Online Professional Learning and
Technical Assistance for
21st Century Community Learning Centers
  1. Contact Us
  2. Join
  3. Sign In

Navigation

March 10, 2022

As humans, our psychological need for closure is so well documented that a scale was developed to measure this need. Culminating events are an important element in 21st CCLC programs — whether you’re wrapping up a big STEAM or problem-based learning project or inviting families to celebrate a successful in-person year. Bear in mind, though, that some students could be heartbroken at losing the constancy of their time in your program. Consider these tips and tools for addressing the end of the program year in a way that enables everyone to enjoy healthy closure.

As you’re planning, keep these goals and benefits of a culminating event in mind:

  • Involve students. This needs to be their event. So much has been outside their control, especially this year. Be sure their voice is loud and proud in decisions around your culminating event.
  • Everyone loves a surprise. Just because you’ve handed over the reins on most aspects of planning doesn’t mean you can’t surprise students and families with a special guest, a small giveaway, or a performance. A surprise amplifies the festive atmosphere and tells everyone involved you think they’re special.
  • You’re tying accomplishment to celebration. Young people need every possible opportunity to reinforce that their hard work will pay off. Sometimes that hard work is just sticking with something or showing up. But even that effort deserves recognition.
  • Whenever a door closes, another opens. If your students are sad about the end of the program year, remind them that every ending is also a new beginning. You can ask them to remember some of their favorite beginnings in the past — even the first day of this program year — to demonstrate that new beginnings can lead in exciting directions.

Y4Y offers tools to help you plan for your culminating event because this is such an important step in programming. See this month’s Topical Tool Kit for other aspects of your planning.

You can visit the last strategy in each course for more ideas that relate to the focus of your programming. For example:

  • Have you been exploring career pathways with your elementary students? Have them dress as their favorite professional. (See more tips by selecting the drop-down Menu in the course and jumping to slide 107, “Celebrate Peaks and Summits.”)
  • Is supporting English learners your emphasis? Explore your students’ cultural traditions around celebrations and ask them how they’d like to bring those traditions to your event. (See more tips by going to the course and jumping to slide 119, “How Will You Celebrate?”)
  • Are you celebrating something smaller, like completing a project in civic learning and engagement? Arrange for students to attend a school board meeting and give an official report on the work they accomplished in their community. (See more tips by jumping to slide 73, “Example Celebration,” in that course.)
  • Visit other Y4Y courses like Literacy, STEAM, Financial Literacy, Social and Emotional Learning, and Family Engagement for other targeted celebration ideas.

In celebrating the 20th anniversary of Human Resources Development Quarterly, Tim Hatcher makes a poignant observation: “Celebration is an ancient ritual. It gives us a way to feel good about ourselves and our accomplishments. When we celebrate we are reinforcing something important to us. Without it we simply maintain the status quo and candidly have a lot less fun.” There are so many things you want for your students in your 21st CCLC program: academic growth, a safe space with caring adults, meaningful connections with their peers, and exposure to new and exciting opportunities. Happily, each of these can go hand in hand with celebrating and having fun!



August 7, 2020

Your 21st CCLC families might be among the hardest hit financially due to workplace closures and layoffs as they navigate months of uncertainty. The lessons on sound financial planning in Y4Y’s Financial Literacy course will be all the more important to help students prepare to act later when unpredictable events arise in their adulthood. But your most impactful role with families right now may be offering ideas on how to REact to circumstances outside their control. When times are tough, prioritizing expenses and debts requires careful thought and can have lasting consequences. An extreme example would be surviving family members using limited resources to pay down the student debt of a passed loved one, only to discover years later the debt could have been discharged. This is the case for federal loans, but not all education loans — be sure to investigate if this situation ever comes up for you.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has gathered a series of resources to help citizens protect their finances during the pandemic. These resources can provide guidance on everything from student loans to housing liabilities, asset protection and the host of scams that have arisen at this unfortunate time. Consider offering a virtual event to walk families through these and other resources from authoritative sources. You might also discuss decision-making strategies for today’s environment, while steering clear of offering financial advice. The Tackling Tough Subjects Training to Go can help you prepare staff to engage appropriately with families.

You’ll better understand just where families are coming from if you download and customize the Adult Financial Literacy Needs Survey. Pick and choose from the Financial Literacy Adult Program Schedule to reflect the exact needs you discover in your community. Invite trusted partners with knowledge of finances or relevant laws to present in your program, and consider forming new relationships. There may be organizations that offer pro bono credit counseling to specific populations such as survivors of domestic violence, veterans or low-income families. You can search for members of the Financial Planning Association in your area for potential partners near you. Be sure to coordinate in advance to agree on the type of expertise they’ll offer.

On a more basic level, your families may be facing greater food insecurity than before the pandemic. The bad news is, so are many other members of the community. Suddenly, already scarce resources are being spread even thinner. It’s time to get creative on behalf of your families. You can start by reviewing Y4Y’s January guest blog post on Food Insecurity and 21st CCLC programs with Shannon Browning, 21st CCLC Program Director at Macomb Public Schools in Oklahoma. Consider the possible problem-based learning and civic engagement aspects of researching, understanding and facilitating solutions to food insecurity, if not for your students, perhaps for students in neighboring communities. Reach out to student leadership advisors or social studies educators, for example, across the town, district, or county, and advocate for the families in your community. Young people today are globally minded and are seeking opportunities to have a positive impact. They, too, may be struggling with feelings of helplessness. You can help plant the seeds of successful kid-to-kid food collection programs that benefit all.

Quite literally, everyone on the planet has a different financial perspective than they had six months or a year ago. While many of your students’ families may fit into the category of “essential worker” and continue to work, by no means does this ensure their financial security or stability. Your 21st CCLC program can continue to be a much-needed resource, partner and comfort to the families you serve.



March 18, 2020

Depending on where you live in the U.S., there’s a good chance that little green sprouts are emerging outdoors while anxieties about tax season are emerging indoors. Taxes are one of many “money matters” that affect everyone. Sometimes seeking sound advice about taxes can seem like looking for a needle in a haystack. You can’t give tax advice to students or their families, of course, but there are ways you can help the families in your community improve their financial literacy. Here are a few things to think about.

No One’s Too Young to Learn About Money

Experts have recognized that financial literacy, or the lack thereof, has been a growing obstacle to success. This can be true for families at all socioeconomic levels. Luckily, this subject is being increasingly built into even elementary education. Y4Y has compiled a Financial Literacy Book List to offer interesting reading that will build students’ financial literacy. You can use tax season as an opportunity to help them understand where their parents’ hard-earned tax dollars are going, including the very books in their hands!

Thinking Ahead Is a Valuable Skill

A common mistake people make is to claim a high number of allowances on their W-4 withholdings form so they can enjoy more money in their paychecks. Some people end up owing a lot of taxes as a result, or incurring a fine. Maybe they’re not aware of this, or maybe they think they’ll be able to save up enough to pay their taxes once the holidays have passed, or that some other windfall will come along. Too many adults don’t fully understand how to sit down and write out a realistic family budget that takes the present and the future into account. Y4Y’s course on financial literacy can put your families on the right path for thinking ahead. You’ll want to assess what your families actually need, and Y4Y’s Adult Financial Literacy Needs Survey can help you.

Don’t Fall for Scams

Knowing who to trust is only half the battle during tax season. Knowing who NOT to trust is also key. The IRS has publicized many known scams that prey on the fears of honest taxpayers. These scams may be designed for identity theft or to extort money from the people who can least afford it.

Let Families Know About Free Tax Help

These cautionary tales paint a less-than-cheery picture around tax season, but there’s good news too! The IRS offers free volunteer tax preparation for families with low incomes, limited English or disabilities. The majority of families who use this service receive a refund, especially families in lower income brackets. Best of all: a large segment of lower-income families pay no federal income taxes.

You don’t have to be a tax expert or a financial whiz or a tax accountant to let families know about resources like the ones described here. By the time those little green sprouts turn into beautiful blooms, tax season will have come and gone, and everyone will be a little bit wiser!



January 22, 2020

Knowing how money works can help people make smart choices. When you think about money management, spending wisely may be the first thing that comes to mind. There are other things to consider too, like different ways to increase earnings, how to use credit and manage debt, when it makes sense to insure against risk, and how saving and investing can help make dreams come true. The term used to describe financial know-how across all of these areas is “financial literacy.”

Wouldn’t it be great to give students a head start on financial literacy? What if they started thinking early about the difference between wants and needs? If they knew the power of compound interest, might it motivate them to work and save toward big dreams instead of spending now on “wanted” things that won’t last? What if they suddenly “got it” that classes like math, science and foreign language study will affect their career options and income later in life?

“Sure,” you might be thinking, “but our 21st CCLC program doesn’t have the time, knowledge or resources for that.”

The good news is, you don’t have to be a money whiz to make financial literacy part of your program, and you don’t have to start at square one. Y4Y’s new Financial Literacy course walks you through planning and implementing financial literacy activities for students of all ages and their families. It shows how to enlist local people and resources to create powerful learning experences. It has tips for coaching and training your staff to support financial literacy activities and community partners. As with all Y4Y courses, you’ll also get tools to customize or use “as is.”

If you learned from Y4Y’s Building Financial Literacy Click & Go last year, and you’re ready to take the next step, this course is for you. Let Tawanda, the host, guide you through planning and implementing high-impact program activities. Investing in student and family financial literacy now can pay off in attitudes and habits that last a lifetime.



August 9, 2019

Did you ever wonder why there are so many idioms around sound financial decisions? “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” “A penny saved is a penny earned.” For generations, parents have talked about money when passing along life’s wisdom. But our complex world has moved past simple rhymes.

Your 21st CCLC parents may envision their children becoming first-generation college graduates, or simply fitting in after arriving here from another country. They understand the importance of planning, are dedicated to their children’s futures and know that money talks. Unfortunately, common sense may not be enough to navigate modern-day financial decisions and talk back

The Y4Y Building Financial Literacy Click & Go is a great resource for you to help children and families get to know the basics outlined through an international effort to improve personal financial literacy. Many states now include financial literacy in learning standards and curriculum. The Y4Y Financial Literacy Standards Overview and Crosswalk tool can be a guide for building these crucial concepts and life skills into your program as you support multiple academic disciplines. Adult financial literacy courses offer a perfect opportunity to engage parents. You can invite in-depth conversations around how to make smart financial decisions in a notoriously complex arena. Be sure to check out Y4Y’s Evaluating Financial Literacy Resources to become confident about sharing the right information.

“Money talks” just means that money makes things happen. Even if they’re not tomorrow’s Rockefellers, citizens who understand basic financial concepts — earning income, spending, credit and debt, saving and investing, and protecting and insuring — are better poised to participate in personal and public financial decisions. Give your families that voice to talk back.