are most in need. Title I does so by expanding the definition of low-income individuals to include those who receive or are eligible to receive free or reduced price school lunches and adding an expansive definition for individuals with a barrier to employment. Title I also incorporates a special rule that allows young people living in high-poverty areas to be deemed eligible for services.
  • Requires a minimum percentage of youth funds (20 percent) to support work experiences for low-income and vulnerable young people.
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learn more about: Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation Youth Development
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JUL
1

IN THE FIELD
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Summer: a time to make, play and connect

By Jen Rinehart

At the first-ever White House Maker Faire, Pres. Obama proclaimed June 18, 2014, a National Day of Making, saying, "I call upon all Americans to observe this day with programs, ceremonies and activities that encourage a new generation of makers and manufacturers to share their talents and hone their skills."

At the White House, a robotic giraffe, cupcake bicycles, a banana piano, homemade 3-D printers and 3-D printed pancakes, fiddles and more were all on display with the goal of inspiring makers across the country. 

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Summer to Make, Play & Connect will keep that inspiration going throughout the summer.  As part of the Summer to Make, Play & Connect, Mozilla’s Maker Party 2014—a campaign to teach Web literacy on a global scale through hands-on learning and making—will feature two months of hands-on making. 

From July 15 through Sept. 15, educators and makers will host “learning parties” in schools, libraries, museums and community centers.  Maker Party events feature people of all ages who are learning to code, making stop-motion animations, designing games, creating digital stories, fabricating wearable technologies, remixing websites, and so much more. Participants gain valuable Web literacy skills as they learn about the basic culture, mechanics and citizenship of the Web.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Events and Briefings Obama State Networks Summer Learning Youth Development Community Partners
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JUN
30

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Statewide afterschool networks building badge ecosystems

By Nikki Yamashiro

Ellie Mitchell is director of the Maryland Out of School Time Network (MOST), a statewide youth development organization dedicated to more and better opportunities in the out of school hours for all of Maryland’s young people.

 

The afterschool field has long embraced the idea that learning happens all the time and in many different settings and environments.  We constantly seek new ways to capture, share, encourage and reward the learning that happens outside of the school day and school year.  The growing Open Digital Badges movement offers an innovative, technology-based tool to make visible the learning and skill development happening in afterschool and summer programs.  The SmithsonianProvidence After School Alliance and the Chicago Summer of Learning provide excellent pioneering examples of how to use digital badges for engagement and recognition with young people in the out-of-school-time space. 

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learn more about: Digital Learning Guest Blog State Networks
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JUN
25

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Digital badges in Rhode Island

By Sarah Simpson

Michelle Un and Alexis Stern are project managers for the Rhode Island After School Plus Alliance, an education initiative of United Way of Rhode Island that leads policy, practice and systems change to ensure that all of Rhode Island’s children and youth have access to high-quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities.

 

Out-of-school time and other expanded learning programs are increasingly recognizing the potential of digital badging to help make learning consequential for their students. In Rhode Island, several organizations, such as the Providence After School Alliance (PASA), have already successfully piloted the use of digital badges with their students and are now entering exciting new phases of development and complexity. While digital badges have great potential to recognize and reward students for their learning within programs, the real value of digital badges is what they mean to the rest of the world, including employers and institutions of higher education. Can statewide badging systems help us to make these connections and meet this need in our states?

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learn more about: Digital Learning Guest Blog State Networks Youth Development
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JUN
25

STEM
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Guest blog: Recognizing learning

By Sarah Simpson

Mary Sutton is the executive director for the Michigan After-School Partnership (MASP).  MASP provides statewide leadership to build and sustain high quality, after-school programs for children and youth in all communities throughout Michigan.

 

Don’t you just love it when some of the diverse multitudes of things we work on throughout the year seem to fall into place in a strategic way?  Here in Michigan we’re happy to take advantage when there’s a “perfect storm” like that.  Like lots of you, we work with many partners to help ensure that all children have the opportunity to experience high-quality and engaging activities to help them become excited and prepared adults, ready for careers and to contribute to their communities.  However, exploring ways to connect more strategically with the formal education system and looking for avenues for recognition as imperative partners in helping kids succeed has been a challenge in our work. 

Our STEM work over the last several years, facilitated by our Noyce Foundation grant, has created deeper and stronger relationships, and opened avenues of communication to help move these conversations forward.  At a time when our governor has proclaimed a need for an education system that recognizes learning “Any time, any place, any space and any pace”—joined with the Department of Education’s focus on competency-based education and Michigan’s recent acceptance as an Achieve state—conversations began focusing on new pathways to help achieve the goal that all students graduate from high school ready for college, careers and citizenship.  The premise of Achieve is that by enabling students to master skills at their own pace, competency-based learning systems create multiple pathways to graduation, make better use of technology, support new staffing patterns that utilize teacher skills and interests differently, take advantage of learning opportunities outside of school hours and walls, and help identify opportunities to target interventions to meet the specific learning needs of students.  This emerging Department of Education interest—joined with our work with the Michigan STEM Partnership and the Michigan Mathematics and Science Centers Network—gave us the opportunity to combine these conversations into the potential development of a digital badge pilot system that was met with great enthusiasm by everyone. 

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learn more about: Digital Learning Equity Guest Blog Science State Networks Youth Development
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JUN
24

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Recognizing learning and skills with digital badges

By Sarah Simpson

Liz Nusken is director for the Ohio Afterschool Network, a program of the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association, which supports children, youth, families, and communities in Ohio by advocating and building capacity with a unified voice for sustainable investments in safe, healthy, and nurturing afterschool experiences.

 

Afterschool professionals know that learning takes place at all times of the day and year and in all settings.  Digital badges are gaining momentum as a way to recognize learning that takes place in and out of school.

The Ohio Afterschool Network (OAN) is one of five statewide afterschool networks that received a grant from the Afterschool Alliance, in partnership with the Mozilla Foundation and supported by the MacArthur Foundation, to pilot a digital badge initiative.

OAN will partner with the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association (OCCRRA)Starting Point, the Cleveland-area child care resource and referral agency; and Case Western Reserve University to conduct a pilot project that focuses on digital badges and adult learners. 

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learn more about: Digital Learning Education Reform Guest Blog State Networks Youth Development
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JUN
23

IN THE FIELD
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NYC expands access to afterschool programs for middle school students

By Erik Peterson

Last week New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio with school and community leaders announced plans to increase the number of New York City middle schools offering quality afterschool programming. The announcement at New Settlement Community Campus in the Bronx included the selection of 271 providers that will oversee expanded afterschool opportunities for middle school students beginning in September.

As a result of a request for proposals (RFP) released in March, New York City middle school students will have access to afterschool programs in 562 schools beginning this fall, a 142 percent increase over the current 231. In the next fiscal year, the number of citywide program openings will jump 76 percent, to more than 79,300. Overseeing the new programs will be 108 eligible community-based organizations, nearly half of which will be new to city afterschool funding: a complete list can be found here.

In addition to expanding afterschool to 85 percent of middle schools in the city, the RFP calls for programs to be open five days per week for 36 weeks during the school year, with providers offering 540 hours of afterschool programming. The proposed price per participant was also increased to $3,000 to cover additional hours and reflect the actual costs providers say will enable them to hire and retain certified staff and offer high-quality programs.

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learn more about: Equity Sustainability Youth Development
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