Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Meaning and Importance of Music Participation in the Lives of Youth: What Afterschool Leaders Say

Source: NAMM Foundation

By Sam Piha

We believe that opportunities for youth to participate in a music program is important for their development, especially in light of the fact that many schools have eliminated music education to make more time for math and reading instruction. We also believe that afterschool programs are perfectly positioned to fill this gap.

We will continue to post on the importance of music featuring interviews with innovative practitioners and a summary of research. To learn more, we reached out to afterschool programs across the country to share their thoughts on this topic. We heard back from program leaders across the country, serving all ages of youth. These programs reported that they engage youth with music in a number of ways, including listening to music, learning how to play an instrument, learning DJ skills, making beats, recording music, spoken word, playing in a band, song writing, singing and drumming.

Below are some of the responses we received from afterschool practitioners to our questions.

Do you think music is important to youth? If yes, why?

  • “We currently have a music program at our site and have witnessed the beauty of music. Kids love to learn and filter their emotions through the music.” – ELP Site Lead, San Joaquin, CA, serving youth ages 5-11.
  • “Music provides so many emotional development attributes, that can lead to social, academic, personal and economic accomplishments and endeavors throughout their lives. Further, it’s something that they get that is theirs and stays with them for the rest of their lives to be used whenever and however they want, it’s god's gift forever playing.” – Afterschool Staff, Cleveland, OH, serving youth ages 12-14.
  • “It builds confidence and teaches them how to work with other people. It’s a discipline that teaches students to persevere.” – Instructional Associate, Vista Verde, CA, serving youth ages 5-11.
  • “It allows a scholar to be creative. Music reaches the inner depth of a person. A good sound can resonate on the sternum of a person and create calmness. It can also create a release of energy, etc.” – Afterschool Staff, Redwood City, CA, serving youth ages 12-14.
  • “I believe music encourages self-reflection. Through reflective moments we are able to engage and analyze our thoughts to help us make more informed decisions.” – Afterschool Staff, Euclid, OH, serving youth ages 5-11.

Please describe one example of how your program engages youth through music.

  • “We have a community partnership which places teaching musicians in our programs to teach ukulele. These instruments are affordable for us and fill a needed gap now that our elementary schools no longer have music programs.” – School District Coordinator of Expanded Learning, Vallejo, CA, serving youth ages 5-14.
  • “We have had weekly drumming classes and have opportunities for these classes to play at our fund raisers, end of the year performances, as well as performances around the city.” – Director of Staff & Student Development, West Palm Beach, FL, serving youth ages 5-18
  • “We partner with Women’s Audio Mission every semester. We have apprenticeships on how to build instruments, like a guitar, we have offered spoken word apprenticeship courses.” – Afterschool Staff, Redwood City, CA, serving youth ages 12-14.

Source: Mark Pan4ratte, unsplah.com

What benefits do you think come from youth engagement with music?

  • “There are academic and social-emotional and engagement benefits to the way we engage with music in our expanded learning programs” – School District Coordinator of Expanded Learning, Vallejo, CA, serving youth ages 5-14. 
  • “It allows children the opportunity to build self-esteem in a skill or something that they love and enjoy.” – School Age Coach, Dayton, OH, serving youth ages 5-11.
  • “Youth in the project live mostly in communities that have a lot of high-risk challenges. Many have experienced direct and indirect traumas on a regular basis. Many are faced with making decisions everyday as to whether to fight or flight, being involved in out of school activities that include music is beneficial to their physical and emotional survival.” – Afterschool Staff, Cleveland, OH, serving youth ages 12-14.
  • “Children find their personalities in music, it can be soothing and calming in times of stress.” – Afterschool Staff, Redwood City, CA, serving youth ages 12-14.

Source: www.pexels.com, photo by nappy

What benefits do you think carry into adulthood?

  • “My hope and aspiration are that these experiences not only create fond memories for them, but that for some it sparks a lifelong desire to make music.” – School District Coordinator of Expanded Learning, Vallejo, CA, serving youth ages 5-14.
  • “Music helps connect people and is a great tool for social emotional development.” – School Age Coach, Dayton, OH, serving youth ages 5-11
  • “Many attributes carry into adulthood. First, they learn that if you practice, put in the time you will become proficient at your task. Second, they learn discipline, follow direction, and stick to the order given and your results will be good. Third, they learn the importance of teamwork, brother and sister hood and build relationships that can last a lifetime. Fourth, they learn the essence of commitment, how to live up to your decision, to show up on time, follow through on time and to be there on time all of the time.” – Afterschool Staff, Cleveland, OH, serving youth ages 12-14.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

New Survey Shows that Afterschool Programs are Still in High Demand

Source: NHP Foundation

By Guest Blogger, Nikki Yamashiro (Previously published by The Afterschool Alliance)

Back-to-school season is in full swing and intermixed with the uplifting news stories on students’ return to the classroom are stories of the challenges taking place after the school day ends, from families waitlisted for afterschool programs to program providers struggling to find staff to fill open positions. A new brief, based on responses from nearly 1,500 parents or guardians of school-age children, conducted May 12-June 28, 2022, provides insights into both the issues families face when looking for afterschool programming, as well as the motivations behind wanting to enroll their child in a program. Four key takeaways from “Access to Afterschool Programs Remains a Challenge for Many Families,” include:

  1. Unmet demand for afterschool programs remains high during the pandemic. There are 24.7 million children who are not in an afterschool program, but would be enrolled if a program were available to them. Now, for every child in an afterschool program, there are four more who are waiting for an available program.
  2. Cost is the top barrier to afterschool program participation. More than half of parents without a child in an afterschool program (57 percent) report that programs being too expensive was an important factor in their decision not to enroll their child.  Other barriers include lack of a safe way for their child to get to and from programs (52 percent), inconvenient program locations (51 percent), and programs’ hours of operation not meeting parent needs (49 percent).
  3. For kids who are able to access afterschool programs during the pandemic, programs are keeping kids safe, connected, and engaged in learning. Fully 95 percent of parents are satisfied with their child’s afterschool program and 90 percent rate the quality of their afterschool program as excellent or very good. Most parents report that their program is helping their child with everything from building social skills (91 percent) to providing homework help (79 percent) and from providing time for physical activity (87 percent) to connecting their child with caring adults (79 percent).
  4. Parents agree that afterschool programs are providing critical supports to children and families during the pandemic. Strong majorities of parents agree on the positive role of afterschool programs, including keeping kids safe and out of trouble (82 percent), helping young people build positive relationships with caring adults and mentors (78 percent), providing working parents peace of mind that their children are safe and supervised (85 percent), and helping working parents keep their jobs (83 percent). Eighty-three percent of parents agree that all young people deserve access to quality afterschool and summer programs.

As a recent EdWeek Research Center report finds that nearly half (49 percent) of program providers surveyed in May and June 2022 said that they currently had a waitlist of students, similar to Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 spring 2022 survey, it’s clear that additional public and private investments at the local, state, and federal levels are needed to ensure that all young people have access to quality, affordable afterschool programming. Thanks to COVID relief funding, there are programs who have benefited from the additional support and have been able to meet the needs of their children and families, with one spring 2022 program provider respondent writing, “We would not have been able to stay in business or provide the same quality of care and programming without financial assistance. Or, we would have had to greatly increase the cost of our programming at a time our families were least able to afford it.” However, with only 1 in 5 program providers reporting receiving COVID relief funds, there is still more to be done. Read the full brief to learn more about the current afterschool program landscape. 

Nikki Yamashiro
Nikki Yamashiro
joined the Afterschool Alliance in June 2012. In her current role, Nikki coordinates, manages, and advances the Afterschool Alliance’s research efforts, including developing the organization's research goals and agenda and effectively communicating findings on afterschool and summer programs to policy makers, afterschool providers, advocates, and the public. Current major research initiatives that are a part of Nikki's portfolio include America After 3PM, a longitudinal study of how children in America spend their hours after school, and Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19, a multi-wave tracking survey documenting the pandemic's impact on the afterschool field.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Afterschool and the Power of Music

Source: Long Beach Youth Institute 

By Sam Piha

Because music is so important to young people’s development and identity, we wanted to interview an afterschool innovator on how his organization engages with young people through music. We first learned about the Youth Institute (YMCA of Greater Long Beach) many years ago when they were training young people and afterschool staff how to use computer technology to make movies. Below is an interview with the Youth Institute’s Director, Les Peters, on how they are paving the way for the use of music in afterschool. We also spoke with Kevin Peraza, a Youth Institute Alumni from 2007.

Q: In terms of your music program, what ages of youth do you serve?
We manage afterschool programs for all ages of youth,  but our music programs serve youth ages 15 - 18 (High School). 

Q: Do you think music is important to youth? If yes, why?
Yes, it is very important. It provides an opportunity to express themselves, if they have difficulties expressing feelings and emotions. It uses the same side of the brain as math and science. We teach digital music production, guitar, and drum lessons to our youth. 

Source: Long Beach Youth Institute 

Q: Currently how does your program engage youth in music? 
A: We currently engage youth with music by teaching participants how to play an instrument, teaching them Dj skills, how to make beats, record music and sponsoring youth to play in a band.

Q: Please describe one example of how your program engages youth with music?
For the past 21 years, in the Long Beach Youth Institute (YI) we have used music as one of our engagement strategies to support academic success, creativity expression and workforce development. It began with teaching the guitar to introducing digital music production and keyboard (piano) basics to evolve into making beats for their short films. For those teens who progressed in guitar & piano playing they started to record themselves and other teens started to use them for their films. Guest musicians and producers would volunteer with the YI to further develop the skill sets of the youth. Those youth who were in band and orchestra in high school would practice at the YI, because they didn’t have the space at home. Our youth formed a rock band and organized a battle of the band event for local area youth. In 2017, the YI was fortunate to have a partnership with Levi’s and a local musician/artist who wanted to give back to their community. Rapper and North Long Beach local – Vince Staples came to the YI to provide his experience in the music business and Levi’s provides financial support to expand our Digital Music program. Levi’s shot a commercial at the YI, with our youth as extras. 

[You can view a brief video about the Levi's/ Snoop Dogg project that features Snoop Dogg working directly with kids.] 

Then in 2019, Levi’s came back to us with another opportunity – artist Snoop Dog wanted to work with us, and he spoke to the youth about his career, and he brought his producing staff and taught professional beat making, song arrangement, and DJ skills. Snoop Dog even purchased a few of the beats our youth made during that time. At our new building location, the YI has a dedicated music room, with all the equipment we received from Vince Staples, Snoop Dog, and Levi’s. This music room has created an opportunity for our youth to have space to express and create. Our youth have started to create Podcasts, recording, and practicing their drums and guitar.

Source: Long Beach Youth Institute 

Q: What benefits do you think come from youth engagement with music?
A: The benefits we see are creative expression, improved social skills, manage emotions & stress, self-esteem booster, and perform better academically. The Youth Institute (YI) historically has been recognized for its ability to engage youth at different levels with a vast array of program activities; with music being one of the most popular. Many of our youth pursue post-secondary degrees in music because of their engagement in the YI. Workforce development is another benefit, with our social enterprise business – Change Agent Productions. Some of our youth are hired to create background music, loops, and narrative for videos and commercials. 

Q: What benefits do you think carry into adulthood?
As our youth transition into young adulthood, we have seen them have increased self-confidence, social growth, more creative and have a greater awareness of tolerance. We have seen youth come to us quiet, shy, non-social, but evolve to being social, leaders, and staff in the Youth Institute or other afterschool programs.

Below we share responses from YI’s 2007 alumni, Kevin Peraza.

Q: Do you think music is important to youth, If yes, why?
I think music is an important part of finding identity. Culturally speaking. Different genres can affect a young person’s personality. Going further and learning how music is made allows youth to dissect the parts of music that resonate with them. Which can be a really cathartic experience.

Kevin Peraza playing in his band.

 Q: Give one example of how the Youth Institute program engages youth with music?
A: On a base level the YI gives youth their first and, in some cases, only experience with music. The equipment that’s readily available makes it so easy to try it. Whether it’s garage band on the macs or picking up a guitar that many mentors have lying around. In my experience the YI bought band equipment so that some of the youth could try their first experience at playing music with a collective group of like-minded individuals. In the past they have even held a battle of the bands for local Long Beach high school bands. Which was for most participants their first experience of being on stage performing for a crowd.

I think the YI understands the importance of music and the positive effect it can have on youth with a deep desire to express themselves.


Les Peters
Les Peters
currently works for the YMCA of Greater Long Beach, Youth Institute, a national recognized Teen Youth Development & Digital Media Arts program as the Executive Director of Youth Institute & Curriculum Development. He has over seventeen years of experience in youth development and over fourteen years in digital media arts technology. He develops and implements after-school and year-round programming for low-income urban youth of color, provides diversity training and develops creative academic & social skills through the use of multi-media technology.

Kevin Peraza
Kevin Peraza is a Youth Institute Alumni from 2007 who was fortunate to participate in all of their music activities: playing guitar, took part in YI’s youth band and did work with Change Agent Productions. Today Kevin is a young adult who is a filmmaker and still plays in a band. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Afterschool and the Education Culture Wars (Part 2)

By Sam Piha

In part 1 of Afterschool and the Education Culture Wars we introduced the issues that many schools are facing regarding critical race theory and the call to ban books dealing with identity issues (racial and gender). In part 2 we offer some tips on how to avoid entanglement in these education culture wars and how to combat misinformation in the community. 


When Describing the Program, Sharpen the Message; Avoid Acronyms and Jargon 
When describing your program in written outreach documents, remember your audience are not afterschool insiders- they might be parents and community members. It is very useful to have parents and community members review the text to ensure that it is understandable to an outsider. This is also a good way to build parent advocates for the program who can speak out and support if the program comes under scrutiny.  

Source: Nicolas Picard, Unsplash.com

“The first question they [parents] had was, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’” he said. “’I get math. I get reading. What the hell is social-emotional learning? ’When commissioners explained they wanted schools to nurture qualities such as discipline, self-management, and relationship skills, “they’d [parents] say, ‘Oh yeah, we’re for that,’” - John Bridgeland, CEO of Civic Enterprises

Terry Peterson
“Working on education improvements and reforms for almost fifty years, I have observed that almost any education innovation using initials [or acronyms] is likely to invite pushback. Also, describing development and learning in shorthand “buzz words," not mainstream terms, also invites problems. Case in point: We give very conservative critics great aid by providing them both initials, SEL, and words like social emotional learning. Instead, say practically that we are working to strengthen: self-management skills, social awareness skills, responsible decision-making skills, and teamwork skills”
- Terry Peterson,  Afterschool Alliance

Double Down on Commitment to Program Values

“We all just have to continue to believe in what we do and stick together and not back down.” - Bridget Laird, CEO of WINGS for Kids 

While it is important to steer clear of trouble, we have to remain committed to our views. Below are some inspirational statements taken from As Terms Like ‘SEL’ Draw Fire, Organizations Supporting Schools Sharpen Their Message by Libby Stanford for ED Week.

“Although the rhetoric surrounding critical race theory and SEL can be loud at times, it has not deterred education organizations from being vocal about their work. ‘If anything, we’ve doubled down on our values, we’ve doubled down on our program,’ Peter Shulman (CEO of Urban Teachers) said.” 

“Urban Teachers isn’t coy about its stance on race and racism in its messaging. On its website, the organization writes “Structural racism and inequality have kept generations of urban children from receiving the education they deserve.” 

Get Involved, Especially in Your Local Community

Support for afterschool is not guaranteed and may have a shelf life. Thus, it is vital that we get involved in decision making to protect afterschool. Below are some suggestions. 
  • Support candidates and groups that agree with your values. 
  • Vote for local, state and federal candidates that agree with your values.
  • Keep up on what’s happening locally and across the nation.
  • Write to your elected officials to continue supporting afterschool.
Participate by:
  • Running for school board or a local office 
  • Follow or attend local school board meetings. They are often televised, or video recorded and publish their notes and future meeting agendas on community websites. You can view a recorded school board meeting from Polk County, Florida, as they discuss the banning of books.  

On September 13, 2022, Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation will be sponsoring a webinar on this topic to further discuss the issues behind the current education culture wars and how it affects afterschool. Panelists will include Terry Peterson (Afterschool Alliance), Michael Funk (CDE), Bridget Laird (WINGS for Kids), Melissa Schlinger (CASEL) and Femi Vance (AIR). To learn more and register for this informative webinar, click here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Now’s Our Moment: Let’s Learn More About the Adults Working and Volunteering with Young People

By: Guest Blogger Rebecca Goldberg

The US Department of Education’s announcement of the National Partnership for Student Success (NPSS) brought much needed attention to the adults who serve young people in communities across the country. This new public-private partnership seeks to recruit, screen, train, support, and engage an additional 250,000 caring adults in roles serving as tutors, mentors, student success coaches, wraparound service coordinators, and post-secondary transition coaches. 

I’m all for recruiting more positive role models for young people and shining a light on the important role they play, but what do we know about all the staff and volunteers who are already working with youth every day? The answer is…not much.

In 2022, the American Institutes for Research (AIR), with partners, launched the Power of Us Workforce Survey, a first-of-its kind comprehensive workforce survey to get to know all of the people who work and volunteer with youth in afterschool and summer programs, in libraries, in affordable housing, in community centers, and anywhere young people need support.

We’ve never before had an opportunity like this to truly get to know the adults working with youth, and ultimately better support them in the work.

This is our moment: Power of Us Workforce Survey

We must leverage this national attention on the role of adults supporting young people and work together to get as many folks in the field to complete this survey as possible. The survey is open now through the end of 2022. Advocates know it: the data is essential to support and grow the workforce, advocate for higher salaries and supports, and improve job quality.  

About the Survey

  • The survey for adults who have worked in paid and/or volunteer positions in the youth fields within the last 5 years should complete the survey.
  • The survey takes 10-15 minutes to complete. We think it is best done in staff meetings or trainings as a collective effort to contribute to the field. Better yet…make it part of your fall onboarding process!
  • There are incentives! Everyone who completes the survey is entered into a monthly drawing of ten $100 Amazon gift cards and is eligible to win each month.

What Will We Learn?

  • Who is Working With Youth: We’ll know the demographics and education background of folks that are working/volunteering with youth. We’ll also learn about their motivations for doing the work.
  • Job/Volunteer Roles: We’re asking about current and most recent job/volunteer positions in the youth fields including types of organizations and sectors. 
  • Career Pathways: We want to know how many years people have worked in the youth fields and the number of jobs. Questions ask about their first job in the youth fields and career trajectory. And for those who have left, their reason for leaving the youth fields and plans to return.
  • Job Supports: The survey asks about salaries, benefits, and professional learning opportunities. We want to know about job perceptions, professional values and needs, and professional certifications and associations.

How Can I Help?

  • Take the survey and encourage others to do so. We are in the most important period for the data collection and need all hands on deck! 
  • Share the survey with people and program leaders. 
  • Convince or create micro-incentives to encourage people to take the survey.
  • Champion the survey. Become a partner with us to spread the word.
  • Share your stories. We welcome faces and voices of youth-serving professionals for the communications campaign to convince others.
  • Customize the communications materials with your branding as a trusted resource to your colleagues. We’ll help! 

When Will We See the Data?

Preliminary data will be available in Fall 2022 with full reports produced in 2023. AIR will make the data available for the field to use broadly! Note that all data that is reported will be either de-identified or aggregated as the survey is anonymous.

I believe this is the most important survey for the youth development field. With a significant investment from the Wallace Foundation, this comprehensive survey is our best shot to make the case in support of youth-serving professionals and volunteers in the field now, and those we need in the future.  

Please join us in strengthening the youth-serving fields and help us promote the Power of Us Workforce Survey! The more we know about these important youth-serving adults, the more we can do to support them, and ultimately help more young people learn and thrive. 

Rebecca Goldberg
Rebecca Goldberg is a non-profit and philanthropic advisor. She works with clients to connect strategies and ideas, identify new opportunities, develop high impact partnerships, and advise on grantmaking approaches. She facilitates two funder groups for Grantmakers for Education and works with clients on leadership transition, partner engagement, and research to inform grantmaking. Rebecca is a member of the Power of Us Workforce Survey team.

She spent the last seven years in philanthropy leading a national youth development portfolio at the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. Rebecca worked with large, national youth organizations and key intermediaries in the California expanded learning field to bolster social-emotional learning and character development practices with the goal of creating equitable learning environments for youth. Prior to the foundation, Rebecca led career pathway programs at a local community-based organization in Los Angeles and professional and workforce development initiatives at California School-Age Consortium supporting afterschool professionals in California. 

To learn more and register for our upcoming webinar, click here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Afterschool and the Education Culture Wars (Part 1)

Source: Unsplash.com

By Sam Piha

We live in a political climate where differences are not explored, they are weaponized. In recent months schools and educators have been attacked under the guise of critical race theory, parent rights and the call to ban certain books. The PBS News Hour offered a good segment on critical race theory and book bannings.

Are there many citizens who are leading this fight or is it a manufactured controversy, which is a product of the internet? Below is a quote from an article (NEA News) that attempts to explain this.1

“As the nation continues to reckon with the role racism plays in our society, a tiny but extremely vocal minority of voices is determined to turn our classrooms into battlegrounds for their vicious culture wars. These radical groups are using social media to spread disinformation and stoke fear about race in the classroom, pushing for laws to ban books about Ruby Bridges, Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights figures, and seeking to censor teachers and deny students the right to a truthful and honest education.” – Edward Graham, NEA News

Source: PBS News Hour

While afterschool programs have not been attacked directly, there are certain core values and program initiatives that have come under scrutiny. They include equity, identity (LGBTQ+ and racial), mindfulness, growth mindsets, grit and social emotional learning (SEL).

Before we discuss how to not get entangled in the educational culture wars, it is important to note that the support for the afterschool movement over the last 30 years has largely been bipartisan. According to Dr. Terry Peterson (Afterschool Alliance), “The roots in California involved bipartisan support in some key cities in the late 1980’s, like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento and then spread greatly with the strong leadership of a Republican Governor, Schwarzenegger, and then much later, now, a huge expansion by a democratic Governor Newsom. This type of local, state and national expansion of an initiative overtime is very unusual and very important. 

The roots of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers in the 1990’s clearly involved Republican and Democratic members of Congress and a Democratic Administration.”  The 21st CCLC quickly became one of the fastest growing social programs in the history of America. (We interviewed Dr. Peterson in a previous LIAS Blog).

Source: History of Afterschool in America

It is important to not take the support for afterschool for granted. There are things we can do to prevent that the afterschool movement is not damaged by the educational culture wars. 

Be aware of what’s happening in your area and in the larger field. 
“In this environment, anything can be politicized,” said John Bridgeland, the CEO of Civic Enterprises, a public policy firm, who has worked extensively on building bipartisan support for SEL programs in schools.

To get a better sense of what’s happening in the larger field, below we cite some titles from articles with endnote references that have been published recently:

  • Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL) Is Anti-White, Anti-Christian, and Anti-American Indoctrination 2
  • Social Emotional Programming: The SEL Agenda to Enforce Thought Reform, Conformity, and Control 3
  • Schools Face Fears of ‘Critical Race Theory’ as They Scale Up Social-Emotional Learning 4
  • Hijacking Their Minds: How ‘Safe Schools’ & Social Emotional Learning Indoctrinate Our Children 5
Below we cite quotes that illustrate the thinking behind the culture wars:
  • “This curriculum goes far beyond helping first-graders get along with their peers and delves into political manipulation. It’s never too early, apparently, to use SEL to create little community organizers.” 6
  • “Book-banning attempts have grown in the U.S. over the past few years from relatively isolated battles to a broader effort aimed at works about sexual and racial identity.” 7
  • “Minnesota’s Child Protection League, a group active on conservative issues, said social-emotional learning is a vehicle for critical race theory, an effort to divide students from their parents, emotional manipulation and “the latest child-indoctrination scheme.” 8
  • “Students in several #US states are forced to participate in #Buddhist-based meditation. If a child refuses, he or she is moved to the hall as if being punished. These schools are indoctrinating our children.” 9
  • (VIDEO) Stella Morabito Presentation on Social Emotional Programming from Child Protection League Action on YouTube. 10

We continue our look into the education culture wars and offer more tips on how to avoid entanglement in the misinformation in part 2.


  1.  Edward Graham, Who is Behind the Attacks on Educators and Public Schools?
  2.   Savanah Hulsey Pointer, Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL) Is Anti-White, Anti-Christian, and Anti-American Indoctrination
  3.   Stella Morabito, Social Emotional Programming: The SEL Agenda to Enforce Thought Reform, Conformity, and Control
  4.   Arianna Prothero and Evie Blad, Schools Face Fears of ‘Critical Race Theory’ as They Scale Up Social-Emotional Learning
  5.   Karen Effrem, Hijacking Their Minds: How Social Emotional Learning Indoctrinates Children
  6.   Karen Effrem, M.D. and Jane Robbins, J.D., Social-Emotional Learning: K–12 Education as New Age Nanny State 
  7.   Claire Moses, The Spread of Book Banning
  8.   Laura Meckler, In ‘social-emotional learning,’ right sees more critical race theory
  9.   Katherine Hignett, Conservative Christians Want to Stop Kids Meditating At School
  10.   Stella Morabito: Social Emotional Programming (Video)

To learn more about the education culture wars and afterschool and to register for this informative webinar, click here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Maintaining Bipartisan Support for Afterschool

By Sam Piha

We wanted to get a better understanding of the bipartisan support for afterschool, of the past and present. We interviewed Dr. Terry Peterson who was the Chief Counselor for former US Secretary of Education and Governor, Dick Riley. Terry was involved in the launching of the 21st Century Community Learning Center Initiative. 

Q: Can you say something about the bipartisan roots of the afterschool movement?
A: I find it very useful to trace overtime the bipartisan roots and continuing support for expanding, funding and improving summer enrichment and comprehensive afterschool and expanded learning opportunities and partnerships.

The “roots” of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers in the 1990’s clearly involved Republican and Democratic members of Congress and a Democratic Administration.  

The roots in California involved bipartisan support in some key cities in the late 1980’s, like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento and then spread greatly with the strong leadership of a Republican Governor, Schwarzenegger, and then much later, now, a huge expansion by a democratic Governor Newsom. This type of local, state and national expansion of an initiative overtime is very unusual and very important.  

Q: What kind of politics are needed to support afterschool, summer and expanded learning programs?
A: It is critical to keep this bipartisan support for afterschool, summer and expanded learning. Unfortunately, in these highly politicized times, certain concepts and especially acronyms and initials are magnifying the polarization. Because of the benefits seen for many years of bipartisan support for more and better afterschool and summer opportunities and partnerships, I think we have a special obligation for our children, youth and families served by afterschool, summers, and expanded learning to try to stay above these battles when representing the afterschool, summer, expanded learning and community school movements.  

One way to stay above the fray is to go back to our simple roots and concepts, like expanding opportunities and developing more community connections for children, youth and families that want and need afterschool and summer programs to better succeed in school and life. By the way, this is not just good education and youth development but good “politics”. Most voters and parents of most political persuasions appreciate terms like “expanding opportunities” and building more "community connections” and "local partnerships." 

Another way is to approach voters and parents differently using everyday common-sense ways. For example, we know that in some localities, states and nationwide, certain terms like SEL and related terms are “offending” some Republicans and even Independents. While operating in the afterschool, summer, community schools and expanded learning arenas, why not use concepts that are similar, but that parents of many political persuasions approve of?

Q: There is a myth that Republican parents do not support funds for afterschool programs. Do we have research that suggests something different?
A: We have found that Republican parents support funding afterschool and summer programs as well as Democratic and Independent parents. Interestingly and importantly, they all support very similar content in the programs. And this content is similar to the research evidence too.

Unpublished analyses by the Afterschool Alliance done very recently, found:

Support for afterschool and summer learning programs is strong among Republican parents. More than 8 in 10 parents who identify as Republican agree that all young people deserve access to quality afterschool and summer programs (82%).

From providing children opportunities to build life skills to helping working parents keep their jobs, Republican parents overwhelmingly agree on the positive role afterschool programs play for children and families.

Strong majorities of parents who identify as Republican agree that afterschool programs:
  • help young people engage with their peers and reduce unproductive screen time (85%);  
  • learn life skills, like the ability to communicate and work in teams (81%); 
  • have opportunities to build confidence (80%); 
  • provide opportunities to build positive relationships with caring adults and mentors (76%); 
  • and become more excited about learning and interested in school (74%). 

Republican parents also agree that afterschool programs provide working parents peace of mind knowing that their children are safe and supervised (83%), help working parents keep their job (81%), and keep kids safe and out of trouble (74%).

Focusing on activities and supports, Republican parents are as likely as parents overall to report that opportunities for their child to build life skills were important in their selection of afterschool and summer programs. Similar to parents overall, most Republican parents report that opportunities for their child:
  • to build life skills, such as interacting with their peers, developing social skills, and responsible decision making, were important in their selection in their child's afterschool program (88% vs. 87%) 
  • and what their child did during the summer (94% vs. 94%).

Republican parents want public investment in afterschool and summer programs. 85% of parents who identify as Republican report that they support public funding of afterschool programs and 86% support public funding of summer learning programs.

Terry Peterson
was the Chief Counselor for former US Secretary of Education and Governor, Dick Riley. During his decades-long tenure in public service, Terry held senior state- and federal-level positions in which he developed numerous education policies and funding streams, including at the U.S. Department of Education where he helped create the 21st CCLC initiative. Terry currently serves on the board of the Afterschool Alliance and is also the executive editor of, Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning. He is also featured in the History of Afterschool in America documentary.

Over the past 30 years the afterschool movement has enjoyed public support and the support of elected leaders from both sides of the aisle, at the local, state and federal levels. However, this is being threatened by a political climate that is plagued by polarization, misinformation and the rise of education culture wars. The core values of many afterschool programs are being scrutinized including issues concerning equity, mindfulness, identity (racial and LGBTQ+), growth mindsets and social emotional learning (SEL).

In this upcoming Speaker''s Forum, our panelists will review afterschool’s bipartisan history, the rise of today’s education culture wars, and ways that afterschool programs can avoid entanglement in these controversies and promote bipartisan support. Join us on September 13, 2022 from 10:00am-12:00pm PST. To learn more and register, click here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Promoting Workforce Skills and Growing Your Own Staff

By Sam Piha

We know that when asked, older youth say they are most interested in acquiring the skills needed to get a job. As youth program leaders, it is our job to help prepare young people for success in adulthood, which includes creating opportunities to explore careers and gather work-based skills, and we are well positioned to help older youth to acquire these skills. 

We also know that afterschool programs are experiencing a worker shortage, and one way to address this is “Growing Your Own” by creating a pipeline for young people to move into youth work. 

To explore these issues we hosted a webinar on June 30, 2022 entitled Preparing Youth in Afterschool for the Workforce and Building Your Own Youth Worker Pipeline. This webinar was hosted by Bill Fennessy (California Afterschool Network) and several youth work professionals who have developed these kinds of programs.

We highly recommend you view the recording of this webinar and review the very informational Powerpoint that accompanied the presentation. To access, click on the images below.

Webinar Recording

Powerpoint Presentation

Additional Resources:
Engaging Youth as Workers Within High School Afterschool Programs: A Briefing Paper
This paper (50 pages) offers experiences that build workforce and career skills, create leadership roles and opportunities for service. These experiences also create career pathways to professions such as teaching and social work, and ensures the program is more relevant to other youth. The purpose of this paper is to inform and encourage expanded learning programs to engage youth as workers in these programs.

Engaging Youth as Workers in Afterschool Programs 
The purpose of this paper (12 pages) is to clarify guidelines regarding the employment of youth and to share strategies that are currently being used by After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) programs to engage high school age youth through work within their afterschool programs.

Program leaders are now thinking about using a “hybrid” model for professional development - a mixture of recorded/online training offerings and written briefing papers that can be shared with local staff, followed by on-site discussions facilitated by in-person leaders. This hybrid model can be tailored to the needs of the local program, to be more relevant, intimate, inexpensive, and COVID safe.

In this guide we identify “Basics” professional development resources with links for free, easy access (recorded videos, briefing papers, blogs, etc.). These were developed by Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation (HKLF). Also included are worksheets, discussion guides and other resources to support programs in leading their own professional development and reflection activities.

To download and read the full guide, click here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

An Interview with Outgoing PCY Founder, Jennifer Peck

By Sam Piha

“After 21 years of incredible service, Jennifer Peck, Partnership for Children & Youth (PCY) founding CEO, will step down from her leadership role in the organization on June 30th." - Partnership for Children & Youth

I've had the pleasure of working with Jennifer on promoting access to quality afterschool programs for over 20 years. She has partnered with Temescal Associates on several projects throughout the years and has proved to be an incredible leader and innovator. I interviewed Jennifer recently about her career and accomplishments and we share her responses below. To read comments from afterschool leaders who share their thoughts on Jennifer's impact on the field of afterschool, click here.

Q: What has influenced you to focus your energies on young people’s well-being?  
A: It’s been multiple things – one is that I came from a family of educators so that was sort of ingrained in me, though my career path was very unplanned and really a series of opportunities that I took advantage of at different moments. I started my career in politics and after working on a presidential campaign, found myself at the U.S. Department of Education which was an incredible learning experience and where I became inspired to pursue the career I’ve had.

Q: Why did you think it was necessary to found a new non-profit organization to promote this mission?  
A: When the federal government and California first began investing in afterschool, a lot of communities in great need for these resources couldn’t or didn’t access them, because the funding and policies didn’t  reflect the realities of running programs on the ground. There was a need for an entity to better communicate those realities and improve how public funding and policies served kids, so we dove in.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
A: It’s such a hard question to answer, there’s a lot I’m proud of, but right now I’m feeling immensely proud that there’s so much more attention to and investment in summer learning. PCY’s staff and partners over a lot of years did so much to raise up summer as a critical time and opportunity for young people, and it feels like it’s really arrived.

Q: What accomplishment was the most difficult? 
A: Also hard to answer, a lot of things were difficult! But I’d say winning an increase to the daily rate for ASES and 21st CCLC -- it’s a tough sell in a political environment to be fighting for more money to serve the same number of kids, but that’s what was needed.

Q: What do you see as the greatest challenge for the afterschool movement? 
A: The biggest challenges on my mind, are figuring out how to build systems to recruit, train and adequately pay the workforce, and how to sustain the positive attention on afterschool and summer right now. Both will take really focused and smart policy, communications and system-building work – and PCY’s new leadership is ready and able to take these things on!

Q: Looking ahead, what do you see as the greatest opportunities for the afterschool movement? 
A: The big one in my opinion, is to really solidify a change in the public education mindset from one that saw learning as happening primarily from 8-3 and between September and June, to one that sees learning as happening all day and all year, with a diverse set of adults facilitating. I also can’t help but be really, really excited about summer and the opportunity to expose so many more kids to amazing, fun, life-changing summer experiences.

Q: Looking back, what do you think you will treasure most? 
A: Most definitely the people and the relationships I’ve developed over all these years. There’s so many amazing people in this work – like my old friend Sam Piha. 

Q: What did you learn most from being a parent to Emilia?  
A: Wow – so many things, and an interesting moment to think about it as Emilia is headed off to college in a month. If I had to pick one thing, it’s that you have to meet kids where they are – my daughter is really different from me in some ways, and I had to learn how to adjust my parenting over time to support her in the way that best helped her grow. It has made me think a lot about the work of educators and how important it is to know and care about every kid -- at the end of the day, it’s the most important thing.

Jennifer Peck
MORE ABOUT... Jennifer Peck led Partnership for Children & Youth since its founding in 2001. During her tenure she developed and implemented initiatives to build high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs, access to meals and health care for students, and integration of social and emotional learning in the education system across the state. Prior to forming PCY, Jennifer spent eight years as an appointee of President Bill Clinton at the United States Department of Education, where she supported implementation of initiatives including student loan reform, School-to-Work, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Jennifer is the proud mother of Emilia.

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