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July 19, 2021

There are many moving parts to your program. Here are some quick and easy ways to support your staff and keep a light but steady grip on your program and its success.

Your Best Resources Are Your Human Resources

The term “human resources” is so common that we don’t often stop to think about the meaning. If your program isn’t doing everything in its power to invest in staff, it’s guaranteed that you’re not getting the most you can out of your greatest asset. There are many ways you can invest in staff. Here are just a few:

  • Provide direct benefits. Many programs are revisiting their funding, budget and payroll structures with added funds from the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER III). Passing some of that funding on to staff directly demonstrates that their nose-to-the-grindstone grit and perseverance throughout the pandemic hasn’t gone unnoticed or unappreciated.
  • Support professional development. Making full use of free resources like Y4Y’s dozens of Trainings to Go and online courses means offering staff paid time to hone their knowledge and skills. Increased personal investment in your program and improved job performance are sure to result.
  • Create opportunities to recharge. Students aren’t the only ones in the process of recovery. As the old saying goes, you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip. Many 21st CCLC educators feel like root vegetables right now. A year of virtual programming has permanently blurred that line between home and work, making it all the more difficult to recharge at home. Now that programs are back in person, leadership needs to insist that staff give themselves the quiet or family time they deserve. As your program is able, you can even build on this effort by offering staff activities around socializing, mindfulness or whatever they express an interest in doing together as a team.
  • Delegate and empower. While the above offer ways to give something to your staff, don’t underestimate the ways your staff and your program can benefit from taking—with the right kind of framework. Take staff’s thoughts, ideas and advice about new policies or activities. And take their offers to show initiative on projects or committees. The good news is: This kind of taking also builds confidence, rapport, skills and passion in your greatest resources.

For more ideas on this important topic, be sure to check out Y4Y’s Employee Retention Training to Go.

That’s a Great-Looking Staff. Whatever Will You Do With Them?

Moving beyond your methods for valuing and keeping the staff you have, good 21st CCLC management also means having a program culture and policies in place that allow them to realize their full potential. How will you work as a cohesive team to achieve optimal outcomes?

  • Centralize. Has one member of your staff chased down access to online resources to align with the school day? Has she shared that access with her peers? Has another forged a partnership in the community for his high school students’ tech club but hasn’t had a chance to tell your sister sites about it? Are student files, program policies and schedules in SharePoint or a central, protected website so that any information that might be needed is appropriately accessible to everyone in your program? You can all work more efficiently and effectively by pooling your information and making access simple. Centralizing can also benefit your program fiscally. You might get bulk discounts from partners, or have materials you no longer need but another site can use.
  • Communicate. Many of the concerns around centralizing can be addressed when you implement adequate communication methods. Debriefs provide an excellent opportunity for in-the-moment “what worked, what didn’t” conversations, which are essential to continuous improvement. Weekly team meetings that share important and not-so-important updates and solicit contributions from every member will ensure no resource goes unused. An open-door policy by leadership and opportunity for anonymous feedback are critical. Not only will both parties benefit from an easy mode of exchange; the policy will reassure staff of their value.
  • Continuous improvement. Your program is bound to enjoy some degree of improvement with efforts to invest in staff, centralize information and resources, and communicate generously. But don’t skip those management steps and choices that tie continuous improvement into the fiber of your leadership. Follow up on those passions of staff to discover how you can support progress. Put structures in place that channel all feedback, even when roadblocks are encountered, into a “lessons learned” program bank. And, of course, offer everyone, including your top employees, constructive suggestions and opportunities to improve their practice. Maybe they’d like professional development in an area of need in the program or in a topic of interest to them. Check out the Y4Y Professional Learning Feedback Survey as just one example of a tool for using staff feedback for your continuous improvement.

Strong 21st CCLC management means loosening your grip enough to give staff the freedom to be effective while holding them fast to shared goals for your students. Now is a great time to brush up, or to bring along new leadership, on basic strategies with Y4Y’s Human Resources and Managing Your 21st CCLC Program courses.  



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!