Monday, October 25, 2021

Civic Engagement and Activism in Afterschool Programs: An Interview with a Youth Activist

Source: We the People (Netflix)

By Sam Piha

According to the Afterschool Alliance, “The afterschool field is an essential partner in ensuring that all children have the ability to participate in immersive, relevant, and hands-on civic engagement opportunities.” Not only are civic engagement strategies participatory strategies, they contribute to the positive development of youth and the health of our democracy. 


Not only do young people have the capacity to understand the world around them, they have the capacity to lead it.”
- Gabe Abdellatif, youth contributor and former trustee, America’s Promise Alliance 


We will post a series of blogs to inform and encourage expanded learning programs to start today infusing civic engagement and activism in their afterschool program. NOTE: There are many program resources on the topic, some of which are detailed in our paper, Youth Civic Engagement and Activism in Expanded Learning Programs. You can view previous blogs from this series here. You can also view a recent recording of our webinar on this topic here.

In this blog we interview a youth activist. Ann Guiam (she/they) is a 20 year old Filipinx youth, from San Pablo/Richmond, CA who currently works with RYSE Youth Center.

Ann Guiam
Q: How did you become active in social causes?

A: Growing up, I always hear about the social issues that have impacted my homeland, the Philippines, and further into the issues here in the US. I’ve joined programs and opportunities that have helped me expand my social justice awareness. During my sophomore year of high school, our school Richmond High, was one of the local high schools in our district to call on action regarding the election results in 2016. The impact and rage it created in my community showed me how powerful we can be to make a change. It wasn’t only adults, the majority of those who showed up and marched in the streets to city hall were youth. The unity I witnessed and experienced motivated me to seek opportunities where I can further see, hear, and be with my community to move into great changes.

In my junior year, I had the opportunity to take on “artivism” by crafting a quilt through the Social Justice Sewing Academy, touching on the issues of gun violence across the nation, by visualizing and questioning the “beauty” of this country, in spite of all the violence impacting the lives of people, majority being the BBIPOC community, both directly and indirectly, while honoring the lives harmed and lost. Later in the school year, the Richmond Youth Organizing Team internship of RYSE was introduced to students through outreach of our Youth Coordinator, Diana Diaz. After learning about this opportunity, I realized this is my time and opportunity to get more involved with social justice and community organizing. As of now, I have been involved with RYSE since April 2018, during which time I have become a youth intern, where I gained connections and a chosen family, with people who were also driven and empowered to be a voice for their community. Now as a staff member, I am a Youth Organizing Program Assistant at RYSE, continuing to be a radical youth and community organizer in Richmond. 

Q: What are you working on currently? 

A: Currently I am co-planning a summer internship opportunity for youth in Richmond, where they can have a collective space and they can learn and discuss the roots and values of abolition, while getting to know Richmond and creating a space for healing, culture and resilience. Youth also will have the opportunity to create their own transformative campaign and policy for local societal issues. 

Aside from this work, I am also part of the Youth Anti-Displacement, which is a cohort of Bay Area organizations who are currently working on projects to spread awareness on displacement currently happening in the Bay Area. 

Q: In your view, why is youth voice and youth activism important? 

A: Hearing, seeing, and feeling youth take action and step out, is one of the most beautiful things to witness in our existence. The power youth hold and deliver is one of the ingredients to liberation. Youth voices are important because we are loud and proud, we are straightforward and know what we want to change. The resilience youth have shown lately is the epiphany of youth power and activism. Youth activism involves actions and views that can be thought of as the alternative perspective to how others may approach certain issues. Youth voices cannot be lowered down because we find ways to be heard, youth are not afraid to stand up for others, and see things fall down. We know a lot of things that are happening will be in our hands until we grow old, we don't only look back at the past to change it anymore, now we make the present matter the most, for it will determine the future. 

Q: What advice do you have for afterschool programs who want to provide opportunities for youth to become civically engaged?

A: Encourage youth to decide and take action. Whether it is choosing topics to discuss, or choosing an activity set from their interest in social justice. Seek spaces where they will feel like they belong. Set opportunities where there can be workshops that help youth create their pathways to be involved through their own identities, culture, and challenges. Always acknowledge their own curiosity to things whether it's through their families, friends, schools or communities, where they can find involvement and awareness.

Q: What activities and issues do you think youth are most interested in?

A: Right now a lot of youth have been interested in learning more about issues on police brutality, racial injustice, environmental injustice, broken healthcare systems, along with other systemic issues; food insecurity, and more. Activities that can tie into these issues can be a workshop for Know Your Rights, learning about systems and how it leads to the Prison Industrial Complex, and more. Other activities can also include ways youth can develop leadership skills and individual skills they want to have or improve, anything that can support their growth and self-power. 

Q: Looking ahead, what are your plans for continuing your activism? 

A: I see myself getting more involved in my community, through RYSE and other opportunities that may come my way. Richmond or elsewhere, I will continue to walk with the movement locally happening, finding more ways to serve our youth, adults, and elders. Continuing to be resilient, be with community, seek and make change, keeping the radical fights alive, all through healing and transformative actions, until we reach the liberation our people deserve. 


Ann Guiam (she/they) is a 20 year old Filipinx youth, from San Pablo/Richmond, CA. She started as a youth intern at RYSE at the age of 16. By going through the leadership pipeline of being an intern to fellow, she is now a Youth Organizing Program Assistant at Richmond’s RYSE Youth Center. Ann centers radical organizing for social justice issues by expressing her leadership and diligence through community engagement, youth power advocacy, art (artivism/poetry), fighting against displacement, and more, all with love and solidarity.

ABOUT RYSE: RYSE Youth Center creates safe spaces grounded in social justice for young people to love, learn, educate, heal and transform lives and communities. RYSE Youth Center was born out of a youth organizing movement initiated in 2000 in response to a string of homicides near Richmond High School. Students organized more than 1,500 youth and adult community members to address the lack of safety at school and in the community. Young people, local officials, and stakeholders partnered to comprehensively assess youth- identified priorities and solutions. RYSE had served over 5,000 youth members and reached 10,000 more through outreach, and community events in Richmond and West Contra Costa County. 


We are hosting a webinar/ Speaker’s Forum on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 from 10:00am- 12:00pm (PST) entitled, Afterschool as a Teacher PathwayThe purpose of this webinar is to inform and encourage OST leaders on how best to develop/join and promote an afterschool to teacher pathway. It is our intention to capture and share valuable and intriguing ideas from educational and OST leaders. To learn more and register, click the banner below.

We have also released a new briefing paper on this topic, which can be viewed and downloaded here.



Monday, October 18, 2021

Voices from the Field: Afterschool Workers Who Transitioned into Teaching

By Sam Piha

Source: A Natural Fit: Supporting After-School Staff of Color in Teacher Pipelines 

In a previous blog post, we wrote about the importance of afterschool programs representing a pathway to teaching. You can read the previous blog here. We encourage that afterschool leaders discuss this option/ pathway with their afterschool staff.

Below we share quotes from afterschool workers who advanced their career by becoming teachers. These quotes are from an important publication from The Education Trust entitled, A Natural Fit: Supporting After-School Staff of Color in Teacher Pipelines. (On a personal note, my career began with work in afterschool programs followed by 10 years of classroom teaching.)

Even though we were an after-school program, part of the staff was there during the school day, too. So, we did things similar to what a student teacher would do to support daytime teachers in their classrooms. Seeing what teachers did, and taking that knowledge and experience and trying to implement it in the after-school portion of it, made me feel like I could be a teacher, too.” 

The after-school program let me exert all kinds of my potential. It also brought out my true character of wanting to serve and help people — especially kids and people of the community.” 

“[The after-school/OST experience] just made [becoming a teacher] more concrete for me that I wanted to work in my own community, or communities of color.” 

It was different because I had that experience of connecting with students, especially students from different backgrounds. My other colleagues who didn’t really have experience had a harder time being able to teach the students because they couldn’t make that connection.” 

It prepared me to work with parents, because as an after-school counselor, we had to connect with families and speak to and communicate with them very often.” 

Source: www.collegescholarships.org

We had groups of students, we had lesson plans, unit plans, curricula, we had to internalize it. There was professional development on teacher voice, teacher presence, warm-strict, classroom management. We weren’t trained as though we were after-school babysitters. We were trained like we were teachers.“ 

It’s made me think about struggles that the students might face. In the after-school program, I’ve noticed a lot of students who are always hungry, or stuff like that. It’s influenced me to have snacks inside my classroom or to be more understanding of why a certain child is acting a certain way, because there are other outside factors that might be involved.” 

I absolutely loved building those relationships [in after-school/OST work], having those moments when students came to me to talk about things that were college-related or things that didn’t relate to school at all. Just having someone to relate to because I was someone like them.” 

“[The after-school/OST workers] know the students because they grew up in the same neighborhoods. They know the same police officers. They know the corner stores, they know the supermarkets, they know the libraries, they know what students have access to and what they don’t. So as far as connecting with the actual students, the families, the parents, they thrive. Because it’s one thing to know the school, but to also know your community.” 


We are hosting a webinar/ Speaker’s Forum on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 from 10:00am- 12:00pm (PST) entitled, Afterschool as a Teacher PathwayThe purpose of this webinar is to inform and encourage OST leaders on how best to develop/join and promote an afterschool to teacher pathway. It is our intention to capture and share valuable and intriguing ideas from educational and OST leaders. To learn more and register, click the banner below.

We have also released a new briefing paper on this topic, which can be viewed and downloaded here.


Monday, October 11, 2021

Policy Recommendations to Promote Youth Employment in Afterschool Programs

By Sam Piha

Involving older youth as workers within afterschool programs makes a great deal of sense. Engaging youth in this way addresses their developmental tasks and personal interests, helps develop their workforce skills, offers opportunities for leadership and service to others, and brings youth input, making the program more relevant. 

This is even more important post COVID. A recent study entitled, The State of Youth Employment-Navigating the World of Work During COVID-19 found:

  1. Young people in America are struggling—they are financially strained, emotionally drained, and facing significant barriers to employment. 
  2. COVID-19 and the related economic recession have disrupted young people’s work lives in myriad ways and prompted extraordinary levels of concern about the future. 
  3. The professional connections and supportive relationships that can help young people advance their work-related goals are out of reach for most youth. 
  4. Young people’s hope about their future work lives is in jeopardy. 
Afterschool programs can be part of the solution. Based on our conversations with program providers, we offer the following recommendations to policy makers:

  1. State departments of education develop and distribute clear policies and guidelines on the use of 21st CCLC funds to engage youth as workers within the afterschool program. They should issue guidelines for the use of government funding to support high school workers within elementary and middle school programs. These guidelines should be designed to encourage, not restrict, programs from using the funds for this purpose. 
  2. Document promising practices being successfully used at afterschool programs and share them with those who are seeking to expand their programs’ capacity to engage youth as workers. This can be done by those who support the implementation of high school afterschool programs, including state afterschool networks, and those who receive technical assistance funds from private sources. 
  3. Identify supplemental funding to support career pathways to engage older youth working within afterschool settings. If needed, policy changes should be enacted to encourage access or eliminate any barriers impeding access to these funds by afterschool programs. Identifying funds is a form of technical assistance and can be done by those named in recommendation #2, above. Efforts needed to change policy can be led by afterschool advocacy organizations within your state. 
  4. Assist afterschool leaders in identifying and obtaining workforce and other supplemental dollars to support efforts that engage youth as workers in the afterschool setting. If needed, policy changes should be enacted to encourage access or eliminate any barriers impeding access to these funds by afterschool programs. 
  5. Incorporate into existing studies or identify dedicated funding to evaluate the efficacy in providing youth with work opportunities within afterschool settings. This can be achieved by local afterschool grantees who are charged with evaluating their programs, as well as larger evaluations that are funded by state departments or private sources. 

We wrote a detailed briefing paper on this topic to guide afterschool programs. The paper entitled, Engaging Youth as Workers Within High School Afterschool Programs, which includes discussion of policies and guidelines regarding youth employment, use of stipends and other forms of compensation. It also includes examples from actual programs and quotes from youth employed in their afterschool program. You can download this briefing paper here.
We also developed a less detailed paper on this topic, which can be downloaded here.




We are hosting a webinar/ Speaker’s Forum on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 from 10:00am- 12:00pm (PST) entitled, Engaging Youth as Workers in Afterschool. The purpose of this webinar is to inform and encourage afterschool programs to offer youth opportunities to serve as workers within these programs. It is our intention to capture and share valuable and intriguing ideas and information to help programs enlist youth as workers. To learn more and register, click the banner below.

Monday, October 4, 2021

The Language of Inclusion and Equity

Source: www.researchgate.net

As we increase the dialogue around inclusion and equity, it is important that we examine the language and terms that we are using. Below are some terms that we often use as synonyms followed by their definitions and differences, courtesy of Karen Pittman and the Forum for Youth Investment (FYI). She later offers some of her thoughts on this. To read her full article, click here.

Equality | Equity. Equality is a good goal given where we are, but it is not at all a sufficient one. Equity is achieved when all kids have a shot at getting the essentials they need to succeed because 1) the differences in their starting points have been taken into account, and 2) the systemic or institutional barriers to their success have been addressed. People often use a baseball analogy to get at equality vs. equity. Equity is achieved when the playing field is leveled and the fences are taken down, providing young people with real opportunities to get into the game. 

Access | Quality. Access is necessary, but far from sufficient and sometimes harmful. Providing young people with opportunities to get into the game is only useful if these opportunities are appropriately structured to support youth success. Opportunities that are mismatched to youth’s capacities and motivations significantly reduce the chance that young people feel that they matter and want to put in the effort to master the game. 

Source: www.sfcenter.org
Completion | Readiness. Grades and diplomas have become necessary tickets for youth success, but they are not sufficient. 40 percent of employers report that high school graduates lack the competencies they need to succeed at entry-level jobs – such as responsibility, initiative, problem- solving, teamwork and a strong work ethic. When learning opportunities lead too heavily with content and don’t create safe and engaging contexts, youth may gain rote knowledge but miss the opportunity to name, practice and master the skillsets and mindsets that economists now confirm are more important for adult success than academic grades. 

Readiness, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is defined as 1) being willing to do something, and 2) being prepared to do something. This dual definition is important. To embrace the opportunities and survive the challenges that come their way, young people need to be willing and prepared to tackle things they cannot anticipate. This means that every opportunity to learn new content (e.g., how to bake a pie, hit a double, build an engine) is also an opportunity to use the skills and knowledge they have. Young people who “hit the wall” when trying to learn something new have not only internalized the idea that they can’t learn, they have missed the opportunity to use and improve the skills employers are looking for.
 
Source: https://i.imgur.com/aJNHjPq.png
Young people who have repeatedly hit the wall and found that no one notices, no one is surprised, or no one helps, tune out, act out or drop out. Ultimately, they lose out on opportunities they could easily have been prepared for. The cost to them, and to the country, is absurdly large. This is not just because these young people are more likely to earn less or stray into trouble more. It is because these young people are the ones best suited to change the odds in their communities. They are willing, if asked. They can be ready, if supported. History shows that they are able. 

To tackle the country’s readiness problem, we also have to address equity issues. And when the path to readiness goes through quality, young people not only build skills and competencies, they develop a sense of agency and a sense of urgency to take action to change the odds for themselves and their communities.  


Karen J. Pittman
served as the President & CEO of the Forum for Youth Investment (FYI) until February 2021 then transitioned to a senior fellow role to dedicate more of her time and energy to thought leadership. FYI is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan “action tank” that combines thought leadership on youth development, youth policy, cross-system/cross-sector partnerships and developmental youth practice with on-the-ground training, technical assistance and support. Karen is a respected sociologist and leader in youth development. Prior to co-founding the Forum in 1998, she launched adolescent pregnancy prevention initiatives at the Children’s Defense Fund, started the Center for Youth Development and Policy Research, and served as senior vice president at the International Youth Foundation. She was involved in the founding of America’s Promise and directed the President’s Crime Prevention Council during the Clinton administration.


We are hosting a webinar/ Speaker's Forum on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 from 10:00am- 12:00pm (PST) entitled, Youth Civic Engagement and Activism in Afterschool. The purpose of this webinar is to inform and encourage expanded learning programs to offer youth opportunities to be civically engaged. It is our intention to capture and share valuable and intriguing ideas and information. To learn more and register, click the banner below.



We are hosting another webinar/ Speaker’s Forum on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 from 10:00am- 12:00pm (PST) entitled, Engaging Youth as Workers in Afterschool. The purpose of this webinar is to inform and encourage afterschool programs to offer youth opportunities to serve as workers within these programs. It is our intention to capture and share valuable and intriguing ideas and information to help programs enlist youth as workers. To learn more and register, click the banner below.



Civic Engagement and Activism in Afterschool Programs: An Interview with a Youth Activist

Source:   We the People   (Netflix) By Sam Piha According to the Afterschool Alliance , “The afterschool field is an essential partner in en...