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.

2014 Bridge Pre-Conference Youth-led STEM Event: Weather Balloon Launch

Youth in Walla Walla launching a weather balloon as part of a STEM activity

Youth in Walla Walla launching a weather balloon as part of a STEM activity

Come to Bridge a day early and engage in an amazing, youth-facilitated workshop where participants will learn, through hands-on participation, all the logistical & practical elements of one of the most amazing and awe-inspiring STEM projects available to our youth, launching a weather balloon!

This exciting event on October 26th from 9:00-4:30pm will showcase a powerful example of STEM/Project-Based Learning for afterschool and youth development programs to replicate at their sites.

On October 27 at 6:30 am, we will kick off the Bridge Conference by launching the high-altitude weather balloon and will track its progress throughout the morning.

Workshop leaders include Brent Cummings, 21st CCLC Project Director from Walla Walla School District, and a cadre of Latina student-scientists from Garrison Middle School. Take a look at a video of Garrison’s balloon launch last year.

Additional highlights to expect from this workshop include:

  • From recruitment to results, and everything in-between, workshop facilitators will actively model and engage attendees in a highly effective, student-centered learning methodology focused on engaging traditionally underserved students in challenging STEM activities.
  • Perfect for camp-based, or activity-based, summer programming session.
  • Program implementation templates, timelines, and strategy guides will be provided. Additional resources, including digital media (video, social websites, etc.), will be used to maximize the workshop participants’ experience.
  • Active participation, ownership of ideas, and real-world relevancy will be the key components of this learning outcome.

Stay tuned for our full Bridge Conference workshop schedule which will be posted in the next couple of weeks.

STEM News and Events for August


Afterschool Alliance has released a new report on Afterschool STEM. If you are looking for language to share about the impacts you are making with your STEM activities and programs, this is a great resource. You can find it at: Examining the Impact


Pacific Science Center and the West Seattle YMCA Science on wheels engineering event
August 20th, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
@ West Seattle YMCA

Invite your friends and neighbors for a free evening of fun!  Explore the wonder of science and engineering with dozens of hands-on exhibits, and an exciting live science show.  Light appetizers and refreshments provided.

Fees: FREE!

Questions: Mary Sanderson-935-6000 or


Engineer It! Weekend
August 22-24, 2014
Seattle, WA

At this event attendees will connect with professional engineers and surveyors and engage in hands-on exploration of the science that designs, moves, builds, and powers our society.


STEM Back-to-School Day
August 23, 2014; 10:00 AM-5:00 PM
Seattle, WA

The Museum of Flight is hosting a day-long event dedicated to informing students and their parents about new STEM opportunities in education and careers. Parents will learn more about how to help their children develop their interests in STEM topics and help them make better choices about future careers in STEM.


Webinar: Students Tackling Authentic & Relevant Science. What does “authentic and relevant” science for youth really mean?
September 5, 2014; 10:00 AM-11:00 AM Pacific

This webinar will address the question, “How do you design inquiry-worthy questions that entice youth engagement, set them up for success while still requiring youth-shaping, and stretch youth images of where science is and what science can do?” Participants will learn strategies for development and why this work is important.


Refugee Support Services Funding In Washington At Risk

Refugee students in Washington are at risk of losing Federal support dollars

Refugee students in Washington are at risk of losing Federal support

Refugee youth and families in Washington are currently at risk of losing access to critical services as our nation faces a crisis in supporting the unprecedented number of children fleeing violence in Central America.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed to move funding from current refugee programs in order to meet their legal obligation to care for unaccompanied children. They cannot care for these children arriving alone at our borders and continue to provide critical supports for refugee communities in the United States without increased.

At risk of potential elimination is funding for the Refugee School Impact Grant, which provides funds to school districts and community based organizations to support refugee students and families with integration into the American school system. These programs make a real difference in supporting refugee students and families through tutoring, afterschool programs, interpreters and more. Students in Seattle, Spokane, and many other communities around our state benefit from the funding this program provides.

Earlier this month, President Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funding, with $1.8 billion to care for the growing number of unaccompanied children entering the United States, so that refugee services do not have to be cut. Contact your Congress person and Senators to support the proposed supplemental budget in order to meet the needs of both unaccompanied children and refugees.

You can always stay up to date on issues affecting youth by signing up for School’s Out Washington’s Action Alerts.

Understanding the State of Education Funding in Washington State

The Washington State Supreme Court is requiring the legislature to fully fund basic education. (Image Source: Wikimedia)

The Washington State Supreme Court is requiring the legislature to fully fund basic education. (Image Source: Wikimedia)

In 2012, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in McCleary v. the State of Washington that the legislature was not fully funding basic education as mandated by our state’s constitution. Two years later, the court has found that the legislature has not yet complied with their ruling and is considering further action to ensure progress is made toward fully funding education by 2018.

As the Washington State Budget & Policy Center explains in their report A Paramount Duty: Funding Education for McCleary and Beyond, “To create opportunities that will help all children –from the time they enter the classroom to when they join the workforce – investments beyond McCleary’s mandates are a must.”

While the court takes this issue under consideration, organizations representing communities across the state have mobilized to voice their concerns around revenue and funding allocations.

Two amicus briefs, a way for an individual or organization that isn’t a party to a case to express an opinion or provide information to a court case under consideration, have recently been submitted to the court in support of providing sustainable funding for basic education that doesn’t take away from other state services.

The Washington State Budget & Policy Center in partnership with Centerstone, Equity in Education Coalition, Eldercare Alliance, Solid Ground, Statewide Poverty Action Network and students from the University of Washington filed an amicus brief recommending that the court encourage the legislature to raise additional revenue that is stable and dependable in order to fully fund basic education.

The Children’s Alliance, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and Columbia Legal Services also filed an amicus brief recommending that the state refrain from funding K-12 education in a way that jeopardizes housing and other basic services to children and families.

In addition to these briefs, State Superintendent Randy Dorn also filed a brief asking the court to require lawmakers to “make substantial progress” toward meeting McCleary’s requirements – which, by one legislative estimate, would require at least an additional $33 billion in the next two-year budget – during the 2015 session.

This article from KPLU provides an overview of each of the briefs addressing this education funding crisis. School’s Out Washington will continue to track this issue and provide information to our constituents as this will impact funding for afterschool, youth development and Expanded Learning Opportunities.

Afterschool & Expanded Learning Fellows Announced

Sixteen leaders in the afterschool and expanded learning fields nationwide have been selected as White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellows as part of a partnership between the Riley Institute at Furman University and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Through discussion of actual case studies led by policy change-makers, the Fellowship equips graduates with a real world understanding of the art and science of policy-making for afterschool and expanded learning. In the 10-month program which begins in October, fellows will study afterschool and expanded learning policy, and develop state-level policy plans in partnership with their Statewide Afterschool Networks and the national Afterschool Alliance.

School’s Out Washington has close ties with this fellowship opportunity. Janet Schmidt, School’s Out Washington’s Chief Program & Policy Officer sits on the committee that selects the fellows. And Amanda Scott-Thomas, a current School’s Out Board Member and former Education Policy Director, was appointed to the inaugural class of the  White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellow last year.

The fellowship is named for William S. White, President and CEO of the Mott Foundation; Richard W. Riley, former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Secretary of Education under President Clinton; and Dr. Terry Peterson, national board chair with the Afterschool Alliance and a senior fellow at the College of Charleston. The fellowship is made possible by a $245,000 grant awarded to the Riley Institute by the C.S. Mott Foundation.

Article on Quality Standards Published by WA Recreation & Parks Association

Check out this article on the Quality Standards published in the Washington Recreation & Parks Association enewsletter

Standards of Quality Matter in Helping Youth Succeed

A growing body of research shows that quality matters in positively impacting youth who participate in afterschool and youth development programs.  Many child and youth development professionals and organizational leaders strive for quality, but are missing a framework that provides staff with guidelines for what quality looks like as a practitioner and in a program setting.

Municipal parks and recreation staff, many of whom are WRPA members, represent one of the largest provider groups of afterschool and youth development programming across our state.  With such a significant impact on young people’s health and well-being, being aware of and engaging in processes to implement quality improvement practices into a program and organization can make a difference in the experience of both staff and youth participants. 

School’s Out Washington recently published the Washington State Quality Standards for Afterschool and Youth Development Programs, a research-based framework for providers to understand and measure program quality and plan for improvement. There are nine domains that together address key areas of quality for afterschool and youth development programs:

  1. Safety & Wellness
  2. Cultural Competency & Responsiveness
  3. Relationships
  4. Youth Leadership & Engagement
  5. Program & Activities
  6. Assessment, Planning & Improvement
  7. Ongoing Staff & Volunteer Development
  8. Leadership & Management
  9. Family, School & Community Connections

The Standards are voluntary and a recommended set of benchmarks that support programs serving youth ages five through adulthood. The goal is that afterschool and youth development programs will use the Standards as a tool to develop program quality. Standards are aligned with the Youth Program Quality Assessment tools developed by the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality.

Members from WRPA participated in the initial community meetings that provided the springboard for the creation of the Quality Standards. The Standards are now being discussed among funders, municipal leaders and other key stakeholders as a way to ensure public and private funds are spent on high-quality programming for youth. While a great tool, building capacity to use the Standards in programs will take time. Programs should incorporate realistic and achievable goals in order to work toward meeting the Standards gradually. 

The Quality Standards are available to download on School’s Out Washington’s website. We plan to send out a survey to programs in the fall to gauge usage of the Standards and collect feedback on putting the Standards into practice. If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact Jackie Jainga-Hyllseth, Quality Initiative Director at (206) 323-2396 or by email at

America After 3pm Survey shows Summer Learning Gains Ground

New research from the 2014 edition of America After 3PM, the most comprehensive household survey of how students in America spend their after school hours, shows that summer learning programs are strongly supported by parents and that participation in summer learning programs is on the rise.

According to the survey of nearly 14,000 families:summer survey

  • 86% of parents indicate support for public funding for summer learning programs, a statistically significant increase of three percentage points over the already very strong support registered in 2009.
  • One-third of families report at least one child participated in a summer learning program last summer, up from the 25 percent of families reporting at least one child participated when the survey was last conducted in 2009.
  • Demand for summer learning programs for 2014 is high. More than half of families reported a desire to participate in a summer learning program this summer.
  • 13% of families reported that summer programs were available to them at no cost in 2013. However, the vast majority of parents paid for programs and the average weekly per-child cost for a summer learning program was $250— high enough to put the programs out of the reach of many children and families.

With increased awareness of the problem of summer learning loss, especially among low-income students, it is encouraging to see data that suggest parents are increasingly recognizing the important role that summer learning programs can play in helping keep kids on track for success. However, the cost data raise concerns about equity and whether or not the very students who might most likely benefit from programs are able to access them. Download the one-pager providing an overview of the findings.

In October, look for the release of the 2014 edition of America After 3PM, which will provide a detailed view of afterschool, including access to STEM learning opportunities, physical activity, and healthy meals and snacks in afterschool. America After 3PM is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Wallace Foundation and the Noyce Foundation, with additional support from the Heinz Endowments, Samueli Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

14 Ways to Write Better Grants

Sapling growing from coinsAt School’s Out Washington, we’ve been on both sides of the grant-writing process. We offer grants such as Feed Your Brain and Let’s Get Cookin’, but like any non-profit we also have to apply for grants.

Here are a 14 tips for writing great grants that we’ve learned both as funders and grant writers.

  1. Make sure that your project aligns with the purpose of the grant or its funding priorities. Determine what the funder is trying to accomplish and if these are your goals as well. If in doubt, most funders are willing to answer questions.
  2. Follow directions! This means attaching all attachments, sending in your application so it arrives before the deadline, and answering all questions completely. Deductions are usually given when you do not follow directions. Deductions can cause proposals to lose many points. Proposals that may otherwise be strong proposals have lost enough points from deductions that they were not funded.
  3. On that same vein, do not exceed the number of allowable pages. Proposals exceeding the page limit are usually disqualified because your proposal can no longer be fairly compared with other applicants. Try to use the exact maximum number of allowable pages so the funder gets a good picture of what you’re proposing.
  4. Explain special curricula, projects, and programs in layman’s terms. If the funder doesn’t understand it, they may not fund it. One way to see if a layman can understand your proposal is to give it to someone who doesn’t know your program very well. Have them read it and the grant guidelines and give you feedback. They can let you know if there are areas they do not understand or areas where you didn’t answer the question to their satisfaction.
  5. Most funders are looking for projects that will have long-term effects. Explain how your project will do that.
  6. Most funders like to see collaboration. Mention your partnerships with other organizations, schools, parents, and your community.
  7. Make sure your demographic numbers and budget numbers add up.
  8. Define what success would mean for your program. What end result would make you consider your program a success?
  9. Look at the points that have been assigned to the different areas. Spend more time on the heavily-weighted areas. Use those points to assess the importance of the different areas.
  10. Don’t exaggerate the impact or the numbers you will impact. Be honest and realistic.
  11. Don’t commit to tasks or outcomes that you cannot produce, do not have the staff or time to produce, or do not want to produce.
  12. Make sure that you provide complete contact information so that the funder can contact you with questions.
  13. Use the community as a resource. Ask how others have written grants.
  14. If your proposal is not funded, you might want to call and ask the funder for feedback. Make sure you call a month or two after funding has been allocated when the funder has more time to discuss this with you. Many funders are willing to share areas of improvement with you and the feedback can make you a better grant writer.
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