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August 9, 2019

Summer is the season for veteran and new grantees alike to ascend to 30,000 feet and take a broad view of their programs. On the heels of the U.S. Department of Education’s 2019 21st CCLC Summer Symposium, where leaders from 50 states gathered to move this exciting profession forward, here are “big picture” questions for all grantees to address:

Does your program vision statement reflect the sharpening focus on social and emotional learning? Social and emotional learning and building positivity among youth are high-priority areas for many 21st CCLC programs. How might a subtle revisiting of your vision statement trickle down to other components of program management?

Is collaboration the heart and soul of your program? You value the voices of your community partners and stakeholders at the planning table, but does your program provide students with ample opportunities to practice collaboration? The ability to collaborate with others is increasingly regarded as a valuable tool for professional success. How can you accommodate this skill-building priority?

Are you an experienced grantee starting a new program? You know better than most that out-of-school time programming is growing and evolving as a professional field. Refresh yourself on managing a 21st CCLC program from the ground up, and catch up on the latest regulations and wisdom around successful programs by attending the New Leaders Virtual Academy described below.

Are you a new grantee who’s worried about the deafening silence at 30,000 feet? Y4Y has a wealth of resources to help you maintain radio contact with experienced peers. Beginning August 13,  the New Leaders Virtual Academy will offer a live series of five interactive webinars to walk you through the crucial steps of program development, breaking down each step into manageable tasks. A certificate of completion for the Academy will be offered to those who attend the series. More important, you’ll emerge with a road map of available resources, connections to veteran professionals in the field, answers to your burning questions, and, best of all, companionship with fellow newcomers on the “new grantee” journey.

Whether or not you participate in the Academy, you can begin orienting yourself with the basics anytime. Budget three to four hours to take the Y4Y Introduction to Managing Your 21st CCLC Program course and explore some of its tools, like the Project Management Graphic Organizer and Managing Your 21st CCLC Program Diagram. If you don’t have a management background, these resources will give you a foundation in standard project management processes and help you manage critical tasks relevant to 21st CCLC programs. You can also review the 2018 Y4Y Virtual Institute for New 21st CCLC Grantees. This series of archived webinars is a great primer. Rest assured that the 2019 Academy sessions will be archived on the Y4Y website this fall.

Make Y4Y your partner in learning!



July 16, 2019

Learn from the past to improve the future. How many times have you heard this saying from historians, politicians and even your mother? It’s good advice for 21st CCLC programs as well!

As you plan your fall program, look back at data you gathered in the spring to pinpoint learning needs for current students and staff members. Learn about students who haven’t been in your program but could use the extra support you provide. School-day teachers can help you identify new prospects, and tell you about academic areas where they see students struggling.

Here are some data types and Y4Y tools that can help you learn from the past:

Program Performance Data

Identifying and Addressing Program Strengths and Weaknesses Training to Go: This ready-to-use presentation can be customized or used “as is.” It offers strategies that help you analyze program performance and build on strengths to improve effectiveness.

Sample Evaluation Guide: This tool describes program-level evaluation, which uses some of the same data you’ll want for fall planning. Look near the end of the guide to find sample focus group questions for parents, students and staff. These questions can also be used in interviews or surveys to help you discover stakeholder reactions to and ideas about your program.

Observation Checklist: This tool helps site leaders understand important areas of student engagement, teacher/facilitator engagement and the physical environment. If you used the checklist during spring or summer program sessions, you already have data to analyze. If you haven’t used this tool, it can guide reflections and discussions when you plan your next session. Be sure to add it to your continuous improvement process tool kit.

Student Needs Data

Three Types of Data: This tool explains school-level, student-level and student voice data.

Survey of Student Needs: Use this tool to check with school-day teachers about student needs in subject areas and specific skills. It also helps with setting priority levels for student needs.

Staff Learning Needs

Intentional Activity Design: Mapping Needs to Activities: As the title suggests, this tool helps staff put data into action. If your staff hasn’t used SMART goals before, introduce this tool when you use the Setting SMART Activity Goals Training Starter. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound.

The tools in this list come from three Y4Y courses: Continuous Education, Summer Learning and Managing Your 21st CCLC Program. To see more free learning resources, go to the Y4Y Learn Overview page and start exploring!



June 18, 2019

Could a few minutes of forethought now prevent hours of stress later? When it comes to planning the start-up of a new program year, the answer is YES! These quick tips will help you prepare now for a smooth re-entry this fall.

To avoid the last-minute hiring scramble:

  • Prepare job descriptions. Have job descriptions ready in advance — especially if you’re looking for certain skills or expertise. Y4Y’s Sample Human Resources Packet has sample job descriptions and templates for inspiration.
  • Keep a list of potential candidates. Maybe you’ve encountered an enthusiastic summer intern from the local college, a community volunteer with a knack for teaching young children, or a retired grandparent with experience in youth development. Keep a list of names and contact information. You can also ask program staff, school personnel and others for recommendations.

To avoid the “oops-I-wish-I’d-planned-a-staff-training-on-that” syndrome:

  • Look back. What training topics would have benefitted staff last year? What topics should be repeated? Put those on the list for this year.
  • Look forward. Will you have several staff members who are new to the 21st CCLC program? Do you plan to use project-based learning or another strategy for the first time? Add essential topics to your list, then check on available training, resources, and expertise from the school and community, and from Y4Y. If you’re a new 21st CCLC grantee, take a look at Y4Y’s virtual professional development series for new grantees.

To avoid starting the fall without the partnerships you want and need:

  • Make new friends. Piggyback on community events to connect with potential partners who have the right kind of expertise, skills and resources to fill gaps or support new initiatives. Be ready to “make your ask” by clearly stating how partnering can benefit the partner as well as the students and families your program serves.
  • Keep old friends. Strengthen current partnerships by expressing appreciation, providing support, and refocusing time and effort as necessary to make sure all parties are satisfied with the partnership arrangement. See Y4Y’s Strengthening Partnerships course for ideas.

To avoid the letdown of targeted students not enrolling:

  • Include success stories in outreach materials. Name potential benefits to students and their families, and include real-life examples whenever possible. Feature recent activities and successes, with quotes and photos from students’ families (with their permission, of course). Let your program’s inclusive culture, areas of expertise and concern for individual growth shine through! See Y4Y’s recent Showcase webinar for ideas and tools for effective communications and outreach.
  • Team with the school to personalize invitations. If you know certain students would benefit from your program, enlist help from the school staff. Teachers and counselors who’ve established trust with students and their families can help recruit students and steer them in your direction.

Could a staff member or volunteer help with some of these tasks? Enlist their help right away. Taking time this summer to plan and prepare for fall can give your program (and your spirits) a rocket boost!



May 22, 2019

With initial design of your summer learning program complete, you’re ready to recruit staff and partners, then cultivate skills and knowledge so your gardeners can deliver activities that help students grow and prevent summer learning loss. You may have a core team in place but probably need to fill some gaps. Where do you start? Here are some tools and tips from Y4Y resources.

Select the Right Gardeners

To nurture strong, successful students, plan staff and partner recruitment to identify candidates with qualities you need.

  • Recruit staff. Some will be school-day teachers, who understand academics and know how to support student learning. Others will be school-day paraprofessionals, college students and community volunteers. You want candidates who reflect your students’ diversity, can support social and emotional learning, and bring skills and knowledge that will enrich the learning environment. Create a recruitment structure by developing job descriptions and preparing for interviews. See the Y4Y Sample Human Resources Packet and the Identifying and Recruiting High-Quality Staff tools for help with those processes.
  • Recruit partners. Use Y4Y tools to put two things in place: a community asset map that identifies potential resources, and an elevator pitch that explains your 21st CCLC program and its goals for summer learning. These resources help you prepare the soil for successful collaborations.

Fertilize and Water Frequently

Start by including everyone — your staff and appropriate partner staff — in orientation training, so everyone knows the garden design. As the summer session progresses, follow up with group and individual coaching. To ensure that everyone thrives, use the Y4Y Observation Checklist and Summer Learning Training Planner tools to focus ongoing coaching and professional learning activities. For ideas from 21st CCLC colleagues, listen to the podcasts on recruiting staff and leading your organization in the Organizational Culture Click & Go.

A Little Weeding and a Lot of Joy

Your summer learning garden can produce glorious blooms — just be sure to use your continuous improvement process to weed out ineffective practices. See the Y4Y Continuous Improvement Planner and the Continuous Improvement Process Diagram for more information. At the end of the summer session, bring everyone together to celebrate your garden’s bounty!

Other Y4Y Resources

Summer Learning Initiative. Get inspiration, ideas and tools from this two-year Department project.

Summer Learning Course: Implementation Strategies. See Step 4: Logistics, Planning Professional Development.

Managing Your 21st CCLC Program Course. Find the information and tools every program director needs.



January 24, 2019

Happy new year! Chances are, you already have several program activities, meetings, appointments, deadlines and to-do lists on your new calendar. Before all the blank space is filled, here’s a reminder: Don’t forget to put yourself on the calendar! Taking time for personal and professional renewal is important to your success and well-being. Here’s some advice:

Look both ways. As a child, you probably heard this line often from the crossing guard and from Mom as you approached busy intersections. It’s also good advice for crossing into the new year. First, look back at the past year, and reflect: What went well? What didn’t? Which habits, activities and goals do you want to keep? Which will you ditch? Then look forward and consider what you’d like to have, do and be in the coming year. What habits, activities and goals will get you there? A SWOT analysis can help you “look both ways” and consider your options. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Put on your own oxygen mask first. This pre-takeoff advice from flight attendants reminds us we can’t help others if we ignore our own needs. Sure, you’d love to spark students’ interest in reading and math, and help them prepare for successful college and career experiences. But maybe you first need to build your skills through training and tools in those areas. The links in this paragraph can help. See Y4Y’s professionalization resources for other ideas you can use to build your skills and your resume.

Keep your balance. The examples above focus on professional renewal, but time for personal goals and interests is equally important. Maybe you love nature photography or trips with family or friends but haven’t taken a photo or a trip for months. Or maybe you daydream about an afternoon of downtime. Decide what you need, and put yourself on the calendar. Seeking work-life balance and taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. It’s essential.