Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Engaging Youth as Workers

By Sam Piha

Today, we know that extended learning opportunities offered through afterschool programs for older youth are important to their success. As a result, high school afterschool programs are growing in number across the country. Many of these programs are striving to engage older youth as workers and helpers within the program. We believe that these strategies are well-aligned to the Learning in Afterschool principles in that they offer learning that is active, collaborative, meaningful, geared for mastery and expand horizons.

In Engaging Youth as Workers Within High School Afterschool Programs, we offer guidelines regarding the employment and compensation of youth who are engaged as workers within the program, and share strategies that are currently being used by ASSETs programs to engage high school age youth in this way.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The "Third Place" for Afterschool Programs

By Sam Piha

A growing number of families with school age children reside in affordable housing settings. Many of these intentional communities have access to afterschool programs provided by resident service organizations. Housing-based afterschool programs for children and youth represent the third place for afterschool programs, following those that are operated within public schools and the community.

It is essential that we shine a light on the importance of youth programming within these settings, which have previously been overshadowed by school and community-based programs. Afterschool programs in affordable housing settings often have superior knowledge of and access to the families of the young participants and have the advantage of being open during school holidays and during the summer. You can learn more about this critical setting by clicking on the articles below.

In Afterschool Programs in Affordable Housing Communities, we provide a brief overview of affordable housing communities and explain why in many cases these settings are the best places to offer afterschool programs to low-income families. We offer a number of comments based on our interviews with several leaders of resident service organizations who support afterschool programming.

In a second article, After School and Beyond: A Profile of Hope Through Housing Foundation's Youth Development Programwe focus on one resident service organization and take a close look at their efforts to provide quality afterschool programs at 37 locations. To review Hope's evaluation of their programs, click here

Monday, May 9, 2011

Afterschool Programs Matter for Rural Youth

By Logan Robertson, guest blogger


The term “urban” is often conflated with “youth,” a practice that tends to diminish or even make invisible the distinct experiences of youth who do not live in “the inner-city.” The urban context is understood as standard, while the rural context is usually conceptualized in terms of myths of the idealized countryside and the idyllic childhood.

While the issues faced by urban youth often take center stage in academic research and popular media, rural youth must meet similar and unique challenges, though in decidedly different environments. Afterschool programs are crucial for older youth in rural communities – for many young people, the afterschool program may be the only safe place during non-school hours, the only chance to try new activities and skills, and the one chance outside of school to develop positive relationships with peers and role models. Afterschool programs create resources that help rural youth negotiate the transition to successful adulthood.

As such, youth practitioners and advocates must persist in their efforts to develop afterschool programs for high school students in rural communities, to make rural youth programs more visible to the afterschool field, and emphasize the important role that such programs can have, not only for rural youth, but for the communities in which they live.

To view a profile of one rural school-based afterschool program serving high school age youth, see an article that I recently wrote with Temescal Associates entitled “I Feel Like I’m Somebody: Older Youth and High School Afterschool Programs in a Rural California Town.” To view a recent publication from the Harvard Family Research Project entitled “Out of School Time Programs in Rural Areas” click here. To join a committee on afterschool programs serving rural communities sponsored by the California Afterschool Network, click here.

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Logan Robertson, PhD, is Assistant Director of Community Services for Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District. She is also a member of the California School-Age Consortium’s Trainer Network, the Tulare County Youth Commission, and the California Afterschool Network’s Rural Programs Committee.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Obstacles and Successes in Rural Afterschool Programs

By Kimberly Boyer, guest blogger 

More than 20 percent of America's children attend public schools in rural areas. The state of California ranks among the highest in rates of mobility among rural households and rural students who are English Language Learners. It comes as no surprise that students in rural Central Valley communities face unique obstacles early in life that can perpetuate a pattern of poverty, disenfranchisement and missed opportunities. The benefits of afterschool programs for youth are well documented. Yet, rural schools often struggle to reach the very students who can benefit from these outstanding, free programs. A March 2011 report from the Harvard Family Research Project called "Out-of-School Time Programs in Rural Areas," reveals four major challenges rural programs must overcome: Read more to learn about the four challenges, local examples and successes.
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Dr. Kim Boyer is a former director of staff development and research for the Central Valley Afterschool Foundation and currently the interim executive director. She has seven years experience working directly with children as an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles, and as an afterschool program coordinator in Fresno.

For the past two years at CVAF, Kim has helped design and facilitate the Region VII ASSETs Learning Community, in addition to providing support to develop high quality elementary afterschool programs through trainings and onsite coaching. She continues to be involved in the sustainability of high school ASSETs programs, in the development of tools and resources to support Quality Self-Assessment, and in the implementation of English language learner support in afterschool.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Going the Extra Mile: Afterschool in Continuation High School Settings

By Sam Piha

Continuation high schools serve a very vulnerable group of young people who are often considered at-risk because of various challenges in their lives, including family disruption, mental health issues, substance abuse, violence and aggression, and other nonacademic barriers (de Velasco et al, 2008). Many youth arrive behind in the credits needed for graduation, lacking fundamental academic and organizational skills, and are disengaged from school, their communities, and positive adult role models.

Nowhere is the opportunity for afterschool learning more important than in continuation high schools. Many of these youth face a number of challenges in their lives and are often highly disengaged, having failed in and been failed by the traditional school system. These youth clearly need more – more caring adults who know them, more ways to complete the requirements for graduation, and more preparation for life after high school. Afterschool programs that model the Learning in Afterschool learning principles are well positioned to help this population of youth as well as the continuation schools that work to serve them.


In Going The Extra Mile, we focus on the potential of afterschool programs to serve the multiple needs of older youth in California continuation high school settings. We begin by offering an overview of continuation high schools in California. We next provide a description of afterschool programs currently operating using the 21st CCLC funds. We rely on an interview with a program supervisor who oversees several programs in the Bay Area and a survey of programs across the state, which we conducted as part of our research. 

In a Case Study: The SPOT Program at Ralphe J. Bunche Academywe profile one continuation high school afterschool program and provide interviews we conducted at two different afterschool programs at continuation high schools. For a video produced by a Bay Area afterschool program serving older youth in a continuation high school setting, click here. For more research and resources on continuation schools, click here