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August 16, 2016

It may still feel like the dog days of summer, but fall will be here any minute— and you’ll want to be ready! So before you get caught up in the new school year, take some time to reflect on the strategic partnerships you’ve developed. 

•    What worked well last year? What didn’t? 
•    Where can partnerships be strengthened or expanded? 
•    How can your program be a good partner to the community?

These are big questions that demand big answers, and Y4Y has tools to help.

Structure discussions with your staff using the Strengthening Partnerships Implementation Planner. This guide can help you assess which areas of your program need improvement, identify community resources that may help you meet those needs and consider how to bring your community and your program together. Once you’ve found willing partners, the Memorandum of Understanding Template and this example Memorandum of Understanding can help you draft effective partnership agreements.

Building and maintaining strong community partnerships are important ways to keep your program effective. Get started now, and keep working at it all year long!



May 13, 2016

So, you finished your first school year as a new subgrantee of the 21st CCLC grant — whew! Now what? Start by giving yourself a pat on the back, then applaud your success and smile. For some of you, though, it’s on to the summer program!

To look at your successful first year, you might start by focusing on how you were able to engage the participants in their setting. How were your classes, clubs, programs, activities? By providing a wide variety of activities, 21st CCLC programs foster social skills, build and enhance communication, and support the intellectual development of participants. Your and your colleagues can ask this question: “Did we provide exceptional opportunities for both academic and social growth?” Gather some information to answer this question by working as a group to complete the Follow-Up and Supervision Checklist available in the Y4Y Tools.

After assessing the participants’ experience, take a look at the staff experience. Ask this: “As professionals, did we take full advantage of our abilities to meet the goals and objectives of our program?” The Y4Y tool on Determining Program Needs can assist with this particular exploration. 

Your talented team members have knowledge and skills that can help you offer powerful and engaging programs, so you can capture the imaginations and interests of every participant. These abilities help to create activities that align with program goals and objectives as well as important college- and career-ready learning standards. 

When 21st CCLC practitioners guide young people through hands-on activities that include the opportunity for conversation and learner-centered study, you embed the potential for positive development. This first year, you brought to life new topics of interest and facilitated learning that occurs outside of the formal school setting. One result is a fun and expressive learning experience that impacts everyone involved. For more about the benefits of active learning, see the Project-Based Learning Research Brief and look into the Project-Based Learning course.

So celebrate the scholarly standards and enrichment activities! Move forward, and continue to prepare. Summer is right around the corner, and everyone is ready for it. 

If you are new to the 21st CCLC world, please explore these Y4Y resources as you work to provide a high-quality program this summer and during the coming school year:

Guidance for New Programs Webinar for Replay

Follow-Up and Supervision Checklist

Program Implementation Planner

Summer Planning With Y4Y (Coffee Break #2) Webinar for Replay



December 8, 2015

Guest blogger: Patrick Duhon, consultant and former director of the Providence After School Alliance

This is the first of two articles on planning for summer programming. January’s entry will look at program themes, staff preparation, and program outcomes and measurement.

While some school districts wait until spring to start summer planning, 21st CCLC and other out-of-school time providers need to plan early. Start between now and the new year, and you’ll be ready to deliver a robust program next summer.

Why so early? Your first step is getting the major players and pieces, including funding, in place. Here are the basics that deserve your immediate attention.                                                               

First, do advance planning with school and district leaders: 

Start by strengthening alliances with your advocates in the school system. Help them understand your program’s contribution to stemming summer learning loss.

Reach out to new partners in your district and demonstrate how your summer learning goals align with important academic outcomes and social and emotional learning.

Provide as much data as possible — pre/post test results, youth development outcomes, grades, test scores, independent reports or evaluations — anything that underscores the quality of your program.

Estimate your program capacity and the costs for scaling up your program; show your partners the largest number of students you could serve and the full costs for you to deliver that program. Determine the cost for the most robust program possible — but also know what you could be cut and still offer a high-quality program.

Once you’ve aligned your champions and determined the costs, identify the funding sources, know when you can tap them and secure the funding:

It’s important to note that summer programs usually run over two fiscal years. That’s true for Title I funding, a major potential source from schools, as the fiscal year is July 1-June 30. Show the district and partner principals the wisdom of funding some upfront costs, such as planning, training and supplies, before June 30. This will put a smaller portion of summer program costs in the next fiscal year. Ask soon, because schools usually submit Title I reallocation plans to states by January.

Considering both fiscal years might help you with other funding sources, too. Be mindful of this when budgeting and fundraising.

Research on high-yield out-of-school time programs — in the summer and year round — shows significant youth outcomes. Combine information on research with data from your program to connect to funding from other potential sources, including these:

Career and technical education funds: Work with your district to incorporate career awareness and exploration into your summer activities, and make a case for getting support from federal Perkins grant and local workforce development funds. Districts often struggle to provide these mandatory activities for elementary and middle school students, so may appreciate having your summer program connect youth with a variety of professional fields.

Other federal title funding for special populations: Your program can provide opportunities for English language learners and students with IEPs and special needs to thrive through hands-on, experiential learning. Districts often want more opportunities to offer these students.

Private sources: Align your summer program with STEM learning or another focus area of private and family foundations. Be creative by asking funders for “matching grants,” and use these to get district funds. Foundations win with new investments, and districts win by showing school boards they leveraged private funding.



April 24, 2015

Earlier this month, Y4Y hosted a panel discussion and webinar on building an advisory board and collaborating with your parents and community members to support students and activities. Follow the link to hear the panelists’ authentic and practical approaches for establishing and maintaining strong advisory boards. 

Benefits

What happens when you truly collaborate with families and communities? According to our Y4Y panelists, you will gain access to the voices and talents of your community. You will find ways to enhance your program — directly, through alternate and additional funding sources, and indirectly through empowering parents and building their capacity. For more about how to develop such win-win relationships, see The Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships.

Tools

Whether you have established an advisory board or intend to do so, Y4Y offers some great tools to help you get going and keep track of what you’re doing. Here are short descriptions and quick links to those tools.

Communication and Collaboration Checklist
Although this tool focuses on fostering good relationships between your program and the schools your students attend, it can easily be customized to include connecting with families and community members. It also helps you think about your short-term and long-term goals and action steps. 

Identifying Partners
Here’s a tool to help you identify your community resources and think about potential members for your parent-community advisory board. After you establish a board, continue to conduct a community inventory every two or three years so you don’t miss any important connections. 

Volunteer Job Description
Before you invite people to join your parent-community advisory board, we recommend preparing a volunteer job description. Get this template in the Y4Y portal, and customize it to fit the specifics of your advisory board. 

Volunteer Skills Grid
As you connect with people who express interest in becoming board members, ask them to complete this simple form to share their skills, interests and available time. Just delete the examples from the grid before distributing to members to fill out.



June 14, 2013

The Identifying Partners tool on Y4Y can help you take stock of the valuable resources – individuals, organizations, and groups – that have great potential for partnership with your program.

As you look down the list of partners on the tool, think about who else in your local area serves the same population of young people or follows a similar mission as your program’s. By partnering and pooling together resources, you can deepen your impact and provide more of the support that your students need.