Friday, June 5, 2020

Calling For Racial Equity

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

By Sam Piha

The recent protests demanding racial equity have resulted in many supportive statements from afterschool intermediaries and providers marking a turning point, hopefully, in our country. We were inspired by the rally and march organized by youth at Oakland Technical High School (which is two blocks from my home). It was very successful and well attended- over 15,000 in attendance (read more here about how they did it). Oakland Tech High School has a strong history of student activism. Students from this high school lobbied the California legislature in the early 80’s calling for a holiday to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr- which contributed to a national movement.

Source: Akil Riley, 19, one of the co-organizers of Monday's massive youth-led action against
police violence that started at Oakland Tech. Photo: Darwin Bondgraham,

Pedro Noguera, UCLA
“Educators. This is a teachable moment. Don’t be afraid to teach about the meaning of justice and the murder of George Floyd by the police. Our students are watching.” -Pedro Noguera, UCLA

“It is not enough to acknowledge the inequities that exist. Now is the time to direct our collective outrage to create real change.” -Karen Niemi, President & CEO, CASEL

It is important that we educate ourselves and others and serve as allies and lend support to youth to take the lead on this issue. There are many resources being offered by OST organizations. Below are a few resources that may be helpful which were suggested by the California Afterschool Network (CAN).

“The out-of-school time field is one of liberation; it has always been a space fertile for the birthing and development of a future we have yet to behold. A future where the hearts of our children are on fire with possibilities, their minds are filled with images of wonder, their ears are filled with freedom songs and their bodies are FREE. Their bodies are FREE. FREE to live, to grow, to be.”- Isabelle Mussard, JD, Executive Director, CalSAC


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Engaging Youth in the 2020 Election

By Sam Piha

(This blog was authored prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this point the decision to re-open schools in the Fall, and afterschool programs, is not yet clear. Thus, at the end of the blog, we list some suggestions on how youth can be involved in the Fall election digitally.)

The 2020 election offers a number of opportunities to engage older youth and with recent Black Lives Matters escalating efforts, there is no better time for youth to be involved in making a change through the ballot box. We can frame these efforts as “meaningful participation”, “civic engagement”, “youth leadership” or “community service”. There are a number of organizations and initiatives that have designed curriculums, program tools and other materials to assist afterschool providers in their efforts to engage youth in the 2020 election.

Source: Getty Images

Did you know that young people can pre-register to vote at the age of 16-17? I didn’t, until I learned this from some of these materials below. There are a number of ways that youth can be involved in the 2020 election, even if they are not old enough to vote. These include sponsoring a voter registration event, supporting family and friend’s participation, uplifting stories and issues they care about, supporting a candidate’s campaign through volunteering or being part of the election process.

Donny Faaliliu,
After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles
We asked Donny Faaliliu, Director of Leadership and Community Outreach with After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles, how they are planning to engage youth in the 2020 elections. He responded, "After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles plans to engage our high school students through our youth leadership programs. The expectations would be for each school to host informative meetings on campus to educate students to use their voice through the voting process. The Democracy Class curriculum will help us to accomplish this goal. This curriculum is user friendly and the activity plans are easy to follow. It is a great resource for students because it provides valuable information on voter education, registration and the importance of voter turn-out. The webinar trainings were also very helpful and informative on how to best maximize this wonderful resource."

We also learned about how teachers and youth workers can use a video by rapper, Yellopain, entitled, "My Vote Don't Count," which can be viewed by clicking on the image below. 

Source: Yellopain, "My Vote Don't Count"

Below are a number of resources that you can check out:
You can also learn more by exploring these websites:
Digital tools for youth who want to engage in the 2020 election:

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Re-Opening Afterschool: Priorities and Practice

By Sam Piha

We know that young people missed a lot of classroom learning time when schools were closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. We also know that afterschool programs will likely be pressured to help make up for this classroom time that was lost. Afterschool programs may feel pressured to make up for these missed instructional minutes by doubling down on academics. But we know that afterschool programs have something much more important to offer. High quality afterschool programs specialize in positive relationships, safe and supportive environments, and engaging activities. All of these rejuvenating experiences will be essential to get students’ brains re-balanced and ready for learning after an incredibly disruptive spring and summer. We can anticipate that the transition to learning will be particularly hard for students who may be coming from unstable or stressful environments. Afterschool programs can play a vital role in supporting learning and well-being by focusing on their core areas of expertise and experience.
Katie Brackenridge (L) and Dr. Deborah Moroney (R)

On May 18, 2020 we sponsored a webinar entitled, COVID-19 Era- Afterschool’s Whole Child Approach featuring Katie Brackenridge (Turnaround for Children) and Deborah Moroney (AIR). You can view a recording of the webinar here

Katie offered Turnaround for Children's “3-R’s Framework” (Relationships, Routines, Resilience) to describe how we should prioritize our work when we re-open afterschool programs. Below she offered relevant practice examples:

Relationships: For example-

  • Learn about your students’ lives
  • Talk to students one- on- one
  • Check-in with families
  • Run morning meetings/ advisories
  • Loop teachers for more than one year

Routines: For example-

  • Co-create and practice norms and routines
  • Keep it simple- clear instructions, written signs and non-verbal signals
  • Model ways to organize and prioritize tasks 

Resilience: For example-

  • Liberally spread oxytocin with smiles, hugs and laughs
  • Be attuned to individual students’ emotions and reactions
  • Use mindfulness, journaling, movement to calm the brain



Katie Brackenridge joined Turnaround for Children in 2019 as a Partnership Director. Katie has worked in and with schools, school districts and community organizations for her entire career. Before becoming a consultant, Katie was the Vice President of Programs at the Partnership for Children & Youth (PCY). Katie’s work is grounded in her nine-year experience as Co-Executive Director for the Jamestown Community Center, a grassroots youth organization in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Dr. Deborah Moroney is the Managing Director, American Institutes of Research (AIR). She specializes in bridging research and practice, having worked as a staff member for out-of-school programs early in her career. She's written practitioner and organizational guides; co-authored the fourth edition of Beyond the Bell®, A Toolkit for Creating High-Quality Afterschool and Expanded Learning Programs, a seminal afterschool resource. Presently, Dr. Moroney serves as the principal investigator on national studies of afterschool initiatives.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

How Can Afterschool Address Menstrual Equity?

By Sam Piha

Maggie Di Sanza, Bleed Shamelessly
Different communities and individuals have strong opinions about how schools and youth programs treat the issues surrounding human sexuality. We were interested in hearing the views of a young person who is taking a stand on one of these issues.

Maggie Di Sanza is a 16-year-old high school student and advocate for menstrual equity. We first learned about Maggie through her article in EdWeek and her website, Bleed Shamelessly, which works to put an end to the harmful stigmas against menstruation and further gender equity through journalism, education, and protest.

Below are Maggie’s responses to some of our interview questions regarding her work.

Q: How would you define ‘menstrual equity’?

A: Menstrual equity refers to the idea that period hygiene should be a fundamental human right. It encompasses the philosophy that everyone who needs menstrual products, should be able to get them, and that natural need should not inhibit access to education or work. The reason that the term ‘equity’ is used as opposed to ‘equality,’ is because of the economic and social disparities that plague our society.

Q: You have written about the role of schools in supporting menstrual equity, but what about out of school programs that serve a large number of older girls? 

A: Afterschool and summer programs carry the same barrier that typical school programs do when it comes to menstrual equity. From supplying menstrual products in all public restrooms, to complete and inclusive education. As a start, ensuring that all restrooms provide pads and tampons for free. No student should be concerned with paying for their menstrual products; as to not get in the way of their education, afterschool and summer programs can ensure that the district or individual school provides said products. This involves clear cut and administrative advocacy.

If it is the job of an after school or summer program to prompt sexual or reproductive health conversations, make sure that you are promoting inclusive and accurate information. If we open the conversation up to gender-expansive and transgender people, much more testimony and accurate information surrounding menstrual stigma becomes clear. Especially when it comes to adolescents, who are already questioning a great deal about gender and sexuality, affirming their bodily experiences regardless of sex or gender, is incredibly important.

Q: How can staff promote menstrual equity while being inclusive to transgender or non-binary youth?

A: Staff can affirm this idea through using gender neutral language when referring to menstruation. Instead of addressing period-having people as women, girls, or females, I do my best to use gender neutral language. This is because not all menstruating people are women, and not all women menstruate.

As we know, typical gendered language does not apply to the transgender, or gender-expansive community; these groups are constantly disregarded when speaking about reproductive health, healthcare, and education. Thus, it is the job of all advocates for menstrual and reproductive healthcare to include all folks in the conversations. I urge all people beginning this conversation to refer to period-having people as menstruating folks, as opposed to using strictly feminine-tied language. Thus, we will eventually disassociate womanhood, with menstruation.

Next, we can ensure that our education is inclusive and accurate by respecting and sharing testimony and menstrual experiences. Everyone experiences menstruation in different ways, shaming someone for not properly experiencing a bodily function is unproductive and dehumanizing. Instead, we can promote the different ways that menstruation occurs by sharing, recognizing, and valuing the encounters of others.

Everyone will, at some point, come across someone who is on their period. Simply because one does not identify with a particular group or experiences does not negate the fact that it is important to have sensitivity regarding the issue. Imagine the compassionate and inclusive society we could have, if we did not limit our education to such outdated binaries.

Q: What about youth programs that offer information related to sexuality?

A: We must make sure to bridge the gaps that traditional schooling excludes from menstrual education. Teach about what healthy menstruation looks like, and equally, what unhealthy menstruation can look like. Educate students about the products they can use to manage their periods, and how to properly take control of their own healthcare and bodies. Inform them of where to get menstrual products, and how they can support their peers who may not have access to menstrual products. Include information surrounding the menstrual disparities that plague our world, and how we can all take action in terms of abolishing social stigma as well as the systemic barriers to menstrual products.

Q: If the schools in which these programs exist do not have any policies or support for menstrual equity, how can after-school programs take on an advocacy role? 

A: Those working for and managing afterschool and summer programs can write letters to head administrative staff in a district or school, and ask why certain bathrooms do not have free menstrual products. Urge them to promote not only the wellbeing, but education of all students in order to maintain productive and just educational environments. This can be as simple as an email-writing campaign, or a call to a principal or superintendent.

When advocating for free menstrual products in schools, it is important to emphasize the impact on the productivity of students. How can we expect menstruating students to succeed educationally if we do not give them the tools to manage their periods? If we ensure that menstrual products are physically accessible, it removes the common barrier to education and productivity that many period-havers face. It is the job of out-of-school programs to promote menstrual equity through education and conversation. By pointing out the ways in which students are inhibited by the system itself, administrators are far more likely to adjust their policy.

Menstrual hygiene should be a fundamental human right; we should no longer perceive making menstrual products accessible as a privilege to those receiving them. It is not a privilege to have a period; but rather it is a necessity for those in power to provide the tools to manage it.

You can also advocate by uplifting student testimony. Listen to and value the experiences of students within the program who have faced similar inequality when it comes to menstrual education or a lack of accessible products. Use their stories to advocate for your position and push for their experiences and values to be heard.

[Read this article on this topic from a Philadelphia newspaper.]

How are afterschool programs supporting girls through menstrual equity? 
Please write us regarding any activities you conduct in you program. 


Maggie Di Sanza is currently a junior at James Madison Memorial High School in Madison, Wisconsin. Social justice has always been a large part of her life, and promoting the wellbeing of all people. She is currently the Co-President of Memorial’s Gender Equity Association, and a member of our Sexual Assault Prevention Club, GSA, and Student Activist Club. She has lobbied for rights at the capitol, protested alongside her peers for equal rights, and presented the importance of equality at multiple educational institutions. She started Bleed Shamelessly with the hope of educating others about the menstrual inequities that exist in our culture, and improving accessibility to menstrual hygiene products; because she believes no one should feel incapable due to their period.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

COVID-19 Crisis: Articles by Dr. Shawn Ginwright (SFSU) and Jennifer Peck (PCY)

Shawn Ginwright and Jennifer Peck are important leaders in the afterschool and youth development movements. They have both been frequent contributors to our blogs and conferences. Below are articles they recently published during the COVID-19 crisis.

Coronavirus Underscores Need for Healing America's Racial Divisions 

By Dr. Shawn Ginwright

A history of policies that exclude and inflict harm have led to higher rates of persistent traumatic stress environment, leaving African Americans and Lations more vulnerable in the fight against COVID-19.

Now is the time to shape a new world and remedy past injustices. The reports of racial disparities among COVID-19 victims should not surprise us. African Americans and Latinos have typically experienced disproportionate exposure to a range of health issues. (Read the full article published in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 14, 2020.)

Source: Getty Images/ iStockphoto

Summer Matters More Than Ever

By Jennifer Peck

There are some unique challenges in front of us as we think about this coming summer, when learning loss, social disconnection and mental health challenges will be as intense as ever.

We should be doubling down on supports for kids over the summer, but there are a lot of unknowns. We don’t yet know to what extent we will be allowed to congregate in groups and when. We don’t know what the resource picture will look like. We don’t know how we can staff programs. The barriers seem immense, and feel overwhelming while our system is still trying to implement distance learning at scale.

What we cannot do is become paralyzed. There is too much at stake. Right now, we must be planning for different scenarios so that we can be ready to serve as many students as possible with various combinations of virtual and small group in-person time, including creative, project-based activities for students. (Read the full article published on on April 24, 2020.)
Source: Partnership for Children & Youth (PCY)

Shawn Ginwright is professor of Education, and African American Studies at San Francisco State University and chairman of the Board of Directors for the California Endowment. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Pivot: A Dramatic Shift Toward a Healing Centered Society. Dr. Ginwright has been a frequent contributor and speaker for Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation.

Jennifer Peck, Executive Director of the Partnership for Children & Youth (PCY), has led the organization since its founding in 2001.  During this time, she has grown PCY to be the leading California intermediary building access to high quality expanded learning opportunities for students living in our state’s lowest-income communities. Jennifer led the creation of the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance, the California Summer Matters Campaign, the California Community Schools Network, and HousED which builds on-site learning supports for students living in public and affordable housing.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Supporting the Whole Child in Afterschool

By Sam Piha

Katie Brackenridge
(Note: The COVID-19 pandemic has been very disruptive to afterschool providers and we will cover this topic ongoing. However, as afterschool leaders plan for Summer and next Fall, we will also offer posts that advances thinking for the afterschool movement.)

Katie Brackenridge is a long- time pioneer and advocate for afterschool learning opportunities which promote positive youth development. She recently joined Turnaround for Children, and we interviewed her regarding their Developing the Whole Child project. Below are some of her responses.

Q: Can you say something about Turnaround for Children. 

A: Turnaround for Children was founded immediately after the 9/11 attacks in New York City. Our founder, Dr. Pamela Cantor, was commissioned by the NYC Board of Education to assess the impact of the attacks on the city’s public school students. She found that 68% of the children observed were experiencing trauma that impaired their school functioning. But, the trauma was not related to the attacks, rather it was from their on-going experience of adversity and stress from growing up in poverty.

This realization led Dr. Cantor to initiate a set of supports in New York City that involved intensive mental health services for students in schools in high poverty communities. Turnaround for Children has since expanded beyond New York City to schools and school districts in Washington DC, Chicago, Tulsa and the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a member of the Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance, which includes the Learning Policy Institute, the Forum for Youth Investment, the American Institutes for Research, Education Counsel and Populace.

Katie Brackenridge will be joined by Dr. Deborah Moroney (AIR) to host a webinar on COVID-19 Era- Afterschool's Whole Child Approach.
Q: Regarding your work on the Developing the Whole Child project, can you cite the main takeaways of the brain science that undergirds the work?

A: I’ve been working in the youth development field for a very long time. As a young after school educator, I figured out quickly that having good relationships with students made my job easier and more enjoyable for everyone. In my thirties, I was involved in all the great San Francisco work that you, Sam, were leading with the Community Network for Youth Development where I learned the research backing for positive relationships and supportive environments.

From the science, I’ve now learned that relationships and environments are important because that’s how our brains are wired. You can find a full description in this article and in this video on the SoLD Alliance website. The key takeaways are:

  • The brain develops in response to our context - the experiences, relationships and environments that surround us.
  • This process happens over our lifetime, not just in early childhood as previously thought.
  • The fact that context matters so much is both an opportunity and a vulnerability.
  • Negative contexts - with ongoing and unbuffered adversity, trauma and stress - can be seriously damaging to children’s brains and bodies. This is the biological consequence of too much cortisol and adrenaline over extended periods of time.
  • On the upside, oxytocin (the “love” hormone) is a powerful counterbalance to cortisol and adrenaline. Oxytocin is released as a result of positive relationships and experiences. This is why you feel good when someone smiles at, compliments, or hugs you.
  • Children experiencing toxic stress are primed to respond quickly to perceived threats and danger. This instinctual response often shows up in classrooms and youth programs as misbehavior, inability to focus and difficulty learning.

This science provides the biological rationale for the positive relationships and safe, supportive environments that researchers and practitioners have found to be so important and effective.

Q: Can you cite the primary essentials for the Developing the Whole Child framework that supports all aspects of child development?

A: Youth developers will see the immediate parallels to expanded learning quality standards and the principles of Learning in Afterschool and Summer from Temescal Associates.

Turnaround’s Vision for Student Success takes the Blue Wheel into practice for schools (and possibly youth development organizations) by defining resources and tools at the educator, classroom and school level, all supported by strong leadership and shared ownership. The Turnaround wheel looks like this:

For each of the components of the Vision for Student Success (VSSS), Turnaround has professional development resources and practice toolkits. The “Whole Child Inventory” allows staff to self- assess their current strategies, structures and practices against criteria in each component of the VSSS.

Q: The concepts represented in your blue wheel are very similar to earlier research on youth development, the features of quality afterschool programs, the YPQA, etc. What do you think are the added benefits of the Whole Child wheel? 

A: What’s exciting to me is that this framework and the science of learning are a strong and concrete affirmation of the youth program quality standards, in place across the country. They provide further call to action for school systems and youth development organizations to work together to provide more consistency and coherence in young people’s experiences.

YD Guide 2.0
The frameworks and related tools provide some new and more specific approaches for some of youth development’s tried and true practices. Turnaround, for example, has taken the concept of relationships and further defined - based on research - the exact characteristics that need to be in place for a relationship to be developmental and therefore impactful. These characteristics include emotional attachment, reciprocity, joint activity and balance of power. The message is not different from youth development principles, but provides a level of detail based in science that can help practitioners be more intentional.

Turnaround also names the specific skills and mindsets (the Building Blocks for Learning) that young people need to succeed. Executive Functions, for example, are the skills that everyone needs to get things done and include remembering what you’re supposed to do, keeping yourself on task and being flexible when things change or don’t work out. These Executive Functions are particularly challenging for young people who experience adversity because they require high functioning of our pre-frontal cortex (regulation) and hippocampus (learning and memory) and not as much from the amygdala (reactions and emotion). Teachers and youth developers can help students build Executive Functions by teaching them to use tools (ie: calendars, check lists, breathing) and structures (ie: visual reminders, quiet spaces) that help them succeed academically and in all kinds of tasks. This additional information and the way it is translated into practices can help educators, including youth developers, be more intentional and individualized in their support for students.

Q: Does your organization offer any tools or resources that will help afterschool program leaders implement practices that support the development of the whole child?

A: Turnaround is primarily focused on K-12 education, but, clearly the science of learning and development is relevant to the youth development field. Many of the tools and resources could be easily adapted for youth development leaders and practitioners. The Forum for Youth Investment is a member of the SoLD Alliance and is intentionally working to ensure that the perspectives and strengths of the youth development field are understood and leveraged as the momentum around the science of learning and development builds. The science of learning and development is a significant asset to after school and summer programs, particularly those that are hoping to align more closely with the school day. The science clearly validates youth development practice and supports the building of authentic partnerships for student skills and success.

Katie Brackenridge joined Turnaround for Children in 2019 as a Partnership Director. Katie has worked in and with schools, school districts and community organizations for her entire career. Most recently, she was an independent consultant focused on improving learning conditions and social-emotional supports for young people through public school systems. Before becoming a consultant, Katie was the Vice President of Programs at the Partnership for Children & Youth (PCY), a nonprofit intermediary organization focused on improving practice and policy for after-school and summer programs in public schools and affordable housing. Katie’s work is grounded in her nine-year experience as Co-Executive Director for the Jamestown Community Center, a grassroots youth organization in the Mission District of San Francisco. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Pause: Cultivate Grace for Yourself and Your Community

By Sam Piha

For many years we have been promoting the effectiveness of mindfulness activities in afterschool- both for adult staff and youth participants. We have posted blogs, offered trainings to schools and created a 16- week mindfulness curriculum for afterschool leaders.

In this COVID-19 world, activities that help adults and young people release stress, be aware of one’s emotions, and stay in the moment have never been more important.
Mindfulness provides immediate feedback to adult staff. Taking a breath while letting the thought pass is indeed helpful when your inner voice is shouting doom and gloom. Interrupting the critical voices in one’s head allows a pathway for creative thinking (which is always necessary for afterschool programs adult staff).”- Allison Haynes, Riverside County Office of Education 

On Thursday, May 7th, 2020 (10:00am-11:00am PST) we invite you to participate in an upcoming webinar entitled, Pause: Cultivate Grace for Yourself and Your Community. Grace is most easily found in the present moment. Journey with Laurie Grossman and Stacey Daraio to learn mindfulness practices that you can share with your community to live in the present. You will leave calmer than when you arrived and with resources to use and share.

Laurie Grossman
Laurie Grossman is the Director of Social Justice & Educational Equity for Inner Explorer. She cofounded Mindful Schools in 2007. With Angelina Alvarez Manriquez and 4th & 5th grade students at Reach Academy in East Oakland, California, she wrote Master of Mindfulness How to Be Your Own Superhero in Times of Stress and Breath Friends Forever.

Stacey Daraio
Stacey Daraio is Co-Director of Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation. Along with Laurie Grossman, she co-authored the Mindfulness in Afterschool, a 16-week curriculum, and has supported its implementation in schools and afterschool programs throughout California.

To learn more and to register, click here.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Can Youth "Check-in" Remotely? There's an App for That

By Sam Piha
Source: L-, R- HelloYello

One of the most important things about expanded learning programs (ELP) is for youth to have the opportunity to check-in with a trusted, caring adult. This is reinforced by the literature on positive youth development, social emotional learning (SEL) and trauma informed practice. We have written several blogs and articles on the importance of checking-in with youth.

But how can we continue that when our programs are closed due to COVID-19 and our afterschool participants are sheltering in place?

Source: Temescal Associates
Brandon and Ryan Sportel,  brothers and educators, developed an online application to allow young people to check in, called HelloYello. We first learned about HelloYello while researching our paper “Promoting SEL and Character Skills in Expanded Learning Programs.” We will offer a webinar introducing this application and showing afterschool practitioners how to use it. Below we include some responses from an interview we did with Brandon. (Because this was developed for teachers, they use the terms “student” instead of “youth,” and “teacher” instead of “youth program leader”).

Q: Can you briefly describe what the Hello Yello app is for? 

A: The HelloYello App is for strengthening student/staff relationships. It is a web-based app that students use to "check- in" with their teachers to express their thoughts and feelings, and share their daily experiences. Teachers, educators, counselors, and afterschool staff use HelloYello to understand all of their students from a "whole child" perspective, monitor their students' emotional wellness, and sustain trusting relationships.

Q: Can you briefly tell us the origin story about the development of the app? 

A: Our work began with students that struggle with emotions and behaviors.  As Education Specialists, we noticed that students benefited significantly when given opportunities to send us confidential messages about their feelings and experiences. So, we created a platform that validates student voices, and guides educators to be mentors and support staff. To read more about the origin story, click here.
To register and learn more, click here.

Q: During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, do you think this would be a good resource for afterschool programs that are shuttered, but want to maintain contact with their youth participants?

A: Yes, especially because it allows meaningful connections but maintains important social boundaries.

Q: Can you briefly describe how the HelloYello app works?  

A: Students login and are invited to share their feelings (using emoticons), thoughts and/or experiences; program leaders view a feed of student comments, and respond by simply letting the student know they got their message. We invite people to visit our website to learn more.

Source: HelloYello
Q: Is the app easy and safe for children to use?

A: The app is designed to be very easy to use and is completely safe since students can only share information with the leaders/coordinators in their ELP.  HelloYello is also registered with The Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC).

Q: If program leaders are interested in contacting HelloYello, can you provide an email address/ name?
A: Brandon Sportel, CEO

Ryan Sportel is a Dean of Students at Goleta Valley Junior High and Brandon Sportel is an Educational Specialist that runs a Learning Center at Barbara Webster Elementary. Both have combined experience of over 37 years in education. Brandon was the 2014 Milken Educator for CA, 2015 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year, and 2014 Carpinteria Teacher of the Year. Ryan was the Principal at Deveruex of Santa Barbara, a non-public school that served students at all grade levels. Both are highly regarded as pioneers in the social emotional learning space, and have had significant success in leading professional development training for districts on how to work with students that need mental health and behavior support.
Click here to review a recent article entitled, "There's An App for That- School Counseling and SEL Go Online."

Monday, April 20, 2020

Afterschool Program Changes Due to COVID-19

By Sam Piha

Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation developed a survey to learn how afterschool programs were adapting to new COVID-19 developments. The survey was issued on March 25, 2020 and was closed on April 9, 2020. We received 304 responses and below offer an executive summary of the findings. In the parenthesis, we cite the percentages or the actual count of responses. You can find a link to the survey executive summary and the full report with detailed chart and listings of the responses.


STAFFING EFFECTS: Most program staffing has been negatively effected due to COVID-19. Effects include: staff working from home (66%), lay- offs (20%), re-assignment of duties (17%), furloughed (20%), reduced staff/ hours or no work (9%) and other (9%).

  • My three full-time workers including myself work from home my other 30+ workers are not getting paid right now.
  • Staff have been offered the opportunity to work from our main office in separate spaces for the 8 sites maintaining safe social distancing.
  • Clubs have reduced staff but are still providing virtual learning to youth. 

If staff received re-assignment, they were re-assigned to work from home (15%), or to provide emergency services (8%). Other responses included re-assignment to youth group homes and crisis centers, distributing youth activity packages, and creating virtual or online materials. Respondents were asked by what percentage their staff was reduced. Their responses were 0-25% (27%), 26-50% (13%), 51-75% (11%) and 76-100% (48%).

We asked respondents how long they could survive while retaining staff. Their responses were: less than a month (17%), 1- 3 months (50%), 4- 6 months (8%), through the end of the school year (19%) and 6 months or more (6%).


PROGRAMS THAT PROVIDE SICK LEAVE BENEFITS: 66%. The length of sick leave varied: 24 hours (12%), 1-5 days (12%), 6-13 days (25%), 2 weeks (13%), more than 2 weeks (9%) and hours accrued (29%).


TO MAINTAIN STAFF COHESION: Respondents cited communicate through email, text messages, phone calls (30%); communicate thought social media, Zoom conferencing and work emails (33%); engaging with webinars, online meetings, PD and other apps (26%); and daily/ weekly staff check-ins (12%).

  • We will begin Zoom meetings this week. We are in constant communication by email and text. My staff have weekly assignment to do.
  • We have video conferences to start and end the day. We are also logged into a group chat via Google Hangouts, so we can ask questions/ help one another during the day.

TO CONTINUE STAFF DEVELOPMENT: Respondents cited using online training/ webinars (54%); increased meetings, email and check-ins (6%); engaging in Zoom meetings (13%) and other (15%).

  • After School Coordinators are creating weekly professional development (PD) and provide the PD through either zoom or google hangouts. One on One training depending on staff needs.  
  • We are using this time for long term planning that we otherwise don't take the time to do.
  • We are very fortunate to be an SEL grant site. Our staff will have online virtual training and Zoom sessions that will focus on self- care and they will receive stipend dollars for participating. It will not make up for lost hourly wages, but it will help and we already know the quality and usefulness of these trainings are invaluable.   

TO MAINTAIN CONTACT WITH YOUTH PARTICIPANTS: Most programs are seeking to maintain virtual contact with their youth. Strategies being used include: emails and text messages (17%); engaging on an online platform (19%); engaging with phone calls, social media (Facebook) (28%); sending out mail or activity packets (4%); engaging in Zoom meetings or calls (16%) and other (10%).

  • Most of our districts have moved to instructional packets. We have given electronic copies of these to all of our staff. Each program is creating an online platform via Google Classroom and will be hosting live virtual homework help, and we are also working on virtual programming to be offered regularly throughout the week (e.g., interactive fitness classes, pre-recorded fitness challenges, interactive clubs).
  • We have been using Parent Square, sending Robo Calls and updating our social media pages.
  • Group texts and creating a youth targeted Instagram page. Only program participant youth are allowed to register.    

TO MAINTAIN CONTACT/ SUPPORT WITH PARTICIPANTS’ FAMILIES: Strategies include: engaging on social media, Zoom conferencing, through other websites or updated web pages (26%); phone calls, texts or emails (42%); through food distributing or delivered activity packets (6%) and other (17%).

IMMEDIATE: Program leaders cited many different needs. They included: to care for staff safety and health (3%); better online options and greater access to technology (9%); supplies (11%); better guidance, information and planning (13%); funding (29%); increased online activities and resources (2%) and other (18%).

  • We need to know what will happen with funding and how attendance will be tracked/counted during this time. Not knowing leaves my team with a feeling anxiety and uncertainty.
  • Funds to pay staff to develop activities via our virtual platforms. Electronic devices to distribute to students to keep them engaged as 100 % of my students live below poverty.

INTERMEDIATE NEEDS: Program leaders cited many different needs. They included: to care for staff safety and health (5%); more guidance, directions and information (9%); funding (53%); developing greater access to technology (7%); supplies and activity kits (7%); long term plans (6%) and other (7%).

  • Computer Literacy resources for parents who must oversee distant learning and external supports to students who may not have access to adults in home to monitor learning.
  • Finding strategies to keep our students engaged, motivated, and productive through distance learning.  

TRANSITIONING OUT-OF-SCHOOL WORKFORCE TO PROVIDE ESSENTIAL SERVICES: Program leaders suggested several ideas and concerns. Ideas included: providing childcare to essential workers (4%), offering grocery services (27%), offering delivery services (29%), developing activities, care packages and food distribution (27%) and other (11%).

  • Supporting food pantry sites (packing, offloading, meal delivery). Creating activity books/ learning packages for kids to do at home that can be self- guided. 
  • Delivery would be nice. Food service for lunches. Working in collaboration with schools to make relevant, interactive fun videos for Club members.
  • Our employees do not want to put themselves or their families at risk by transitioning to provide essential services.  

OVERALL IMPACTS FROM THE COVID-19 CRISIS: Program leaders report that staff, youth and their families are very stressed and concerned.

  • We are completely shut down and beginning in April we will lose about 170k in monthly revenue if schools remain closed.
  • Unhappy stakeholders, children are uneducated at home, many parent(s) DO NOT spend time reading to their children during this crisis because they are out working trying to make ends meet, put food on the table, pay bills, and trying not to get COVID-19 while doing their duty to provide for their family.
  • The feeling of uncertainty sits with all of us. My team has been working to create a virtual program/ platform for our students and families, but it's uncharted waters and many of them are discouraged. Stakeholders have been understanding and appreciate that we are trying to innovate and maintain a meaningful connection/support system to our students.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Respondents were asked to provide any additional comments/ changes/ developments to their program.

  • Our management team and most of our team members share that they feel we will be stronger and better than ever after this experience. We're committed to our kids and to each other and we'll get through this and be even closer to each other.
  • Please share these results with us. I am interested in what others are thinking. This will be good info for our stakeholders. Thanks for asking these important questions.
  • We want our infrastructure to remain strong and need flexible funding so that we can nimbly respond immediately when called to serve, amid the crisis or once orders are lifted. We are most concerned with the physical and emotional wellbeing of our families and staff, now, as the pandemic worsens and when everyone reintegrates after this collective trauma.  

ROLES: Respondents varied from program staff member working directly with children (26%), manages a single program (33%), oversee 2-10 programs (28%), oversee 11 and up programs (16%), and other (6%).
LOCATION: Most of the respondents were located in California (54%) and Florida (43%). We also received responses from leaders in Texas, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York, Washington, Virginia, Missouri and Washington DC.
PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCES: CA State ASES (41%), CA State ASSETs/ CCLC (12%), Federal CCLC (19%), private funders (34%), participant fees (12%), city/ local (2%), and other (13%).
NUMBER OF YOUNG PEOPLE SERVED: Respondents represented programs serving 10- 50 (12%), 50- 100 (26%), 100- 200 (21%), 200-1000 (37%), 1000- 5000 (6%), and more than 5000 youth participants (.03%).

FULL REPORT DETAILS: To access a detailed report, including many of the “other- write in” responses, click here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Teens in the Age of COVID-19

By Sam Piha

Many teenagers have been effected by the COVID-19 crisis including the closure of schools and youth programs. But how are they experiencing this crisis and how are they responding? Below are some examples of how teens are coping during this time.

Source: KALW

“tbh” stands for “to be honest “. It is also the name of a podcast on KALW that is made by, about, and for teenagers. And for anybody else who wants to hear what's on their minds.

Source: KALW

Many schools are shut down which leaves tens of thousands of students at home, finding ways to learn, to cope, and to find joy. The teenagers who make “tbh" put together a special edition dedicated to life during the coronavirus crisis.

To listen to the full podcast, click here.


Common Sense Media conducted a poll of teenagers, age 13-17, to gather their experiences of the Coronavirus restrictions. Below we offer the key findings and you can read more here.

  1. Teens are worried about how the coronavirus will affect their families. (61%) Hispanic/Latino teenagers are especially worried about the financial effects: Nearly nine in 10 Hispanic/Latino teens say they're worried about the impact on their family's ability to make a living.
  2. The coronavirus pandemic is making many teens feel lonely. (42%) Girls are more likely than boys to say they feel more lonely than usual (49% vs. 36%).
  3. Texting and social media are providing social outlets for teens
  4. But texting and social media with friends may not be enough. (48%) 
  5. The outbreak is bringing many families together. (40%)
  6. Teens are connecting to others through a variety of means—even phone calls! The top ways to stay connected to people they can no longer see in person are texting (83%), phone calls (72%), social media (66%), and video chats (66%).
  7. The spread of the coronavirus has upended school for teens, with 95% of 13- to 17-year-olds in the U.S. reporting the cancellation of in-person classes at their schools. Black and Hispanic/Latino teens are significantly more likely than White teens to be worried about keeping up with schoolwork. Girls are more likely than boys to say they're worried about keeping up with both schoolwork and extracurriculars.
  8. Many teens aren't connecting with their teachers. 
  9. Finding space to do schoolwork is a challenge for many teens. (28%)
  10. Compared to pre-pandemic times, teens are looking to news organizations for information. (47%)

“Teenagers of color are more likely to say they're worried that they or someone in their family will be exposed to the virus and about the potential economic effect on their family. Hispanic/Latino teenagers are especially worried about the financial effects: Nearly nine in 10 Hispanic/Latino teens say they're worried about the impact on their family's ability to make a living.” - Common Sense Media

(Text by KTVU)

Source: BoredBreadHeads on Instagram
Talia is usually a busy teenager in Oakland, Calif. She plays soccer, studies hard and hangs out with friends. Or at least she used to. Her life looked very different before the coronavirus stay-at-home order was issued three weeks ago, upending her life, along with most of the rest of the country. So she and countless others across the country are turning to one of the few hobbies that hasn't been banned: Baking bread.

"I find it so satisfying," the Oakland Technical High senior said. "I have so much time, and I can wait for the dough to rise."

Locked in her home for much of the day, the 18-year-old's kitchen and culinary feats look extremely professional. She said she watches YouTube videos to help her hone her newfound craft. And she's not alone. She and her friends created a BoredBreadHeads Instagram account, where they are sharing photos of their finished products. So far, they've made bagels, cinnamon buns, focaccia, babka and donuts. Their bio reads: "Sum bored teens during q-time."

Source: BoredBreadHeads on Instagram

Clyde, 18, also of Oakland, was baking long before coronavirus shook his world. But now, he's making his own sourdough starter, pretty much out of necessity. "We didn't have any bread in the house and my parents are really resistant to go to the grocery store," he said. "So, if I wanted to make a sandwich, I had to bake my own bread."

Clyde said he has always loved the scientific wonders of turning a bacteria in the air into something that could be nourishing. But now that process is even more significant. "It just shows that not everything out there in the air is dangerous or contagious," he said.


The Town Kitchen, a catering company located in Oakland, Ca provides youth with culinary training and employment. During this time, they are offering home catering and food delivery. Check them out here.

Source: The Town Kitchen

"We're excited to share some new resources that have been added to our Virtual Resources for Teens document.  Each week, we are going to add additional resources that are teen-specific. This week we added three new topics and resources on VOTING, HISTORY and COLLEGE READINESS. For some teens, this is a good time for them to learn a new skill. There's also resources for mindfulness and mental health, because we know that this is a stressful and unusual time for everyone."

Calling For Racial Equity

Source: San Francisco Chronicle By Sam Piha The recent protests demanding racial equity have resulted in many supportive statements ...