We know that opportunities for civic engagement and community service offer powerful experiences for character building, and positive learning and development. Afterschool programs are well positioned to engage older youth in the 2020 Census and the 2020 Fall Election. In fact, the Afterschool Alliance and others have developed toolkits and resources to assist afterschool leaders.
We are interested in how afterschool programs are offering opportunities that engage youth in supporting the 2020 Census and Election. Please write us regarding any activities that you are conducting in your program.
Below is a guest blog by Jodi Grant, ED of the Afterschool Alliance.
As both stakeholders and members of the community, afterschool providers are in an excellent position to help ensure a complete count for the 2020 Census. Afterschool providers play an integral role in their communities, and as such, they are an important resource to consider tapping into when trying to reach areas that have been hard to count in previous iterations of the census. Programs have the capacity to increase awareness around the census, educate their communities, and reassure families that it is safe to answer the census.
Why Does the Census Matter for Afterschool Programs?
Federal funding for afterschool comes from a variety of sources, including the Department of Education (21st Century Community Learning Centers), Health and Human Services (Child Care Development Block Grants), and the Department of Agriculture. Census data is used to determine the allocation of all of these funding streams. The ability of a community to provide afterschool programming is directly tied to and dependent upon getting an accurate count.
Every school day, millions of children and families rely on afterschool programs and when they have access to quality programs, everyone benefits. These programs provide safe, supportive, and fun environments where students can learn anything from robotics to debate. Afterschool also helps children find mentors and develop social and emotional competencies that prepare them for all aspects of life. For many working families, afterschool programs keep kids safe between the hours of 3-6pm when parents are at work and juvenile crime spikes.
Unfortunately, many children and families that attend afterschool programs are too often missed on the census. Young children between the ages of 0-4 are the most frequently undercounted group and in the next ten years many of them will need access to quality afterschool programs. It is critically important to both their futures--and ours--that we count them now. These undercounts are more than inaccurate numbers—they can produce deficiencies in funding for programs that will endure for the next decade.
To activate the afterschool field, the Afterschool Alliance has created a toolkit that makes it easy for afterschool providers to learn about and get involved with the 2020 Census. It is a helpful resource that offers information and answers to frequently asked questions, sample materials, and suggestions for ways that afterschool programs can take action. For example, part-time afterschool staff and older students should be considered in Census-taker recruitment efforts because they are already trusted members of their communities. Additionally, many programs may be able to serve as a hub for filling out the census by providing computers and internet access to families, and the toolkit offers guidance in how to host a census night at a school or community center.
Hosting a Census Night
Recognizing that there are many barriers that exist for families who wish to complete the census survey, we encourage afterschool providers to invite families into their program spaces to complete their survey using the program’s facilities and computers. As many afterschool programs already run family engagement events throughout the year, this can be a great opportunity to turn the next one into a “Census Night.”
In addition to hosting one-night events, afterschool programs can partner with their local Complete Count Committees and become official centers, where families can fill out the census during pick-up or drop-off hours.
Getting the Word Out
Even if afterschool programs do not have the capacity to host a Census Night, program providers can still play an important role by getting information about the census out to families as trusted community voices, especially if they are familiar with the different languages spoken in the community. Teens and tweens who participate in programs can also be a resource to spread information and assist people in filling out the census, which not only helps get an accurate count, but also empowers young people to be civically active. In order to debunk misinformation and instill trust in the census process, it is vital for families to hear from members already embedded in their communities that the census is fair and safe to complete, as well as why it is important for them to complete it.
Afterschool programs are an incredible resource for our communities, and we should tap into their expertise and ask for their help to ensure an accurate count in the 2020 Census.
Since 2005, Jodi Grant has been Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children and youth have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs. The Afterschool Alliance serves as a national voice for afterschool and provides resources and materials to more than 25,000 afterschool programs.
By Guest Bloggers Heather Daly, Courageous Hearts and Normandie Nigh, A World Fit for Kids (Note: This blog was originally developed for The Afterschool Alliance.)
So… you want to bring social emotional learning (SEL) to your afterschool program? Great! Before you decide which curriculum you’ll teach your students, it’s important to ask yourself if your staff are trained on how to deliver SEL content. Conveying SEL skills and modeling them to young people requires specific competencies in addition to an educator’s existing skill set. In a previous blog, we talked about the importance of teaching our young people methods to navigate stress and uncomfortable emotions. Today we will discuss why educators need training to deliver this type of content, and also share some common pitfalls when incorporating SEL content.
The etymological origin of “educate” comes from the Latin root “educaré,” which means “to draw out from within.” Many teachers are trained with an “outside-in” approach to education. The theory is that there is information out there that we as a society have decided young people should know. A teacher’s role is to get that information into them, like filling a bucket. However, the core of all SEL curricula is empowering young people and honoring their inner wisdom — an “inside-out” approach. Because of this, SEL curriculum must be facilitated, not taught. Traditionally, scholastic subjects like math, science, and English are taught using an outside-in approach; using the same method to deliver SEL content is doomed to fail.
Additionally, for the population of students who need a trauma-informed approach, their social and emotional needs must be addressed before academics. Trying to get information into the mind of a young person while they are engaged in a stress response is futile. This can be frustrating for educators who don’t have the facilitation tools to address social emotional needs. Ideally, educators would become adept at learning when to teach and when to facilitate.
Another challenge for successful delivery of SEL content has to do with the need to model it to the students to effectively teach it. SEL is necessarily responsive and works moment-to-moment over time; because it’s all about behaving and interacting, a “do as I say, not as I do” approach doesn’t work. Students learn and emulate self-awareness from someone who is demonstrating it. For this reason, educators must continue to develop their own social emotional skills so they can set the example — working on their personal development, becoming more self- and socially aware, learning how to manage their own stress, and walking the talk.
Also, delivering SEL blocks once or twice a week is not nearly as effective as being immersed in an SEL-based culture in which all adults that interact with students are participating in continued social and emotional growth. It requires lots of buy-in from other adults in the community, but principals, afterschool staff, teachers, security guards, and janitorial staff all must be trained to support this SEL framework. (We recognize this can be a tall order! But the payoff is enormous.)
Educators across the country are being asked to deliver SEL curriculum and attend to the social and emotional needs of their students. Training on how to facilitate this type of content is essential, as is supporting educators with developing their own social emotional prowess.
To be successful in creating an SEL-competent culture, educators must learn the art of facilitation to deliver this unique content and must model it to all students. By honoring our young people’s hearts, emotions and the inner wisdom that guides them on their own path, we will strengthen them from the inside out to stand forward as tomorrow’s leaders.
Heather E. Daly, Ph.D. is the Director of Courageous Hearts, an organization committed to educating afterschool staff with drug education and prevention content. Normandie Nigh is the Chief Executive Officer of A World Fit for Kids, whose mission is to prepare young people for fit and fulfilling lives. To learn more about the training opportunities available for afterschool staff and program providers, visit Courageous Hearts and Fit For Success, a project of A World Fit For Kids.
By Guest Blogger Erik Peterson, Afterschool Alliance
With the 2020 presidential election only 10 months away and primary voting now under way, it is a good time to check in on where the presidential candidates stand on afterschool and summer learning as an issue. As we discussed in our blog last fall, education and childcare has been a popular campaign topic for many candidates, from student loan forgiveness to increasing teacher pay, however several candidates have gone on the record in support of afterschool and summer learning programs as well.
While the nonpartisan Afterschool Alliance does not endorse candidates, we do track their proposals related to support for afterschool and summer learning programs and have summarized the positions of the candidates that have gone on the record in support of afterschool, community schools, summer learning, and wrap around supports for school age children. Read more about the candidates’ (from both parties) positions on afterschool here.
Stay tuned for updates from the campaign trail and review our election toolkit and candidate guide (being updated for the 2020 election).
Erik Peterson joined the Afterschool Alliance in July 2009 and coordinates and advances the Afterschool Alliance’s policy efforts at the federal level by helping develop policy goals and implementing strategies that advance access to quality afterschool programs for all. Erik works to build and strengthen relationships with policy makers and allied organizations to increase public support and funding for quality before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs. Prior to coming to the Afterschool Alliance, Erik worked for the School Nutrition Association (SNA) in the Washington DC, area and as both an AmeriCorps VISTA and staff for the Sustainable Food Center in Austin, Texas.
By Guest Blogger John Fuentes, Bay Area Community Resources
What happens when adult allies continue to make authentic youth voice a priority? When High school students in various leadership groups from San Diego to Oakland, CA speak truth to power? When technology becomes a resource for across state collaboration? When young people meet up in Sacramento to speak to legislators about the challenges they’re faced with and how afterschool funding supports overcoming some of these challenges? Answer: a $50M ASES increase with the support of our “TACA”(Teens Advocating for Civic Engagement) youth.
TACA started a little over a year ago when a group of CA3 (California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance) members discussed how powerful it would be to bring more youth voice to the front lines of civic action. Myself, Brad Lupien (ARC), Donny Faaliliu (L.A. All Stars) and Aleah Rosario (CalSac) spent some time during 2018/19 school year unpacking what TACA should look and feel like.
Once a month from October to May in the 2018/19 school year approximately 8 to 12 students from 5 High Schools representing ARC, L.A All-Stars and Bay Area Community Resources (BACR) got on a Zoom chat and discussed issues they were facing in their communities and what action steps they were taking to help resolve some of these issues. With the support of CalSac’s resource guides and the support from afterschool leadership staff, TACA students learned the difference between service and civic action. They learned more about local government and what issues the local officials were passionate about. This work helped support an informed dialogue between TACA students and their local and state officials.
We found that the reoccurring challenges students were faced with in their communities were affordable housing, violence, suicide, and lack of equity in education. Whether students were attending JFK high school in southern California or Oakland Tech high school in the Bay Area, these issues were similar. Using Zoom video chats, TACA students had an opportunity to see, hear and learn from other students across the state and know that they were not alone doing work. Students shared ideas, action plans and goals for sustainability and systemic change.
TACA students expressed how cool it was to be able to connect with other students across the state, share their ideas and get feedback. How cool it was to see each other on a Zoom chat once a month and then meet in person for the first time in Sacramento; to know that they played a part in getting the $50M ASES increase because they shared their stories and mobilized.
Now, in year two, TACA has over 25 members from San Diego to Oakland, CA representing 14 high schools and 4 middle schools. Me, Brad, Donny and now Ayala Goldstein (CalSac) continue to support the TACA members as adult allies and coaches. This year TACA is made up of 1-2 students who are part of an existing afterschool leadership group and represent that group during our monthly Zoom chat meetings. The goal is for the two TACA representatives from each school site to join the monthly Zooms and share their learning with their peers and mobilize for Civic Action and change.
Affordable housing, violence, and education continue to be pressing topics for our TACA youth and their peers and we will continue to support them with their Civic Action goals. We have a few new goals this year which include: Supporting with the 2020 Census, getting people registered to vote and once again showing up in Sacramento on March 9th and 10th for the California Afterschool and Summer Challenge.
If you want to see, hear and learn more about TACA, please check TACA out at this year’s BOOST Conference as they lead a workshop on Thursday April 30th, 3:45-5:30pm entitled "Student- Lead Campaign for Civic Engagement." You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ayala Goldstein at email@example.com
John Fuentes is a program manager with Bay Area Community Resources in Oakland and Alameda. In addition, John is the lead facilitator for the “Heads Up” Saturday Leadership Academy program at Head Royce School in Oakland and an expanded learning quality support coach and trainer in the San Francisco Bay Area. John is a two-time Alameda Unified School District Salute to Education recipient and a 2018 Region 4-CDE Spotlight on Quality Award recipient.
Sam Piha is the founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development.