Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Now’s Our Moment: Let’s Learn More About the Adults Working and Volunteering with Young People

By: Guest Blogger Rebecca Goldberg

The US Department of Education’s announcement of the National Partnership for Student Success (NPSS) brought much needed attention to the adults who serve young people in communities across the country. This new public-private partnership seeks to recruit, screen, train, support, and engage an additional 250,000 caring adults in roles serving as tutors, mentors, student success coaches, wraparound service coordinators, and post-secondary transition coaches. 

I’m all for recruiting more positive role models for young people and shining a light on the important role they play, but what do we know about all the staff and volunteers who are already working with youth every day? The answer is…not much.

In 2022, the American Institutes for Research (AIR), with partners, launched the Power of Us Workforce Survey, a first-of-its kind comprehensive workforce survey to get to know all of the people who work and volunteer with youth in afterschool and summer programs, in libraries, in affordable housing, in community centers, and anywhere young people need support.

We’ve never before had an opportunity like this to truly get to know the adults working with youth, and ultimately better support them in the work.

This is our moment: Power of Us Workforce Survey

We must leverage this national attention on the role of adults supporting young people and work together to get as many folks in the field to complete this survey as possible. The survey is open now through the end of 2022. Advocates know it: the data is essential to support and grow the workforce, advocate for higher salaries and supports, and improve job quality.  

About the Survey

  • The survey for adults who have worked in paid and/or volunteer positions in the youth fields within the last 5 years should complete the survey.
  • The survey takes 10-15 minutes to complete. We think it is best done in staff meetings or trainings as a collective effort to contribute to the field. Better yet…make it part of your fall onboarding process!
  • There are incentives! Everyone who completes the survey is entered into a monthly drawing of ten $100 Amazon gift cards and is eligible to win each month.

What Will We Learn?

  • Who is Working With Youth: We’ll know the demographics and education background of folks that are working/volunteering with youth. We’ll also learn about their motivations for doing the work.
  • Job/Volunteer Roles: We’re asking about current and most recent job/volunteer positions in the youth fields including types of organizations and sectors. 
  • Career Pathways: We want to know how many years people have worked in the youth fields and the number of jobs. Questions ask about their first job in the youth fields and career trajectory. And for those who have left, their reason for leaving the youth fields and plans to return.
  • Job Supports: The survey asks about salaries, benefits, and professional learning opportunities. We want to know about job perceptions, professional values and needs, and professional certifications and associations.

How Can I Help?

  • Take the survey and encourage others to do so. We are in the most important period for the data collection and need all hands on deck! 
  • Share the survey with people and program leaders. 
  • Convince or create micro-incentives to encourage people to take the survey.
  • Champion the survey. Become a partner with us to spread the word.
  • Share your stories. We welcome faces and voices of youth-serving professionals for the communications campaign to convince others.
  • Customize the communications materials with your branding as a trusted resource to your colleagues. We’ll help! 

When Will We See the Data?

Preliminary data will be available in Fall 2022 with full reports produced in 2023. AIR will make the data available for the field to use broadly! Note that all data that is reported will be either de-identified or aggregated as the survey is anonymous.

I believe this is the most important survey for the youth development field. With a significant investment from the Wallace Foundation, this comprehensive survey is our best shot to make the case in support of youth-serving professionals and volunteers in the field now, and those we need in the future.  

Please join us in strengthening the youth-serving fields and help us promote the Power of Us Workforce Survey! The more we know about these important youth-serving adults, the more we can do to support them, and ultimately help more young people learn and thrive. 

Rebecca Goldberg
Rebecca Goldberg is a non-profit and philanthropic advisor. She works with clients to connect strategies and ideas, identify new opportunities, develop high impact partnerships, and advise on grantmaking approaches. She facilitates two funder groups for Grantmakers for Education and works with clients on leadership transition, partner engagement, and research to inform grantmaking. Rebecca is a member of the Power of Us Workforce Survey team.

She spent the last seven years in philanthropy leading a national youth development portfolio at the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. Rebecca worked with large, national youth organizations and key intermediaries in the California expanded learning field to bolster social-emotional learning and character development practices with the goal of creating equitable learning environments for youth. Prior to the foundation, Rebecca led career pathway programs at a local community-based organization in Los Angeles and professional and workforce development initiatives at California School-Age Consortium supporting afterschool professionals in California. 

To learn more and register for our upcoming webinar, click here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Afterschool and the Education Culture Wars (Part 1)

Source: Unsplash.com

By Sam Piha

We live in a political climate where differences are not explored, they are weaponized. In recent months schools and educators have been attacked under the guise of critical race theory, parent rights and the call to ban certain books. The PBS News Hour offered a good segment on critical race theory and book bannings.

Are there many citizens who are leading this fight or is it a manufactured controversy, which is a product of the internet? Below is a quote from an article (NEA News) that attempts to explain this.1

“As the nation continues to reckon with the role racism plays in our society, a tiny but extremely vocal minority of voices is determined to turn our classrooms into battlegrounds for their vicious culture wars. These radical groups are using social media to spread disinformation and stoke fear about race in the classroom, pushing for laws to ban books about Ruby Bridges, Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights figures, and seeking to censor teachers and deny students the right to a truthful and honest education.” – Edward Graham, NEA News

Source: PBS News Hour

While afterschool programs have not been attacked directly, there are certain core values and program initiatives that have come under scrutiny. They include equity, identity (LGBTQ+ and racial), mindfulness, growth mindsets, grit and social emotional learning (SEL).

Before we discuss how to not get entangled in the educational culture wars, it is important to note that the support for the afterschool movement over the last 30 years has largely been bipartisan. According to Dr. Terry Peterson (Afterschool Alliance), “The roots in California involved bipartisan support in some key cities in the late 1980’s, like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento and then spread greatly with the strong leadership of a Republican Governor, Schwarzenegger, and then much later, now, a huge expansion by a democratic Governor Newsom. This type of local, state and national expansion of an initiative overtime is very unusual and very important. 

The roots of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers in the 1990’s clearly involved Republican and Democratic members of Congress and a Democratic Administration.”  The 21st CCLC quickly became one of the fastest growing social programs in the history of America. (We interviewed Dr. Peterson in a previous LIAS Blog).

Source: History of Afterschool in America

It is important to not take the support for afterschool for granted. There are things we can do to prevent that the afterschool movement is not damaged by the educational culture wars. 

Be aware of what’s happening in your area and in the larger field. 
“In this environment, anything can be politicized,” said John Bridgeland, the CEO of Civic Enterprises, a public policy firm, who has worked extensively on building bipartisan support for SEL programs in schools.

To get a better sense of what’s happening in the larger field, below we cite some titles from articles with endnote references that have been published recently:

  • Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL) Is Anti-White, Anti-Christian, and Anti-American Indoctrination 2
  • Social Emotional Programming: The SEL Agenda to Enforce Thought Reform, Conformity, and Control 3
  • Schools Face Fears of ‘Critical Race Theory’ as They Scale Up Social-Emotional Learning 4
  • Hijacking Their Minds: How ‘Safe Schools’ & Social Emotional Learning Indoctrinate Our Children 5
Below we cite quotes that illustrate the thinking behind the culture wars:
  • “This curriculum goes far beyond helping first-graders get along with their peers and delves into political manipulation. It’s never too early, apparently, to use SEL to create little community organizers.” 6
  • “Book-banning attempts have grown in the U.S. over the past few years from relatively isolated battles to a broader effort aimed at works about sexual and racial identity.” 7
  • “Minnesota’s Child Protection League, a group active on conservative issues, said social-emotional learning is a vehicle for critical race theory, an effort to divide students from their parents, emotional manipulation and “the latest child-indoctrination scheme.” 8
  • “Students in several #US states are forced to participate in #Buddhist-based meditation. If a child refuses, he or she is moved to the hall as if being punished. These schools are indoctrinating our children.” 9
  • (VIDEO) Stella Morabito Presentation on Social Emotional Programming from Child Protection League Action on YouTube. 10

We continue our look into the education culture wars and offer more tips on how to avoid entanglement in the misinformation in part 2.


  1.  Edward Graham, Who is Behind the Attacks on Educators and Public Schools?
  2.   Savanah Hulsey Pointer, Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL) Is Anti-White, Anti-Christian, and Anti-American Indoctrination
  3.   Stella Morabito, Social Emotional Programming: The SEL Agenda to Enforce Thought Reform, Conformity, and Control
  4.   Arianna Prothero and Evie Blad, Schools Face Fears of ‘Critical Race Theory’ as They Scale Up Social-Emotional Learning
  5.   Karen Effrem, Hijacking Their Minds: How Social Emotional Learning Indoctrinates Children
  6.   Karen Effrem, M.D. and Jane Robbins, J.D., Social-Emotional Learning: K–12 Education as New Age Nanny State 
  7.   Claire Moses, The Spread of Book Banning
  8.   Laura Meckler, In ‘social-emotional learning,’ right sees more critical race theory
  9.   Katherine Hignett, Conservative Christians Want to Stop Kids Meditating At School
  10.   Stella Morabito: Social Emotional Programming (Video)

To learn more about the education culture wars and afterschool and to register for this informative webinar, click here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Maintaining Bipartisan Support for Afterschool

By Sam Piha

We wanted to get a better understanding of the bipartisan support for afterschool, of the past and present. We interviewed Dr. Terry Peterson who was the Chief Counselor for former US Secretary of Education and Governor, Dick Riley. Terry was involved in the launching of the 21st Century Community Learning Center Initiative. 

Q: Can you say something about the bipartisan roots of the afterschool movement?
A: I find it very useful to trace overtime the bipartisan roots and continuing support for expanding, funding and improving summer enrichment and comprehensive afterschool and expanded learning opportunities and partnerships.

The “roots” of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers in the 1990’s clearly involved Republican and Democratic members of Congress and a Democratic Administration.  

The roots in California involved bipartisan support in some key cities in the late 1980’s, like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento and then spread greatly with the strong leadership of a Republican Governor, Schwarzenegger, and then much later, now, a huge expansion by a democratic Governor Newsom. This type of local, state and national expansion of an initiative overtime is very unusual and very important.  

Q: What kind of politics are needed to support afterschool, summer and expanded learning programs?
A: It is critical to keep this bipartisan support for afterschool, summer and expanded learning. Unfortunately, in these highly politicized times, certain concepts and especially acronyms and initials are magnifying the polarization. Because of the benefits seen for many years of bipartisan support for more and better afterschool and summer opportunities and partnerships, I think we have a special obligation for our children, youth and families served by afterschool, summers, and expanded learning to try to stay above these battles when representing the afterschool, summer, expanded learning and community school movements.  

One way to stay above the fray is to go back to our simple roots and concepts, like expanding opportunities and developing more community connections for children, youth and families that want and need afterschool and summer programs to better succeed in school and life. By the way, this is not just good education and youth development but good “politics”. Most voters and parents of most political persuasions appreciate terms like “expanding opportunities” and building more "community connections” and "local partnerships." 

Another way is to approach voters and parents differently using everyday common-sense ways. For example, we know that in some localities, states and nationwide, certain terms like SEL and related terms are “offending” some Republicans and even Independents. While operating in the afterschool, summer, community schools and expanded learning arenas, why not use concepts that are similar, but that parents of many political persuasions approve of?

Q: There is a myth that Republican parents do not support funds for afterschool programs. Do we have research that suggests something different?
A: We have found that Republican parents support funding afterschool and summer programs as well as Democratic and Independent parents. Interestingly and importantly, they all support very similar content in the programs. And this content is similar to the research evidence too.

Unpublished analyses by the Afterschool Alliance done very recently, found:

Support for afterschool and summer learning programs is strong among Republican parents. More than 8 in 10 parents who identify as Republican agree that all young people deserve access to quality afterschool and summer programs (82%).

From providing children opportunities to build life skills to helping working parents keep their jobs, Republican parents overwhelmingly agree on the positive role afterschool programs play for children and families.

Strong majorities of parents who identify as Republican agree that afterschool programs:
  • help young people engage with their peers and reduce unproductive screen time (85%);  
  • learn life skills, like the ability to communicate and work in teams (81%); 
  • have opportunities to build confidence (80%); 
  • provide opportunities to build positive relationships with caring adults and mentors (76%); 
  • and become more excited about learning and interested in school (74%). 

Republican parents also agree that afterschool programs provide working parents peace of mind knowing that their children are safe and supervised (83%), help working parents keep their job (81%), and keep kids safe and out of trouble (74%).

Focusing on activities and supports, Republican parents are as likely as parents overall to report that opportunities for their child to build life skills were important in their selection of afterschool and summer programs. Similar to parents overall, most Republican parents report that opportunities for their child:
  • to build life skills, such as interacting with their peers, developing social skills, and responsible decision making, were important in their selection in their child's afterschool program (88% vs. 87%) 
  • and what their child did during the summer (94% vs. 94%).

Republican parents want public investment in afterschool and summer programs. 85% of parents who identify as Republican report that they support public funding of afterschool programs and 86% support public funding of summer learning programs.

Terry Peterson
was the Chief Counselor for former US Secretary of Education and Governor, Dick Riley. During his decades-long tenure in public service, Terry held senior state- and federal-level positions in which he developed numerous education policies and funding streams, including at the U.S. Department of Education where he helped create the 21st CCLC initiative. Terry currently serves on the board of the Afterschool Alliance and is also the executive editor of, Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning. He is also featured in the History of Afterschool in America documentary.

Over the past 30 years the afterschool movement has enjoyed public support and the support of elected leaders from both sides of the aisle, at the local, state and federal levels. However, this is being threatened by a political climate that is plagued by polarization, misinformation and the rise of education culture wars. The core values of many afterschool programs are being scrutinized including issues concerning equity, mindfulness, identity (racial and LGBTQ+), growth mindsets and social emotional learning (SEL).

In this upcoming Speaker''s Forum, our panelists will review afterschool’s bipartisan history, the rise of today’s education culture wars, and ways that afterschool programs can avoid entanglement in these controversies and promote bipartisan support. Join us on September 13, 2022 from 10:00am-12:00pm PST. To learn more and register, click here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Promoting Workforce Skills and Growing Your Own Staff

By Sam Piha

We know that when asked, older youth say they are most interested in acquiring the skills needed to get a job. As youth program leaders, it is our job to help prepare young people for success in adulthood, which includes creating opportunities to explore careers and gather work-based skills, and we are well positioned to help older youth to acquire these skills. 

We also know that afterschool programs are experiencing a worker shortage, and one way to address this is “Growing Your Own” by creating a pipeline for young people to move into youth work. 

To explore these issues we hosted a webinar on June 30, 2022 entitled Preparing Youth in Afterschool for the Workforce and Building Your Own Youth Worker Pipeline. This webinar was hosted by Bill Fennessy (California Afterschool Network) and several youth work professionals who have developed these kinds of programs.

We highly recommend you view the recording of this webinar and review the very informational Powerpoint that accompanied the presentation. To access, click on the images below.

Webinar Recording

Powerpoint Presentation

Additional Resources:
Engaging Youth as Workers Within High School Afterschool Programs: A Briefing Paper
This paper (50 pages) offers experiences that build workforce and career skills, create leadership roles and opportunities for service. These experiences also create career pathways to professions such as teaching and social work, and ensures the program is more relevant to other youth. The purpose of this paper is to inform and encourage expanded learning programs to engage youth as workers in these programs.

Engaging Youth as Workers in Afterschool Programs 
The purpose of this paper (12 pages) is to clarify guidelines regarding the employment of youth and to share strategies that are currently being used by After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) programs to engage high school age youth through work within their afterschool programs.

Program leaders are now thinking about using a “hybrid” model for professional development - a mixture of recorded/online training offerings and written briefing papers that can be shared with local staff, followed by on-site discussions facilitated by in-person leaders. This hybrid model can be tailored to the needs of the local program, to be more relevant, intimate, inexpensive, and COVID safe.

In this guide we identify “Basics” professional development resources with links for free, easy access (recorded videos, briefing papers, blogs, etc.). These were developed by Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation (HKLF). Also included are worksheets, discussion guides and other resources to support programs in leading their own professional development and reflection activities.

To download and read the full guide, click here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

An Interview with Outgoing PCY Founder, Jennifer Peck

By Sam Piha

“After 21 years of incredible service, Jennifer Peck, Partnership for Children & Youth (PCY) founding CEO, will step down from her leadership role in the organization on June 30th." - Partnership for Children & Youth

I've had the pleasure of working with Jennifer on promoting access to quality afterschool programs for over 20 years. She has partnered with Temescal Associates on several projects throughout the years and has proved to be an incredible leader and innovator. I interviewed Jennifer recently about her career and accomplishments and we share her responses below. To read comments from afterschool leaders who share their thoughts on Jennifer's impact on the field of afterschool, click here.

Q: What has influenced you to focus your energies on young people’s well-being?  
A: It’s been multiple things – one is that I came from a family of educators so that was sort of ingrained in me, though my career path was very unplanned and really a series of opportunities that I took advantage of at different moments. I started my career in politics and after working on a presidential campaign, found myself at the U.S. Department of Education which was an incredible learning experience and where I became inspired to pursue the career I’ve had.

Q: Why did you think it was necessary to found a new non-profit organization to promote this mission?  
A: When the federal government and California first began investing in afterschool, a lot of communities in great need for these resources couldn’t or didn’t access them, because the funding and policies didn’t  reflect the realities of running programs on the ground. There was a need for an entity to better communicate those realities and improve how public funding and policies served kids, so we dove in.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
A: It’s such a hard question to answer, there’s a lot I’m proud of, but right now I’m feeling immensely proud that there’s so much more attention to and investment in summer learning. PCY’s staff and partners over a lot of years did so much to raise up summer as a critical time and opportunity for young people, and it feels like it’s really arrived.

Q: What accomplishment was the most difficult? 
A: Also hard to answer, a lot of things were difficult! But I’d say winning an increase to the daily rate for ASES and 21st CCLC -- it’s a tough sell in a political environment to be fighting for more money to serve the same number of kids, but that’s what was needed.

Q: What do you see as the greatest challenge for the afterschool movement? 
A: The biggest challenges on my mind, are figuring out how to build systems to recruit, train and adequately pay the workforce, and how to sustain the positive attention on afterschool and summer right now. Both will take really focused and smart policy, communications and system-building work – and PCY’s new leadership is ready and able to take these things on!

Q: Looking ahead, what do you see as the greatest opportunities for the afterschool movement? 
A: The big one in my opinion, is to really solidify a change in the public education mindset from one that saw learning as happening primarily from 8-3 and between September and June, to one that sees learning as happening all day and all year, with a diverse set of adults facilitating. I also can’t help but be really, really excited about summer and the opportunity to expose so many more kids to amazing, fun, life-changing summer experiences.

Q: Looking back, what do you think you will treasure most? 
A: Most definitely the people and the relationships I’ve developed over all these years. There’s so many amazing people in this work – like my old friend Sam Piha. 

Q: What did you learn most from being a parent to Emilia?  
A: Wow – so many things, and an interesting moment to think about it as Emilia is headed off to college in a month. If I had to pick one thing, it’s that you have to meet kids where they are – my daughter is really different from me in some ways, and I had to learn how to adjust my parenting over time to support her in the way that best helped her grow. It has made me think a lot about the work of educators and how important it is to know and care about every kid -- at the end of the day, it’s the most important thing.

Jennifer Peck
MORE ABOUT... Jennifer Peck led Partnership for Children & Youth since its founding in 2001. During her tenure she developed and implemented initiatives to build high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs, access to meals and health care for students, and integration of social and emotional learning in the education system across the state. Prior to forming PCY, Jennifer spent eight years as an appointee of President Bill Clinton at the United States Department of Education, where she supported implementation of initiatives including student loan reform, School-to-Work, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Jennifer is the proud mother of Emilia.

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