A Million Rallied to Keep the Lights On Afterschool
On and around October 18, at more than 9,000 events, more than a million people rallied in support of the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, help working families and inspire students to learn. For the 13th year, communities in every part of the country and at U.S. military bases worldwide celebrated Lights On Afterschool with open houses, rallies, community fairs, youth performances, art exhibits, science demonstrations and more.
In Chandler, Ariz., parents joined their children and community members at a “Family Science Explorers Night.” In Carmichael, Calif., afterschool students held an expo featuring exhibits about cultures around the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America. Students and parents in Albion, Ind., interacted with storybook characters while exploring the program’s service learning project on Charger Trail. The Boys & Girls Club of Eden, N.C., held a “Lights On Afterschool Spelling Bee” for community leaders, families and elected officials. These are just a few of the Lights On Afterschool events this year.
For the sixth year in a row, the Empire State Building was illuminated in yellow to commemorate Lights On Afterschool.
Across the country, parents, kids, educators and others took the opportunity to urge lawmakers not to deny or divert crucial federal funds from the afterschool programs that families rely on. For years, the federal investment in afterschool has lagged far behind the need for programs. In 2007, the No Child Left Behind Act authorized $2.5 billion for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, the chief federal funding stream for afterschool. Yet federal funding stands at less than half that today. Equally concerning for afterschool supporters, Congress is considering legislation that would allow afterschool funds to be redirected to other programs.
Last month, the Afterschool Alliance’s survey, Uncertain Times, revealed that afterschool programs across the country are struggling to keep their doors open. At this year’s Lights On events, communities rallied behind these programs and urged Members of Congress to increase federal afterschool funding and reject efforts to divert funds intended for afterschool programs.
Forty-eight states recognized Lights On Afterschool with proclamations. Prior to Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie showed his support in a letter that said:
“This annual observance brings communities across our state and nation together in recognition of the importance of afterschool programs to our children’s development. Afterschool programs provide the children of working families with a safe and enriching environment in which to complete their homework, participate in extracurricular activities and socialize with their peers.… Nothing is of greater significance than the safety and welfare of our children. I applaud the Afterschool Alliance for organizing Lights On Afterschool Day and inspiring residents to raise awareness of the importance of afterschool programs.”
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution in support of Lights On Afterschool. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said, “Lights On Afterschool highlights the importance of high-quality afterschool programs in the lives of children, their families, and their communities.”
Your #LightsOn2012 Picture Could Be Worth $2,000
Don’t forget to check out the Bright House Networks Lights On Afterschool Photo Contest on Facebook. Hundreds of people submitted pictures of their Lights On open houses, potluck dinners, rallies and youth activities.
Now, entrants are encouraging supporters to vote for their photos. The three entries with the most votes will each win a $1,000 donation to their afterschool programs. A top prize of $2,000 will be awarded for the winning entry from the Bright House Networks service area (Florida; Bakersfield, Calif.; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Birmingham, Ala.). See official rules for more details.
As part of this year’s Lights On Afterschool celebration, the Afterschool Alliance teamed up with the filmmakers behind Brooklyn Castle, a documentary about an afterschool chess program, to screen the film in select cities.
Brooklyn Castle is the story of an inner-city public school and its afterschool chess team—the most winning junior high school chess team in the country. Despite being credited with the school’s “culture of success,” the chess program faces the threat of cutbacks, just like many afterschool programs across the country. Brooklyn Castle was the Audience Award winner at the 2012 South by Southwest Film Festival, and won the Best New Director Award at the Brooklyn Film Festival. More information about the film is available at http://www.brooklyncastle.com/.
“We’re so excited to be a part of Lights On Afterschool this year,” said filmmaker Katie Dellamaggiore. “It was incredibly moving to work on this film and see the ways that gaining chess skills helped children with so many other aspects of their lives—academic, social and emotional. Afterschool programs are doing more for our kids than we will ever truly know. Now, more than ever, we need to work together to keep the lights on for all our children.”
Brooklyn Castle was screened on October 10 in Washington, D.C., followed by a panel discussion with students from the film and representatives from the Afterschool Alliance. The film was also screened at Lights On Afterschool events in Austin, Dallas, New York City, Philadelphia, and Portland, Ore.
“This film is a testament to the rich and important benefits of quality afterschool programs and the threats these programs face to their funding,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “We need to stand up for the afterschool programs that are doing so much for our students and our communities.”
For more information on this year’s Lights On Afterschool celebration, click here.
Afterschool Innovators Honored
Afterschool programs in California, Idaho, Michigan, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., were honored by the Afterschool Alliance and MetLife Foundation for innovative and fresh approaches that help middle school students succeed in their programs, in school and in life. The winning programs received $10,000 each to expand their work. This year’s winners focused on arts, digital learning, school improvement and parental engagement to boost student success.
“Children learn in a variety of ways and middle school is the perfect time to take advantage of a student’s natural curiosity and interest in learning new things,” said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “We are pleased to join the Afterschool Alliance in recognizing five afterschool programs that represent some of the most exciting innovations in expanding horizons and helping middle school students achieve their full potential.”
The 2012 Afterschool Innovator Award winners are:
- California: The Wooden Floor in Santa Ana, for using dance to empower low-income youth and strengthen their self-esteem, self-discipline and sense of accomplishment, as well as problem-solving, teamwork, leadership and other skills.
- Idaho: Parma Learning Center, for its partnership with Parma Unified School District, which utilizes 21st Century Community Learning Center and School Improvement Grant funding to provide hands-on activities, including robotics, broadcasting and gardening, to teach math and science skills and support overall school improvement efforts.
- Michigan: Green Energy Technology in the City (GET City) in Lansing, for taking advantage of digital learning to provide hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming for low-income and underrepresented youth.
- Wisconsin: Latino Arts Strings & Mariachi Juvenil Program in Milwaukee, for a high-quality, skills-based musical program that prepares middle school students to participate in top-level high school orchestra programs.
- Washington, D.C.: Kid Power, Inc. - The VeggieTime Project, for involving students’ families in regular gardening and cooking activities to encourage healthy eating habits.
Every program honored as an Afterschool Innovator has been or will be highlighted in an Issue Brief on the Afterschool Alliance’s website, addressing the ways in which afterschool programs benefit middle school students. The Afterschool Alliance’s Issue Brief series examines the role of afterschool programs in addressing a variety of contemporary issues facing youth, schools and communities.
Representatives of MetLife and the Afterschool Alliance presented the awards at special local ceremonies that were part of Lights On Afterschool in October and early November.
“Afterschool programs are terrific settings for innovation,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “In afterschool programs, directors and staff have the flexibility to try creative and unusual approaches to learning and building skills that can help kids succeed in school and in life. We’re so grateful to MetLife Foundation for working with us to highlight and recognize these outstanding programs.”
New Guide for Afterschool Leaders
The Forum for Youth Investment released a first-of-its-kind guide to help cities and communities strengthen and sustain quality in afterschool programs. “Building Citywide Systems for Quality: A Guide and Case Studies for Afterschool Leaders” explains how afterschool programs can use a quality improvement system (QIS) to raise the quality of afterschool programming in an ongoing, organized fashion.
In using a QIS, the guide says, organizations emphasize an approach of “continuous improvement.” The guide recommends that afterschool programs using the QIS system should: regularly take stock of themselves against a standard; develop plans to improve based on what they learned; carry out those plans; and begin the cycle over again so that the quality of work is always improving.
“Building Citywide Systems for Quality” was commissioned by the Wallace Foundation. The guide is based on decades of social science research on child development, education and organizational management, as well as the Forum for Youth Investment’s experience working with more than 70 afterschool programs around the country.
“Community leaders are drawn to improving quality because higher-quality programs will mean better experiences for kids and because quality is uneven across and even within afterschool programs,” said Nicole Yohalem, the Forum’s director of special projects and the guide’s lead author. “This guide for the first time explains how communities can get started building a QIS or how to further develop existing efforts.”
“Millions of parents and guardians rely on afterschool programs to provide their children safe and enriching experiences that build academic, social and emotional attributes and skills. However, those benefits don’t come unless programs are of high quality,” said Lucas Held, director of communications at the Wallace Foundation. “This guide is the first to describe how cities and intermediaries can work with afterschool providers across an entire neighborhood, city or region to build quality system-wide, and is part of our effort to share lessons nationwide about effective afterschool systems.”
Click here to download a free copy of the guide.
A Closer Look at Budget Cuts in Texas
In the wake of the 2011 decision by the state legislature in Texas to cut $5.4 billion from the state’s public education budget, many nonprofits—organizations that provide critical support and services to public school students in the state—found themselves without critical financial support.
“Doing More With Less? Looking Beyond Public Schools,” a new study from Children at Risk, looked at the impact of those cuts. Using a survey of 51 nonprofits serving public school students and other research, the study found that:
- More than half (55 percent) of survey respondents reported the budget cuts directly affected their operating budgets. Losses in state funding ranged from $10,000 to $500,000.
- Nearly two in three nonprofit organizations (62 percent) reported that the cuts to public education affected their ability to deliver services.
- Almost 75 percent of nonprofits noted increased competition for funding among their counterparts during the 2011-2012 school year.
- Many organizations found it more difficult to coordinate efforts with public school districts than in previous years.
- One in four respondents said they are particularly concerned with the decline in resources and programs for at-risk students.
In order to deal with the cuts, respondents said they increased collaboration with other nonprofits; reduced staff positions and/or hours; reduced programs, or eliminated programs from certain campuses or entire school districts; and expanded fundraising efforts.
“Nonprofits provide after-school programs, tutoring, mentoring and support, which are vital services to our children across the state,” said Dr. Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of Children at Risk. “It is imperative we monitor their ability to provide quality and meaningful interventions to school-aged children. …School districts were tremendously impacted by the budget cuts in 2011, as were the nonprofits they work with.”
“Doing More With Less? Looking Beyond Public Schools” was funded with support from the KDK-Harman Foundation and the Kathryn & Beau Ross Foundation. The full report is available online.
Two Big-City Mayors Join Afterschool Alliance Board
Nashville, Tenn., Mayor Karl Dean and Fort Worth, Texas, Mayor Betsy Price recently joined the board of directors of the Afterschool Alliance.
“We’re thrilled to add the unique perspectives of Mayor Dean and Mayor Price to our board,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “Mayors are among the strongest advocates for afterschool because they see firsthand the extraordinary difference that afterschool programs make in the lives of children, families, and communities. Mayors are intimately familiar with the varied intersections between afterschool, school, business, families, crime reduction and community. Mayor Dean and Mayor Price have been champions of afterschool programming. We’re looking forward to benefiting from their experience, commitment and wisdom.”
Mayor Karl Dean
Dean created the Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA), a network of afterschool providers for middle school students in Metro Nashville Schools. NAZA serves 650 middle school students in programs that link targeted academic intervention with engaging enrichment activities. The NAZA model has doubled the number of at-risk students in afterschool by addressing both cost and transportation barriers. In addition, Dean has been a strong advocate of education reform in the public schools, maintaining full funding for the school system at a time when the deep national recession forced cutbacks in other departments.
“I’m looking forward to working with the Afterschool Alliance as it advocates on behalf of afterschool programs, and the children, families and communities they serve,” said Dean. “In Nashville and Davidson County, afterschool is a lifesaver for many of our children. I’m proud of the work we’ve done to boost access to afterschool through the Nashville After Zone Alliance, and I look forward to continuing that work through my association with the Afterschool Alliance.”
In May 2009, Dean launched the Nashville After Zone Alliance in partnership with Metro Nashville Schools, acting on a recommendation of a task force called the Project for Student Success. Dean had convened the panel in 2007, shortly after his election, and it concluded that the city was “sorely lacking” in programs to meet the needs of middle and high school youth. NAZA is aimed squarely at the problem, serving middle school youth by way of a public-private partnership, including support from the Wallace Foundation.
Dean also formed the Education First Fund at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to attract private support for education reform initiatives. Contributors include individuals, foundations and faith-based organizations, and their donations have supported bringing two national teacher recruitment organizations—Teach for America and The New Teacher Project—to Nashville.
Additionally, by attracting private support for education, Dean created two innovative programs in the city’s schools. Limitless Libraries is a collaboration between Nashville Public Library and Metro Nashville Schools that delivers books and materials directly to school libraries. Music Makes Us is a comprehensive makeover of the music education program in the public schools that taps into the music and music business expertise in Music City. Curriculum includes new classes in composition, rock band and hip-hop performance, and a student-run record label has been established in a high school.
Dean is the sixth mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. He was elected in 2007 and reelected in 2011. He remains committed to continued progress on his priorities of education, public safety and economic development.
Mayor Betsy Price
Price is the 44th mayor of the City of Fort Worth, elected in June 2011. She has focused her administration on fiscal responsibility, on creating a stronger economy through public-private partnerships, and on strengthening neighborhoods through faith-based and citywide health engagement initiatives. She is a strong supporter of young adults becoming civically engaged and has launched SteerFW, a group of more than 300 young citizens charged with learning about current challenges and finding solutions.
“It’s an honor to join the board of the Afterschool Alliance, an organization that has done so much to keep our children safe and constructively engaged after school,” said Price. “Investing in our future starts with giving every child the opportunity and tools they need to be successful in the classroom and, ultimately, in life. We are very proud of the bond between the city and the Fort Worth Independent School District. It’s a partnership that provides local children fun, healthy and education-based alternatives to staying home alone. I look forward to continuing our work on behalf of children through my association with the Afterschool Alliance.”
Since 2001, the City of Fort Worth has dedicated more than $1.4 million annually to support afterschool programming in four school districts through partial proceeds from a one-half cent sales tax dedicated to a crime control and prevention district. The Fort Worth Independent School District agreed to jointly create Fort Worth After School, matching the city’s funding commitment. Federal funding from the 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative is another source of significant funding. Thus, the city’s commitment has leveraged other sources of funding, allowing Fort Worth to create and sustain programs serving more than 12,000 elementary and middle school students at more than 80 campuses around the city, providing daily homework help, technology exploration, opportunities in the arts, community service projects and more.
In addition, Mayor Price recently announced a citywide initiative aimed at reducing childhood obesity, “FitWorth, A Healthy City Initiative.” The program will work to raise awareness about existing healthy activities in the city, including projects conducted by the Fort Worth schools’ FitWorth Kids initiative. The first project is an eight-week team competition for third- through eighth-graders in which children will track their eating habits and physical activity.
Price and Dean join a board that features leaders in education, industry and public policy.
You Survived Lights On Afterschool. Now What?
Congratulate yourself for hosting a successful Lights On Afterschool event and celebrating with the more than 9,000 afterschool programs that hosted events across the country! But as you may have guessed, the work isn’t quite over yet. Don’t forget to thank all the school and elected officials and local businesses that helped make your Lights On Afterschool event the best yet!
Customize and send the sample thank you letter below to any local, state or federal dignitary who attended. A handwritten note is best, but an email is acceptable. If sending handwritten notes, consider having youth from your program write some thank you notes, too!
Sample Thank You Letter
[Your Program Letterhead]
[The Honorable Jane Doe
500 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510]
Dear [Senator Doe]:
Thank you for taking the time to attend our [Bright Lights Afterschool Program] Lights On Afterschool celebration last month. The youth, parents and program staff enjoyed meeting you and sharing some of our students’ activities and successes.
I hope seeing the afterschool program in action helped demonstrate the invaluable hands-on learning opportunities it offers children and youth each weekday afternoon.
Afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. They are cost-effective and critical to student success. They need and deserve support from government, as well as private philanthropies, businesses and others.
I look forward to meeting with you again to further discuss the ways we can work together to ensure that afterschool programs stay open and are able to serve all the children in [name of community]. Thank you again for making time to visit with us.
The Afterschool Alliance’s website has numerous resources for afterschool providers looking for new ways to raise money for their programs, including tips for initiating relationships with funders and businesses, and for identifying funding opportunities.
Community Grant Program
The Community Grant Program is premised on the belief that those involved on the front lines of the educational system often have unique insight into small but significant needs or innovations that are often overlooked. Front-line education workers in Boston, Hartford, New York City, Providence and Washington, D.C., may apply for grants from Brown Rudnick Center for the Public Interest to fully fund a specific, one-time future education-related need or idea that promises to improve inner-city education. Applications must address the need or idea within one year of the grant award and support initiatives within city boundaries. The Foundation generally considers grant applications monthly and awards grants in amounts totaling no more than $2,000 in any one month. Click here to apply.
Advancing Informal STEM Learning
The National Science Foundation has released its new Advancing Informal STEM Learning Program Solicitation. The solicitation invites proposals that promote ideas, concepts, research, models, programs or other opportunities for innovative and field-advancing informal out-of-school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning and emerging STEM learning environments. Depending on the project type, projects may be funded for up to $250,000 over two years or up to $2.5 million over five years. The full proposal deadline is January 14, 2013. Click here for more information.
Captain Planet Foundation Grants
U.S.-based schools and organizations with annual operating budgets of less than $3 million are eligible to apply for grants from the Captain Planet Foundation. Grants are intended to serve as catalysts for environment-based education in schools and to inspire youth and communities to participate in community service through environmental stewardship activities. Preference is given to requests seeking seed funding of $500 or less and to applicants who have secured at least 50 percent matching or in-kind funding. For proposals for fall and winter projects, apply by February 28, 2013. More information is online.
In Their Own Words
“Thursday is national Lights on Afterschool Day, and across our country, cities will celebrate the benefits of quality after-school programming. If you believe in the power of after-school to change a child’s life, why not get involved? Contact Dallas AfterSchool Network, DASN.org, to find out how you can volunteer, donate or advocate to make after-school better for all our young people. Our children today are going where we lead them. Let’s lead them to quality after-school programs.”
—Lew Blackburn, president of the Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees, “Changing a Child’s Life Between 3 and 6 p.m.,” Dallas Morning News, October 16, 2012
“For hundreds of parents in our community the dismissal bell is not a sound of relief, but rather a sound of fear and uncertainty.… In all communities, after-school programs are dwindling, unaffordable or no longer available during the school year, school holidays and vacations.… The lack of after-school programming affects us all, not just those who have schoolage children. Our finances, quality of life and criminal activity all are directly impacted by lack of after-school programs.… If America’s law enforcement community is right about the positive impact that after-school programs have on juvenile crime, if educators are right about how valuable after-school programs are for academic achievement, and if parents are right about the value of after-school programs to their families, we then all suffer from the lack of afterschool care in our community.… Our local, state and federal governments must develop dedicated funding sources to ensure that all families and their children have access to quality after-school programs.”
—Daniel R. Dombroski, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Keys executive director, “Our Community – Not Just Parents – Relies on After-School Programs,” Key West Citizen, October 20, 2012
“Congress should think twice about slashing…education, especially after-school programs. Investing now in the education of our children—notably in science, technology, engineering and math subject areas—will ensure our future leaders have the skills and knowledge to succeed. After-school and summer-learning programs in particular are a smart investment. Children who participate in these programs have better school attendance, higher grades and loftier aspirations about graduation and college attendance.… Elected officials in Washington should work to maintain after-school and summer-learning program funding for schools and for faith- and community-based organizations that provide these cost-effective programs so essential to our children and families.”
—Cyndi Nguyen, “Letter to the Editor: Afterschool Programs Are Crucial to our Future,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, October 14, 2012
The California AfterSchool Network has announced that Frank Pisi will be the group’s new director. Pisi has more than 15 years of experience in the afterschool and education fields. He has been part of the Network’s leadership since its inception in 2005.
The Family Service Center expanded its Compass afterschool program to help cover additional students who needed a place to go when afterschool programs at six Springfield area public schools were in danger of closing due to a missed grant deadline. Family Service Center Executive Director Erin Predmore called on the community for additional volunteers to help with the afterschool program expansion, the Illinois Times reports. The Center hopes to cover the students who need afterschool programs until the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program is funded again.
A new afterschool program in Bigfork, focusing on arts, community education and sports, has gotten off to a roaring start. According to ACES director Cathy Gaiser, organizers created the program because students needed a safe and secure place to go after school where they can succeed socially and academically, the Bigfork Eagle reports. The ACES program began three weeks ago and has grown rapidly. ACES replaced an afterschool program that was forced to close in May.
Thanks to the voices of parents, teachers and students, some of Manchester’s extracurricular clubs and afterschool programs have been saved from proposed cuts. Earlier this month, students and parents testified for more than two hours before the school board in support of funding for adviser stipends for programs such as DECA (which focuses on business and marketing skills for high school students), the FIRST robotics program and National Honor Society. Board member Sarah Ambrogi said, “These are our future leaders. If we don’t restore this funding, I would consider it grounds to resign from this board,” the Union Leader reports. The board voted to restore $109,000 but could not agree on how to free up additional funds.
Two-hundred-fifty afterschool students from Cleveland watched their program leader defend her dissertation and earn her PhD in philosophy from Cleveland State University on October 19. Annmarie Grassi, the head of Open Door Academy, an afterschool program serving at-risk youth, focused her dissertation on the connection between high-quality afterschool programming and its relationship to academic performance. Brian Harper, the professor who chaired Grassi’s dissertation, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “I thought the energy in the room was amazing. I thought what it meant to these kids was amazing.”
Afterschool students in Marysville got hands-on experiences with science on October 22, through demonstrations of acid and base reactions, properties of gasses and liquids, and how to make a facsimile of Silly Putty. For the past few years, professors from Maryville College have partnered with Montgomery Ridge Intermediate School to share demonstrations with students in the school’s Science Club. Fifth-grade teacher Kyra Kauffman told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that the students leave “thinking that science is cool, thinking that science has a place even in their future and just being excited about going to science in the next day.”
Engineering for Kids, a Stafford County company that teaches engineering basics in fun, hands-on classes, has sold its first international franchise to a New Delhi couple who want to expand afterschool offerings in India. Siddarth Todi said that he expects engineering afterschool programs to be a billion-dollar industry in India. “People want to have the best education, and there’s a lot more awareness of the need [for afterschool programs],” Todi told the Free Lance-Star. The Todis expect to open their first center in New Delhi in December.
Mark Your Calendar...
February 20-23, 2013
Beyond School Hours XVI will be held February 20-23 at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront in Florida. Conference participants will learn how to successfully engage older youth, see best practices in action and connect with education leaders. Ron Clark, the 2000 Disney American Teacher of the Year and two-time New York Times bestselling author, will be the keynote speaker. More information is available online.
May 1-4, 2013
The Best of Out-of-School Time (BOOST) Conference is one of the largest and most comprehensive professional development opportunities in the country for those who serve youth in the out-of-school-time hours. More than 2,000 professionals will attend the conference in Palm Springs, Calif. The all-inclusive event supports California’s After School Education & Safety Program, 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs, and High School ASSETS programs. For more information, visit www.boostconference.org.
Тебе пора отправляться домой. - Он перевел взгляд на схему. - Там темно как в преисподней! - закричала .