Washington Afterschool Leader Named Afterschool Ambassador

Brent Cummings_Photo2Brent Cummings loves afterschool education! Expanding upon his love of lifelong learning and his commitment to encouraging and engaging youth afterschool, Brent has recently been selected as an Afterschool Ambassador for the Afterschool Alliance. He is one of just 13 local leaders from across the country to be chosen for the honor this year.

“I am extremely honored to be a member of such an amazing team,” said Brent. “It is increasingly important that we continue to advocate for, and engage our youth in, afterschool programming. I am excited to spread the word and share the awesomeness that is afterschool programming both through measurable results and the actuality of amazing programs.”

In addition to his role as an Afterschool Ambassador, Brent serves as the Program Director for the 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative managed by Walla Walla Public Schools. This program’s ongoing success rates, significantly higher than expected, reflect Brent’s passion for educating at-risk youth in afterschool environments. The unique methodologies and curricula utilized in the WWPS 21st CCLC programs captivate all youth, whose intense engagement prepares them for future success.

Brent will continue directing WWPS’s 21st CCLC afterschool programs while also serving the one-year Afterschool Ambassador term organizing public events, communicating with policy makers, and building support for afterschool programs.

In his role as Afterschool Ambassador, Brent will be engaged in national and state level work to build public will and raise awareness around the importance of afterschool programming in supporting young people future success in school and in life. Stay tuned for more from Brent over this year as he settles into this new, exciting role.

Scholarships available for Washington State licensed school-age programs

School’s Out Washington is offering partial scholarships to the Bridge Conference to qualified applicants.

To qualify, you must:

  1. Identify as a person of color, and/or work in a program or school serving 75% or more youth of color,
  2. Work at a program site or school in the state of Washington,
  3. Work in a Washington state licensed, exempt, or tribally-certified child care or afterschool program and
  4. Commit to attending both days of the conference.

Scholarships are awarded on a first-come first served basis. Applications are due not later than September 26, 2014, so apply for a scholarship now!

Introducing David Beard, Education Policy and Advocacy Director

davidWe are thrilled to have David Beard joining our team as SOWA’s Education Policy and Advocacy Director. Take a few minutes to learn about David and what brought him to SOWA.

Where are you from?

I was born in Colorado Spring, CO, but grew up in the Fort Lewis and Puyallup areas of Pierce County, WA. My only time away from Washington State was to go to grad school in Texas and to try out the East Coast in Washington, DC, and Maryland for the past five years. I’m very happy to be back home.

What do you like to do in your own time?

I enjoy volunteering for local organizations and am eager to get back into civic life in Washington State. I am also an avid Madonna fan and enjoy diva pop. When I’m not lip syncing, I enjoy dancing as well and I look forward to taking salsa lessons this fall. My family is very important to me and one of my favorite times of the week is Sunday dinner with the family and playing with my mom’s long-haired dachshund Molly.

What brought you to School’s Out Washington?

My entire career has been dedicated to advancing policies that will improve the lives of children and families. My previous work includes advocating for early childhood programs nationally and in Washington as well as improving the Pre-K – 12th grade system in Maryland. School’s Out Washington will be a great place to continue making sure children have the programs and resources they need to be successful in school and life. Youth development enrichment programs helped me academically and socially when I was in school and I am eager to see that all children have these opportunities.

Tell us one thing that you are proud of.

I am proud of the collective efforts of advocates and parents that worked to pass new state regulations in Maryland that will decrease the overuse of suspension and expulsion, increase positive behaviors, and eliminate disparities in discipline by race and ability. Over the past twenty years, all states saw a dramatic increase in suspension rates due to zero tolerance policies that were intended for weapons, but led schools to suspend more for typical childhood behavior such as disrespect. A host of partners worked together to create a winning policy and communications strategy that led to the first-in-the nation regulations. I hope to be a part of many more policy wins

Celebrate the 15th Annual Lights On Afterschool on October 23rd

Launched in October 2000, Lights On Afterschool is the only nationwide event celebrating afterschool programs and their important role in the lives of children, families and communities. The effort has become a hallmark of the afterschool movement.

Lights On Afterschool celebrates the many ways afterschool programs support students by offering them opportunities to learn new things—such as science, community service, robotics, Tae Kwon Do and poetry—and discover new skills. The events send a powerful message that millions more kids need quality afterschool programs.

The Afterschool Alliance, organizer of Lights On Afterschool, has a comprehensive toolkit with resources to help you plan an event along with some guiding questions to help you narrow down what you want your event to look like. Once you register as an office Lights On Afterschool celebration, you will receive an event starter kit, including 10 free posters and a chance to win prizes each week leading up to October 23rd.

We want to make sure that Washington is on the map! Whether it’s a small gathering of youth and families or a larger community event with policy makers, business and other leaders, each celebration makes a difference in spreading the word about the importance of afterschool and joining in this national movement.

School’s Out Washington will be hosting an event, so stay tuned for more details as the location and theme become finalized. If you would like any support with your event or ideas around how to promote the celebration in your community, contact Danielle Baer by email or phone at (206) 336-6928.

Parents Learning Why Quality Matters

It’s hard to believe that September is already upon us. With the start of fall comes the excitement of kids heading back to school and back to afterschool! I know how thrilled my son is to reunite with his friends, play lots of soccer on the playground, and return to his beloved afterschool program at the Coho Kids Time through the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County.

As a working parent and professional in the youth-serving field, I comforted knowing that my son’s time during the afterschool hours is spent in a positive environment where afterschool program staff support his continued learning, physical activity and social-emotional growth. His afterschool program is one of hundreds across the state engaged in the Youth Program Quality Initiative focused on achieving positive youth outcomes through a quality improvement effort based in research and best practice.  

Word of the importance of quality afterschool programs is spreading among parents and families. This month, the magazine Parent Map published the first in a 9-month series of articles on the importance of quality in afterschool programs, made possible with funding from the Raikes Foundation and in partnership with School’s Out Washington.

After-School Special: Kids & Quality Programs explores how the newly released Washington State Quality Standards for Afterschool & Youth Development Programs, are impacting the quality of afterschool programs serving about 134,000 youth after the school bell rings.  Parent Map’s series provides an opportunity to explore and communicate to parents and community members how supporting quality in fact makes a real difference for kids!

As a growing body of research shows the importance of quality, School’s Out Washington has worked with partners across the state to build a Quality Improvement System which includes the Washington State Core Competencies for Child and Youth Development Professionals, high-quality professional development opportunities such as training and coaching, quality assessment, and most recently a set of Quality Standards for Washington State Afterschool and Youth Development Programs. After five years of engaging programs in this intentional quality work, we see that program staff and youth are experiencing positive outcomes and quality is making a difference!

More articles in this series are coming over the next eight months. In the meantime, why not improve the quality of your work with youth? Check-out School’s Out Washington’s professional development offerings for updates on workshops and other ways to engage in our quality efforts.

Introducing Clifford Armstrong III, Quality Programs Initiative Coordinator

clifford3Join us in welcoming Clifford Armstrong III to School’s Out Washington’s team.  In his role as Quality Program Initiative Coordinator, Cliff will be working with programs engaged in the Youth Program Quality Initiative in Pierce County and will also be overseeing the Feed Your Brain summer project.  Learn a little about Cliff below.

Where are you from?

I am from Wildomar, California.  It’s a city in Riverside County, CA, which is referred to as the Inland Empire. 

What do you like to do in your own time?

I have quite a few hobbies.  In my free time, I like exercising, reading, playing video games, cooking, watching movies, or just general socializing.  I will binge-watch Netflix shows some weekends or spend a whole weekend playing sports. 

What brought you to SOWA?          

After moving to Seattle last year to work as an Educational Services Coordinator VISTA at Jewish Family Services Refugee and Immigrant Service Center, I knew I wanted to work with and learn from the AYD community in the state of Washington.  My position at School’s Out Washington allows me to connect with the AYD community while also promoting the Quality Standards that I believe are necessary to progress the field.

Tell us one thing that you are proud of.

I am proud of the time I spent working with youth as a football coach, and as a tutor in the Inland Empire before I left to complete my M.S. in International Studies.  I appreciate the lessons I learned and the effort I put into the community more now than I had at the time.


Introducing Will Cheung, SOWA’s Executive & Operations Coordinator

We are thrilled to have Will Cheung joining our team as SOWA’s Executive & Operations Coordinator. Take a few minutes to learn about Will and what brought him to SOWA. 


Where are you from?

I was born in Houston, Texas, grew up in Sarasota, Florida, and then I went to college and have spent the last 12 years in Orlando, Florida.

What do you like to do in your own time?

Since I am a recent transplant to the Pacific Northwest I am spending most of my free time exploring the city and the region. I’m trying to find and experience all the favorite local hotspots and also hiking and camping the beautiful wilderness that is the Pacific Northwest. If I’m not out on the town or in the woods I am an avid cook and a voracious consumer of books on topics ranging from science fiction to economics and social sciences.

What brought you to SOWA?          

My most recent professional experience was working with a New Media start-up in Orlando and I had reached a point in my professional and personal life that I felt that I needed to make a change. I took a leap and moved to the Seattle area in search of a new career in the nonprofit field and after a short search I found a position with SOWA that meshed perfectly with my previous experience.

Tell us one thing that you are proud of

In college I joined a fraternity and the chapter was nearly on the brink of closing. After joining I was elected into a leadership position within the chapter and worked with the rest of the executive leadership and after four years of hard work we were honored with the award of Top Chapter of the entire international fraternity. One of the many factors that lead to our honoring was our work in breaking fund raising records in support of St. Jude’s Childrens Research Hospital, the fraternity’s national philanthropy.

What does NCLB Waiver Mean for Afterschool

As students across the state head back to school, school districts have scrambled to get out letters and phone calls to the hundreds of thousands of families across the state whose child is attending a “failing” school according to No Child Left Behind Act which says 100% of students should be passing state math and reading tests this year. 

Washington State lost its waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act due to stalemate in last year’s legislative session around teacher evaluation legislation.  Now, Washington schools must redirect 20% of their federal Title 1 money, about $40 million annually statewide, which supports services for low-income students.

Some districts have used this money to implement full-day kindergarten, or for afterschool and expanded learning opportunities.  Under federal law, now some of the Title 1 funding must pay to transport kids to schools that are meeting federal standards should parents choose to do so. However, since over 80% of all Washington schools are considered failing according to NCLB, most parents don’t have much of a choice leaving those set-aside funds to be spent on tutoring, the other allowable expense.

The “supplemental education services” required to be offered to low-income students in “failing” schools provides an opportunity for afterschool programs to support tutoring services.  As a recent Seattle Times article states, “It will be interesting to compare the cost and return on investment of sending a child to a Sylvan Learning Center or Kumon versus the cost of providing students with in-school programs such as after-school tutoring, extended kindergarten and professional development for teachers.”

We would like to hear from folks in the field about how the waiver is impacting afterschool programs. Are school districts reaching out to afterschool programs to partner and provide tutoring services? Is this an opportunity for non-profit community organizations or have for-profit tutoring services already claimed this space in your community?  Let us know your thoughts on this issue and feedback you’ve heard from parents and community members in your area.

For more information about Supplemental Educational Services, visit OSPI’s website.

Here are some recent headlines on this topic:

What it means for schools to lose control over Title 1 funds and No Child Left Behind Waiver, Seattle Times Opinion Northwest

New rules will govern tutoring companies operating under No Child Left Behind, The News Tribune

Without NCLB Waiver, Most Washington schools now failing despite steady test scores, KPLU 

Test results: 88 percent of Washington schools don’t meet federal standards, The Bellingham Herald 

Give a Shout Out at Bridge This October!

What is a Shout Out?

Looking for a great way to give someone you work with much deserved recognition? School’s Out Washington is starting a new tradition at the Bridge Conference this year, and it’s a chance for you to pay tribute to someone you know who works to improve the lives of young people.

You can give a Shout Out to anyone— whether they work directly with young people, manage a problem, raise the funds or anything else that helps young people and the communities they live in.

How do I submit my Shout Out nomination?

Submit an online short (600 characters or less) tribute about your deserving nominee.  The easy, online format will only take a few minutes of your time to acknowledge someone that goes above and beyond to make a difference and huge impact on young people.

Here’s a sample Shout Out:

Leah is an amazing program director. While her job involves a lot of outside meetings and working with partners and budgets and all that, she never lets that stuff take away from building positive connections with the kids. Whether she’s chatting with a young person about the project they are working on, helping someone connect with services they really need or just participating in karaoke night in the program, she always brings such warm and caring energy to everyone, and we love her!

When will the Shout Outs be Announced?

During the Bridge conference, your Shout Out will be read aloud to the entire audience.  Your colleague will receive the public recognition they deserve!

Have questions about the Shout Out, contact Shannon Robinson, Bridge Conference Coordinator. And don’t forget to check out the Bridge Conference website. Our conference schedule is live! Read about all the great sessions offered this year. 

25 Nationally Recognized Afterschool Leaders Include Many Bridge Alumni

Last spring, the National Afterschool Association announced its list of the twenty-five most influential people in the afterschool community! Many of these leaders are a part of our extended School’s Out Washington family including past presenters at our annual Bridge Conference leading sessions on cutting-edge research, best practices and innovative strategies in working with youth.

You can view the full list of award recipients and special mention below of those we have been honored to include in our Bridge Conference as keynotes and presenters:

  • Ellen S. Gannett, M.ED, Director, National Institute on Out-of-School Time, Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College
  • Gil Noam, Ed.D. PhD, Foundation and Director, Program in Education, Afterschool and Resiliency, Harvard University
  • Terry Peterson, PhD, Director, Afterschool and Community Learning Network
  • Sam Piha, Founder and Principal, Director, Temescal Associates, Learning in Afterschool & Summer Project
  • Karen J. Pittman, President and CEO, the Forum for Youth Investment
  • Charles Smith, PhD, Executive Director, David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality
  • Deborah Lowe Vandell, Founding Dean, School of Education, University of California Irvine

Check-out who will be joining us this year at our 2014 Bridge Conference to deliver inspiring keynotes around our theme of Making Learning Personal

We look forward to another year of opportunities to hear from passionate leaders in the afterschool, education and youth development arenas around how to connect with young people and create opportunities for a bright future.

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