Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The 5th Annual International Children’s Festival

Higher Achievement is thrilled to be a part of the 5th Annual International Children’s Festival! This will definitely be a great day for families, scholars, and staff and we hope you can join us!

Meridian International Center’s 5th Annual INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL Saturday, May 21, 2011 (10:00 AM - 03:00 PM)

Hon. Eleanor Holmes Norton,
Honorary Patron
Sponsored by Meridian International Center and THIS for Diplomats in cooperation with Cultural Tourism DC and Higher Achievement.

A part of Cultural Tourism DC’s Passport DC program celebrating world-class culture in the Nation’s Capital throughout the month of May.

INCLUDES: Cultural activities, displays, and food tastings along with international dance, music, and storytelling performances.

ADMISSION: $10 per person, Children 12 years & under free(One adult chaperone required per every four children under 12. No strollers allowed in exhibit area.)

Participating Embassies: Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, China, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Nepal, Norway, Poland, Saudi Arabia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Turkey.

Performances by

  • Almaz Getahun

  • CapoeiraDC/Embassy of Brazil

  • El Tayrona

  • GALita Children’s Theatre/GALA Hispanic Theatre

  • Hora DC/Embassy of Israel

  • Kirov Academy of Ballet of Washington, DC

  • KO’ ETI Paraguayan Folk Dance/Paraguayan Cultural Center

  • Natyabhoomi School of Dance

  • Nomad Dancers

  • Raqs Jameel and Saffron Teen Belly Dance/Joy of Motion Dance Center

  • Rumah Gadang Group – USA/Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia

  • Silk Road Dance Company

  • Sri Lanka Youth Dance Group of Washington, DC

  • Sushmita Mazumdar

  • Umanda Weerasinghe

  • Wong People/Chinatown Community Cultural Center

Please purchase tickets in advance, quantity is limited.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Advocacy Day on the Hill #a4AChallenge

There are so many champions of afterschool programs in Congress! Today I was able to talk about the importance of 21st CCLC funding for afterschool and summer programs with staff representing all of Higher Achievement's states: DC, Maryland, and Virginia. We are ready to see what happens with the next phase of ESEA reauthorization and the FY12 budget process, but we can all agree that:

--Afterschool and summer programs have proven positive effects on students (both academic and behavioral), and the supports they provide are especially critical for poor and minority youth.

--Partnerships between community-based organizations and schools bring the best of both worlds together! Students need lots of choices for learning and other activities that look and feel different from school.

--Now, more than ever, the federal government needs to invest in our youth. Nonprofit organizations leverage 21st CCLC dollars to bring more public and private dollars into schools and to the students that need them the most.

Great to see so many advocates out today - and exciting to hear about the impact this work is having across the country!

- Rachel Gwaltney

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Role of Research for OST Providers #a4aChallenge

Quick thoughts from today’s conference session on research.

Afterschool and summer programs make dramatic impacts on lives and communities – but its only through rigorous research and evaluation that we can make that case. Examples of benefits/outcomes that have been proven through research/evaluation:

- Proof of improved academic outcomes (grades, test scores)

- Analysis outlining that higher dosage of OST learning produces better results

- Youth with the greatest risks realize the greatest benefits of these programs

- Improved feelings, behaviors, safety, and in-school behavior

- Health and wellness benefits

- Productivity – working parents miss less work and work more hours when children are in programs. Saves $50-300 billion in lost productivity! Every dollar invested in afterschool saves taxpayers $3 in school-related costs – and even more when you include crime and other secondary costs!

Not only will solid research provide suggestions/lessons for program improvement based on the outcomes listed above, but it can allow your organization to advocate in a widespread way for afterschool programs – to make the case externally for the value of afterschool, and raise awareness about its impact.

Win win!

- Rachel Gwaltney

Middle School Innovation: Policy and Practice #a4aChallenge

For all students, middle school is a time of extraordinary challenge. Students experience significant social and emotional changes as academic expectations increase. On average, grades and test scores plummet during the transition to middle school and continue to decline through 8th grade. Schools become more dangerous places, and students become more likely to disengage from family, experiment with unhealthy behaviors, and devalue education.

The challenges of middle school are exacerbated in at-risk communities, where students are more likely to lack quality schools, quality out-of-school-time activities, and positive role models — and where they are more likely to be surrounded by poverty, to encounter violence and gangs in their neighborhoods and schools, and to face significant barriers to learning.

This morning's Afterschool for All Challenge conference session, Middle School Innovation: Policy and Practice, was a great deep-dive into the unique issues facing OST middle school providers. Some takeaways for these providers:

- coordinate with city and school services with the goal of attaining a seamless integration with the principal and school

- learning should be hands-on and project-based - focused on real-world application active learning

- face the unique needs of middle school students head-on - provide peer learning and structured leadership opportunities that support middle school youth... ultimately giving youth a sense of belonging, a place where they matter.

- have diverse and authentic staff/volunteers who are passionate about what they do - people who young people want to be around and can look up to!

- devote attention to program culture - be deliberate here

- monitor quality and outcomes!

- expose youth to future possibilities/career/college aspirations beyond their own communities

Stay tuned for more from the conference!

- Rachel Gwaltney, Chief of Programs