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January 21, 2021

Your 21st CCLC program can be a magical place that gives a “home” to those high school students who haven’t yet experienced a sense of belonging anywhere else. But how do you find them and convince them to join? How will you keep them engaged and invested so they want to stay? Break the ice and get to know the students in your community with tools from Y4Y’s new Click & Go, Recruiting and Retaining High School Students. To get started, check out the mini lesson for an overview of this important topic.

Now, let’s break it down.

  1. Where are you going to start, and who’s on your team? The Recruitment and Retention Plan will help you answer these questions and more. You already have more resources at your disposal than you may realize. This tool will help you centralize those resources and streamline thinking.
  2. What will effective recruitment look like? You can download the podcast, “Assessing High School Student Needs,” for ideas on where to go and what to do. Be sure to take your audience into account using the High School Recruitment Multicultural Sensitivity Checklist.
  3. My students are on board! What’s next? You want to be sure your program is meeting students where they are. There are many reasons for conducting online surveys with high school students. With Y4Y’s survey tool, you’ll learn how to get more open and honest answers from the teens joining your program about what truly interests them. Then, move on to goal setting with the Individual Student Goal Development Plan tool.
  4. Wait! Don’t go! There are some amazing stories out there about students becoming so invested in their programs that they stay engaged as adult staff members. Listen to the podcast “Finding Your Why: Youth Talk About Program Participation” for inspiration! Also check out tools such as the Youth Ambassador Action Plan Template for ideas on how to increase your students’ buy-in.

The new Y4Y Click & Go offers additional tools and podcasts to help you navigate the sometimes-tricky business of recruiting and retaining high school students. Don’t let these teens freeze you out of their lives! By getting to know them — getting to know ALL about them — you and your staff have the opportunity to warm the young hearts and minds that need it the most.



January 21, 2021

It might be poetic to say social and emotional learning (SEL) just feels right. But where are the data? Consider highlights from Early Lessons From School and Out-of-School Time Programs Implementing Social and Emotional Learning. The scope of the data collection used by the RAND Corporation in the publication of these findings leaves little doubt about the impact social and emotional learning can have, especially when early lessons from implementation are shared. In response to these clearly defined lessons that are most closely linked to successful efforts, you can consult corresponding tools from Y4Y’s Social and Emotional Learning course to thaw a data-driven path to connecting with students on nonacademic areas of growth and development.

Be sure to check out all the course tools as your program implements its own SEL initiative, and remember that each tool is customizable to your specific needs. 



January 21, 2021

Even before the pandemic struck last year, 21st CCLC professionals were asking for more guidance on incorporating health and wellness initiatives into their programs to address that glacier of stress their students face. Needless to say, that need has only grown throughout the past year. School districts across the country have been developing their own standards and goals around practices, both big and small, to improve health and wellness. With tips from Y4Y’s new Click & Go, Partnering With the School Day: Health and Wellness, you can team up with your district to give students the tools they’ll need to break away those glaciers of stress and send them out to sea.

Don’t get a cold start. Out-of-school time programs have the great advantage of already having a certain amount of physical activity built into programming. You’re used to thinking about your academic goals, and how they’re being met, but have you taken the same kind of structured approach to setting goals around health and wellness? The Program Self-Assessment of Health and Wellness Offerings tool offers the warm-up you’ll need to start off on the right foot.

Every strong partnership is locked in with strong communication. You’ve set your goals for health and wellness; now, what are your goals for a related partnership? Check out Y4Y tools like the Quick Guide to Initiating a Health and Wellness Partnership With the School Day and Conversation Starters for Partnering With the School Day Around Health and Wellness to get you and your team thinking about key factors to cover with your school-day counterparts. Because you aren’t held to the same academic structures, your district is likely to jump at the chance to join forces and resources to help students concentrate more on exercise and mindfulness in the hours they spend with you.

Not just movin’ and chillin’. Adopting a health and wellness initiative in your program is going to take more than just padding your playground time and adding a daily two-minute meditation. Y4Y offers several new tools to help you develop appropriate activities. Check out the Activity Selection Guide to Support Health and Wellness tool, the Walking Scavenger Hunt Activity Planner, and the podcast, “Planning Health and Wellness Activities,” to jump-start your creative juices once all those goals have been identified.

The big picture. Speaking of podcasts, don’t forget that you can download and listen to Y4Y podcasts while you’re performing your own de-stressing activities, such as cleaning out those closets at home or even watching snowflakes fall. The podcasts in this new Click & Go offer a big-picture perspective, with ideas on how you might connect with school-day staff or take health and wellness on the go. The adults need just as much guidance in this department as students. See the podcast on caring for your staff for pointers.

The beginning of the year is a time when most Americans resolve to be more aware of their health and wellness. By using Y4Y’s new Click & Go to help build self-care into your professional day, every day, you can carry that resolution through the whole year to slowly melt away that glacier of stress for your students and yourself!



January 21, 2021

Are certain students in your program at greater risk of being frozen out of their best possible educational experiences? Last summer, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs published infographics that reveal non-white students (broken out both by American Indian or Alaska Native, as well as Black or African American) with disabilities were at greatest disadvantage. By some measures, this disparity was exponential, and based on 2018 figures when virtual learning hadn’t yet had an impact. It’s important to remember that comparisons in these infographics contrast minority populations with overall figures, which means the contrast with white counterparts is even greater. Consider these specifics:

  • In 2018, Black or African American children comprised 13.8% of the population of ages 6-21. Yet, in the school year 2018-19, 17.89% of school-age children with disabilities in the U.S. were Black or African American.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native students with disabilities had a 25% dropout rate between the ages of 14 and 21, as compared with the overall dropout rate of 16% of students with disabilities.
  • Whereas 29 of 100 students with disabilities are likely to be removed for disciplinary reasons, that number increases to 65 for Black or African American students with disabilities.
  • Both populations enjoyed less time in mainstream classrooms than the overall population of students with disabilities.

Using Y4Y’s new Including Students With Disabilities course, consider how your program can melt away learning barriers for students with disabilities. Engage in the full course to better familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations that apply to these students and to develop ideas on shaping your culture and specific activities. But make special note of the tools mentioned below, which have direct application to these disheartening statistics.

Tap into existing information about individual learning needs. You may or may not have access to an individualized education program (IEP) to give you insights into how exactly your student might learn differently, for example. Don’t be afraid to ask for it, using Y4Y’s customizable Sample Letter for IEP Access. Get up to speed on understanding how to read these documents using Y4Y’s Common IEP Sections and Common Acronyms tools.

Engagement is key to reducing the dropout rate. This is true in the school day and even more so in your 21st CCLC program. Y4Y has many great resources for keeping students engaged, including a new Recruiting and Retaining High School Students Click & Go micro-learning module. You may need to modify or adapt some of the tools within this Click & Go, using tips from the Including Students With Disability course. But always remember that your students with disabilities can and should be surveyed for their interests and strengths, consulted to develop an individual student development plan, and offered leadership opportunities.

Behavior is communication. This was never truer than it is with students whose disabilities are likely to impact how effectively they can verbalize what they’re feeling or experiencing. Every student deserves to be heard. Staff can benefit greatly from the Understanding and Responding to Students With Disabilities Training to Go. This PowerPoint can be adapted to a virtual learning opportunity, where staff can collaborate about current and future students, and develop practices and skills that support students in inclusive out-of-school environments. Knowledge gained about how best to keep your students in the least restrictive environment can easily carry over into the school day when your partnerships are strong.

Did you know that abolitionist Harriet Tubman had epilepsy that resulted from childhood beatings to the head by her master during her years of enslavement? The poet Maya Angelou experienced five years of trauma-induced selective mutism. Olympic athlete Wilma Rudolph overcame infantile paralysis. Award-winning singer Harry Belafonte was profoundly dyslexic, causing him to drop out of high school. These amazing figures did not allow themselves to be frozen for life behind the barriers of disability, but understood the astonishing contributions they could make. You can be the advocate that sees in each of your students that exceptionalism is everywhere, and do your part to offer a warm welcome to all.



September 18, 2020

This timeless adage honors how crucial diversity is to group success. Even “diversity” is diverse! Differences may include culture, heritage, racial and ethnic background, socioeconomic status, geography, beliefs, personal preferences, and life experiences. Including diverse students (and staff) can strengthen individuals as well as your 21st CCLC program in general. In education, “inclusion” has a special meaning: It’s a term schools and 21st CCLC programs use to describe how they ensure that students with disabilities can meaningfully participate in activities.

Research heavily points to the benefits of inclusion, both for students with disabilities and for students who don’t have disabilities. Your program has many goals, and each of these documented benefits of inclusion are among them. Proper implementation of inclusion will

  • Build a sense of community.
  • Demonstrate to everyone that acceptance of differences is at the heart of your program culture.
  • Improve everyone’s academic outcomes.
  • Develop all students’ social and emotional wellness.
  • Be a celebration of individual strengths, not a focus on deficits.

Finally, inclusion in your 21st CCLC is the right thing to do, both ethically and legally. There are free tools you can use right now to help with inclusion in your program. Y4Y has a series of 10 short, topical implementation guides that are perfect as discussion starters or as handouts to bring new staff up to speed on key steps to a more inclusive program.

Bear in mind that students with disabilities are among those least served during long stretches of virtual learning. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the IRIS Center provides timely tips on helping students with disabilities in a virtual environment. You can also access a webinar, offered over the summer by the Office of Special Education Programs, that covers many more resources to help educators support these students during pandemic-related closures. These resources bring messaging back to the value of focusing on individual strengths. Celebrating what each student can contribute to your program will help everyone recognize it truly does take ALL kinds to make the world go ’round.