A Few Wins for Afterschool/Summer in State Budget

The Washington State Legislature finally came to an agreement on the state budget in a third special session. Below are some of the wins that will strengthen afterschool and summer programs for our children and youth:

  • The Early Start Act passed by great margins. The goal of the bill is to ensure all children in child care are in quality programs. A part of that bill includes supporting quality child care for children ages 5-12 through the School-Age Early Achievers Pilot. The pilot will be developed by the state’s education and early learning departments with input from the afterschool and summer field. SOWA will be closely monitoring the development of the pilot.
  • The potential $8 million cut to the Working Connections Child Care Subsidy program and the proposed elimination of the statewide child care information and referral system were thwarted thanks to all the letters of support advocates statewide sent their legislators. Both programs remain funded and intact.
  • The Youth Recreational Fund, which helps fund building construction costs was increased to over $7.3 million over the two year budget cycle.
  • Funding for afterschool mentoring was included in the budget and will support five sites over the next two years.

We’ll need your help over the next year in making afterschool and summer programs a priority for legislators. If you are interested in learning more about advocacy and educating legislators (example: bringing them to visit your program or your child’s program), please email SOWA Education Policy and Advocacy Director David Beard at dbeard@schoolsoutwashington.org. You can also be notified about future policy updates by signing up for our Action Alerts.

With your help, we can ensure more kids have access to afterschool and summer programs!

SOWA’s David Beard to join nationwide fellowship

David Beard

David Beard

School’s Out Washington’s very own David Beard will be joining fourteen other leaders of the afterschool and expanded learning field as White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellows, 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 sound policy-making for afterschool and expanded learning. In the 10-month program, which begins in October, Fellows will study afterschool/expanded learning policy and develop and implement state-level policy projects in partnership with their Statewide Afterschool Networks and the national Afterschool Alliance.

For the children and youth of Washington state, this means David will learn from some of the best minds in expanded learning nationwide, allowing him to be an even better advocate for strong afterschool and summer learning in our state.

David will be joining these other leaders over the next year:

Thomas Azzarella, Director, Alaska Afterschool Network (Anchorage, Alaska)
Melissa Beck, Network Lead, The Civic Canopy (Denver, Colo.)
Susan Gamble, Network Lead, West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network (Charleston, W.V.)
Ebony Grace, Director, Expanded Learning Opportunities, New Jersey School Age Care Coalition (NJSACC): The Statewide Afterschool Network (Westfield, N.J.)
Darren Grimshaw, Board Member, Iowa Afterschool Alliance (Burlington, Iowa)
Don Kent, Chairman, Net Literacy (Carmel, Ind.)
Dave Knutson, Vice President-Government Affairs & Special Initiatives, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee (Milwaukee, Wis.)
Lani Lingo, State Director, Education & Specialized Programs, Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Alison Reis-Khanna, Director of Partnerships and Quality Initiatives, Texas Partnership for Out of School Time (TXPOST) (Austin, Texas)
Tammy Shay, Program Coordinator, Maryland Out of School Time (MOST) Network (Baltimore, Md.)
Erik Skold, Associate Director, Sprockets: Saint Paul’s Out-of-School Time Network (St. Paul, Minn.)
Bethany Thramer, Policy & Outreach Coordinator, Oregon Afterschool for Kids, (Eugene, Ore.)
Craig Williams, Teacher, Wyoming Afterschool Alliance (Cheyenne, Wyo.)
Kathryn Johnson, Executive Director, Alternatives, Inc. (Ft. Monroe, Va.)

New Summer Data Helps Make the Case

We have new data to help you make the case for why summer learning matters. The Afterschool Alliance just released their America After 3pm polling data focused on summer. You can check-out where Washington stands when it comes to summer learning.

Participation in summer learning programs in Washington has increased in the last five years, but there is still tremendous unmet demand, according to data from the study. It found that 24 percent of families in the state report that at least one of their children participated in a summer learning program in 2013, compared with 21 percent in 2008. Nationally, 33 percent of families have at least one child in a summer learning program, up from 25 percent in 2008.

America After 3PM is a household survey commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance. It includes responses from more than 30,000 U.S. families, including 293 in Washington. It was conducted in 2014, with parents reporting on their children’s 2013 participation in summer learning programs.

The demand for these programs far exceeds supply. While 37 percent of Washington parents report that they would like their child to participate in a summer learning program, just 24 percent of parents report having at least one child in a program. Nationally, 51 percent of parents say they would like their child to participate.

“The numbers are clear. Demand far outstrips the supply of summer programs,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “That’s also the case with the afterschool programs from which many summer learning programs spring. We’re not reaching nearly as many children as we could, and some of them will be at a disadvantage in the classroom next fall as a result.”

There is also strong public support for funding for summer learning programs. 83 percent of Washington parents support public funding for summer learning programs. Nationally, 85 percent support public funding, and support is at or above 75 percent in every state.

You can view more of the findings on the America After 3pm website, and compare Washington to national and state data.

Programs Teaching Science through Gardening

School’s Out Washington is leading a pilot process to learn more about how Washington’s afterschool programs can offer more and better STEM opportunities. Ten sites across the state are involved in this AYD STEM Pilot. We provided grants of up to $500 for materials they can use in at least one STEM activity per week. Through funding from the Noyce Foundation, each program will also receive assessment, training and coaching on providing high-quality STEM activities over the course of the project, which will run through December.

But what do those STEM activities look like? You might be surprised to learn that STEM learning isn’t just about test tubes and quadcopters. Two programs involved in the AYD STEM Pilot are the Seattle Parks and Recreation community learning center program at Washington Middle School (Seattle) and the Center for Human Services (Shoreline), who are both using gardening as a way to infuse STEM learning into helping youth understand how plants grow and where our food comes from.

The program at Washington Middle School is working with Green Plate Special, a Seattle non-profit whose mission is to “inspire and empower youth to experience food in new ways through gardening, cooking and eating together,” to create a garden right on the school grounds. They currently have 11 students signed up.

8th Grader Irqa Mohamed recently experienced her first session. In this video, it’s clear she’s proud to work in the garden.

Like most kids, the participants in The Center for Human Services’ afterschool program love food. The staff frequently offer cooking projects, but CHS AmeriCorps volunteer Emily Smith wanted to take it further and teach them where their food comes from. Lacking outdoor space for a full garden, she decided to start a simple indoor gardening project.

Students got a choice to plant snap peas, carrots, jalapenos, or cilantro. These plants are still growing indoors at the program, and the kids regularly ask to see their plants and check in on their growth.

The kids have learned a lot about the concepts of plant growth, but they have also learned how to delay gratification, slowly investing in their plants and waiting for their fruit to come. When following up with the kids about how their plants have grown, 5th grader Alejandra, said that the most surprising thing about growing a jalapeno pepper plant is, “it takes a lot of time.”

The project hasn’t been without roadblocks. There are no staff present to watch and care for the plants over the weekend.

“We keep the plants in a sunny area while we are there during the day,” Smith wrote, “but during the weekend we have to lock the plants up in a dark office which has stunted their growth a bit.”

Still, even in the dark, the plants are well watered. On the advice of a UW Botany professor, Smith built a self-watering sub-irrigation system made with recycled inverted 2 liter bottles (pictured).

Plants growing in the soda bottle auto watering system.  Photo courtesy

Plants growing indoors in the soda bottle auto watering system. Photo courtesy Emily Smith

“This was a very accessible and cost-effective idea, as the materials were recycled and easy to acquire and the plants were easy to maintain,” she wrote.

We look forward to learning more about all the programs supported through the AYD STEM pilot and sharing learning and ideas for how to infuse high-quality STEM practices into AYD programs.  To learn more about SOWA’s STEM initiative, visit our website, or contact Krista Galloway at (206) 336-6923.

Meet SOWA’s new finance guru: Christina Hannan

Christina Hannan

Christina Hannan

School’s Out has brought on a new Director of Finance and Operations, Christina Hannan. This is a newly created position at School’s Out and we are so pleased that Christina who brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and skills will be joining our team.

We asked her a few questions so our community can get to know her!

Where are you from?

I like to think that I am from the West Coast of the United States. I was born on the Island of Oahu, attended preschool in Los Angeles, elementary school in Anchorage, middle and high school on Bainbridge, college in Oakland, and have worked professionally in Los Angeles, San Ramon & Danville (CA), Seattle, Kennewick, and Seattle again. I have learned that I draw energy from living so close to the ocean – the wealth of cultural diversity in the populations that live on the coast and the exposure to different ideas that the people migrating to these areas brings. Seattle is the epitome of this – I love the people, the culture, the environment, the geographical variety, and the general level of education.

What do you like to do in your own time?

I read a lot. I also enjoy racing aboard sail boats, hiking the local trails, and walking in my community.

What brought you to School’s Out Washington?

Education is a passion of mine. Starting in high school, I attended and participated in school board meetings and as I have gotten older, I have volunteered and worked in many education related roles. I was excited to see the finance & operations director role posted here because I believe that all kids in all communities should get the support they need to learn.

Tell us one thing that you are proud of.

I am proud of my friendships and relationships. My husband and I met over 30 years ago and I have many friends who live all over the world and have been my friend for more than 25 years. I care deeply about people and take the time to learn about and revel in their passions as well as lend sympathy and an ear in times of stress. I believe that it is my core value in all things “Other” that allows these people to lend me their loyalty and attention in return.

Great Opportunity to learn how Common Core Standards Relate to Afterschool and Summer

Download the flyer to share

Download the flyer to share

School’s Out Washington’s partner Equity in Education Coalition is hosting their second Common Core Training, happening on Thursday, May 28, 2015 from 9 am – 12:30 pm in Tacoma. The purpose of the event is to better understand the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), provide opportunities to practice CCSS skills, and much more.

The Equity in Education Coalition (EEC) is a state wide coalition that is looking at a more targeted and comprehensive approach to improve educational achievement and growth as well as closing the opportunity and achievement gap throughout the State of Washington. As a coalition representative of communities of color and low-income communities, the EEC is taking a strategic approach to closing the opportunity and achievement gap that takes into account the effects of race, homelessness, racial and institutional discrimination, children and parents whose first language is not English, poverty, and family instability.

The EEC is offering this training in an effort to create a network of community based organizations (CBOs) working with communities of color, low-income and special education, connect the CBOs with local teachers and educational professionals already working on Common Core within the school building and training community based organization staff on Common Core so that they, in turn, pass the information on to the students, families and communities they serve.

Peoples Community Center
1602 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Tacoma, WA 98405

Light breakfast and lunch will be provided.

This is a Focus Group exclusively for community based organizations (CBOs), and will be a FREE training, but limited seating is available with priority given to staff in CBOs. Please RSVP to monica@eec-wa.org. First come first served.

Please forward to any other individuals from CBOs and CBOs that you will feel will benefit from this training.

Summer learning matters!

Summer is a time for adventure, experiential educational opportunities, exploring nature and creating lasting memories with family and friends.  However, summer camps and other learning experiences are often expensive and out of reach for many families.  Cost or other barriers to access for many children mean missing out on fun, engaging camps and activities, while also missing out on continuing to learn and keep up with reading and math in order to enter school on track in the fall.

A growing body of research demonstrates that students without appropriately enriching summer learning opportunities lose 2-3 months’ of what they have learned during the school year in reading and math. For the hundreds of thousands of students in Washington State who experience significant summer learning loss each year, the fall semester can mean substantial time invested in relearning the previous year’s curriculum. The cumulative impact of summer learning loss is the single greatest contributor to the achievement gap for ninth-graders, when we see the highest rates of drop-out.

In addition to the impact of summer learning on academic and social/emotional outcomes, many young people experience hunger during the summer months without access to free/reduced price school meals. The Summer Feeding Service Program fills this gap by providing free summer meals to any youth ages 0-18. Several organizations across the state are working to increase awareness and availability of meal sites as a key strategy to end childhood hunger.

While research tells us summer learning loss is a real contributor to the achievement gap, we also know that summer learning opportunities can make a difference in positive youth outcomes. For example, 95% of participants in summer literacy programs funded by SOWA last year as part of our Feed Your Brain program maintained or improved their reading level over the course of the summer.

The good news – many resources exist to help inform and provide tips on how to best support children and youth during the summer (Check out School’s Out Washington’s Summer Learning Resources webpage for more information).

Here are some highlights of what we’re working on this summer:

National Summer Learning Day

Summer Learning Day is a national advocacy day to spread awareness about the importance of summer learning to help close the achievement gap and support healthy development for youth all across the country.  School’s Out Washington will partner with local King County organizations to host a summer learning celebration this summer. Stay tuned for the date and more event details.  You can plan an event too!  Check out resources to help you plan an amazing summer learning day in your community through the National Summer Learning Association.

Summer Learning Program Quality Intervention

For the second year, School’s Out Washington will be supporting a continuous quality improvement process for summer programs in King and Pierce counties. The Summer Learning Program Quality Intervention tool was developed in partnership with the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality and the National Summer Learning Association. The SLPQI includes components that measure quality of management and instructional practices, provide training and technical assistance and lay the groundwork for studying the connections of summer learning programs to child and youth outcomes.

Let’s Read! & Summer Meals Partnership

This summer, School’s Out is excited to partner with Let’s Read!, a campaign led by Community Center for Education Results to get more youth reading during the summer,. School’s Out Washington will be providing United Way’s incoming summer meal AmeriCorps volunteers with practical training to ensure quality educational programming at United Way-staffed meal sites. The team is also working on providing summer learning kits to each United Way AmeriCorps member to help them incorporate fun literacy and STEM activities into their sites.

What’s a Quality Summer Program?

Parent Map’s After-School Special Series May edition focuses on what to look for in a quality summer program.  This is a great resource to promote the importance of high-quality programs and to help parents understand what to look for in a program.  Thanks to Parent Map and the Raikes Foundation for partnering with School’s Out Washington on this informative series highlighting quality afterschool programming across our region and connecting to the Washington State Quality Standards for Afterschool and Youth Development Programs.

Read the whole article here.

Celebrate Our Coaches and Trainers for GiveBIG 2015

GiveBIG, the Seattle Foundation’s annual online celebration of nonprofits and philanthropy is back! This year, GiveBIG is celebrating the people behind the nonprofits that are creating positive change in Seattle. These people are champions, and deserve to be recognized!

Who are School’s Out’s Champions? They’re the coaches and trainers who assess programs, provide training, and guide afterschool program staff towards improving how they work with children and youth.

School’s Out works with more than twenty different trainers and coaches across Washington state.

How to honor and celebrate your coach or trainer

There are two ways to honor your coach–your champion!–for this GiveBIG. First is to make a donation to School’s Out Washington on our Seattle Foundation profile on May 5th. Each donation we receive will support the work SOWA and our coaches and trainers do, strengthening afterschool programs and empowering the youth they serve. All donations to SOWA also qualify us to get a slice of the GiveBIG stretch pool, magnifying your support.

You can also leave a comment below telling us about your coach or trainer. How did they affect your program or career? They deserve recognition, and there’s no one better to give it than the afterschool and youth development professionals who have benefited from their wisdom and experience.

How Our Coaches See Their Impact

We sat down with three of our coaches and trainers and asked them: What’s important to them about your work? What do you see as your impact?

Glen Osborn

Glen has worked for SOWA since 1989. He sees his role as supporting individual professionals understand what it is they want out of their work.

He remembers a student he taught eight years ago. She was brand new to the afterschool field, fresh out of college, and unsure if this was what she wanted to do with her life. But one module in the course was on professionalism. Glen told his students that training can prepare them for a wide variety of different positions and roles, and encouraged them about their own professional path. That student came to speak to Glen when the class was over to thank him and tell him how that module reframed the way she thought about her work. She realized she had a profession, not just a job. Today, that student is a program director.

Sheely Mauck

As both one of SOWA’s coaches and a staff member responsible for analyzing program assessment data that we collect, Sheely Mauck sees clearly how the presence of trainers and coaches can strengthen programs. She knows that getting hands-on with a program allows coaches to see opportunities for change, insights that impact how children and youth experience a program. The data shows that even though a program’s quality can fluctuate, a program undergoing coaching always finds themselves improving in some way.

Sheely recently started working with an afterschool program in rural Washington. They’re experiencing similar results as many programs when they first start working with SOWA. They’re scoring well in many of the basic measures of program quality, such as good relationships between youth with staff and physical safety, but not so well on the high-level metrics that research shows truly matter, such as having structured and engaging content guided by youth input.

With input from Sheely, the program staff got their students together to brainstorm. What did they actually want to do with their out-of-school time? They found that their students really loved Team Scrabble, a game where each person on a team is assigned a letter and teams have to form words. So they changed their focus to spend more time on that game and literacy. Having only just started working with a coach, they’d already found a way to engage their youth in guiding their program.

Karen Summers

Ask Karen how her work as a coach impacts children and youth, she’ll tell you it’s not her work, but the work of the afterschool program staff—who are often working against the odds with limited resources and support—that has an impact. She sees coaches like her as observers, someone who provides guidance and tools, and asks the challenging questions programs can’t ask themselves, but the hard work of actually strengthening programs belongs to program staff themselves.

“Change is not easy,” Karen says. “It takes effort to change behavior, but having support, guidance, and a cheerleader really helps people move through.”

Karen believes programs have to own the changes they undergo, rather than have those changes handed to them. Many years ago, she was coaching a program when her assessments revealed that they had a problem: they needed a better way to resolve conflicts between children. With Karen’s guidance, that program spent two years developing a way of resolving conflicts that worked for them. All their staff were trained in the methodology. The method even survived staff turnover, even leadership turnover, because staff had owned this change. Karen and other School’s Out staff didn’t make it for them, only provided guidance.

We have a new look!

Today, we are truly excited to share with all of you the next step in our organizational journey.

Strengthening Programs. Empowering Youth.

Strengthening Programs. Empowering Youth.

Thanks to a positive partnership with local branding and design firm, United Creations, we have a new logo, messaging and identity system that bring the focus and energy we had long been seeking to better communicate what we stand for. As a “creative change agency” inspired by our commitment to making a positive impact on Washington’s children and youth, United Creations provided their services on a pro-bono basis after selecting SOWA as the winner of their THIS BRAND IS YOUR BRAND contest. Receiving $30,000 worth of donated brand power has enabled us to apply 100% of our resources toward expanding access to high-quality afterschool and youth development programs.

Over the past few years, School’s Out Washington (SOWA) has undergone many organizational transitions, becoming a stand-alone non-profit organization and forming our first governing Board of Directors. With nearly three decades of active leadership in providing a rich foundation of quality standards, professional development, advocacy and support to bring empowering learning opportunities within reach of every young person, the time was ripe to launch on this new path.

SOWA may be referred to as an “intermediary,” but we truly see ourselves as a “bridge” that connects schools, government agencies and the public with the afterschool youth development field to create greater impact on the lives of more young people. Guided by the core values of quality, equity, connection and innovation, the SOWA mission is to foster productive partnerships that create inspiring opportunities for Washington’s youth to learn, grow and thrive, because what’s good for our youth is good for our future.

SOWA continues with our mission-focused work to:

  • Promote & Support Programs in Implementing Quality Improvement Processes and Accessing Professional Development Opportunities.
  • Advocate for Policies to Elevate Afterschool & Expanded Learning Opportunities as a Key Strategy to Close the Opportunity Gap.
  • Champion policies and strategies to address structural racism through trainings, curriculum and incorporating a racial equity lens into our programming and initiatives.
  • Disseminate Grants to Programs Along with Technical Assistance to Support High-Quality Programming.

What happens after school has a tremendous impact on what happens during school. It is one of our best early opportunities to identify and nurture unique talents and interests that can open the door to productive, prosperous lives. As we launch a new SOWA brand, we celebrate all our collective efforts to support children and youth across Washington State and look forward to many more years of continuing to build and strengthen our field to continue working toward our vision of a state where all kids have opportunities to reach their full potential.

STEM Updates and Announcements for April

Apply for Women’s Funding Alliance Grant for Girls’ STEM Programming

These grants will fund out of school STEM programming for middle and high school-aged girls. For more details on this grant, please refer to the Girls in STEM RFP. Funding requests will be considered for both female-only and coed programs operating through a strong gender lens. Grant amounts range from $5,000 to $20,000. Applications are due on May 1, 2015.

Apply Now

Nature Explore Hosting Two Workshops on Reconnecting Children with Nature

Using Your Outdoor Classroom and Choosing Effective Indoor and Outdoor Materials

When:  Wednesday, April 8, 2015
12:30 – 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Where:  Bright Horizons at Center Point, Kent, WA

Learn More and Register

Connecting with Community Partners Webinar

When: April 23, 2015; 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST

The National Girls Collaborative Project is partnering with Click2SciencePD for the “Connecting with Community Partners” webinar. This webinar will introduce Click2SciencePD’s collection of training resources that support educators with building community partnerships. Attendees will also learn how to use The Connectory, a new online collaboration tool, to find and connect with local STEM partners easily.


Engaging Youth in STEM with SciGirls! A PNWGCP Professional Development Forum

When: April 25, 2015, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Where: Seattle, WA

Participants will learn the latest research for exciting and engaging girls (and boys) in STEM; experience hands-on STEM activities; and gain access to free materials for hands-on, video-enhanced activities that put a creative twist on teaching STEM.


50 Green Activities for Earth Day

Earth Day is April 22! If you are looking for Earth Day activities that won’t actually increase your carbon footprint, check out the 50 Earth Day Activities for Kids. The activities use recycled and natural materials!

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