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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!



July 26, 2022

July’s the perfect time to think about expanding your program’s sisterhood (and brotherhood)! Use this helpful checklist to lay the groundwork for staff recruitment and retention as you plan for fall programming. 

  • Budget time for defining or refining your organizational culture and climate. Y4Y’s Click & Go on this important step walks you through how to break down this work if it’s all new to you. Chart your plan using the Implementation Checklist.
  • Show your dedication to an inclusive process by using Y4Y’s Culture and Climate Perception Surveys for staff and students. 
  • Establish or reinforce an effective, ongoing communications channel where staff feel safe providing feedback. This involves a compassionate management style, consistent team meetings, and a way for staff to give anonymous comments to leadership. Y4Y’s Effective Workplace Communication Training to Go can help.
  • Ask for staff input on the qualities they’d like to see in their future coworkers. Then be sure to honor that input when you advertise and consider new candidates. Who knew “resilience” would become a top characteristic that an employer might seek? Yet here we are.
  • Be sure all methods of human resources outreach are updated to reflect the shifts you’ve made in your culture and climate, and why you’ve made them. 
  • Budget time and resources for professional development throughout the program year. The more intentional you are in the planning phase, the more effective your training will be this year. Reminder: Slide 1.6 of the Coaching My Staff section of the Y4Y Introduction to 21st CCLC course can walk you through an assessment of your program professional development needs.
  • Consider a formal mentorship program to match veteran and rookie staff members and foster the sisterhood/brotherhood you’re reaching for.

Start the Healing
The pandemic has impacted employee connections and turnover across most industries. The “sisterhood/brotherhood” metaphor rings true in education because the extreme challenges you’ve faced together for over two years draw you close like family, yet it’s also true that we often turn on those people we’re closest to. You and your 21st CCLC staff deserve a glacier of credit just for showing up, not to mention how consistently you’ve worked to support student academic and emotional recovery. But your staff’s high expectations for themselves and each other might have taken a toll. It may seem impossible to ask staff for more or different investments in students and in your program without risking more burnout or diminishing wellness. 

So, what’s the solution?

The not-so-easy answer is: It will be different in every program. Certainly, every program should emphasize principles of mutual respect in all things. But gone are the days when organization leaders develop language around culture and climate without consulting the people that make up the organization. Your program family will gain strength only by listening to and celebrating every voice. This practice helps you expand your program’s appeal to current and prospective program staff (“brothers and sisters”) who want to leave work each day knowing they made a difference.
 



May 6, 2022

Organizing Accounting, Financial, Banking Data. Tiny Accountant Characters around of Huge Clip Board Filling Bookkeeping Graphs and Charts Counting Debit and Credit. Cartoon People Vector IllustrationY4Y’s course on fiscal management is at your fingertips for those last-minute worries around annual reporting. Check out quick links to frequent questions asked and answered! Y4Y has new tools for guidance specific to the financial aspects of program management, such as the Fiscal Management for 21st CCLC Planning Checklist and Inventory Worksheet and Sample Tracking Form, but don’t forget to consult the Managing Your 21st CCLC course and its list of tools as well.

At this reporting stage of your grant year, your fiscal planning should all be in place and almost fully implemented. If you haven’t been reconciling your budget records with those of your accounting department each month, make catching up on this critical step your first priority. Review and correct any discrepancies with your accounting department.

You may have been submitting financial reports — likely quarterly — throughout the year, depending on your state’s requirements. One lesson you may have taken from this practice is to make drawdowns at least quarterly, if not monthly, so you can gauge your expenditures and encumbered funds in as close to real time as possible. Do one last check against those cost principles — were all expenses allowable, allocable, reasonable, and consistently applied? Be sure that any other funding stream was accounted for separately, as each probably has different restrictions.

Were amendments made to your budget? Make sure you have easy access to all relevant documentation and communication around those amendments. Remember: anything above a 10% change between line items requires approval (but check with your state — the threshold may be even smaller). Stay on top of this step in advance of final accounting. Last-minute budget amendments may be interpreted by your state leadership as poor planning, but it’s still better to seek approval than to be out of compliance with your expenditures.

How might you spend down any remaining funds? Supplies, such as those needed for your summer programming, are an excellent option. Y4Y’s Sample Procurement Packet may be a useful tool. But be sure goods and services are delivered to your program site before the close of the grant year. Excess funds in your personnel line item? Y4Y’s Sample Time and Effort Report is a key tool for documenting in this area. Check in with your program team about best options for boosting staff morale with meaningful trainings to show your investment in them before the year closes out.

Final reporting in your state may include a continuation grant application. Especially if your state decreased funding in later years, be sure your program team has a sustainability plan. This plan not only helps you fulfill your state’s requirements; it also provides a seamless bridge to the future of your program, not just to the next fiscal year, but beyond.

Communication with your state coordinator is key at this time of year. Be sure to check in with them along the way for reassurance, tips, and any modifications to the reporting process. It’s not just their job to make sure you’re “doing it right,” — it’s their job to make sure you succeed. Your 21st CCLC program played an essential role in student reengagement and academic recovery this year, and you’re making a positive difference. Make sure the numbers tell that story!



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!



February 10, 2022

Maintaining a healthy 21st CCLC program starts and ends with dedicated staff. But where would you be without funding and the right choices around that funding? Y4Y’s course on fiscal management offers new perspectives on managing your program funds, and what you can do to ensure your program’s resilience matches your students’ resilience. Though every state is different, with its own set of funding structures and rules, the Y4Y course offers help navigating the universal federal guidance. By increasing your knowledge, you’ll be in a better position to ask the right questions of your state 21st CCLC program leaders. Here are just a few starter tips to ensure your fiscal brilliance.

Know what your program said it would do when your grant proposal was written. All financial accounting comes back to your stated goals and assets at the outset. Keep your RFP (request for proposal, or more accurately, your grant application) at the ready. Example of why this is important: Your 21st CCLC program can’t supplant stated assets. So, if you noted that you receive supply donations every year from a local office supply store, your program cannot, then, use grant dollars to pay for supplies that were stated as an existing donation in that application.

Know the lingo. If you’re new to program management, access the glossary on the course home page before, during, and after engaging with the fiscal management course to set yourself up for success. Example of why this is important: Many of the legal requirements placed on 21st CCLC grantees center on financial reporting. Although your frontline staff may not be preparing reports, if your whole program doesn’t “speak the language,” important information about spending could be miscommunicated.

Leave it to the pros but don’t leave it to the pros. Be sure to work with the accounting department of your host organization to assign budget codes and track expenditures but keep your own accounting for both monthly spending reports and a drawdown report. Example of why this is important: Cross-checking is critical for accuracy, especially if there are multiple funding streams for your program. You can also stay ahead of unspent monies by tracking spending together.

Spell out your fiscal management policies and procedures in an accessible guidebook. Y4Y offers a sample of what this guidebook might contain. The one for your program will need to reflect the structures of your host district, your program, and your state. Example of why a guidebook is important: One of the key takeaways of the Y4Y Fiscal Management course is that there are complex restrictions around 21st CCLC grant funds. The pandemic has shed a light on how often we must step into new roles with little or no advance notice. A guidebook that your whole staff can refer to means that no matter what your staffing issues might be, budgeting rules can be followed seamlessly.

Keep an eye on the future. Your RFP asks you to talk about the future of your program, so you should always be thinking about the future of your program. Y4Y offers a tool for creating your sustainability plan to get this process — and it is a living process — going. Example of why this is important: Your initiatives in equitable STEM access, career exploration, social and emotional learning, and more lose power today if you can’t keep them going tomorrow.

You may feel that navigating your 21st CCLC budget demands your own personal resilience. And you may be right about that! But Y4Y’s new course on fiscal management further breaks down difficult concepts into simple explanations. It’s designed to ensure that every 21st CCLC leader can feel confident about their fiscal brilliance and their program’s resilience.