“SAS” is Spreading. Have You Caught It?

This video is by the awesome people at ReelGrrls and features students from the Boys and Girls Club in Lakewood and Skate Like A Girl.

Join the Gates Foundation to Learn About Innovative Student Pathways to Graduation

Join our partners at the Gates Foundation for a free evening event exploring issues and possible solutions to college completion and the challenges many students face in succeeding beyond high school.

A special display will be on view that highlights the achievement gap in post-secondary education and outlines goals to overcome the gap. A panel discussion featuring Gates Foundation staff and partners will share insights and answer your questions related to this integral step towards giving every person the chance to live a healthy, productive life.

Space is limited. Follow the registration link below.

When: Thursday, November 19, 2015
Time:  5 – 7 pm
Location: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center
440 5th Ave N Seattle, WA 98109
Please note that the Gates Foundation Visitor Center does not offer parking

Register here: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Visitor-Center/Events-Calendar

Research Says Afterschool Supports Social Emotional Learning

Elizabeth Devaney, Senior Researcher, American Institutes for Research (AIR)

Elizabeth Devaney, Senior Researcher, American Institutes for Research (AIR)

By Elizabeth Devaney, Senior Researcher, American Institutes for Research (AIR)

Over the past 20 years, the afterschool field has been held accountable in varying ways – first on our ability to provide safe places for young people to spend time while their parents work, then on our success in helping to improve participants’ academic achievement as a supplement to the school day. Today, measuring success in afterschool programs is more nuanced and has been influenced by an increased recognition that the social and emotional competencies youth develop while in afterschool programs are also critical to their success in school and life. But how, and what does the research say?

There is indeed evidence that afterschool programs have had an impact on developing participants’ social and emotional competencies. Studies show that consistent participation in high quality afterschool programs can lead to a range of improvements in social and emotional competencies such as improved peer relationships, an improved sense of self-worth or self-confidence, more positive feelings and attitudes toward school, positive states of mind, and positive social behaviors or peer-to-peer social skills.[i]

But not all programs are created equal. These same studies found that high quality programs and regular and high youth participation were critical conditions for skill building. For example, Durlak and Weissberg found that only afterschool programs employing what they dubbed the S.A.F.E. features (for sequenced, active, focused, and explicit) had the kinds of positive outcomes described above[ii]. Other studies have shown that youth who participate at high levels are more likely to experience changes than those who participate at low levels[iii]. Given these two important features, afterschool programs may want to engage in some of all of the following:

  • Provide professional development for staff on how to make program activities S.A.F.E. – that is, sequenced, active, focused and explicit.
  • Participate in existing quality improvement activities or advocate for additional funding related to quality improvement – and then use that funding to create strong quality assessment and improvement practices.
  • Conduct regular youth satisfaction surveys to gauge how engaged youth feel in the program. If engagement is low, implement strategies to foster a sense of belonging and fun in the program.
  • Bolster youth participation by identifying what youth like and do not like about the program and making changes to match their needs and interests.
  • Be intentional. Identify which skills the program targets. Make choices. Think about program activities. Decide on what few key social and emotional competencies the program truly targets and measure those – not the universe of social and emotional skills that exist.

Want to learn more about the research and the studies cited here? Download the research to practice brief Supporting Social and Emotional Development Through Quality After School Programs.

Wondering how your practice measures up? Download Social and Emotional Learning Practices: A Self-Reflection Tool for Afterschool Staff

Founded in 1946 as a not-for-profit organization, AIR is one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world. The Afterschool and Expanded Learning team at AIR has over a decade of experience in supporting the implementation of high-quality opportunities for young people, in evaluating afterschool initiatives using qualitative and quantitative techniques, and in supporting informed policy decisions. AIR’s team delivers expertise in continuous improvement system building and strives to provide practitioners with meaningful linkages between research and practice in afterschool learning.

[i] Fredericks, J.A., & Eccles, J. S. (2006). Is extracurricular activity participation associated with beneficial outcomes? Concurrent and longitudinal relations. Developmental Psychology, 42, 698-713; Mahoney, J. L., Cairns, B. D., & Farmer, T. (2003). Promoting interpersonal competence and educational success through extracurricular activity participation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 409-418. Morrissey, K. M. & Werner-Wilson, R. J. (2005). The relationship between out-of-school activities and positive youth development: An investigation of the influences of communities and families. Adolescence, 40, 67-85; Pierce, K. M., Auger, A., & Vandell, D. L. (2013, April). Narrowing the achievement gap: Consistency and intensity of structured activities during elementary school. Paper presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, Seattle, WA.; Vandell, D. (2012). California afterschool outcome measures project field test of the online toolbox: Final report to California Department of Education. Irvine, CA: University of California Irvine; Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P, & Pachan, M. (2010). A meta-analysis of after-school programs that seek to promote personal and social skills in children and adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 294–309.

[ii] Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P, & Pachan, M. (2010). A meta-analysis of after-school programs that seek to promote personal and social skills in children and adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 294–309.

[iii] Vandell, D. (2012). California afterschool outcome measures project field test of the online toolbox: Final report to California Department of Education. Irvine, CA: University of California Irvine

Meet Graeme Aegerter

Graeme AegerterIt’s that time again! There’s a new member of the SOWA family, and that means a intro blog!

Graeme Aegerter is SOWA’s new Statewide Training Coordinator. He supports the delivery of SOWA’s high quality professional development opportunities across Washington. Let’s see what makes him tick!

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Seattle, WA.

What do you like to do in your own time?

When not working, I love to hike, camp, and explore the beautiful outdoors of the Pacific Northwest with friends and family. I equally enjoy exploring Seattle’s diverse arts and cultural scenes, from the tiny community galleries to our magnificent concert halls.

Music provides the backbone to my daily life, whether that’s soaking in evening jazz on NPR, practicing guitar and writing my own songs, or dancing up a storm to some amazing soul/funk tunes. You might also spot me cozied up in a café with a book, practicing yoga, or having in-depth conversations with trees. And yes, I am guilty of the occasional Netflix marathon.

What brought you to School’s Out Washington?

Having recently moved back to Seattle after attending Chapman University in southern California, I sought out a community of professionals dedicated to principles of social justice, equity, inclusivity, and action. I couldn’t have been more fortunate to end up at SOWA!

While pursuing my BA in sociology and working for the Diversity & Equity Initiatives and then Cross-Cultural Engagement at Chapman, I cultivated my passion for developing and implementing trainings focused on cross-cultural understanding, underrepresented identity groups, and advocacy. Having also worked in the youth development field as a counselor at the Lakeside Educational Enrichment Program and an intern for the South African branch of ASSITEJ, an international coalition for children’s theater, joining SOWA as the Statewide Training Coordinator was an incredible opportunity to bring together my varying interests and skills.

I am thrilled to be a part of the SOWA family! It is a joy to work with such compassionate, knowledgeable, and motivated staff and I look forward to the learning and growth that is sure to come.

Tell us one thing you are proud of.

I am proud to have such an incredibly loving and supportive family. They mean the world to me and constantly inspire me to live my life with creativity, strength, and curiosity.

Vote YES on King County Prop 1, Best Starts for Kids

Best StartsThis message is from our friends at the Children’s Alliance for those living in King County. Best Starts For Kids King County Prop 1 is on the ballot you should have received in the mail.

Best Starts For Kids is good for kids and good for racial equity. If it passes, Best Starts for Kids will be a national model of transformative public investments in children, families, and communities. But kids will only gain the enormous benefits this groundbreaking proposition if it is passed by King County voters. Your ballot should be in hand by today!

School’s Out Washington and the Children’s Alliance urge you to vote YES for Best Starts for Kids, King County Prop 1.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Vote APPROVE on King County Prop 1 before the Election Day deadline on November 3rd.

  • Spread the word! Urge your friends, family and connections to vote APPROVE on King County Prop 1 through social media. Here is a post you can share right now on Twitter: Join me, @childrnalliance, and @schoolsoutWA and VOTE YES on KC Prop 1 @BestStarts4Kids! Good for kids, families, equity and opportunity!

Thank you for speaking up for kids!

If you are missing your ballot, contact the Secretary of State to find out how you can update your registration or address.

Lights On Afterschool Next Thursday!

It’s almost time!

There’s just one week left until communities around the world shine bright for Lights On Afterschool!

It’s still not too late to register an event: Lights On Afterschool celebrations come in all shapes and sizes, and simple events can make a big impact. Try bringing students and families together to decorate light bulb art, then display their masterpieces to keep the Lights On even after Oct. 22!

The Afterschool Snack has 10 last-minute Lights On Afterschool ideas and tips to help you get ready.

Register a Lights On Afterschool celebration by Monday, Oct. 19 and you’ll be entered to win awesome hands-on science materials from STEMfinity—valued at up to $3000!

Even if you’re not hosting an event of your own, you can still join one million people to celebrate Lights On Afterschool. Find an event to attend in your community, ask Members of Congress to help keep the Lights On Afterschool, add your voice to the Thunderclap.

Taking STEM Learning to Seattle’s Asian Immigrant Community

IMG_1048Chinese Information & Service Center in Seattle provides afterschool and summer programming to children and youth in central and south Seattle. CISC is one of five programs participating in a STEM pilot focused on continuous quality improvement in practice.  Peggy Kwok, Youth Development Program Supervisor, explains how her program serving approximately 60 youth incorporates STEM learning into their curriculum and the benefits this focus has brought to participating youth.

Our After School Program provides homework help and enrichment activities for bilingual and bicultural elementary students, in addition to family support for parent engagement, all to support students’ learning. Last year, we started to include STEM education in our program curriculum.

In order to increase students’ engagement and inspire them to explore STEM concepts, we currently implement student-driven, project-based and inquiry-based STEM activities once a week. Students play active roles through hand-on activities with program staff’s support. Students become part of the learning process and are empowered in their own learning about STEM.

Besides this, we partner with STEM rich institutions such as Danny Woo Garden and Seattle Aquarium. They provide teaching resources on agriculture and conservation of marine environment respectively, as well as activities for students to enrich their experience related to special learning.

Our After School Program also invites STEM professionals such as accountants, structural engineers, water/waste engineers, doctors, and veterans to share about their careers with students. Students have opportunities to directly engage with STEM professionals and are able to see how their current academic experience helps prepare them for future career opportunities. Students are informed about the necessary academic prerequisites required to pursue various STEM professions.

In addition, we collaborate with STEM-rich organizations such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center to offer field trips for students. The visits aim to spark students’ imaginations and encourage children’s natural curiosities to explore the world they live in. Students can learn that many different STEM professionals solve interesting and challenging problems with their creative minds and teamwork efforts – showing their contributions make a world of difference and shape humanity’s future.

Last but not least, we conduct STEM Parent Workshops. STEM professionals show parents how STEM is part of everyday life, introducing parents to resources in the home that can incorporate STEM learning into children’s daily interactions. We have been working on inspiring parents to explore STEM concepts just like their children and to step outside their traditional cultural framework. We provide parents with opportunities to engage in conversations about their everyday interactions with their children. Parents have reported that their children show considerable interest in STEM activities at home.

Our After School Program aims to provide additional time for students to engage in STEM activities in a manner which is different from schools. We have been working on clear visions of specific, measurable and attainable goals to include STEM education in our program in more effective ways. Strengthening staff’s knowledge and skills to deliver high-quality STEM learning opportunities more effectively is another main focus. We are grateful to have support from School’s Out Washington’s STEM Pilots to improve the quality of our program.

Meet SOWA’s Newest “Quality” Staff Member: Angie Malorni


School’s Out just hired a new employee, and close followers of our blog know what that means! It’s time for an intro post!

Angie Malorni works with the Youth Program Quality Initiative to support youth programs throughout Western Washington. We took a moment to ask Angie about herself and what brought her to School’s Out.

Where are you from?

I am originally from Akron, Ohio. I lived in both Akron and Columbus until moving to Seattle in 2011.

What do you like to do in your own time?

In my free time I am a community organizer and never-ending student of social justice. A lot of my time is spent reading, writing, in meetings, at actions or working on special projects. I also love card games, puzzles, reading, hiking, painting, spending time with friends and learning languages. I live in a bustling house with lots of cooking and always appreciate the time I can spend at home with such wonderful people. I am also frequently spotted at one of the many Seattle dog parks with my gregarious pup, Arthur.

What brought you to School’s Out Washington?

My dedication to social justice and youth development made School’s Out Washington a natural fit.

For the last 4 years I had been working with Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Youth Employment and Service Learning (YESL) unit as a facilitator, coordinator, and evaluator. We used the YPQA tools in our own work and incorporated them into the way we structured and facilitated programs.

While pursuing my M.P.A., I developed participatory evaluation tools for YESL’s teen programs and put those tools into action with a youth-led community research team. All of these skills and interests made my position with the Program Quality team a logical progression.

The values and principles of SOWA make it a perfect fit, as the organization demonstrates its dedication to youth voice, engagement and empowerment through each of its many facets, projects, trainings and staff. As a youth worker, I appreciate that the YPQA tools enhance the important work front-line staff are already doing, without trying to change the unique character they bring to their youth development work.

I am very excited to be a part of the SOWA family and am looking forward to all the opportunities that lie ahead.

Tell us one thing you are proud of.

I am really proud of all the wonderful, creative and supportive people I have in my life! I always inspired by the resilience, compassion, and brilliance they bring and feel fortunate to learn and grow alongside them.

Washington Parents Value STEM Learning Opportunities Provided by Afterschool Programs

News Release: New Report on STEM in Afterschool 

Visit Afterschool Alliance website for access to full report: http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/AA3PM/ 

Today, the Afterschool Alliance released a special report, Full STEM Ahead: Afterschool Programs Step Up as Key Partners in STEM Education, which finds broad support among Washington parents for providing STEM learning in afterschool, and high satisfaction with afterschool STEM offerings among parents of children in afterschool programs.

Findings from the new report are based on responses collected for America After 3PM from 30,000 U.S. households, including in-depth interviews with more than 13,000 parents and guardians, and 293 parents in Washington.

“Afterschool is a dynamic, effective setting for innovative STEM education,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “With their focus on hands-on learning and youth development, and the time they can give students to experiment, afterschool programs are well positioned to help increase STEM skills. These new data make clear that parents in Washington recognize the value of the STEM education afterschool programs can provide. Washington and the nation will be better positioned to succeed in tomorrow’s economy if we make afterschool STEM education offerings even more robust.”

Key findings from Full STEM Ahead, which is based on America After 3 PM, the most comprehensive survey ever to ask parents about their children’s participation in afterschool STEM programs:

  • Most Washington parents say afterschool programs can help students gain STEM skills. Fully 57 percent of parents agree with that statement.
  • Most Washington parents believe afterschool programs should offer STEM. In all, 66 percent of parents in Washington believe afterschool programs should provide opportunities to explore and engage in hands-on STEM learning.
  • Most Washington parents with children in afterschool say their child’s program offers STEM. Some 62 percent of parents whose children attend afterschool programs say that their child’s program provides STEM learning opportunities.
  • Most Washington parents with children in afterschool programs are satisfied with the STEM learning opportunities. The afterschool STEM opportunities were deemed satisfactory by 52 percent of parents with children in afterschool in Washington.

“In the next decade, most of the fastest growing jobs will require STEM skills,” said Patrick D’Amelio, CEO of Washington STEM. “Quality after school STEM programs offer an outstanding opportunity for children to dig into STEM subjects, practice STEM skills thorough hands-on learning, and become excited about STEM topics. It’s great to see so much energy in after school around these critically important areas of learning.”

Full STEM Ahead offers recommendations to reduce missed opportunities in afterschool STEM education. They include engaging and educating parents about the important role afterschool programs can play in supporting STEM learning; increasing technology and engineering programming in afterschool programs; and increasing investment in afterschool programs so many more children can access the STEM learning opportunities these programs can provide.

In October 2014, the Afterschool Alliance released findings from America After 3PM, revealing a dramatic increase in participation in afterschool over the past decade, from 6.5 million to 10.2 million children. The survey also documented a vast and growing unmet demand for afterschool, with the parents of 19.4 million children reporting that they would enroll their child in a program if one were available. One in five students in the United States today is unsupervised after the school day ends. National and state results from that report are available at www.afterschoolalliance.org/AA3PM/.

The America After 3PM survey was conducted by Shugoll Research; it is based on in-depth interviews with 13,709 households with children, completed via an online survey using a blend of national consumer panels. In order to participate, respondents had to live in the United States and be the guardians of a school-age child living in their household. All interviews were completed between February 28 and April 17, 2014.

Full STEM Ahead is sponsored by Comcast Tech R&D Fund, the Noyce Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The Comcast Corporation’s Internet Essentials program is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive program to close the digital divide. Internet Essentials has connected more than 500,000 low-income families with school-aged children, or more than 2 million low-income Americans, to the power of the Internet at home.

America After 3PM is funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Noyce Foundation, with additional support from the Heinz Endowments, The Robert Bowne Foundation and the Samueli Foundation.

# # # #

The Afterschool Alliance is a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children and youth have access to quality afterschool programs. More information is available at www.AfterschoolAlliance.org.

Register Your Event Now & Become a Lights On Afterschool Leader!

W2015PosterImage_270x332ith six weeks left until communities around the world shine bright for Lights On Afterschool 2015 on Thursday, October 22nd, there’s a brand new way to show that you’re a leading afterschool supporter: Become a member of our first class of Lights On Afterschool Leaders! 

Becoming a Leader is easy—the first step is to register your Lights On Afterschool eventBut you must register today, September 17th.

Leaders who complete every step will be featured on the Afterschool Alliance website and rewarded with a digital ribbon to wear proudly in newsletters, emails, and more!

More about Lights On Afterschool…

Lights On Afterschool is the only nationwide event celebrating afterschool programs and their important role in the lives of children, families and communities. The first Lights On Afterschool celebration, a project of theAfterschool Alliance, was launched in October 2000 with celebrations in 1,200 communities all over the country.  Today, more than 7,500 Lights On Afterschool rallies are held annually, attracting 1 million Americans.

Host your Own Event:  We encourage programs to host their own events. The Afterschool Alliance has a great event planning kit available online which will walk you through the process and makes it easy to take part in the celebrations. Lights On Afterschool events, like afterschool and youth development programs, come in all shapes and sizes, from stadium rallies and town parades to open houses and program tours. Celebrate in a manner that works best for your program and community.

Be sure to register your event and put Washington State on the map. We want to make sure that programs across our state are celebrating nationally as part of Lights On Afterschool.

Contact David Beard, SOWA’s Education Policy & Advocacy Director to learn more about Lights On Afterschool, get tips on media outreach and inviting community leaders and legislators to participate in your event. 

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