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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Stream Finding the Gold Within

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
Over the last two years, we have sponsored numerous screenings of Finding the Gold Within, a film by Karina Epperlein

FINDING THE GOLD WITHIN follows six African American college students from Akron, Ohio, for three and a half years. They have been mentored by the unique after school program Alchemy, Inc. and are well equipped with self-confidence and critical-thinking skills, ready to become the heroes within their own stories. The protagonists grow before our eyes, whether navigating racial provocations, or seeking support with friends, estranged fathers, and wise grandmothers. Each of them is hell-bent on disproving society's stereotypes and low expectations. What will their paths and trials look like?


Screening and appearances at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Photos by Timothy Teague
These screenings were conducted in partnership with Alameda County Office of Education; the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families; and Oakland Unified School District. Our latest screening was for participants at the 2017 BOOST Conference. We also featured mentors and youth from Alchemy, Inc. at our conferences and Speaker's Forums


We are excited to announce that Finding the Gold Within is now available for streaming on several platforms: Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and Hoopla.

We encourage everyone to view this documentary and share with youth and other afterschool stakeholders.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Call or write Congress to support afterschool and summer learning programs

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
During the Bill Clinton presidential administration, Congress approved the first appropriation for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC). It was one of the fastest growing social programs in our country’s history. 

President Trump’s budget calls for eliminating funding for the 21st CCLC. It’s now up to Congress. Nearly two million children and families would be left without reliable afterschool choices.

You can make a difference: call on Congress to protect funding for afterschool and summer learning programs. The Afterschool Alliance is urging afterschool advocates to phone their representatives on Wednesday, June 7th but you can call or write anytime. We wrote to Rep. Barbara Lee, and she quickly replied. 


Below are some resources that may be helpful. 

  • You can go here to find talking points and suggestions from the Afterschool Alliance to assist you with your call or letter. 



Photo Credit: The Afterschool Alliance
*Please note that calling your representative in Congress to urge them to save 21st CCLC funds is considered lobbying and should not be done during staff hours paid for by 21st CCLC funds. If you have any questions on what you can do to participate, please feel free to reach out to the Afterschool Alliance. 



Thursday, June 1, 2017

Mindfulness Trickle Up - From Afterschool to School

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
We have been promoting the use of mindfulness techniques in afterschool to address the self care of youth workers and the needs of youth participants. Mindfulness is well aligned with social emotional learning (SEL).

There is new information and growing evidence that confirms that mindfulness exercises within school and afterschool settings are excellent ways to promote the health and well-being of adult staff and increase impulse control and ability to stay focused among youth who participate in the exercises. 

Over the years, we have conducted trainings for the Riverside County Office of Education and Delano Union School District. We have posted interviews with Ken Dyar and Allison Haynes on their experience of Mindfulness in Afterschool.


Dr. Katarina Roy Schanz
We were thrilled when Dr. Katarina Roy Schanz, Student Assistance Program Coordinator at Riverside Unified School District, requested training for her in-school staff. This was a great example of "trickle up" -  from afterschool to school day.

Below Dr. Roy Schanz responded to a couple of questions for this blog post.

Q: Why are you bringing mindfulness into Riverside Unified School District?

A: The primary target group for this mindfulness training are our Student Assistance Program (SAP) Counselors and SAP Behavior Support Teams. We are hoping to add another skill set for them to use in their work with students. Additionally, adding mindfulness to their self-care practice will help the team both personally and professionally.


Photo Credit: http://www.theidproject.org/

Q: What are you hoping that you can accomplish with mindfulness training for school personnel? 

A: The research around mindfulness in schools prompted our decision to provide this training for our Student Assistance Program team. They will then take their learning to the staff and students at their respective schools. We’re hoping that by implementing a mindfulness practice, we will see decreases in anxiety and improvements in self-awareness and social-emotional skills, among other positive changes.

--------------------
Dr. Katarina Roy Schanz is the Coordinator of the Student Assistance Program with Riverside Unified School District. Dr. Roy Schanz has been an educator for 21 years. She has served as a school counselor, assistant principal, and principal. Dr. Roy Schanz holds two Master’s degrees, one in School Counseling from the University of La Verne and the other in Educational Administration from California State University, San Bernardino. Additionally, she earned her Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne.
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Temescal Associates developed a 16-week curriculum for afterschool workers as well as a two-day training for school and afterschool staff. You can view the curriculum here and contact us if you wish to purchase a full color hard copy.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Advocating for Sustained Funding of Youth Programs: An Interview with Margaret Brodkin, Part 2

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
With the call to defund the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers Initiative, never has it been more important that we act to ensure the sustainability of funding for youth programs. Below, we provide Part 2 of an interview with Margaret Brodkin (view Part 1 here). Ms. Brodkin led a campaign in the early 1990’s to develop a permanent “children’s fund” in San Francisco – a stable and sustainable fund of city tax dollars dedicated to programs that support children and youth. 

Ms. Brodkin has gone on to assist cities and counties across the country to develop their own “children’s fund”. 

Q: Can you give details on what else this “children’s fund” proposal included? 

A: The latest version of the Children’s Fund passed in 2014. There were lots of other provisions in this version, as well as the other versions – although we kept adding stuff each time. Major provisions included:
Photo Credit:
https://cacnc.org

1) Creation of a Children’s Baseline Budget. This required the city to calculate what is being spent on kids every year, and not reducing that amount in each year’s budget. The Baseline could also go up (or down) with the city’s revenues. This turned out to be as valuable as having new revenue. 

2) Creation of an Advisory and Oversight Committee appointed by the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor with the power to oversee the Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families (DCYF) budget, have input into the hiring of the DCYF director, and approve the community needs assessment and allocation plan.


3) Creation of a planning process that required a Community Needs Assessment, defining multiple levels of input from the community and all relevant city departments, and an Allocation Plan that determines what services will be funded and by how much.

4) In 2014, the age range of those served was expanded to age 24, with a special funding stream for transitional age youth.

5) Requires program evaluations for what is funded.

6) Has a specific list of services that can be funded. Services include: youth development, family support, early care and education, career readiness, violence prevention. It also includes services that cannot be funded using Children’s Fund monies. This includes funding for law enforcement. 

7) Creation of a Providers Advisory Committee to DCYF.

8) 25 year sunset.

Q: In what ways was this revolutionary for American cities?
Photo Credit:
http://www.childrensaidsociety.org/

A: We were the first city in the country to do anything like this. Other people looked at it and it got replicated in a number of other places, like Oakland, Portland, and Seattle. I have a project where I’m helping cities and counties around the state do the same thing. 

I work with people now trying to do the same thing and one of the biggest barriers they face are city representatives saying, “that's not our job – it’s not something you use city government dollars to do. That’s the job of state, federal, and foundation dollars. Our job is to provide police and fire and this is somebody else's job”. 

Q: What were some of the bigger challenges and lessons?

A: The challenges we faced were political in nature. When you want to get money out of the government, its politicians that ultimately have to do it, or the public in our case. We had to put the issue before the public with an election. There were a number of things:

1) We are working in a field that has a huge amount of power because there are so many of us - youth workers, child care workers, and parents. What we do is so important but we're not good politicians. One of the challenges is how do you train a field to use its political power? 

It took years and years to get people to feel like “I can go into city hall; I can testify; I can bring parents from my program; I can be part of the budget process; I can walk precincts; I can become a political force for the things that I believe in”. That's a major change in how we think of ourselves, not just as people who care for kids and young people, but people who can use their political power to change policies.
Photo Credit:
http://fonddulac.uwex.edu/
2) Part of the challenge is getting out of our bubble where everybody is a child care worker, and figure out who our allies are. I was in a meeting yesterday in another county where they're trying to do a children's fund and who's at the table? The iron workers. How do we align ourselves with labor? How do we align ourselves with the faith community? How do we develop a broader base of support for the things that we believe in? 

I’m as guilty as anyone. We use a language no one understands. So we have to learn a whole set of new skills. How do you talk to people who have no idea what you're talking about when you actually say “youth development”? It’s not a common phrase. What do you really mean by that? It’s a whole process of learning how to be in a political arena, in an arena where you have to persuade people.


Photo Credit: http://www.margaretbrodkin.com/
3) Another challenge is that the people in our field are really, really nice people. They don't like to talk about money, so they don't like to say we need money. Playing hardball politics is really, really hard. It doesn't come naturally to all people. 

4) How can we all get on the same page? How do we not fight with each other - the child care people fighting with the youth development people, fighting with the family support people? We have to learn how to develop a common agenda and work together or we diffuse our power and our ability to get things done.

-------------------------------
Margaret Brodkin
Margaret Brodkin is a nationally recognized children’s advocate and policy pioneer and known as the “Mother of the San Francisco Children’s Fund,” a multi-million dollar annual fund that made San Francisco the first city in the country to provide local dedicated funding for children. She is currently Founder and Director of Funding the Next Generation.


Ms. Brodkin served 26 years as Director of Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth in San Francisco, California – turning a small community organization into an influential powerhouse for kids and a national model for creating a diverse and lasting local children’s movement. Ms. Brodkin later served as Director of San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth & Their Families. She then served as the Director of New Day for Learning – an intermediary partnership organization launching San Francisco’s community school initiative, resulting in the institutionalization of community schools as a centerpiece of the SFUSD education reforms.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Advocating for Sustained Funding of Youth Programs: An Interview with Margaret Brodkin, Part 1

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
For over 100 years, afterschool and youth development programs have struggled to secure stable, sustainable funding. Why is this? Is it because we don’t value our children or believe in the importance of out-of-school learning and support? Or is it structural? 

We conducted an interview with Margaret Brodkin, who led a campaign in the early 1990’s to develop a permanent “children’s fund” in San Francisco – a stable and sustainable fund of city tax dollars dedicated to programs that support children and youth. Ms. Brodkin has gone on to assist cities and counties across the country to develop their own “children’s fund”. Below, we offer part one of a two-part interview with Ms. Brodkin. 

Q: How did you get into this business? 

A: My first job, in the early 1970s in San Francisco, was to run the children's program at the Jewish Community Center. What we began to notice was that there was a group of parents who would send their kid to the art class on Monday, dance class on Tuesday, gymnastics class on Wednesday, who really needed something every day. 

'Afterschool' wasn't a common word. The idea that someone needed a program every day for their kids was controversial at the time, because women weren't supposed to work. We decided to start this everyday, after school program. We had to get a special grant to do it, I had to get in my car and drive around and pick up all the kids who were in that program.
Photo Credit:
http://www.beyondchron.org/

The program is still in existence and now it is the largest after school program in San Francisco. It started by realizing that kids needed an every day experience. My idea about the importance of community centers - whether its the YMCA or the Boys and Girls Club or the Jewish Community Center or neighborhood center - that kind of community institution was such a fabulous resource. 


The other experience that shaped my perspective was a conference I attended that featured Richard Murphy and Geoffrey Canada. They were talking about the New York Beacon Centers. The idea that a school could be a community center was new. A school could be the place where children and families could come and belong, and it could be the center of the community. It just riveted me, as a model, and came back from the conference and said, “we've got to do this in San Francisco”. 

I think that it is a model for everywhere because every child goes to school. Schools should be the center of neighborhood life. It’s a model that's appropriate for the suburbs, for a city, and particularly appropriate for a rural area. 

Q: You were instrumental in drafting a city proposition to ensure the city had the needed resources to positively impact youth outcomes. What were some of the basic changes that this initiative brought? 

A: At that time, I was the head of a children's advocacy organization in San Francisco where we worked on lots of issues trying to get services and programs for kids but we always hit a brick wall - there was never the money to do it. So we started a crusade to get money for children's services. We introduced the idea of a children's budget and submitted that to the city for three years in a row.


Photo Credit:
https://onpublico.com
We would have some wins, we would have some losses, but we could never really compete with police and fire and the other things the city felt were their responsibility. We got the idea that we would put a measure on the ballot to create a dedicated fund that we call the “children's fund” that would just be for children and youth services. This would be an operating part of how San Francisco did its business.

Everybody in city hall opposed it because they didn't want to carve out money for kids. They wanted the flexibility to add more police, etc. and we said, “no - kids will never be able to compete in the dog eat dog budget process”. We decided to put this on the ballot. We collected 67,000 signatures and it passed. Now its been reauthorized three times - the first time it was passed was in 1991. It became the major source of funding for children's services in San Francisco. 

The children's movement in San Francisco became a political force to be reckoned with and it started with getting this measure passed. We went on for every year getting additional dollars in the budget, getting additional policies changed. 

Q: What did the passage of this proposition change in San Francisco? 

A: There were several changes: 
1) It created this funding stream. The original Children’s Fund was a set aside of 2.5% of the property tax, and we inched it up in each reauthorization campaign, so it is now 4%. The first year it was in effect in 1992, it was $12 million; and within a year it will be $94.7 million.

2) It gave us a huge amount of flexibility with what we could do at the local level. It allowed us to go into neighborhoods that no one had been in before, it allowed us to serve new populations like children with disabilities and LGBTQ young people. That's how we ended up funding the Beacons; that's how we ended up funding health services in the schools; its how we ended up funding arts programs; and more. 
Photo Credit:
http://diycampaigns.com/

3) It allowed us to focus on prevention. So many resources go in to address problems after they exist, like after a child is in trouble, or after someone is sick or involved in the child welfare system. It gave the city the opportunity to invest in prevention.

4) It allowed us to create a new office, the Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families, which I had the opportunity to lead for five years. This office provided the mechanism for planning; for coordinating; for giving out the money; for holding people accountable; for having a transparent process that people can get engaged in. 

5) By having all this local money, people could leverage state and federal money. This was a huge success for the youth and children's movement and we gained a kind of power to continue the good fight.

-------------------------

Margaret Brodkin
Margaret Brodkin is a nationally recognized children’s advocate and policy pioneer and known as the “Mother of the San Francisco Children’s Fund,” a multi-million dollar annual fund that made San Francisco the first city in the country to provide local dedicated funding for children. She is currently Founder and Director of Funding the Next Generation

Ms. Brodkin served 26 years as Director of Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth in San Francisco, California – turning a small community organization into an influential powerhouse for kids and a national model for creating a diverse and lasting local children’s movement. Ms. Brodkin later served as Director of San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth & Their Families. She then served as the Director of New Day for Learning – an intermediary partnership organization launching San Francisco’s community school initiative, resulting in the institutionalization of community schools as a centerpiece of the SFUSD education reforms.




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Afterschool Program Quality and Effectiveness: 25 Years of Results!!

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
It is important that afterschool supporters have access to studies that have shown that afterschool is an effective strategy to support young people’s success in school, work, and life. This is especially important because the Trump Administration has proposed the elimination of the 21st CCLC because they “lack strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement.”

Are afterschool programs effective? We asked our colleagues at Policy Studies Associates (PSA), a leading organization that has studied this question. Below are remarks from Christina Russell, Managing Director at PSA. 



Christina Russell,
Managing Director at PSA
“Through our partnerships over the last 25 years with afterschool programs throughout the U.S., our evaluation team at PSA has seen that afterschool programs can benefit youth, families, schools, and communities in many ways. We have seen evidence that high-quality afterschool programs:

  • Keep students safe
  • Engage students in learning
  • Improve students’ academic performance
  • Develop students’ core competencies for success in life and careers 
  • Support working families 
  • Are in demand

As the afterschool field has matured, we have evaluated the implementation and impact of various program models, technical assistance interventions, and system-building efforts designed to improve the capacity and quality of programs. The research shows—and programs know—that quality matters. Afterschool providers have engaged in continuous improvement initiatives to become more intentional in program planning and to increase program participation, through internal assessment and tracking systems as well as through external evaluation.

We also know that afterschool programs play important, varying, and evolving roles in education. Effective afterschool programs are not cookie-cutter:  they strategically partner with schools and communities to identify gaps and the priority needs of students, and to design services to meet those needs.  As a result, some programs may focus on strengthening the academic outcomes of students, some on the development of essential life skills, and others on closing the opportunity gap through enriching, experiential experiences that expand the school day.   


Our brief entitled, Afterschool Program Quality and Effectiveness, curates the key, policy-relevant findings on the implementation and effectiveness of afterschool programs. In addition, the brief links to some of our most important reports on afterschool initiatives implemented throughout the U.S. 

We hope that the brief makes our research findings accessible. For any of the topics touched on in the brief, there is a wealth of existing data as well as new questions to be explored, and we encourage you to reach out to discuss how PSA’s evaluation expertise can support your efforts as you continue to advocate for and strengthen afterschool.”

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Christina Russell is Managing Director at Policy Studies Associates (PSA) and leads studies focused on expanded learning opportunities and their role in promoting positive social and educational outcomes for youth in grades K-12. Ms. Russell also directs evaluation projects designed to inform efforts to improve program quality and capacity. Ms. Russell has extensive experience designing and managing studies that employ both quantitative and qualitative research methods to assess the implementation and impact of education and youth development initiatives.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

You Matter. Your Staff Matters.

By Guest Blogger, Rebecca Fabiano

Rebecca Fabiano
Research has shown that one of the top three reasons why youth stay in after school programs is because of their connection to the staff. YOU MATTER. YOUR STAFF MATTERS.

Those of us who have been in the field for more than a minute know that staff retention can be just as challenging as retaining the participants. Try these things as non-traditional ways to support, motivate and acknowledge your staff.


1. Work with them to PRESENT at one of the local, state or National Conferences; this helps to showcase their talent, their strengths and helps them to deepen their and your organization's networks.

2. For staff in a new role, like that of a supervisor, pair them up with a mentor (either in your organization or from a 'sister' organization); transitioning into a new role can be exciting and challenging, having someone to turn to who has gone through it before to provide a little extra guidance can help ensure success. And then, when they are ready, have them be a mentor to someone.



3. Find ways to show case their strengths and talents; perhaps they can run a photography or cooking workshop for other staff or participants, which may be a little different from their regular responsibilities. Consider sending them to a training or a workshop that speaks to their interests in addition to the required training (like CPR, mandated reporting, etc.)

4. Ask them how they like to be motivated and acknowledged! Not everyone likes the public shout-out at the staff meeting, and others hope for it every week. When you check in with your staff, find out how they like to be acknowledged, you might be surprised to find out a simple thank you note in their staff mailbox could go a long way. My staff used to love a 'good job!' sticker every now and then. Who knew!? You will, after you ask them.

NOTE from Sam Piha, Temescal Associates: I first met Rebecca in 2004 when she was directing The (high school) After School Program in Lincoln Square. I was so impressed with her approach that I wrote a description of her program for the National Institute on Out-of-School Time. You can view it here

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Rebecca Fabiano is Founder of Rebecca Fabiano Consulting Services (RFCS), a small business that supports organizations and individuals that work with children and youth by focusing on improving program quality and providing professional development for staff. Rebecca has an extensive background as an executive in non-profit program administration & leadership, youth development, and adult education. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Expanding Horizons, Positive Youth Development, and SEL: The Power of Nature, Part 2

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
Offering young people the chance to experience nature, particularly wilderness settings, provides powerful opportunities to promote social-emotional learning, build character skills, and build relationships and a sense of belonging. (See Part 1 of this blog post here.)

Below we continue our interview with youth program leaders who can speak directly to the power of outdoor and wilderness experiences for youth, especially inner-city youth.


Q: Exposing youth to the outdoors can be an expensive and complex task. For programs that do not have access to transportation or camping equipment, what is your recommendation for how they can expose their youth to the outdoors?
Bob Cabeza,
Youth Institute

Bob Cabeza, Youth Institute: I would strongly recommend partnering with agencies who have lots of experience in outdoor education as well as experience in Youth Development. Make sure that they have diverse staff as role models and leaders for the youth. Otherwise, its usually white enfranchised staff from wealthier socio-economic backgrounds and environments who are totally into the wilderness and environment due to life long access but know very little nor can empathize with inner city minority youth. 

A day trip does not give any type of long term impact that a multi-day camping wilderness experience does. They are not the same thing. Also, minority low-income youth need to gain access to beautiful nature, not just a local park. According to National Park data, over 92% of people who visit the parks are caucasian and older. We need to turn that around quickly or this generation will not have the love of the outdoors and advocate for the environment when they get older. 

We contract with other agencies and YMCA's nationally to take youth into the wilderness. I would advise programs to start small. Start with a few youth and staff and maybe a three day camping experience. That way, the cost is less and the staff gain confidence and experience as they move forward.

Brad Lupien,
arc
Brad Lupien and Staff from arc: Transportation in particular is expensive which poses a challenge for may programs. Adventure Sports and camping can be costly too.  But, parks, beaches, forests are cheap. 

Some ideas:
  • There are lots of curriculum books out there for activities that can be done on a campus.  These may be east coast based and out of date but examples include; “Keepers of the Earth” and “And This our Life.”  Activities include leaf identification, nature art, gardening etc.  Essentially, you can bring nature to the schools. At the same time, getting OUT in nature is preferred.
  • There are cheaper ways to get kids into nature. Los Angeles added bus routes that have stops at State Parks.  “Surf Bus” offers surf instruction and the bus for free.  Online pages offer geocaching in local parks. The DOCENTS at city, state and national parks will do group specific walks/talks for free.
  • Finally, we, at arc, use the adventure outings as part of the leadership curriculum.  On campus classes and workshops on communication, problem solving, critical thinking, group dynamics are paired with culminating adventure/nature trips. This allows more expensive programs to be paired with less expensive programs which gets the overall budget to align.

Ashanti Branch, Ever Forward Club: I love the outdoor element, but it
requires an enormous amount of time and planning. To make this happen, we
Ashanti Branch,
Ever Forward Club
take advantage of the offerings of programs that specialize in taking youth on wilderness and camping trips. We partner with Bay Area Wilderness Training, which provides a gear library so that the cost barrier to getting youth outdoors is not a factor. We also partner with Young Men's Ultimate Weekend, a modern day Rites of Passage for young men. We have taken over 60 of our youth to this weekend over the years. This organization creates an outdoor weekend initiation for young men as they are making the journey from young men into mature adulthood. 


Q: What kind of experiences does your program offer youth? 

Bob Cabeza, Youth InstituteWe offer a one week wilderness retreat for our Youth as an entry point to the Youth Institute to help them develop socially and emotionally before we delve into the academic and workforce skill building parts of our program. These experiences are not 'cabin camp'. They are outward bound type of experiences where youth sleep on the ground, build their own shelters, cook, clean, do orienteering, hike, climb, swim in lakes and rivers. They are intense group work learning impactful transformational experiences for youth. Our Youth bond as one family through these experiences and in numerous evaluations, this experience is what keeps them actively engaged in all areas of our program for many years. 


Photo Credit: Youth Institute
Brad Lupien and Staff from arc: What arc Adventure doesn’t offer is a cookie-cutter program. Every kid, every teenager, and every adult is unique in every possible way, so our trips are as well. The most important thing an outdoor education experience can be is accessible, so that participants feel welcome in the new environment and are encouraged to come back. We don’t make assumptions about the groups that we work with, making them fit into the “arc” culture and way of running programs. We take the time to learn the school or team culture, the comfort and participation level of the group, and the things the group wants to accomplish in their time with us, so that our program is a natural extension of their learning and a singularly memorable experience that they’ll want to repeat again and again.

Arc programming ranges from single day adventures (rock climbing, snorkeling, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, surfing, canyoneering) to multi-day camping and backpacking trips.  Staff consist of certified guides to handle the adventures and naturalist/scientist to layer in the hands-on science.  Everyone is trained on youth development, leave-no-trace philosophy and group facilitation.  Whether working with a college, elementary school, church, or after school program we design the program to meet the unique needs of the group while always blending the “sport” with life and social skills lessons.  A day of rock climbing teaches figure 8 knots and ATC use but also how to deal with fear in our lives and how communication is a critical tool in goal setting.



Photo Credit: arc


Dr. Mark Schillinger, DC
YMUW
Dr. Mark Schillinger, Young Men's Ultimate Weekend: The Young Men's Ultimate Weekend is a modern, nonreligious, wilderness rite of passage initiation for young men ages 13 – 20. Young men of all socio - economic backgrounds attend our event in order to freely voice their concerns about becoming a man and acquire the leadership skills necessary for a responsible adulthood. Young men are in an environment where they can voice their concerns about adulthood, learn leadership skills and discover their own, personal values. The YMUW has a one-to-one ratio of mentors to young men, so young men are in a village with well-trained caring adult men who know how to model the right values.


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Bob Cabeza is Vice President of Community Development at the YMCA of Greater Long Beach and Founder of the Youth Institute. The Youth Institute is a year-round program that uses technology as an integral mechanism for promoting positive youth development and developing pathways to post secondary education and career readiness of low-income, culturally diverse urban high school youth. They built their program culture by exposing their youth to wilderness experiences. 

Brad Lupien is President and CEO at arcarc is an after school and experiential education provider. They bridge the opportunity gap by creating transformational learning opportunities that empower youth to realize their full potential. They rely heavily on engaging youth in outdoor sports and wilderness activities.


Ashanti Branch is Founder and Executive Director at Ever Forward Club. Founded in 2004, the Ever Forward Club mentors young men of color in middle and high school by providing them with safe, brave communities that build character and transform lives.  


Dr. Mark Schillinger, DC, is Co-Founder of Young Men's Ultimate Weekend (YMUW). The purpose of YMUW is to provide young men with a weekend filled with incredible fun and challenges, while building a foundation for a confident and successful adulthood, through learning the importance of teamwork, developing a sense of accomplishment and acquiring leadership skills.

Monday, April 24, 2017

#heartofafterschool

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week is a joint effort of community partners, afterschool programs, youth and child care workers and individuals who have committed to declaring the last full week of April each year as a time to recognize and appreciate those who work with youth during out-of-school hours. Join us for celebrations and display your appreciation to thank afterschool professionals who make a difference in the lives of young people. 


- National AfterSchool Association


Below are a number of resources that can help you celebrate this week. Click on the images below.




A good way to appreciate afterschool is to SAVE afterschool. Click on the images below to learn more.



You can learn more about why afterschool works from Mott Foundation CEO and Chairman, Bill White. You can click on the quote and view the video below. 



Thursday, April 13, 2017

Expanding Horizons, Positive Youth Development, and SEL: The Power of Nature, Part 1

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
When I managed afterschool programs in West Contra Costa County (CA), we found that taking young people into nature and the wilderness were very powerful experiences. These included backpacking, canoe trips, and a week long outdoor experience at the YMCA camp on the eel river. 

Below we offer two videos that capture the importance of taking young people into nature. The first video focuses on older youth who are learning to rock climb. The second video focuses on Oakland children who are visiting nearby Muir Woods. For many, this is the first time that they have been outside of the city.


Youth Development, Entrepreneurship, and Rock Climbing
Nature Now


National parks turn into classrooms to turn a 
new generation into nature lovers

You can view an article from the Greater Good Science Center and another article authored by Bob Cabeza. 

Below we offer an interview with youth program leaders who can speak directly to the power of outdoor and wilderness experiences for youth, especially inner-city youth.

Q: What are benefits to exposing young people to nature and the wilderness - benefits to individuals, the group, even the adult supervisors?


Bob Cabeza,
Youth Institute
Bob Cabeza, Youth InstituteNature is therapy to the nature deprived. Both young staff and youth create family bonds, learn about themselves and their place in the world and truly developed multiple skills simultaneously. It's layered hyper learning for all of the senses. Nature heals the wounds that society inflicts upon young people. Nature can be used as a rite of passage and as a medium to impact young people's lives in meaningful and productive ways. Such as helping them come to terms with issues in their lives. Helping them understand their potential and place in the world. There are numerous opportunities for metaphorical learning that are directly transferred into real life problem solving, academic and workforce skills. Nature unto itself teaches introspection and develops an appreciation of beauty and peace. It is meditative to the brain, heart and soul. 


Brad Lupien,
arc
Brad Lupien and Staff from arcA hike, paddle, peddle, climb, or adventure in the back country truly expands horizons.  By stripping away the noises, stresses and chaos of daily life, one’s mind can open up.  There is a reason that across all cultures and religions prolonged time in nature is a rite of passage, a path to a higher being, and method for enlightenment.  More practically, adventure sports, gear and experience has become a pastime of the wealthy.  But, our parks, forests and beaches are free … or very inexpensive.  

Taking kids into nature is a simple and inexpensive way to close an opportunity gap. If we know that learning happens when it is active learning and/or collaborative learning, then outdoor education is a no brainer.  Young people must work together to reach a common goal (the top of a mountain, a distant island, or a the other side of a stream) and passive observation as you ascend, paddle, or traverse is simply not an option.   At arc, we often find that the adults staff joining the group as “chaperones” become “co-players” without prompt or push.  They come as the adult authority and leave as a co-participant.  The experience brings out the inner child and melts the traditional student/teacher, learner/presenter relationships.  Learning becomes collaborative with the adult vs for the adult.


Ashanti Branch,
Ever Forward Club

Ashanti Branch, Ever Forward Club
Outdoors are a bonding opportunity for youth. Getting young men out of their regular environment allows for an opening of the mind and a deepening of the heart. Often times within the confines of the concrete jungles with all of the radio waves and search for bars and likes; our young people often miss out on deep conversations and connections that they desperately want and need.  






Dr. Mark Schillinger, DC
YMUW
Dr. Mark Schillinger, Young Men's Ultimate WeekendAs a youth mentor, I have dealt with many young men who are having a hard time in school, struggling to have healthy relationships, and suffering from emotional problems because of their lack of exposure to the healing qualities of nature and to the lessons it offers.

I have seen how getting young men active and involved in group outdoor activities has helped them develop analytical skills. The demands of being outdoors force them to evaluate situations carefully and to hone their masculine wisdom and logic to make good decisions. Being outside, as it turns out, is not only good for their bodies—it’s also good for cognition. Something magical happens when young men are given the freedom to experience nature. Socially, physically, and mentally, they grow. Nature is the best classroom for them to discover who they really are, practice accepting and dealing with real-world situations, and gain trust in other males and their ability to work together to get things done. They develop confidence in their instincts and overcome their fears of the unknown.

Q: This is important for all children and youth. Why is it especially important for low-income and inner-city youth?

Bob Cabeza, Youth InstituteWell run outdoor education programs in nature teach problem solving, social and emotional learning, build intense positive relationships between peers and adults. It also tests ones confidence and develops critical, analytical, abstract and sequential thinking skills. These experiences can be tailored to teach communication skills, diversity and decision-making, and intense long term team building. – Bob Cabeza

Brad Lupien and Staff from arcThe importance of exposing low-income and inner-city youth to the outdoors cannot be overstated. Many students form our urban centers have no exposure to the state parks, forest areas, public beaches, and lakes right in their backyards.  Once they experience nature’s classroom and playground for the first time an awakening can occur within them. 

Half of the kayaking trips we take with low-income Los Angeles youth find that the kids have lived in LA their whole life, but have never seen the ocean. Most of the trips we lead with inner-city youth see the most common questions not being about the bugs or the dirt, but “Is this free?” and “Can I take my family?” After playing in the outdoors and feeling that instant connection to nature, it opens up a whole new world that students want to be part of, and they want to take their families with them. It exposes them to healthy lifestyles, environmental awareness, and a love of wildlife that they might not otherwise have access to. 

Dr. Mark Schillinger, Young Men's Ultimate Weekend: Getting young children out into nature is important for inner-city youth. Inner-city youth tend to be closed-in by buildings, buses and bulldozers. Nature is the perfect playground for them to more fully challenge their brains in a healthy way to develop their learning skills. Because movement and learning go hand-in-hand, nature affords young people the ability to move more freely, without worry of getting hurt or hurting others. Additionally, inner-city youth are under a great deal of stress. Nature is the perfect playground to release their pent-up energy safely and freely. Additionally, by being out in nature – especially at night – children learn to develop the virtue of, "awe". It's important for inner-city youth to begin to contemplate that nature does not only include the earth, but also includes a vast and mysterious universe that needs to be explored.

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Bob Cabeza is Vice President of Community Development at the YMCA of Greater Long Beach and Founder of the Youth Institute. The Youth Institute is a year-round program that uses technology as an integral mechanism for promoting positive youth development and developing pathways to post secondary education and career readiness of low-income, culturally diverse urban high school youth. They built their program culture by exposing their youth to wilderness experiences. 

Brad Lupien is President and CEO at arcarc is an after school and experiential education provider. They bridge the opportunity gap by creating transformational learning opportunities that empower youth to realize their full potential. They rely heavily on engaging youth in outdoor sports and wilderness activities.

Ashanti Branch is Founder and Executive Director at Ever Forward Club. Founded in 2004, the Ever Forward Club mentors young men of color in middle and high school by providing them with safe, brave communities that build character and transform lives.  

Dr. Mark Schillinger, DC, is Co-Founder of Young Men's Ultimate Weekend (YMUW). The purpose of YMUW is to provide young men with a weekend filled with incredible fun and challenges, while building a foundation for a confident and successful adulthood, through learning the importance of teamwork, developing a sense of accomplishment and acquiring leadership skills.