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September 23, 2022

Y4Y is excited to introduce a new online professional development option for 21st CCLCs. A Quality Program Quickstarter, or QPQ, is a self-paced learning module you can complete in about an hour. Each one highlights an essential practice for high-quality programs and includes a bundle of practical tools to take away and use. You can complete one module or all of them, in any order — and you can earn a certificate of completion for each one!

Keep reading to learn about four QPQ modules that are available right now. Find one that sparks your interest, sign into the Y4Y portal at y4y.ed.gov, and get professional development that fits your needs and your schedule. Here’s your menu of QPQ choices:

Building a Program Team

This module helps you consider who all your stakeholders are, how they’ll be represented on your team, and the different roles each can serve. Y4Y knows that sometimes this “jumping-off point” in 21st CCLC programming can feel like arm-twisting, so Kathleen and her buddy, Michael, offer tips on identifying and recruiting the right people for an effective program team.

  • Tip: Create a communications plan that includes meaningful orientation and regular, planned meetings in a setting that’s conducive to getting work done together. Transparency, a shared calendar, and attention to social components are smart strategies.
  • Top reason to complete this module: By helping you keep team engagement top-of-mind, the hour or so you spend in Building a Program Team will help you assemble a diverse chorus of voices that will make your program sing.

Developing a Needs Assessment

This module walks you through the steps for conducting a comprehensive needs assessment that draws on a wealth of data. You’ll consider the purpose and benefits of conducting a needs assessment, strategies for an effective process, timing, and what types of data to include.

  • Tip: An effective needs assessment offers valid evidence to help you identify pressing needs. That way, you can focus on what matters most. But don’t stop there! Go beyond identifying weaknesses to identify strengths as well, like highly engaged partners and families. This helps you use asset-based thinking (rather than deficit thinking) as your problem-solving lens.
  • Top reason to complete this module: You’ll know how to develop a comprehensive needs assessment tailored to your program. Your findings will help you and your program team set priorities and determine next steps.

Community Asset Mapping

Are you looking for an effective way to identify, assess, and mobilize community resources to meet student needs and reach program goals? Community asset mapping may be the answer. This module guides you through the process and helps you uncover “hidden treasure” in your program’s own backyard.

  • Tip: Use your program team to help you map potential assets like local businesses and nonprofits, experts, and school and family partners. Then use your needs assessment results, program goals, and other criteria (like cost and ease of use) to zero in on assets that are a good fit and can add value.
  • Top reason to complete this module: You’ll learn an effective process for mapping available assets so that you don’t overlook hidden treasures like local expertise and nonprofit programs. You’ll also get tools and ideas to help you secure, engage, and respect program partners to ensure a sustainable program.

Intentional Activity Design

You can use the intentional activity design process to align your program’s activities with student needs and interests, program goals, and school-day learning.

  • Tip: Use a variety of learning and engagement strategies like student choice, meaningful projects, experiential learning, field trips, social interactions, individual and group components, and makerspaces to design activities that delight students and help them discover new interests, skills, and strengths.
  • Top reason to complete this module: You’ll be inspired to take a fresh look at your current approach to planning and designing program activities. Chances are, a few tweaks can yield big payoffs for you and your students.

Certificates? Yes, please!

As with Y4Y’s courses, completion of each QPQ module comes with the opportunity to download and print a certificate to demonstrate your professional growth and development. Of course, the results in your 21st CCLC program will be an even greater demonstration of all you’ve gained!



March 8, 2022

This year, your Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Program will be reporting on new Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) measures that were published on July 1, 2021. If you’re a program leader, it’s important to consult with your state coordinator to ensure you understand the new measures and how your state wants data presented. Also, you might want to catch the upcoming LIVE With Y4Y webinar: Knowledge Is Power: Leveraging Data to Improve Program Quality. Webinar guests will offer research- and experience-based tips on your data’s importance, collection, and use. Meanwhile, review the comprehensive Y4Y resources discussed below to ensure that your program’s collection, reporting, and use of this year’s data ultimately wins the top prize: grant renewal!

Understand What You Need: Data for Design

Y4Y’s update of the Introduction to 21st CCLC course could not have come at a better time! If you’re looking for information about the new GPRA measures and the legislative background, check out the course’s Learn More Library. At this point in your program year, you should be implementing activities based on needs assessments you performed at the beginning of the year — congratulations on that successful initial collection of data for design! But if a review of the measures reveals that a data point was overlooked, you can reach out to partners immediately. If you're not sure you got this step right, then do the following:

Work With Your Prized Partners

Our culture seems to be waking up to the fact that everything comes back to relationships. If your program needs a little advice in strengthening those school-day partnerships to ensure efficient data sharing, check out these Y4Y resources:

Talk About Data Types

It isn’t just leadership that needs to understand types of data. Your frontline staff will be critical in answering some data questions before and after activities, and when it’s time to report at the end of your program year. Make the most of these Y4Y resources to ensure staff understand data types and why each type is so important:

Train on Collection

Different types of data mean different types of data collection. Y4Y offers resources to address this important step in the full data picture:

Analyze and Organize Your Data

Again, you’ll want to check with your state coordinator to understand exactly how your data are analyzed and presented at the end of your program year. Your state may have a database you are directly uploading information into, so be sure to clarify those procedures and deadlines. Y4Y offers tips on this step, including how to responsibly handle your data:

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Your goal this spring is to keep your eyes on the prize of grant renewal by demonstrating how effective you’ve been at serving the students in your program. Keep in mind that this year’s end data might be used as next year’s beginning data: in some cases, for students who are continuing with you, and in other cases to inform activity and program design decisions as part of your continuous improvement cycle. Your state coordinator is your partner in this, so remember: Nobody wants you to win more than they do!



September 12, 2021

The country’s collective consciousness and conscience are waking up to inequity. Institutions are eager to address this societal albatross, and there are many very different ideas on how to do it. Resources such as Street Data: A Next-Generation Model for Equity, Pedagogy, and School Transformation by Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan ask educators to shift thinking from deficit-mindedness to asset-mindedness. “Street data is the qualitative and experiential data that emerges at eye level and on lower frequencies when we train our brains to discern it. Street data is asset based, building on the tenets of culturally responsive education by helping educators look for what’s right in our students, schools, and communities instead of seeking out what’s wrong.” While your 21st CCLC program will continue to require evidence-based intervention methods, how can you begin to shape the culture and implementation in your program around student strengths rather than perceived deficits?

Authors Safir and Dugan, who were featured at the 2021 Summer Symposium, offer guiding principles and core stances for each chapter of their groundbreaking book. These are crosswalked below to Y4Y resources that can help your program shift its framework to an asset-minded approach that promotes equity.

Why Street Data, Why Now?

Guiding Principle 1: Reimagine our ways of knowing and learning. Core Stance: Holism.

How can your program give value to learning that’s emotional, spiritual, and physical as well as that which is cognitive?

  • Know the five skill domains of social and emotional learning.
  • Principles of inclusion reach beyond disabilities. Gather a full team and build an inclusive team by roles so your program can see every student for their strengths, like leadership, teamwork and clear communication.
  • Tools available in Y4Y’s Career Pathways for Students course already put you in the mindset of focusing on each individual’s strengths. Asset-based thinking takes this principle a step further and recognizes that different subcultures in your community might practice different and exciting ways of knowing and learning. 

Guiding Principle 2: See the barriers; imagine what’s possible. Core Stance: Awareness.

Is equity just one more new initiative, or is your program committed to a culture shift?

  • Your culture and climate language must reflect your commitment. Consult the implementation strategies section of Y4Y’s course on creating a positive learning environment.
  • Only with strong community champions that share your values can you make progress toward equity.
  • Team building is one more way to stress that your program is a community that values all its members.

Choose the Margins

Guiding Principle 3: Center voices from the margins. Core Stance: Antiracism.

Are the loudest voices that are front and center the only ones that are heard in your program?

Guiding Principle 4: Seek root causes over quick fixes. Core Stance: Deep Listening.

How is your program working to fully understand its students?

Deepen the Learning

Guiding Principle 5: Equity work is first and foremost pedagogical. Core Stance: Agency.

Does your program place resilience at the center of perceived success?

Guiding Principle 6: Less is more; focus is everything. Core Stance: Coherence.

Progress cannot be made in the silo of your program. How can you reach to partners to bring them along on this journey?

  • Review the introduction section of Y4Y’s course on continuous education to develop strategies for approaching your school-day partners. Aligning your efforts to foster asset-based thinking with hopes of affecting pedagogy is key.
  • Adapt the Y4Y tool to establish professional learning communities and bring all your stakeholders together from around the community to reflect on your different views of data collection.
  • Families are your strongest partner in advocating for equity. Understanding and overcoming challenges to family engagement are important first steps.

Guiding Principle 7: Mobilize a pedagogy of voice for educators. Core Stance: Symmetry.

Have you empowered your staff, many of whom were perhaps chosen for their familiarity with the community, to act on their best impulses for supporting equity?

Transform the Culture

Guiding Principle 8: Break the cycle of shame. Cores Stance: Vulnerability.

Do you strive so relentlessly for perfection in the delivery of your programming that you don’t take the risks that can lead to imperfect progress?

  • A theme we can borrow from STEAM/design thinking is undoing right-answer thinking; it’s better to try and falter, learn from that experience and try again.
  • Another Y4Y Voices From the Field guest, Marcy Richards, focuses on the “can-do’s” and not the “can’t-do’s” in her approach to equity, diversity and English learners.
  • Virtual learning in 2020 and 2021 was a stark lesson in just how quickly and effectively 21st CCLC programming can pivot. Nobody said “effortlessly.” Nobody said “easily.” And certainly, nobody said “perfectly.” But take those lessons, just as California practitioners featured in Y4Y’s March webinar series, Literacy Done Virtually, did, and consider what kind of shifts toward equity can be put into place immediately and program-wide. There may be bumps in the road, and it’s OK to be OK with that.

Guiding Principle 9: Every moment is an equity moment. Cores Stance: Warm Demander.

As the authors note, “Rather than call people out, warm demanders call folks in and up to the work of equity.” Is your program committed to a universal approach to challenging your full staff, partners and community to embrace equity?

  • By definition, 21st CCLC programs are a place where diversity is understood. You already fight for the students in the margins. Consult the Diagram of Philosophy and Practices Within 21st CCLC to guide everything you do.
  • Use the Knowing Families and Cultures tool to develop strategies for familiarizing staff and partners with the unique qualities and strengths of the families you serve.
  • Become a warm demander by creating a program elevator speech. Craft your language not around calling people out, but around calling partners in and up to the work of equity. Most important, get comfortable talking about equity with a tone of gentle insistence.

As you balance your formal and informal data collection activities with an eye toward equity and improvement, consider the book’s closing message:

“Listen deeply. Trust the people. Act on what you learn. With that invocation, I invite you to walk forward on your street data journey with clear eyes and a full heart, knowing that the biggest mistake we can make is to cling to the status quo. Be brave, be bold, be visionary. We’ve got this.”



June 16, 2021

Getting back on track after two breakneck program years will take some truly intentional assessment and reflection. Programs have learned a lot from in-the-moment experimentation, making changes on the fly to meet students where they were. Now that the worst of the great storm has passed, you can use this summer to take full stock of your program. With tips from Y4Y tools designed to walk through every key aspect, you can be sure the new program year is beginning with the clean slate of comprehensive assessment and reflection, and begin anew with a solid grasp of your students’ needs, going forward.

  • Brush up on the basics. Y4Y’s Introduction to 21st CCLC is an important course to revisit whenever you’re looking to mentally step out of the daily grind of your program to give thought to its structures.
  • Take it to the next level. The Managing Your 21st CCLC Program course is a broader, deeper extension of the introduction, and is worth revisiting each summer. You’ll be amazed at how many 21st CCLC fundamentals may have slipped your mind while in crisis mode, and how much more you can get out of the course with another year of experience under your belt.
  • Get your ideas down while they’re fresh! You’ll be shifting into planning mode before you know it, and the Sample Annual Task Timeline is a handy tool for this. If you reflect on it now, you can make some smart customizations to the document based on your timely recollections of this past program year.
  • Now dive into all those layers. As you’ve discovered, each Y4Y course that adds new dimension to your program comes with “assess and reflect” tools. Here are some important ones to pull up now:

This month’s blog post on celebration notes lightheartedly that celebration is the “nth” step in 21st CCLC programs. Celebrations are so important to give your students and yourself that sense of accomplishment — which isn’t just a sense: You’ve accomplished SO MUCH this year. But as you sweep the proverbial confetti and clean out those cubbies, you’ll be thinking about that “nth plus one” step of continuous improvement. What are your takeaways? Your leave-behinds? May your summer reflections be rich with pride in an amazing year!