Lights On Afterschool Partnership Minigrant

July 29th, 2014 - Posted in ASTC News, Partners by Mary Mathias

ASTC and the Afterschool Alliance are pleased to announce the Lights On Afterschool Partnership Minigrant. This Noyce Foundation-funded program stems from the partnership formed between ASTC and the Afterschool Alliance as our Commitment to Action for the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual drive to find innovative solutions to promote economic recovery in the United States, including objectives in education and skill development. This minigrant program is designed to strengthen STEM learning partnerships between ASTC-member science centers in the United States and afterschool providers.

The 15th annual Lights On Afterschool celebration will be on October 23, 2014, with events taking place throughout October. Lights On Afterschool is the only nationwide event celebrating afterschool programs and their important role in the lives of children, families, and communities. Science centers are ideally placed to hold events as a part of Lights On Afterschool, and these grants will be used to support such events.

Eligibility requirements for the minigrant include:

  • Current membership in ASTC.
  • Science centers and museums must be based in the United States.
  • The identified afterschool partner must be a part of a larger afterschool program with multiple sites or be the statewide afterschool network.
  • Both partners should share an interest in developing or increasing their capacity for STEM programming for youth in out-of-school time programs.
  • Submission of a complete application that includes some basic demographic data about each partner organization, a narrative description of the proposed activity, an event date, and details about how the event will be promoted in the community.

View the recording of the informational webinar here to learn more about Lights On Afterschool and this minigrant opportunity.

For more information about the Lights On Afterschool Partnership Minigrants, check out the Request for Applications and the FAQ. The application deadline is 11:00 p.m. ET on Friday, August 22, 2014. Minigrant recipients will be announced in September 2014.

Youth Representatives Visit Capitol Hill to Advocate for Afterschool Programs

May 28th, 2014 - Posted in Events, Partners by Mary Mathias

On Thursday, May 22, 2014, youth representatives from museum programs met with Members of Congress to advocate for afterschool programs as part of the Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool for All Challenge. Held as part of the Afterschool Alliance’s National Network Meeting, the Afterschool for All Challenge “[provided] unique networking and professional development opportunities that empower participants to become informed, capable afterschool advocates of all ages.” Participants were sent to Capitol Hill to advocate for the Afterschool for America’s Children Act as part of the 21st Century Learning Centers initiative (S. 326 in the Senate and HR 4086 in the House of Representatives).

The teenage representatives traveled to Washington, DC from the New Jersey Academy of Aquatic Sciences in Camden, the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City.

The whole gang!

The teens started with a day of advocacy training on May 21 as part of the conference. They ended the day with additional preparation over pizza at the ASTC office, which gave them an opportunity to meet the rest of the youth participants and learn about the programs at other institutions.

Pizza Party

The groups were up early the next morning for the Breakfast of Champions, which honored leading advocates and practitioners in afterschool programs. Then it was off to Capitol Hill for meetings in the offices of Members of Congress from each group’s home state. Overall, the reaction from both the teens and the staffers with whom they met was enthusiastic, and all parted in high spirits, satisfied that they had made an excellent case for afterschool programs.


Over the next few weeks, the participating ASTC programs will be posting guest entries about their experiences here on the ASTC blog, so stay tuned!

Photos by Mary Mathias 

Science Centers: Powering STEM Learning

May 15th, 2014 - Posted in Events, Partners by Mary Mathias

Exhibits, student support programs, teacher professional development, community outreach, community anchoring, public awareness, driving creativity and innovation, strong STEM learning platforms, afterschool activities — these are some of the many ways that science centers and museums are impacting their communities in today’s world.

STEMconnector and ASTC hosted the virtual town hall “Science Centers: Powering STEM Learning” on May 14. This informative online panel featured leaders of some of the most innovative science centers and museums in the United States who addressed the role of science centers in our world today. Speakers included:

» Anthony “Bud” Rock, President and CEO, ASTC
» Ron Baillie, Co-Director, Carnegie Science Center
» Matt Fleury, President and CEO, Connecticut Science Center
» David E. Chesebrough, President & CEO, COSI
» Joanna Haas, Executive Director, Kentucky Science Center
» Paul Fontaine, VP of Education, Museum of Science, Boston
» Emlyn Koster, Director, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
» Bryce Seidl, President and CEO, Pacific Science Center

Watch the town hall below to hear about the work the panelists are doing in their own museums and their thoughts on the future of the field. Download the slides from the presentation here.



Guest Post: Engaging community partners through Lights On Afterschool

August 26th, 2013 - Posted in Partners by Mary Mathias

This guest post was written by the Afterschool Alliance.

As the summer comes to a close and children across the country begin a new school year, the enrichment opportunities available to those children will vary dramatically. Some will engage in hands-on activities at their local museum, science center or afterschool program that spark an interest in STEM fields. Too many, however, will miss out. More than 15 million of them will take care of themselves after the school day ends and will not have the chance to participate in programs that help make learning exciting.

This is why more than one million Americans and thousands of communities participate in Lights On Afterschool, an annual event that helps to raise awareness about the need for programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. Supporters of Lights On Afterschool believe that schools can’t do it alone and that meaningful, active collaboration with out-of-school programs is critical. We know that access to an array of quality, informal STEM learning opportunities can make a huge difference in the lives of youth. We also know that strong partnerships between informal learning institutions can help to maximize the use of shared resources and foster creative solutions to community needs. Lights On Afterschool events can help showcase program offerings and deepen ties between informal learning institutions and community organizations.

The Afterschool Alliance is proud to be partnering with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) again this October to highlight the important role of science centers and museums. In past years, we’ve been thrilled to have participation from museums and science centers around the country, such as the Carnegie Science Center. During their Lights On Afterschool event, Carnegie held a joint celebration with the Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST) which included reduced admission for afterschool youth and a provider fair to showcase local programs. Other events have included partnerships between the Pacific Science Center / Schools Out Washington and the Columbus Center for Science and Industry / YMCA of Central Ohio.

Interested in participating in Lights On Afterschool? Here’s how you can get involved:

Register
Hosting a Lights On Afterschool event is a great way to raise awareness in your community about the benefits that your science center or museum provides to youth. Events can be as small or as large as you like; use them as an opportunity to build relationships with parents, elected leaders, and community partners. Registered events will receive 10 free Lights On Afterschool posters in the mail and will be eligible for a chance to win cool prizes.

Get Inspired
If you would like to host an event at your museum or science center, but aren’t sure what to do, the Lights On Afterschool event planning kit can help you find bright ideas for getting started. You’ll find sample materials, planning checklists, case studies, and a host of other resources to help make your event a success.

Partner
If you aren’t able to host your own event, use Lights On Afterschool as an opportunity to reach out to local afterschool programs. Our Find An Event tool can help you search for events and potential partners.

Whether you host a joint celebration or simply schedule a site visit, Lights On Afterschool is a great time to start a conversation with local afterschool programs about how you might partner to better serve youth in your community.

Afterschool Programs and Science Centers Partnering To Serve Youth

August 12th, 2013 - Posted in Partners, Professional Development, Resources by Mary Mathias

ASTC recently partnered with the Afterschool Alliance to explore and promote STEM in afterschool programming. On August 8, 2013, we presented a webinar on how afterschool programs and science centers can work together. You can view the webinar in its entirety here:

Afterschool Programs and Science Centers Partnering to Serve Youth from ASTC Professional Development on Vimeo.

Are you interested in afterschool programs, but unsure how to connect with programs in your community? The first step is to contact your state afterschool network. Websites of the state afterschool networks may have information on local programs, funding opportunities, and other resources. Some networks are actively engaged in elevating the levels of science their state through the collaborative effort, Project Liftoff. You can also contact the Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool Ambassadors, who are experienced practitioners and advocates of afterschool. Ambassadors in your state are listed among the “Afterschool Champions” on the Afterschool in Your State webpage.

Don’t see an afterschool network in your state? If you are located in Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, or Tennessee, there is not currently a C.S. Mott-funded statewide afterschool network. Alaska will soon have a network. For all of the above states, check the Afterschool in Your State webpage. Listed at the bottom is a state-level contact that will be knowledgeable about afterschool in your state. There may also be Afterschool Ambassadors who can help you connect to the afterschool field and find local programs (listed in the “Afterschool Champions” section).

Here are some additional resources, courtesy of the Afterschool Alliance:


The report,
Defining Youth Outcomes for STEM Learning Afterschool, concludes a 10-month study that asked experienced afterschool providers and supporters to identify appropriate and feasible outcomes. Study participants identified a consensus on outcomes, indicators and sub-indicators that provide a framework to map how afterschool programs contribute to larger STEM education goals. Find more Afterschool Alliance publications as well as research on STEM and afterschool on their Publications page.




Lights On Afterschool
October 17, 2013

Lights On Afterschool is the only nationwide event celebrating afterschool programs and their important role in the lives of children, families and communities. The effort generates strong partner visibility and has become a hallmark of the afterschool movement. Last year, a record of 10,000 events brought together more than one million Americans.

Lights On Afterschool events, like afterschool programs themselves, come in all shapes and sizes. From an open house to a rally of thousands, from a community parade to a week-long celebration across the state, Lights On Afterschool brings kids, families and communities together in support of afterschool programs.

Interested in Making?

As part of the Summer of Making and Connecting, the Afterschool Alliance is facilitating a three-part webinar series for formal and informal education leaders interested in leveraging the power of making to expand access to educational opportunities that engage, excite and inspire youth. The concluding webinar in the series will focus on strategies for increasing the quantity and quality of maker programs at the city and state level. The previous two webinars are available on the archives page.


Build, Create and Innovate: Expanding Access to Maker Programs
Thursday, Aug 29, 2013
12:00 PM EDT
Register here

Guest speakers from the California Department of Education, the Idaho Commission for Libraries and the New York Hall of Science will discuss some of the efforts currently under way to create a learning revolution in rural and urban communities across the country.

  • David Wells, New York Hall of Science

  • Erica Compton, Idaho Commission for Libraries
  • Johannes Troost, California Department of Education
  • Kamila Thigpen, Afterschool Alliance

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