21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant Application Open

Posted on September 21st, 2018 in: Blog

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Grant Application is now open for the purpose of providing high-quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities. Applications will due February 5, 2019 with a letter of intent due on November 14, 2018.

Applicant workshops for teams will be held on the days listed below from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Key information will be presented and there will be time after 1:00 p.m. for team planning and individual assistance. To register, please contact: Emanuel Betz, 21C State Coordinator.

  • Wednesday, October 10 at the Vermont Historical Society, Barre
  • Tuesday, October 16 at the Golden Eagle Resort Library, Stowe
  • Thursday, October 18 at VT Technical College, Langevin House, Randolph

To learn more and view application materials, including eligibility requirements, please visit here.
Contact: 21C State Coordinator, Emanuel Betz at emanuel.betz@vermont.gov  or (802) 479-1396

Data Digest #3: Screen time and physical activity

Posted on September 11th, 2018 in: Blog

This blog post, by our Research Analyst Erin Schwab, is the third in a monthly series unpacking data from the 2017 YRBS survey and making connections to out-of-school time programming in Vermont.

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. It is intended to bring awareness to the public health crisis of childhood obesity: approximately one in six children in the US are obese. And according to the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), 22% of youth in Vermont ages 10-17 are either overweight or obese. These youth are at increased risk for developing chronic health problems as adults such as heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, bone or joint problems, and are more likely to be obese as adults — thus putting them at risk of further health issues such as various types of cancers.

Childhood obesity can be influenced by many factors — two of which are a lack of physical activity and insufficient sleep (according to the CDC). And in these days of tablets, smartphones, and social media applications that are intentionally designed to be addictive, it’s possible (and perhaps likely) for youth to lose out on both physical activity and quality sleep by spending too much time on their internet-connected devices.

Unsurprising to us, recent data show that participation in afterschool activities is a major way that youth in Vermont can both increase their physical activity levels and reduce their time spent in front of their addictive screens, thus decreasing their risk of obesity and its associated health problems. In the spring of 2017, about 20,000 high school students in Vermont answered questions about their levels of physical activity, screen time, and time spent participating in afterschool activities on Vermont’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). We correlated their responses on these items and found encouraging results.

Regarding screen time, students were asked about the amount of time per week they had recently “watched TV, played video or computer games, or used a computer for something that was not school work (counting time spent on things such as Xbox, PlayStation, an iPad or other tablet, a smartphone, texting, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook or other social media).” Eleven percent of students responded “less than one hour per day,” 36% responded “1 to 2 hours,” 34% responded “3 to 4 hours” and 19% responded “5+ hours.” A total of 19,918 high school students answered both this question and Vermont Afterschool’s question about the amount of time they spent participating “in afterschool activities such as sports, band, drama, or clubs run by school or community groups.The correlated data show that as the amount of time spent participating in afterschool activities increased, the percentage of students who spent three or more hours per day using screens for reasons other than school work decreased. Among students who did not participate in any afterschool activities, 62% spent three or more hours on their screens; among students who participated in 1-4 hours of afterschool activities per week, 53% spent three or more hours on their screens; among students who participated in 5-9 hours of afterschool activities per week, 47% spent three or more hours on their screens; and among students who participated in 10 or more hours of afterschool activities per week, 45% spent three or more hours on their screens.

The survey also asked students how many days in the most recent week that they were “physically active for least 60 minutes per day (by engaging in any kind of physical activity that increased their heart rate and made them breathe hard some of the time).” Thirteen percent of students responded “0 days;” 15% of students responded “1 to 2 days,” 23% of students responded “3 to 4 days,” 24% of students responded “5 to 6 days,” and 25% of students responded “7 days.” A total of 19,895 Vermont high schoolers responded to both this question and to the question relating to their weekly participation in afterschool activities. As the number of hours of participation in afterschool activities increased, so did the percentage of students who reported that they were physically active for at least five days in the most recent week. Among students who did not report participating in any afterschool activities, 31% were physically active five days; among students who participated in 1-4 hours of afterschool activities, 42% were physically active five days; among students who participated in 5-9 hours of afterschool activities, 59% were physically active five days; and among students who participated in 10 or more hours of afterschool activities, 75% were physically active five days.

It is clear from these data that opportunities for students to participate in afterschool activities can help make a positive impact in fighting the obesity epidemic. When students have enriching experiences that allow them to be physically active and therefore have less time for “screen time,” it decreases their likelihood of experiencing the detrimental health outcomes related to obesity.

Vermont Afterschool receives $180,000 Community Foundation grant

Posted on August 21st, 2018 in: Blog

The Vermont Community Foundation announced that it has entered into a Cornerstone Partnership with Vermont Afterschool, a statewide nonprofit working to ensure that all Vermont youth have access to high quality out-of-school learning opportunities. As part of that partnership, the Community Foundation is awarding Vermont Afterschool a three-year $180,000 grant to strengthen afterschool and out-of-school time programming for older youth in Vermont.

The Community Foundation’s Cornerstone Partnerships are designed to help launch growth-phase statewide organizations whose work is critical to closing the opportunity gap to their next stage of development. The partnerships include multi-year grant funding and an invitation to inform the Foundation’s local grantmaking and community investment strategies.

“Over the last five years, Vermont has seen a steady decrease in the number of afterschool programs serving middle and high school youth,” stated Vermont Afterschool Executive Holly Morehouse. “We see a real need in the field and a partnership like this will help us to make significant gains on key state-level systems building work that we would not be able to do otherwise.”

Through the partnership, Vermont Afterschool will:

• expand and energize the out-of-school learning field,

• re-define quality standards for programs serving older youth, and

• work across the state to establish and sustain quality out-of-school time programs in some of our most persistently challenged communities.

This work is all about supporting broad cultural change in Vermont around how we think about youth, how we recognize and value this important time in a young person’s life, and the value we place on providing opportunities and supports for youth outside of the school day.

This grant and partnership are part of the Vermont Community Foundation’s commitment to closing the opportunity gap for children from low-income families. The Community Foundation believes that if Vermont doesn’t act now to equalize opportunity for children and families, we risk permanently destabilizing communities and diminishing the prospects for all.

The Vermont Community Foundation has prioritized afterschool, summer, and out-of-school learning as one of several issues most critically affecting the opportunity gap. It is also an area where philanthropy is particularly well-positioned to make progress at both a systems level and at the local level.

Research shows that students participating in afterschool programs, especially students who participate regularly, see gains in their math achievement and academic performance, improve their work habits, and have better school day attendance. Additionally, afterschool programs introduce youth to new activities, offer healthy snacks and meals, and are safe places to hang out with friends.

“Holly and her team share our vision for a more equitable and student-centered afterschool system in Vermont,” says Vermont Community Foundation CEO Dan Smith. “We choose Cornerstone Partners deliberately, in a way that brings organizations together instead of increasing competition for resources. Vermont Afterschool’s collaborative approach and deep expertise make them a natural partner for us in this work now and in the years ahead.”

Call for Youth Art

Posted on August 20th, 2018 in: Blog

Do you have afterschool artists who would want to show their work at the State House? If so, we would love to display their work at an afterschool exhibition in the State House cafeteria for March 2019.

Who: Afterschool and out-of-school time artists of all ages and abilities from Vermont
What: 2D and 3D art needed for display
Theme: Youth rights and youth expression
When: Submissions received by December 3, 2018 for display in March 2019
Contact: email Alissa Faber for further information

Artwork can be photographs, drawings, paintings, collage, clay, sculpture, prints, masks, and digital creations. All ideas and expressions are welcome! Download the flyer to share or hand out at your afterschool program.

Data Digest: Afterschool participation and academic performance

Posted on August 14th, 2018 in: Blog

This blog post, by our Research Analyst Erin Schwab, is the second in a monthly series unpacking data from the 2017 YRBS survey and making connections to out-of-school time programming in Vermont.

As summer winds down and students get ready to once again start the school year, teachers are busy planning academic lessons for the year. Students (and their parents) may be experiencing anticipation and anxiety, particularly about what kind of grades they’ll get this year. High school students that are beginning to think about college and other post-secondary education plans may begin to increase their focus on academic goals. In Vermont, data about afterschool participation and the academic performance of high school students was recently made available; and it supports what research has been showing for years: that participation in quality organized afterschool activities supports academic achievement.

For quality afterschool programs that foster academic gains in students, there are several possible reasons for this success. Some programs work to achieve this very intentionally by providing tutoring and homework help. Others provide lessons and hands-on experiences that correspond with academic lessons taught during the school day to help support learning. Afterschool participation has also been found to reduce absenteeism, which in turn helps students boost their grades because they can be more engaged in their day-to-day classroom learning simply by being present. And we also know from research that participation in afterschool activities makes students less likely to engage in risk behaviors such as fighting, having unprotected sex, and doing drugs. So it’s probably safe to say that students who are spending less time engaging in these harmful behaviors have more time and mental capacity to focus on their schoolwork.

In the spring of 2017, Vermont’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) asked over 20,000 high school students (grades 9-12) in Vermont to indicate whether their grades were “mostly A’s,” “mostly B’s,” “mostly C’s,” “mostly D’s,” “mostly F’s,” “none of these grades,” or “not sure.” Forty-three percent of students responded that their grades were “mostly A’s;” 37% said that their grades were “mostly B’s;” 11% responded, “mostly C’s;” 2% said “mosly D’s;” less than 1% said “mostly F’s;” 1% said “none of these grades;” and 4% responded that they weren’t sure.

The percentages shifted significantly for students who participated in at least some amount of afterschool programming. They were asked to respond to the question, “In an average week when you are in school, how many total hours do you participate in afterschool activities such as sports, band, drama, or clubs run by your school or community groups?” Among the students who responded that they participated in zero hours of afterschool activities per week, two-thirds (67%) also responded either that they earn mostly A’s or mostly B’s in school. For students who participated in between one and four hours per week of afterschool activities, this percentage increased to 84%. For students who participated in between five and nine hours of programming per week, 89% indicated that they earned mostly A’s or mostly B’s; and for students who participated in ten or more hours of weekly afterschool programming, 90% indicated that they earned mostly A’s or B’s in school.

The data point to a clear upward trend: as students spend more time per week participating in afterschool activities, the probability that they’ll earn mostly A’s or mostly B’s in school increases. But the most compelling part about this trend is the initial jump in the percentage of students who earn A’s/B’s between “0 hours” of afterschool programming and “1-4 hours” of afterschool programming. This is encouraging; it suggests that even just a few hours of afterschool programming can potentially make a huge difference for students in terms of their academic gains. We should focus on increasing the amount of quality afterschool programming for all of Vermont’s high school students, but increasing access to programming for those who do not currently participating in any afterschool activities will potentially have the biggest impact in terms of academic achievement.

LEAD: Training designed for licensed program directors

Posted on August 13th, 2018 in: Blog

L.E.A.D. = Leadership, Exploration, And Development

Leadership and quality in afterschool programs are inseparable; for programs to succeed and become sustainable, they need strong leadership at all levels. This four-part series is for leaders of licensed programs in the afterschool field in Vermont. The L.E.A.D. program will provide an advanced level group of afterschool professionals with the tools to hone their strengths and develop new skills to assume greater leadership roles in the future. Participants will also gain valuable perspectives from one another, as each leader brings their unique management styles to the table.

–>Register by September 10th to ensure your place; space is limited. Email Tricia Pawlik-York if you’d like to join or call us at 802-448-3464.

–> Specifically designed for experienced afterschool directors and site coordinators of licensed programs who are looking for that next level of growth and development.

–> Each session will include a training session, a guest speaker, lunch, and time to network.

Topics will include:
  • Staff culture and retention
  • Grant writing
  • Collaboration/Partnerships
  • Working with vulnerable children and families
Date and Locations:
  • September 21, 2018 at Lake Morey Resort
  • January 18, 2019 at Colchester
  • March 18, 2019 at Rutland
  • May 10, 2019 at Lake Morey Resort
16 TOTAL HOURS of professional development!
Cost:  $250

VTA’s Cassie Willner selected as a White-Riley-Peterson Fellow

Posted on August 6th, 2018 in: Blog

The Riley Institute at Furman University has selected Cassie Willner to participate in the White-Riley-Peterson (WRP) Policy Fellowship. A partnership with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the WRP Fellowship is a ten-month, national program designed to equip graduates with a real-world understanding of policy-making for afterschool and expanded learning.

Cassie is the Communications Coordinator at Vermont Afterschool, where she has worked since 2012 to increase awareness of out-of-school time programs. She also works with advocates, providers, educational stakeholders, and policymakers to develop strategies that will improve the quality of and access to afterschool and summer programs across Vermont.

In October, Cassie will travel to Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, to begin the program. As part of the fellowship, Cassie will develop and implement a state-level policy project in partnership with Vermont Afterschool and the national Afterschool Alliance. She is one of 16 individuals selected as a WRP Fellow this year. The number of WRP Fellows nationwide has grown to 106 in 49 states since the initiative launched in 2012.

“It is so important for young people to have access to high-quality academic enrichment opportunities during afterschool hours and in the summer – and we need policy leaders who can make that happen.  The White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship is leading the way in developing afterschool advocates, future policymakers and advisors across the country.  I’m so proud to welcome 16 more leaders to this outstanding program,” said former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley.

The WRP Policy Fellowship is named for Riley and for William S. White, chairman and CEO of the C.S. Mott Foundation, and Dr. Terry Peterson, national board chair of Afterschool Alliance and senior fellow at the Riley Institute and the College of Charleston.

Learn more about the White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship here.


Data Digest: LGBT students and afterschool participation

Posted on July 2nd, 2018 in: Blog

This blog post, by our Research Analyst Erin Schwab, is the first in a monthly series unpacking data from the 2017 YRBS survey and making connections to out-of-school time programming in Vermont.

According to 2017 data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey* released by the Vermont Department of Health, high school students in Vermont who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT) are significantly less likely to participate in extracurricular activities than their heterosexual/cisgender peers. Among the 20,077 high school students in Vermont that answered the question about participation in afterschool activities, 62% reported participating in between one and 19 hours per week. Among students that identified as both heterosexual and cisgender (not transgender) 63% participated in between one and 19 hours per week. However, among LGBT students, 53% participated in between one and 19 hours per week. Among students who reported that they were unsure of their sexual orientation, 56% participated in between one and 19 hours of afterschool activities per week.

LGBT students were also more likely to report that they did not participate in any afterschool activities. Forty-one percent of LGBT reported participating in zero hours of afterschool activities per week while 31% of students who identified as both heterosexual and cisgender reported the same. Thirty-eight percent of students who were unsure of their sexual orientation reported not participating in any afterschool activities.

Outright Vermont did some deeper analysis of the 2015 YRBS data with regard to lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth (the 2015 survey did not include an option to report being transgender). LGB youth were more likely to report engaging in risky behaviors than their heterosexual peers (skipping school, being in a physical fight, using tobacco, using marijuana, binge drinking, feeling sad, hurting themselves, and attempting suicide). The CDC looked at the nationwide 2015 YRBS data and reported that LGB youth were at a greater risk of being bullied, being absent from school, having depression, attempting suicide, and contracting STDs. Transgender individuals are at an increased risk of developing depression and other mental health conditions. Alarmingly, 41% of transgender individuals will attempt suicide at some point in their lives. 

Meanwhile, afterschool, summer learning, expanded learning, and out-of-school time programs can be important places to help youth stay safe and healthy. We know from research done by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids in 2000 and by UC Irvine in 2007 that when youth participate in afterschool activities, they are less likely to abuse drugs and other substances; have unprotected sex; and get into fights; and engage in other risky activities. The results from these studies also suggest that when students participate in afterschool activities, they are likely to get better grades and improve their social skills with peers.

And we know from the 2015 YRBS data analysis that these risk behavior outcomes are minimized and positive outcomes are maximized for high school students that participate in up to 19 hours of afterschool activities per week.

It is clear that LGBT youth in Vermont are more vulnerable than their heterosexual/cisgender peers for experiencing these negative outcomes. It is also clear that participation in afterschool activities help to lessen these negative outcomes and increase positive ones. So why are the LGBT youth in Vermont–those who arguably could stand to benefit the most from afterschool programming–not reaping these benefits at the same rate as their peers? This is a question that we need to ask repeatedly in order to identify the barriers that lead to fewer LGBT students participating in afterschool programs.

As a field, we need to work to increase access to afterschool programming for youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, as well as for those who are questioning their orientation or gender identity or who identify as gender non-conforming. We need to work on inclusion and safe spaces for all. Providing afterschool programs that cater specifically to LGBT youth such as this one in Ohio could be a starting point. Our work is truly cut out for us.

*Every two years, the Vermont Department of Health in partnership with the Vermont Agency of Education sponsor the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) that is completed by middle school and high school students in the state. The YRBS is a national survey that is used to monitor risk behaviors that contribute to death and disability. In 2015, Vermont Afterschool’s application to include a question about participation in extracurricular activities on Vermont’s version of the high school survey was accepted. The question was renewed for the 2017 survey. In 2017, 20,653 high school students from 69 schools in Vermont completed the 109-item survey. For more information on YRBS, visit: healthvermont.gov/health-statistics-vital-records/population-health-surveys-data/youth-risk-behavior-survey-yrbs

Celebrate National Summer Learning Day on July 12th

Posted on June 4th, 2018 in: Blog

Join education advocates across the nation for National Summer Learning Day on July 12, 2018. This special day is aimed at elevating the importance of keeping kids learning, safe, and healthy every summer, ensuring they return to school in the fall ready to learn and have a successful year.

Every year when the final school bell rings, millions of children need a place to spend their summer. While many children and youth participate in summer camps and other enrichment activities, lower income youth do not have access to the same opportunities, and suffer the sad reality of summer learning loss. In fact, statistics show that lower-income youth can lose months of grade level equivalency in mathematics and reading achievement, while their middle class peers gain (Cooper, 1996). The gaps in summer learning opportunities thus have the effect of even further widening the achievement gap.

How can I participate in National Summer Learning Day? 

The quickest and easiest way to find all of the resources associated with National Summer Learning Day is to visit the website that NSLA has set up here. In addition to resources like “10 Tips for Celebrating Summer Learning Day,” you can also register events taking place to support summer learning or find events happening in your community. We would love to see even more Vermont events up on the map, so that we can better connect youth and their families with summer programs taking place in their communities.

Social media is always a fun and easy way to get involved, if you can’t host an event or participate in other ways. You can also follow the National Summer Learning Association’s Facebook and Twitter for regular updates, news, and resource related to summer learning.

And don’t forget to use these hashtags to mark your posts:  #KeepKidsLearning #SummerMatters #SummerLearning

Free CCV Online Course for Fall 2018

Posted on April 28th, 2018 in: Blog

For the Fall Semester 2018, Vermont Afterschool is partnering with the Child Development Division (CDD) to offer a 3-credit, online course for afterschool professionals through the Community College of Vermont (CCV).

 This is a FREE online course for those who are working in a licensed afterschool/childcare program!

Introduction to Afterschool Education and Care (EDU 1320). This course engages students in an exploration of the growing field of afterschool age care and education. This course provides students with an understanding of the history of the afterschool field and examines the skills and training that are needed to successfully develop and administer high-quality programming in afterschool settings. Topics include: history of the afterschool age education and the core competency areas for professionals, including child and youth development, health and safety, program organization and professional development, family and community, and teaching and learning.

Semester Dates: September 4 – December 11
Instructor: Jannice Ellen
How to register: Email Tricia Pawlik-York for an application. *Note that you do NOT register  with CCV directly.*

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