Breakfast Club Blog

College Access and Career Readiness through Afterschool Programming

College access and career readiness are important in the discourse regarding social mobility and at the center of discussions about the future of American competitiveness in a global economy that has significantly become knowledge and innovation-based. The Council of Economic Advisors stated in their report Preparing the Workers of Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow (July 2009),”Well-trained and highly skilled workers will be in the best positions to secure high wage jobs, thereby fueling Amer...Read More

How Are You Planning to Spend Your Summer Vacation?

You might not be thinking about summer, but I think it’s the perfect time to ask yourself what the youth in your programs will be doing this summer. The summer experience that was most memorable for me was a sewing class I took in elementary school. My mom was an avid seamstress and made clothes for me and for my dolls. I thought I might design fashion-forward clothes for me and my Barbies if I learned to sew. So I signed up for an intro class at a fabric store with some friends. The instr...Read More

Celebrate Lights On Afterschool. Hands-On Projects Inspire Students to Find the Engineer Within

“I made a new friend today,” a girl enthusiastically shared as she and her fifth-grade peers cleaned up after making polymers. These girls come together once a week and work through science and engineering activities in an afterschool program hosted by Techbridge. We challenge them to work with students that they don’t know and measure success when we see them supporting each other. It’s a sign that afterschool programs are not only fostering and expanding opportunities f...Read More

The Common Core and What Children Need

I was recently introduced to this quote from Robert Halpern of the Erikson Institute: “… children need times and places in their lives where the adult agenda is modest, if not held at bay; where the emotional temperature is low, and acceptance is generous; where learning is self-directed, experiential, and structured to be enjoyable; where talents can be identified; and where possible identities can be explored without risk of failure or ridicule” (Halpern, 2000, p. 186). It so...Read More

The Heart of the Matter

The tug-of-war between the priorities of quantity of and quality of out-of-school time programs has finally crossed the mud pit. With millions of children still without a place to go afterschool, this conversation has vacillated between the two opinions. But when research shows that children in low-quality programs have no better outcomes than children who are unsupervised during the same time, quality must be the focus (Child Trends, 2010-19). Research recently published in Expanding Minds and ...Read More

Go, Girls, Go!

As part of girls’ development, it is critical they connect with positive peers- especially other girls. Those of us at middle school sites tend to cringe at the idea of girls “connecting” with other girls because nine times out of ten there is some drama involved. However, contradictory to what media feeds us, girls are not born with a “mean gene.” Research stresses the importance of healthy relationships for girls can have a significant impact on their self-esteem,...Read More

The Lights On Afterschool Movement and the Future of 21st CCLC

So much has been going on in the afterschool movement these past few weeks, it is hard to know where to begin. We’ve had inspiring moments. Intensely frustrating policy developments. Exhilarating waves of grassroots action. And very worrisome threats to the future of 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21stCCLC). I’m on my first cup of coffee this morning, so let me start with the good news. More than a million Americans celebrated the 12th annual Lights on Afterschool last Thur...Read More

Got Alignment?

“Honeeeeeeeeeeeey, I’m hoooooooooooome. What’s the plan for dinner? Did you make it to the bank to take care of the girls’ accounts? Where are the kids?” Sound familiar? Well, it should. It’s common daily conversation in many homes. In fact, this is the exact verbiage that came out of my mouth when I arrived home to my stay-at-home hubby yesterday. His answer: “There’s no dinner plan, girl’s are doing homework, and yes, I went to the bank but...Read More

Summer Brings New Community-Building Opportunities

Summertime is upon us. Summer brings many changes for OST programs. Many afterschool programs turn into full-day programs. The mix of children is dramatically altered – new children register for the summer program that did not attend the program during the school year. Some older kids depart and a new batch of kindergartners arrives. The curriculum and routine of the afterschool program transform into a very different summer program. The staff makeup of the program may change if new staff ...Read More

Marketing to the Middle

In California, state and federally funded after-school programs that fail to meet their attendance targets are subject to grant reduction. In the most recent round of adjustments, middle level schools received a disproportionate share of the cuts. While they receive only about a quarter of the ASES and 21st CCLC funds allocated to K-9 schools, they accounted for more than half of the reductions. Clearly, we have a problem engaging middle school kids in our programs. And do you know why? Because ...Read More

Safe Schools: Utilizing Youth Leadership Programs to Develop a Safe School Climate

In developing school based approaches to create safe schools and positive school climates the single most important factor that youth leadership programs neglect to focus in on is the importance of developing a sense of belonging to a group identity for young people. We know that “After transition to middle school, peers become primary sources of support and motivation to achieve while the quality of teacher-student relationships tends to decline with time” (Wentzel, 1996). As we set...Read More

Using Voice and Choice in Afterschool Programs

As afterschool professionals, we give a lot of lip service to the phrase “voice and choice”. Theoretically, we understand that students feel more ownership of their afterschool programs when they are able to voice their opinions and provide input into the program. Sounds easy, right? Like most good ideas, however, implementation is much more difficult than it sounds. Students are most likely not going to gather and discuss collaboratively what they want the program to be. There is al...Read More