Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Considering Cultural Context When Promoting SEL

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
There is a growing consensus among educators and youth development experts that skills related to social emotional learning (SEL) are important to youth’s future success. We see this emphasized in the work promoting a positive school climate and the improvement of afterschool programs.

In fact, the California Department of Education - Expanded Learning Division (EXLD) has pulled together an ongoing SEL Planning Team. This Planning Team will offer recommendations on how best to integrate SEL into the System of Support for Expanded Learning, deepen SEL opportunities for students, and foster alignment around SEL strategies with the school day.

But how do we take into account cultural differences in framing SEL? Are SEL concepts culturally bound? We believe that these are important questions to explore.

In their support of California's CORE Districts and the integration of SEL, the Partnership for Children and Youth (PCY) amended their work on SEL concepts.

Katie Brackenridge
According to Katie Brackenridge (Vice President of Programs at PCY), “Based on input from several large school districts, we are shifting our language, from stressing the 'I' to 'We are, We belong, We can'. This is based on multiple conversations about a collectivist versus individualist world view and the reality that increasingly the kids in our schools are coming from countries and cultures that are more collectivist than the dominant white culture in the US.”

Below are two resources to explore these issues. How would you answer the questions around SEL and cultural differences?

- A brief video presentation, “The Limits and Possibilities of Social Emotional Learning” featuring Dr. Shawn Ginwright from San Francisco State University.



- An article entitled, Why Don’t Students Take Social-Emotional Learning Home? by Vicki Zakrzewski from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.


Photo Credit: Hemera, via the Greater Good Science Center
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You can read other blogs by the LIAS project by going to: 

  • Expanded Learning 360°/365 Project website
  • LIAS Blog Written for the California Afterschool Network

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Afterschool Change Maker: An Interview with Sylvia Yee, Part 2

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
Sylvia Yee, Vice President of Programs at the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, recently retired. She was a strong believer in the importance of schools working closely with the communities they serve, and the power of public and private partnerships. 


We recently conducted a video interview with Ms. Yee before she retired. Below we offer part 2 from that interview. (View Part 1 here.)    

Q: The Beacons were based on a youth development perspective. Can you explain?


Sylvia Yee
A: The Youth Development Movement began during the early 1990s. A number of things came together that really catalyzed a new way of thinking about working with young people. Carnegie released an important report called "A Matter of Time", which argued that  the after school hours were an important time of both opportunity  and of risk for young kids, if they were left to their own devices with nothing to do. 

This report inspired us to think about making the after school hours a time of productive activities, where kids could be safe, and where they could learn in both informal and formal ways. It was a call to take that time and that space seriously.

Youth development wasn’t really about “kids as problems” and the need for services. It was about "How do we engage young people in their own development? How do we tap into their energy, their initiative, their leadership, and their capacity to give back to their peers and communities?" I loved it. It was really exciting. There were a lot of innovative programs that put kids at the center and put kids out front.


This had a really profound effect over the next couple of decades on the kind of programs that public systems support, the kind of policies and money that are now  available for after school programs. It ignited peoples' understanding of what after school programs could do when it's infused with this Youth Development perspective, and the importance of it. 



Q: How did the youth development perspective impact the San Francisco Beacons? 


A: The Youth Development Movement really set the stage for the San Francisco Beacons. The San Francisco Beacons benefited a lot from all this research and discussion about a new way of providing opportunities to young people. They were in  the vanguard of much of this work by establishing models for other places of how this could be done at scale, what the training should look like, the partnerships that it would take, and much more. We are greatly indebted to the Community Network for Youth Development, which managed the Initiative in its founding days and conducted trainings for the Beacon sites.

Q: In what way does the idea of equity intersect with after school?

A: These after school programs  are a way to level the playing field for all kids, so that all kids have the same chances to play leadership roles, to learn life skills, to get academic support.

I think equity is a prime motivating value of  advocates for after school programs. Every kid deserves to have this safe environment where they can learn and stretch their wings to become who they want. 

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Sylvia Yee, former Vice President of Programs at the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, started her career as a high school teacher. She moved on to administer educational programs at the elementary, secondary, and university levels in the United States and in China.

Passionate about social justice, Yee has been active in the fight for equal rights and opportunities at the local and national levels, and championed immigrant rights and gay and lesbian rights over the last two decades. A long-time community activist and leader, she was the  chair of the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center in San Francisco where she led the center’s organizing and other activities aimed at addressing issues such as affordable housing and services for low-income seniors and youth. She also led a community nonprofit agency, Mission Graduates, which provides college going support to low-income, immigrant children in San Francisco and later worked as a program executive in education and health at the San Francisco Foundation.

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You can read other blogs by the LIAS project by going to: 


  • Expanded Learning 360°/365 Project website
  • LIAS Blog Written for the California Afterschool Network

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Afterschool Change Maker: An Interview with Sylvia Yee, Part 1

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
Sylvia Yee, Vice President of Programs at the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, recently retired. Ms. Yee, who joined the Haas Jr. Fund in 1993, had a profound impact on the afterschool and youth development movement in the San Francisco Bay Area and the state of California. She was a strong believer in the importance of schools working closely with the communities they serve, and the power of public and private partnerships. 

In partnership with other leaders in the City, Ms. Yee launched the San Francisco Beacon Initiative by bringing together the city and county of San Francisco, the school district, and a bevy of other private foundations. (You can view a brief video on the history of the SF Beacon Initiative featuring Ms. Yee by clicking here.)

We recently conducted a video interview with Ms. Yee before she retired. Below we offer some excerpts from that interview.    

Q: How did you form your interest in the Beacon Schools model? 


Sylvia Yee
A: I got interested in the New York Beacons during a visit  to New York in 1992. I was able to see live what a community school looked like:a school that opened its doors after school, on the weekends, in the evening that had this really close connection to community. 


Debbie Alvarez from SFUSD, Laura Pickney from the mayor's office, and several other private funders, conducted a joint visit to New York. All of us came away just energized by what it would mean to recreate this in San Francisco.

Q: What did you find most interesting about the Beacon Schools model? 


A: One of the things that was new about Beacon Schools was that it was a Community Center in a school setting, and that the (quality of the) relationship and the partnership between the community and the school was actually pretty new.


It was also unique in the sense that this was about smart government. This was about using underutilized public space that lay empty on the weekends and evenings and after school. It was a smarter way for government to partner with non-profit organizations and to partner with community groups in a new way to serve kids. Remember this was before California Proposition 49 and the federal 21st Century Community Learning  Centers initiative.


It wasn't just about the use of school space. It was also about how kids were served. This was just at the beginning of the Youth Development Movement, and the  exciting new youth development ideas which were about what all kids need to grow up healthy.


The New York Beacons were attractive because it was this coming together, this partnership between the community and non-profits in school sites. They were a space where kids could experience a whole variety of activity and programs and spread their wings.


Q: How did you adapt this model to San Francisco? 


A: When we brought Beacons to San Francisco, we did it in a San Francisco way. We asked kids and parents in each of the neighborhoods what they wanted in their Beacons. At the same time as we established some common goals and principles for all Beacons, and some common programs that we wanted, we encouraged each Beacon to be culturally relevant to their neighborhood and to their kids--to do things in a way that was responsive and made sense to them. That's what I meant by doing it in a San Francisco way.

We helped bring private funders together and formed a philanthropic collaborative that  made it easier for the Beacons because we all agreed that all of the sites would submit a single proposal, instead of submitting 10 different proposals to 10 different foundations, and that we would all receive common reports. Everybody tried to figure out how to “bust the barriers” to making this successful.



Q: What were some of the challenges? 

A: Very simple things in the beginning seemed like big barriers: for schools and non-profit organizations to learn how to really be partners, to negotiate who cleans up the classrooms after the after school programs, to negotiate extra hours for the janitors.


There were some really hard nitty-gritty things that made using school sites difficult  to use, and I am happy  that the Beacons helped pave the way so that today, many more organizations and many more schools can have this kind of relationship more easily.

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Sylvia Yee, former Vice President of Programs at the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, started her career as a high school teacher. She moved on to administer educational programs at the elementary, secondary, and university levels in the United States and in China.

Passionate about social justice, Yee has been active in the fight for equal rights and opportunities at the local and national levels, and championed immigrant rights and gay and lesbian rights over the last two decades. A long-time community activist and leader, she was the  chair of the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center in San Francisco where she led the center’s organizing and other activities aimed at addressing issues such as affordable housing and services for low-income seniors and youth. She also led a community nonprofit agency, Mission Graduates, which provides college going support to low-income, immigrant children in San Francisco and later worked as a program executive in education and health at the San Francisco Foundation.

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You can read other blogs by the LIAS project by going to: 

  • Expanded Learning 360°/365 Project website
  • LIAS Blog Written for the California Afterschool Network

Friday, June 16, 2017

Send the Message: Afterschool Works for Everyone

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
In our earlier blog posts, we have been tracking efforts to preserve afterschool funding at the state and federal level. Below is an update courtesy of efforts by our colleagues at the Partnership for Children and Youth (PCY), New York State Network for Youth Success, the Afterschool Alliance, and others.



FEDERAL
At the federal level, it is important that we work to preserve support for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) funding. You can get more information from the Afterschool Alliance


"Our efforts to educate members of Congress on the 21st CCLC program must not let up, especially with less than 4 months until the FY2018 Federal budget is required to be passed. This postcard campaign is a great opportunity to have your staff, students, and families share why this program is important to them." - New York State Network for Youth Success


Photo Credit: Afterschool Alliance

STATES
You can follow what is happening in your state by clicking hereYou can also get more information about individual states by clicking here

CALIFORNIA
For our California readers, advocates have been working to increase the amount of resources for programs. This increase is important given the increase in program costs, especially wages.

“The Budget Conference Committee voted Thursday night to provide an additional $50 million in ongoing funding for ASES. This is not a done deal until Governor Brown signs the budget, but the Administration publicly supported the Conference Committee's action last night (which included increased funding for ASES), so we are hopeful. The full Senate and Assembly will vote on the full budget package next week, and then it will head to the Governor for his approval. Read the full press release here.”          - Partnership for Children and Youth


Photo Credit: Partnership for Children and Youth

You can help support this increased call for California afterschool by getting involved. For more information click here

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You can read other blogs by the LIAS project by going to: 

  • Expanded Learning 360°/365 Project website
  • LIAS Blog Written for the California Afterschool Network