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Student Leave-Behinds are an Effective Advocacy Tool

Often policymakers only hear from organizational adult leadership about children’s issues. An effective way to reach them is through the children and youth themselves. Testimonials about how afterschool and out-of-school time (OST) programs that come directly from children and youth can really drive home the message.

Christine Miller, Program Coordinator for the Lincoln Intermediate Unit Migrant Program, brought four middle/high school students to the Afterschool for All Challenge. They visited with congressional staff where they shared compelling success stories of their experiences with their OST program. As they exited the meeting, they gave the staff person a hand-crafted written testimonial which they asked be shared with congressional leadership.

Actions speak louder than words. Try advocating by inviting policymakers to your program. Give them the opportunity to talk with the children and youth, assess the environment and see the excitement in the staff’s faces. Let them observe how the funding is being used. This memorable experience will be on their mind the next time they are considering how they will vote regarding afterschool and out-of-school time funding.

Youth as Change Agents: Youth Focused Corner Store Projects

Corner stores are a common feature of many communities, often located near schools, parks and other community settings. Youth often shop at these nearby corner stores and as a result, corner stores can be a significant environmental influence on the snacking habits of youth. One Philadelphia study found that 53 percent of youth were visiting corner stores at least once a day and on average, youth were spending $1.07 per visit to corner stores, consuming 360 calories in snacks and beverages. While these stores often carry energy-dense, packaged foods, many organizations are engaging youth in efforts to create healthier corner stores and promote healthy eating in the community. Youth engagement builds leadership skills and can foster social and emotional development while empowering youth to create healthy changes in their communities. Click here to read the full article.

Standards for Healthy Eating in Out-of-School Time Programs

What standards does your program have regarding child health, wellness and nutrition? In April 2011, the National AfterSchool Association adopted standards for Healthy Eating in Out-of-School Time Programs. Accordingly, new language addresses snack content and quality, staff training, curriculum, social support (including staff role modeling, parent engagement and children’s social development), program support and environmental support. Read more…


Kids Love ReCharge!

ReCharge! Energizing After-School is a fun-for-kids program designed for students in grades 2 to 6 to learn about and practice good nutrition and physical activity habits. A collaboration with the National Football League, ReCharge! is a complete, easy-to-use kit with lesson plans, equipment, information for families and much more. Click here for more information.

Carnegie Science Center: Focus on STEM through their Girls, Math and Science Partnership

The Carnegie Science Center’s Girls, Math and Science Partnership (GMSP) program has multiple ways of encouraging girls to consider the study of math and science to lead them to a bright future career. Their mission is to engage, educate and embrace girls as architects of change. Starting in 1999, the GMSP was created to address issues regarding girls, their participation in science and the expansion of their opportunities in and influence on the science and technology workforce. Working with girls ages 11-17, their teachers, parents and mentors, GMSP draws organizations, stakeholders and communities together in an effort to ensure that girls succeed in math and science. Resources and funding have been provided by the Heinz Endowments, the Alcoa Foundation and Family Communications, Inc. Initiatives from GMSP include:

  •, an online sisterhood for girls ages 11-17, which features programs, scholarships, virtual mentoring, girl blogs, homework help, research and resources in a framework that integrates pop culture, science and learning. The BrainCake Club Kit – which contains activities, materials, fun giveaways and educator resources—if you are interested in starting a science club for girls at your school or afterschool program.
  • Click! summer camps The complete Click! Trilogy – a biomedical mystery for rising sixth-graders, an environmental mystery for rising seventh-graders, and a technological mystery for rising eighth-graders – is fully developed and available for purchase, training and replication across the country.

Working Together in Philadelphia to Deliver Science Education to the Community

Delivering STEM education to the out-of-school time (OST) community is an important focus of 2012. In 2008, the Philadelphia-Camden Informal Science Education Collaborative (PISEC) conducted the Bridges Conference for museum-community partnership programs that serve families. Sixty-five individuals representing 25 organizations (museums, community programs, advisors and funders) participated.

PISEC is a project of four local science museums: the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Franklin Institute, the New Jersey Academy of Aquatic Sciences and the Philadelphia Zoo, with ten community partner agencies. PISEC presents participatory science education programs focused on the environment at the community sites.

The lessons learned by these collaborations are ones to be considered by OST providers as they look to increase their STEM initiatives. The rewards and challenges of the collaborations are detailed in a 2011 PISEC paper entitled, Museum/Community Partnerships: Lessons Learned from the Bridges Conference. The paper observed the following: “For museums, collaboration with community-based partners (CBOs) has become an increasingly popular method of expanding audiences, services and funding opportunities. For CBOs, museum collaborations offer the benefits of science expertise and programming, increased capacity and new opportunities for constituents and the potential for developing new funding sources.

The mutually rewarding nature of collaboration may make the value of connecting and working together seem obvious. However, museum-CBO collaboration is often fraught with conflicts of culture, expectations and egos. In the case of collaborations that serve families, some of these issues can become even more complex.”

Focused considerations within the paper include:

  • What makes collaboration so challenging
  • Museums and CBOs may have very different missions
  • Museums and CBOs may have very different cultures
  • Museums and CBOs may have leaders with different styles
  • Museums and CBOs may have conflicting financial expectations
  • When museums and CBOs partner, they are beginning a complex relationship


Click here to read the full report.






Marta Gabriel, Regional Manager for U.S. Sen. Patrick Toomey's office; State Representative Doyle Heffley; Jeanne Miller, Director of the SHINE program; and Wayne Nothstein, Carbon County Commissioner witnessed first-hand the SHINE program in action. 




View the student’s leave-behinds.