In an effort to combat childhood obesity, the YMCA recently announced it will be ramping up efforts to promote healthy eating and exercise in its programs, according to a New York Times article out this week. The YMCA, which serves more than 700,000 children in early-childhood, after-school, and summer programs at 10,000 chapters nationwide, is working with first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to reduce childhood obesity in conjunction with the Partnership for a Healthier America. According to the article, the YMCA will be adopting voluntary standards that encourage exercise and healthy snacks, while reducing video game and television ...


How do you keep high school students at risk for dropping out engaged and on track to graduate? One way is through improved family and community engagement, says a new toolkit from the Harvard Family Research Project and United Way Worldwide. The toolkit provides strategies and suggestions for launching initiatives to get parents and community members more involved in their children's academic futures. The recommendations are based on the experiences and lessons learned from a family-engagement initiative supported by the research project and United Way and funded with a $2 million contribution from AT&T. The project supported 15 pilot ...


I'm writing here from San Francisco where I've been able to do field reporting on some STEM-focused out-of-school-time programs in the Bay Area. Look for stories in the coming weeks. Fitting that this week, the National Center on Time & Learning also released its report on the importance of using more time for science learning, which my colleague Erik Robelen blogged about. As luck would have it, I happened to be in town this week for Aim High's 25th anniversary gala. You may remember the blog item I wrote back in August about Aim High, a program that works to curb ...


Gary Huggins, most recently the executive director of the Aspen Institute's Commission on No Child Left Behind, will lead the National Summer Learning Association as its new chief executive officer, the association announced recently. Huggins will officially take the position in January, replacing interim CEO Matthew Boulay. The National Summer Learning Association, which promotes summer programming nationwide to help close the achievement gap, grew out of a tutoring program started by Boulay at John Hopkins University in the early 1990s. From a university-based center on summer learning by the early 2000s, it has grown into the national association it is ...


The After School Corporation has just released a fiscal map and report to alert those interested in expanded learning time—or adding time to the school day, week, or year to help close the achievement gap between students—of the variety of funding streams available to support efforts to lengthen the school calendar. According to the report, there are about 29 federal funding streams alone that can be used for expanded learning, in addition to a number of other public sources to tap. While the funding sources vary from public to private, so too does the distribution of those funds...


New Jersey After 3, a New Brunswick, N.J.-based organization that runs after-school programs in the state, will remain afloat thanks to a new public-private partnership, after announcing last week that it would be forced to shut down because of a loss of state funding. The organization, which has served 75,000 students in the after-school hours, had been supported through state funding and private dollars since its founding in 2004. But after the state pulled the plug on all funding for the program, it became too challenging for NJA3 to survive on private dollars alone, particularly since the ...


Happy Halloween! In honor of my favorite holiday, I thought I'd share the Halloween-themed out-of-school activity I experienced here in the District of Columbia. I spent Friday morning learning about high school science walking through the rooms of a "haunted house" at American University with some students from the Washington Math, Science and Technology Public Charter School. Other schools in the area will also be visiting the house today, and this past weekend, nearly 600 local residents visited. The rooms, repurposed into spooky chambers, were incorporated into science lessons, given by American University faculty and students as part of their ...


A teacher from Nevada recently emailed me to ask about where he could find more information to help him decide whether his school's proposal to change its calendar, specifically to reduce the time off in the summer and reallocate the breaks throughout the year, was a good idea. "Some teachers are concerned about these changes (for a number of reasons), but I was trying to read any research on the subject before forming my own opinion," he said. The teacher's email highlighted the growing attention on re-examining the traditional school calendar of 180, six and a half-hour days, with more ...


The majority of states rank in the middle of the road in making progress on the availibility of their after-school programming, according to new reports from the Afterschool Alliance. The progress reports, one for each of the 50 states, were released today to coincide with the alliance's annual Lights on Afterschool event, a national rally in support of after-school programs. [Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is even heading to Chicago to speak in support of after-school for the rally.] States were rated on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. No states received a 5, and ...


The Corn Palace in South Dakota, the Empire State Building, a military base in Germany, a battleship in Pasadena, Texas, the Mister Rogers landmark in Pittsburgh, the Hurricane Katrina memorial in Gulfport, Miss., and many more notable sites stateside and overseas will be lit up on Oct. 20 to recognize the importance of after-school programs in the 12th annual Lights on Afterschool event, spearheaded by the Afterschool Alliance. The best lighting efforts will be recognized with awards, funded by a grant from JCPenny, announced at a later date. But the lighted landmarks are only one component of the annual event; ...


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