Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Afterschool Worker Shortages: An Overview

Source: (Clockwise, Top to Bottom): Jill on Money, WINGS For Kids,
The How Kids Learn Foundation and Coaching Corps


By Sam Piha

Recruiting, hiring, and retaining afterschool workers have been long standing issues in afterschool programs. This is due to low wages, mostly part-time hours, the lack of opportunities for advancement, and the lack of job security due to the reliance on temporary grants and funding. (Many say that low wages are also the result of childcare being a “women’s profession,” as well as our society’s undervaluing of the education and care of children and youth).   
 
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit—and these issues were greatly exacerbated. They had resulted in programs closing, drastically reducing capacity, and adding stress to afterschool workers. Many of these challenges are not unique to the afterschool field- they are being experienced by those in education and a wide range of fields. 

This is the first in a series of LIAS Blogs to address this issue. This blog is an excerpt from a larger, briefing paper entitled, Understanding the Shortage of Workers in Afterschool Programs developed by Temescal Associates. The full paper can be downloaded and read here.


“The most pressing problem facing afterschool is the nationwide shortage of workers.”Michael Funk, Director of CDE Expanded Learning Division



VOICES FROM THE FIELD




In Afterschool Alliance’s Wave 5 survey of the field, conducted June 2-28, 2021, they found:
  • 80% of program providers surveyed reported that they were concerned about finding staff to hire/staffing shortages (57% extremely or very concerned).
  • 41% of program providers reported that advice on staff burnout and keeping teams engaged would be most helpful to their program.
  • 57% of programs that reported that they planned to be open in the fall of 2021 said that being able to hire enough staff was of most concern to them.

Survey Conducted by East Bay Asian Youth Center of 13 Lead Agencies Providing Afterschool Programs to 76 Schools 

What Factors Contribute to Average Daily Attendance Requirements Not Being Met? 
  • 85% Staff Shortage
  • 70% Health & Safety Concerns
  • 54% COVID-19
  • 46% School Day Enrollment Decline
  • 31% Seasonal Program Enrollment Withdrawal by Students
  • 23% Other
Factors Contributing to Staff Shortages:
  • 85% Health & Safety Concerns
  • 77% Preference for Full Time Employment
  • 80% Unqualified Candidates
  • 39% Compensation
  • 39% Family Obligations
  • 39% Preference for Employment in Other Industry
  • 23% Other


“There’s great uncertainty about economics. Programs are losing resources and funding and really struggling to survive. We’re really concerned with what is happening in the field. Afterschool programs have been a lifeline for our kids, for our families and our communities during these desperate times.”
 
 – Jodi Grant, Executive Director, Afterschool Alliance


IMPORTANT TERMS AND DEFINITIONS
Afterschool - There are many terms that refer to school-based and community-based youth programs outside of the classroom. They include “afterschool,” “out-of-school time (OST),” “expanded learning programs (EXL),” and “youth programs.” For the purposes of this blog series, we will primarily use the term “afterschool” to refer to all these programs.

Afterschool Workforce - The expanded learning workforce is largely made up of people of color, in part-time employment with limited to no benefits. A 2012 study found that 69% of the afterschool workforce in California are people of color, 65% are female, and 69% are part-time workers.

Worker Shortage - This is when there are an insufficient number of qualified individuals in a particular occupation to meet the demand for workers. This is worsened when afterschool programs have problems retaining staff.

Equity - Equity is just and fair inclusion. An equitable society is one in which all can participate and prosper. The goals of equity must be to create conditions that allow all to reach their full potential. In short, equity creates a path from hope to change.

“The route to achieving equity will not be accomplished through treating everyone equally. It will be achieved by treating everyone justly according to their circumstances.” Paula Dressel, Race Matters Institute 

Actions at the Program Level vs. Policy/ Systems Level - “Programs are short-term interventions that create temporary improvements in the wake of challenges. Policies, on the other hand, are covenants we collectively choose to live by, as articulated in legislation and regulation.” For example, “programs can't eliminate the systemic injustices that any group faces. They can help people manage the effects of these injustices, but they don't overcome or cure them. Policies, conversely, actually shift the way communities and their members react and relate to one another, empowering people to improve their own well-being in a systematic way.

Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation will be conducting a webinar focusing on the nature of the current worker shortage, the challenges to afterschool programs and how best to respond to this as a field on Thursday, January 27, 2022 from 10:00am - 12:00pm (PST). To learn more and register, click here.




Monday, January 10, 2022

SEL and Teens: Program Design and Culture, Staff Practices, And Organizational Practices


By Sam Piha

Reed Larson and Natalie Rusk
Reed Larson is a pioneer researcher on youth development and has studied youth programs for decades. Dr. Larson and Natalie Rusk recently published a study entitled, Youth Programs are Important Spaces for Emotional Learning. Based on their research findings, they made several suggestions of how to ensure that program design and culture and staff and organizational practices support the learning of emotional skills. These suggestions are listed below. 

Program Design and Culture - The program culture is dependent on values that are represented by the program and constantly reinforced by its leaders. The program design is fully aligned with these values, from a program culture in which SEL skills are both taught and “caught.” 
  • Design programs to provide environments of trust, safety, and mutual caring. 
  • Cultivate a program culture where youth are respected and supported as active agents 
  • of their learning, including their emotional learning. Recognize how they learn through feeling, noticing, describing, managing, and reflecting. 
  • Provide opportunities for youth to talk about emotions and share strategies for managing and using emotions. 
  • Structure programs to engage teens in meaningful projects. These provide authentic experiences of learning to manage and use emotions in work youth care about. 
  • Recognize that people from different cultural backgrounds may have different experiences, values, and strategies for handling emotions. 

Staff Practices - These are done by all adult workers within the program. They are explicitly expected of all staff and are aligned with how staff are evaluated. 
  • Acknowledge youth’s emotions and be ready to talk about them. 
  • Encourage youth to view emotions as signals to pay attention to and interpret, to examine the causes and effects of emotions and learn from peers and support each other’s emotional learning. 
  • Help youth view emotional situations from different perspectives. 
  • When appropriate, offer strategies that youth might try for managing emotions. 
  • Encourage youth to reflect on the usefulness of emotions, for example, for motivating 
  • work, evaluating situations, cultivating relationships, and ethical learning. 
  • Support youth as they develop standards and criteria for feeling satisfaction or pride in their work. 
  • Recognize that staff are valuable emotional models for youth. 

Organizational Practices - These are things that the organization, not individual youth workers, are responsible for. These often come in the form of policies and formal agreements.
  • Provide resources and support for staff to develop their skills for facilitating youth’s emotional learning. 
  • Arrange regular time and support for staff members to process and discuss unfolding emotion-related issues in the program (e.g., issues in youth projects, youth’s reactions to a situation, and staff’s self-care needs.) 
  • Encourage and invest in research on emotional learning in adolescence, especially applied research on staff practices and youth’s emotional learning in programs. 

Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation will be conducting a webinar featuring a presentation from Reed Larson and Natalie Rusk on their new youth development research on Thursday, January 20, 2022 from 10:00am - 12:00pm (PST). To learn more and register, click here.



Monday, January 3, 2022

Serving The Needs Of Housing Insecure And Foster Care Youth: An Interview With An Afterschool Innovator


Junia Kim prepares for the arrival of youth at Project re:Fresh.
Credit: Amir Aziz.  Source: Oaklandside

By Sam Piha

I first learned about Junia Kim and Project re:Fresh through an article my colleague forwarded to me. After nine years of teaching in the East Bay, Junia created Project re:Fresh, an afterschool program focusing on the needs of housing insecure (foster care, homeless and unsettled immigrants) youth. I wanted to learn more about serving the needs of housing insecure youth in afterschool programs, and to do this, I researched more about the issues and interviewed Junia. Her responses are below.

Q: Can you define what you mean by youth who are housing insecure?
A: We use the McKinney-Vento definition - essentially students who are homeless, multiple households in a home, couch-surfing, unaccompanied immigrant youth, etc. 

Q: Can you describe your program, Project re:Fresh?
A: Project re:Fresh is an in-person project-based learning pilot designed with the intention to meet the specific needs of 6th-12th grade youth impacted by foster care and insecure housing. We believe that centering our design on the needs of youth who are often overlooked results in programming that is thoughtfully designed, trauma-informed, and engaging for all youth.

[To learn more about Project re:Fresh and Junia, read this Oaklandside article or listen to this KCBS radio interview.]

Q: Can you describe what you were doing before you created your afterschool program and what inspired this move?
A: Prior to this learning pilot, I was in San Diego participating in High Tech High’s New School Creation Fellowship. The goal there was to immerse myself in a resourced, public project-based learning environment while also intentionally focusing on how to best meet the needs of foster youth in Alameda County (and explored the idea of a school with a free housing component). Before that I was a public-school teacher in the East Bay.

Q: Is there anything in your personal background that inspired you to address the needs of foster youth?
A: As a teacher I always had a student or two who was involved in the foster system or just had unstable housing situations. I remember in my fourth year of teaching, checking in on a student for a week because she was at home alone and hearing from my principal that she had housed that student’s sibling for a weekend a few years earlier. It made me realize there were many ways to open your home to your students, and I feel grateful that in Oakland, it wasn’t uncommon to see other veteran educators wholeheartedly embracing their role in the community. 

In my 7th year in the classroom, I became more involved with Foster the City where I became aware of the unique needs of foster care in Alameda County and California. I wanted to get more personally involved, but also recognized the importance of supporting students within the context of a larger social ecosystem. I’ve been fortunate to have colleagues who are also thoughtful and intentional, and as I continued to look ahead, I felt that I wanted to try to see if we could figure out some way to more seamlessly marry the social work side and education side to support our youth who need it most.

Q: Can you say something about the needs and challenges of foster care youth?
A: California has a highly concentrated number of foster youth in comparison to other states (1/6th of the US foster youth population is in California) and as a result, unlike other public systems, there aren’t a lot of other states to look to for comparison data or practices. Despite the high concentration, numerically, in Alameda County, the number of middle-and high-school aged youth in foster care for a year or longer actually range between 300-400 youth. This number appears manageable, but the geographic spread and unstable placements make it so that regular tangible support is hard to maintain, which then directly contributes to opportunity gaps in learning and social development. Furthermore, aside from systemic difficulties, youth who have been in the foster care system for an extended period of time understandably have experienced multiple traumas that directly result in higher rates of adult instability. 

The hardest thing for me though is just realizing that despite all the strengths and assets our youth bring to the table-- creativity, persistence, self-control, empathy, etc-- there are so many personal, social, and systemic challenges that they often must navigate without consistent, trusted sources of guidance. 

Q: Can you offer any advice to other afterschool leaders who want to better serve the needs of foster care youth?
A: I know the term “trauma-informed care” is a buzzword right now, but it is so important to not only understand our students and what happened to them and the context that we are in, but also to do the internal work to recognize where we need to learn and unlearn. In terms of practice, things that have worked well for us so far are explicitly recognizing the validity of lived experiences as we work on the design and reiterations of our program, treating feedback as a gift, and explicitly centering kind words between youth and staff. We also actively recruit staff who reflect the racial and experiential makeup of our youth and hold to values that include de-centering ourselves and identities that hold privilege in the Bay Area, acknowledging the value of failure, and seeking to maintain clear, reliable systems.

Q: Do afterschool leaders even know if some of their participants are in foster care? 
A: I think depending on the school, district, and program, after school leaders might know what their students are impacted by, but I think that just depends on the intake choices leaders have in their programs. 

I think this is what makes our program special -- we intentionally recruit in areas that we know have a higher concentration of students impacted by foster care and insecure housing, but we also intentionally describe our program as being for students impacted by adverse systems. We believe our students are not their circumstances and that a program designed for a specific group’s needs would actually support the general population as a whole.

Q: Should afterschool leaders reach out to include more foster care youth in their programs? If yes, how would they go about doing that?
A: In my opinion, from program to program, leaders need to first determine if they are able to support students who have been impacted by various levels of trauma as there are multiple circumstances that adversely affect youth. The short answer honestly would be, I don’t think there is a “should” for anyone -- yet the after-school space for me is a place to help level factors that directly result in inequity in our community.

If working with impacted youth is a goal, it really is important to make sure that the resources and capacity to support the youth are there. It’s not a one-size-fits-all best practice, but for us we’ve really benefited from starting with what we hope to see and working backwards from there. It is also an extremely difficult ask for a student to publicly volunteer the parts of their identity and history that are the result of adverse circumstances, so we make sure that while we protect their demographic information, we intentionally create a community built on shared experiences. At the same time, these shared experiences are not necessarily their adverse experiences and trauma, but their interests, joys, hobbies and dreams. Long story short, everyone has different visions so it really is a case by case basis. I would say to surround yourself with feedback and intentionally seek to work with your community. 


Junia Kim is a California native and has been an educator in the East Bay since 2012. Most recently she was a school leader resident and New School Creation Fellow at High Tech High where she founded Seen52, an organization intent on supporting students impacted by the Alameda County child welfare system 52 weeks out of the year.  In her free time, Junia enjoys phone calls, stories, aerial arts, and backpacking. She holds an M.Ed in Language and Literature from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and an M.Ed in Educational Leadership from High Tech High Graduate School of Education.


Monday, December 20, 2021

Civic Engagement and Activism in Afterschool Programs: The Benefits of Youth Participation

Source: www.playcaptains.com

By Sam Piha

We are continuing to post a series of blogs to inform and encourage expanded learning programs to start today infusing civic engagement and activism in their afterschool program. NOTE: There are many program resources on the topic, some of which are detailed in our paper, Youth Civic Engagement and Activism in Expanded Learning Programs. You can view blogs from this series hereWe also conducted a webinar on this topic which can be viewed here.

In this blog we discuss the benefits of youth participation in civic engagement and activism activities. 

Research and experience tell us that involving young people in civic engagement and activism activities brings benefits to youth participants. Some of these are detailed below. Benefits are also accrued by the organizational partners and the larger community, as well as adult program staff. 

Now I’m very confident in myself. I know that I can make changes. Sometimes I used to think that our lives were kind of pointless. And now, it’s like, you can make real changes. Now it’s the school and maybe in my career and my adult life, I could actually do something with a lot of determination and will.”  – Rosalinda, 12th grader 


Benefits of Civic Engagement and Activism for Youth Participants

  • Helps them make new friends and contacts and increases their social and relationship skills
  • Helps them build social capital
  • Increases self-confidence and promotes a positive sense of agency and empowerment
  • Combats depression and helps them stay physically healthy
  • Supports healing from trauma
  • Provides a sanctuary
  • Opportunities to serve others and give back to the community
  • Prepares them for leadership roles
  • Opens their minds to new ideas and people
  • Fuels passion and purpose
  • Teaches collaboration
  • Brings fun and fulfillment to their lives
  • The happiness effect: Helping others kindles happiness, as many studies have demonstrated
  • Learn valuable job skills and can offer career experience
  • Increases connection to the community
  • More likely to remain civically engaged as adults

Contributing provides adolescents the experiences they need to complete the key tasks of this life stage: building autonomy, identity, and intimacy. Making meaningful contributions to others allows adolescents to see that they can have a positive effect on the world, giving them the confidence necessary to build autonomy and agency. When their contributions are recognized, young people come to understand their place and value in the world, developing their sense of identity. Having the opportunity to provide meaningful social support to friends and family builds the intimacy they’ll need to form positive, long-lasting relationships in adulthood. - Meghan Lynch Forder, What Teens Gain When They Contribute to Their Social Groups


Source: Greater Good Science Center

In economically distressed communities who are the targets of structural racism, we have seen how youth benefit from the opportunity to reflect critically on the world — to ask questions and denaturalize what feels like “normal” by visiting neighboring communities and imagine radical futures and the opportunity to generate solutions through policies or public narratives. These experiences contribute to a sense of agency and belonging that prepares young people to navigate the world with confidence and critical analysis; in some cases it can also offer a context for “healing” that involves personal and social transformation.– Dr. Ben Kirshner, University of Colorado, Boulder (from an interview published in Youth Civic Engagement and Activism in Expanded Learning Programs).


WHAT PROGRAM LEADERS SAY ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF YOUTH CIVIC ENGAGEMENT:

They gain job experience, something to put on their resume, and they learn how to and create a resume. They report feeling that they can make a difference in the lives of children in their own neighborhood as well as in other neighborhoods other than their own. They broaden/deepen their social capital. They benefit from caring relationships with adults and other teens.- Rebecca Fabiano, Fab Youth Philly


Students build social capital, a valuable skillset they can apply in virtually any career and in civic life, a highly-attractive college, career, and civic portfolio, opportunities to collaborate vs. compete with their peers and opportunities to effect the change they want to see in the world.- Rachel Belin, Kentucky Student Voice Team
Youth empowerment and a sense of engagement at all levels. Youth gain a sense of self in the larger world and political environment. They gain a sense of being a part of the system with the ability to affect vs being passive members of a community where things happen to them.” - Brad Lupien, Arc Experience

Youth have an understanding of the country’s democratic process and understand how to navigate the barriers to participation. Youth are able to form their own opinions and political ideology. Leadership skills like public speaking and collaboration are key to success in the program. Lastly, it is essential for youth to walk away with the experience of creating community with youth of different backgrounds and identity.- Jenifer Hughes, YMCA of San Francisco

The concrete skills youth develop through the project-based approach we use have different types of real- world applications. They learn to conduct hands-on research like site visits, interviews, and surveys. They learn to think critically about why disparities persist and are challenged to do innovative problem solving. They become more comfortable with public speaking and with speaking to legislators and other stakeholders. Many students do go on to major in political science, join civic-oriented clubs on campus, pursue careers in politics, etc. But I’ve seen that even students who go on to do things in other fields report that what they learned here has prepared them for the “real world” in more ways than one.- Laura Jankstrom, YOUTHACTION NYC

4-H empowers youth to practice and recognize the importance of civic and social responsibility by strengthening their leadership and citizenship skills. It prepares them for life, inspiring them to be invested, informed and accountable for generating the change they want to see in the world—and to create their own success in the future. 4-H participants are four times more likely to actively contribute to their communities and two times more likely to get better grades in school.- Rebecca Kelley, J.D., 4-H 

Monday, December 13, 2021

History of Youth Civic Engagement and Activism in America

1909, (New York City), Photograph shows two girls wearing banners with 
slogan "ABOLISH CHILD SLAVERY!!" in English and Yiddish.





By Sam Piha

According to the Afterschool Alliance, “The afterschool field is an essential partner in ensuring that all children have the ability to participate in immersive, relevant, and hands-on civic engagement opportunities.” Not only are civic engagement strategies participatory strategies, they contribute to the positive development of youth and the health of our democracy. 

We are continuing to post a series of blogs to inform and encourage expanded learning programs to start infusing civic engagement and activism in their afterschool program. In this blog we offer a brief overview of the history of youth civic engagement and activism in America. NOTE: There are many program resources on the topic, some of which are detailed in our paper, Youth Civic Engagement and Activism in Expanded Learning Programs. You can view previous blogs from this series hereWe also conducted a webinar on this topic which can be viewed here.

Recent events in the news such as mass shootings and police violence led to youth participation in the March for Our Lives and the Black Lives Matter movement, calling for greater awareness and policy changes. Also, the growing degradation of the environment and climate change has inspired youth led actions. 

Youth civic engagement and activism began in the mid- to late nineteenth century when young people began forming labor strikes in response to their working conditions, wages, and hours. In 1908, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones organized the first youth activism in the U.S., marching 100,000 child miners. Youth activists went on to advocate for a number of issues, including voting rights, school desegregation, immigration reform and LGBTQ+ rights. 


Because young people often have the desire, energy and idealism to do something about the injustice they see in the world, they are powerful agents for change.  - Marianne Stenger


Gordon Alexandre

We asked historian, Gordon Alexandre, to give context to young people participating in civic engagement and social movements in America. He responded, “Let’s define “young people” to include young adults. They have been the main participants in social justice movements. Most of the activists in the civil rights movement were young. MLK was in his mid-twenties when he burst onto the scene in 1955. The feminist movement and gay empowerment movements were also led by young people. Later on, the environmental movement of the 1970’s and after, the anti-World Trade Organization movement of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, and Occupy Wall Street of 2011 were all youth driven.” 

Monday, December 6, 2021

School Shootings and the Role of Afterschool

Source: The Signal

By Sam Piha

Feelings of physical and emotional safety are foundational to promoting healthy youth development, but are schools safe? On Nov. 30th, a 15-year-old sophomore opened fire at his Michigan high school, killing four students and wounding seven other people, including a teacher. This latest event is another in a long list of school shootings. Education Week journalists track shootings on K-12 school property that results in firearm-related injuries or deaths. 

According to Ed Week, “There have been 28 school shootings this year, 20 since August 1. There have been 86 school shootings since 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have interrupted the trend line. The 2020 figure, with 10 shootings, was significantly lower than 2019 and 2018, which each had 24. 

That falloff in numbers is probably due to the shift to remote learning for nearly all schools for part or all of 2020. But those using this data should note that it should not be interpreted to mean that schools were 'safer.' Rather, the definition of school safety has shifted as schooling entered the home in a way it never had before.” 

Source: LA Times

Below is a summary of injuries and deaths that came about as a result of school shooting events in 2021:

Source: Ed Week




















HOW SHOULD AFTERSCHOOL RESPOND?

After the Parkland shooting, we heard a lot about school safety, but little about the role of afterschool program providers. To gather perspective on this, we created a survey and distributed to our afterschool stakeholders. We posted a blog entitled In the Aftermath of Parkland: What is the Role of Expanded Learning Programs?, in which we summarized the responses to our survey. 

Monday, November 29, 2021

Civic Engagement and Activism in Afterschool Programs: The Importance of Program Staff


By Sam Piha

We are continuing to post a series of blogs to inform and encourage expanded learning programs to start today infusing civic engagement and activism in their afterschool program. NOTE: There are many program resources on the topic, some of which are detailed in our paper, Youth Civic Engagement and Activism in Expanded Learning Programs. You can view previous blogs from this series here. We also conducted a webinar on this topic which can be viewed here.


In this blog, we discuss things to think about when preparing adult program staff to lead civic engagement and activism activities.  

Hiring - We know that the effectiveness and quality of youth program activities rests on the competency of the adult leaders that we hire. What traits are we looking for in adults that will lead youth civic engagement and activism activities? 

In numerous studies, the most highly rated characteristics of effective initiatives all involved characteristics of adults who: 1) relate well to youths; 2) care about young people; 3) are honest and comfortable in talking about issues; 4) are sufficiently trained to implement the program; 5) support and understand the program's goals; and 6) have a good overall understanding of adolescent development. Another important dimension is to seek out adult advisors and youth coordinators who reflect the diversity of the community. Equally important, young people need to see adults exchanging ideas, collaborating and having fun with people from different backgrounds. - Wendy Schaetzel Lesko, Maximum Youth Involvement: The Complete Gameplan for Community Action

Staff Training - How necessary is it to prepare and train the staff? According to Youth On Board, “Adults need help learning how to collaborate with young people just as much as youths need help adjusting to their transformed role. Even though we all were young once, it is easy to forget. What a difference a few decades make in widening the proverbial generation gap! Adultism workshops by such groups as Youth On Board are designed to confront negative stereotypes and unspoken fears about teens. Trainings need to permeate the institution from the boardroom on down. Broader diversity training for staff, board members, youth staff and/or volunteers can be another worthwhile investment—especially if sessions go beyond the issue of age to include socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, regional background, family history, personality type, etc.”

Staff support for civic engagement and youth activism will look different across different kinds of organizations. Some, for example, are multigenerational political organizations where adults work alongside youth in apprenticeship-type relationships. In these settings, adults should be prepared for a cycle of modeling, coaching, and fading: this involves sharing strategies with youth while also listening and learning from young people as partners in social change. In organizations that are more apolitical or refrain from explicit political activisms, staff should be prepared to facilitate youth decision-making and planning; moreover, staff should not be afraid of situations where youth may “fail” in their campaigns - there is lots to learn from setbacks. – Dr. Ben Kirshner, University of Colorado, Boulder (From an interview published in Youth Civic Engagement and Activism in Expanded Learning Programs).

We asked some program leaders for advice on preparing staff to lead youth civic engagement and activism activities. Below are some of their responses. 

RYSE hosts three separate week-long staff development sessions annually, in addition to multiple training opportunities provided for all staff throughout the year. Training includes, but is not limited to: restorative justice, non-violent communication, adolescent brain development, lobbying rules for non-profits, gender justice, and more. RYSE leverages our partnerships with Power California Alliance and the YO! California Network, for additional training and capacity building support covering youth organizing, campaigns and integrated civic/voter engagement.” – Jamileh Ebrahimi, Youth Organizing Director, RYSE Youth Center


Staff co-participate in Teens Advocating for Civic Engagement (TACA) and the California School-Age Consortium (CALSAC) events to gain experience and receive professional development specific to civic engagement.” - Brad Lupien, Arc Experience


We train teens ages 15-19 in playful learning, facilitation, leadership, and other workplace skills for them to play and lead games with children on the Play Streets, at playgrounds and in early childcare centers throughout Philadelphia. Adults receive approximately 60-80 hours of preemployment training, including data collection training facilitated by Temple Infant & Child Play Lab.”- Rebecca Fabiano, FAB Youth Philly

4-H developed several program guides to support adult leaders:

  • True Leaders: Culture, Power, & Justice is designed to engage youth in critical dialogue and collective action in order to contribute to a more empathetic and just society. This is a Facilitator Guide intended for use with youth in Grades 6-12. Youth have an incredible opportunity to see the world as bigger than themselves. This curriculum offers dynamic opportunities for youth to explore their identities, different cultures, new perspectives, and the histories that have shaped power and privilege within our communities. 
  • Citizenship Adventure Curriculum is designed to engage youth in changing a piece of the public world, discovering the possibilities of democratic citizenship and building a commitment to taking action in new and exciting ways.” – Rebecca Kelley, 4-H


REMINDER! Giving Tuesday is tomorrow and The How Kids Learn Foundation is inviting you to participate. Whether you can give $5 or $5000, your gift will get HKLF closer to their goal to continue their work in 2022! To learn more and donate, click here.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Giving Our Thanks

By Sam Piha


We all know that 2021 has been a very difficult year. As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, all of us at Temescal Associates and the How Kids Learn Foundation want to thank all of you who work with our young people to promote their positive development. We are grateful to be part of this community.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Civic Engagement and Activism in Afterschool Programs: Challenges and Tips

Source: 4-H

By Sam Piha

We are continuing to post a series of blogs to inform and encourage expanded learning programs to start today infusing civic engagement and activism in their afterschool program. NOTE: There are many program resources on the topic, some of which are detailed in our paper, Youth Civic Engagement and Activism in Expanded Learning Programs. You can view previous blogs from this series hereWe also conducted a webinar on this topic which can be viewed here.

In this blog, we hear from afterschool program leaders on the challenges they face when offering civic engagement and activism activities and share some tips to consider. 



Challenges Encountered – School districts are conservative when it comes to "lobbying", so we have to educate the local education agencies on the difference between lobbying and civic engagement. And encourage them to think more broadly.

Tips - Look for programs and processes that work and make sure to do professional development with line staff who are the kid magnets. They need to re-learn civics too! Look for programs that already exist and join in before trying to start something on your own. - Brad Lupien, ARC Experience




Challenges Encountered - Among the challenges are ensuring our team internally replicates the equitable and just practices we want to see in our schools, ensuring as few barriers as possible to participation. Other challenges include managing our real-world activities when our members are expected to be sitting in a classroom--and not navigating their communities--for most of the typical workday. And yet another challenge, (among many) is that while our work is highly collaborative in nature, the culture of most schools that our students are exposed to are highly competitive in nature. And because we define leadership as the ability to bring others along with you, our leaders (who serve without formal titles) are often overlooked by their own schools as accomplished assets. - Rachel Belin, Kentucky Student Voice Team


Challenges Encountered - These students are busy and have their time scheduled out with extracurricular activities and work. We had to limit how long our meetings were. There was so much more we wanted to do with them in this first year and couldn't cover it all. We'll make meetings short and more frequent next year.

Tips - We had two remarkable college students involved in the design of the program, and they were the direct contacts for the teams to connect and progress in their projects. That was a huge factor in this program's success. The college students had been in afterschool programs just a year prior, and their fresh perspectives were really valuable. - Julie Groll, ASAP Connect



Challenges Encountered - Staffing this year was a MAJOR challenge, for both adults and teens; inconsistent number of children that come out to the playground and playstreets make it hard for the teens to stay motivated; the heat can also decrease motivation. Fundraising can be a challenge because many see this as an expensive program. The program itself doesn't cost a ton and many things can be donated or can get sponsorship (like their uniforms/t-shirts); what does cost the most is the salaries. This is a workforce development program, so we invest in people. We have low staff/youth ratios, we pay above minimum wage, aiming to get our TEENS to $15/hr. within the next 3-5 years. They are currently paid $9/hr. and adult staff starts at $15-20/hr.

Tips - Plan, plan, plan and then be prepared to throw all of those plans out the window. This project relies on many partners and large systems, the more of those you have to interact with the more you have to rely on them. So, deadlines often get pushed, information often comes late, and so we end up grinding the two weeks before the teens start for training because finally all of the information we’ve been waiting on since MAY, comes through. Once the teens start training and then are on the Play Streets, just lean into it and have fun! - Rebecca Fabiano, FAB Youth Philly

To help others interested in this initiative, they published Play Captain Initiative: Start- Up and How- To Guide.  



Challenges Encountered - Youth conflicts can arise when there are passionate differences in opinions. It takes time to be thoughtful in setting up difficult conversations or lesson plans and activities. Many of the topics we cover center around identity and in recent years, we have seen responses to differences in our government and media to escalate into anger and violence. We have to help guide youth to see different ways to engage with someone they feel is acting in attack or dismissive.

Tips - Setting up a foundation of safety and support can provide intentional mechanisms for conflict resolution between youth. Provide as much space for youth to take on leadership roles and design programming. - Jenifer Hughes, Youth & Government, YMCA of San Francisco



Challenges Encountered - Black youth, particularly boys, are very underrepresented in our program and other programs like it. We need to figure out how to bring more young people to the table so that we are building leaders in every community.

Tips - Incorporating meaningful civic engagement opportunities into youth programming is so easy to do! The mechanisms for young people to engage with their elected leaders are the same for adults. Have them create a presentation for their community board, testify at a public hearing, call or write to their elected leaders, create a petition...these are such great projects for young people to do together and you can do so much related skill building as you go through the projects: public speaking, debate, consensus building, media literacy, etc. - Laura Jankstrom, YouthAction NYC



Challenges Encountered - Our expertise is in youth development and science education. Participants would benefit from more collaboration with experts in government and community organizing.

Tips - Youth seem to thrive when there is a clear purpose and overall framework in which they can make choices about what they are most excited to do and how they wish to do it. They are very creative -- give them the space and support to achieve their goals. - Laura Herszenhorn, California Academy of Sciences


We are hosting a webinar/ Speaker’s Forum on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 from 10:00am- 12:00pm (PST) entitled, Afterschool as a Teacher PathwayThe purpose of this webinar is to inform and encourage OST leaders on how best to develop/join and promote an afterschool to teacher pathway. It is our intention to capture and share valuable and intriguing ideas from educational and OST leaders. To learn more and register, click the banner below.

We have also released a new briefing paper on this topic, which can be viewed and downloaded here.



Throughout the month of November, we'll be promoting The How Kids Learn Foundation Giving Tuesday fundraiser. Why donate to The How Kids Learn Foundation? Because, since their launch, they’ve contributed so much to the afterschool field, including over 38 Speaker’s Forums; 82 educational videos, attracting 33,400+ views; 38 briefing papers and over 480 blog posts attracting 716,000+ views. Help HKLF continue their work in 2022. To learn more and donate, click here.

Afterschool Worker Shortages: An Overview

Source: (Clockwise, Top to Bottom): Jill on Money , WINGS For Kids , The How Kids Learn Foundation and Coaching Corps By Sam Piha Recruitin...