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September 16, 2019

Y4Y learned from Texas 21st CCLC program director Johanna Friedel that there are certain questions she hears from new grantees each year. If you’re the captain of a 21st CCLC program just unfurling your sails, you might have some of the same questions. Here are common questions and answers, with links to Y4Y tools that will help you navigate the waters.   

Q1: How do you recruit your staff?  

See the Identifying and Recruiting High-Quality Staff overview. You can download and customize Y4Y’s Sample Job Descriptions to post on professional sites or disseminate to organizations from which you envision hiring (such as local teacher unions or the education department at a nearby university). Y4Y also has suggestions for Getting Members on Your Program Team  

Q2: How do you structure your afterschool time?  

Consult the Effective Homework Time Training to Go to consider the role of homework time in your program. You can use the Align for Success Click & GoIntentional Activity Design Planner and Intentional Activity Design: Mapping Needs to Activities tools to start shaping your activities blueprint. 

Q3: Who’s in charge of my budget? How do I determine what percentage should be allocated to staffing, overhead, transportation, supplies, field trips, training and snacks?  

Grantees should refer to their approved grant proposal for specifics on budgeting. Consult the Sample 21st CCLC Budget Worksheet for direction on how to best allocate any funds with flexibility. 

 Q4: How and when do my staff receive training? Who’ll train my staff? What basic compliance trainings will they need at the beginning of the year? 

Use the Y4Y Training Guide and Template for guidance on training basics. This guide will be helpful whether you’re planning and conducting the training yourself, working with a partner or having staff attend training offered by a third party. As you consider basic compliance trainings, you’ll need to know the requirements of your educational partners and the institution that provides physical space for your program. Many training tools are available on the Y4Y site. Open the drop-down list under “Learn” and go to “Train Your Staff” for advanced trainings you can customize and use as your program grows and flourishes. Another way to support staff members’ ongoing professional development is to connect them with professional learning resources (see Y4Y’s Professionalization Resources page). 

Q5: What basic materials for students do I need at the start of the program year? 

The materials you’ll need will depend on the program activities you do. Leave sufficient budget for materials specific to the activities that will take shape as you intentionally design activities, including science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM) projects you may offer. Consider community partnerships as a potential source of materials. Y4Y’s Sample Procurement Packet includes a supply request form, a supply and equipment tracking form, and a partner memorandum of understanding. 

Q6: Where can I find basic forms that will help me structure my program, such as enrollment forms, transportation forms, memorandums of understanding (MOUs), lesson plan forms, supervision and observation forms, student incident reports and a staff handbook? 

Y4Y offers a library of downloadable, customizable forms. The tools in Y4Y’s Managing Your 21stCCLC Program course are a good place to start. Don’t hesitate to reach out to other programs through the Y4Y discussion board. The board for the August 2019 New Leaders Academy has ideas from some veteran program leaders as well as new grantees. A template and tool for drafting MOUs is among the Y4Y Strengthening Partnerships course tools. 

Q7: What will my year-at-a-glance calendar look like?  

Y4Y’s Program Planning Timeline tool can assist you in broad-strokes program planning. To see an example of a timeline with a detailed breakdown of tasks, visit the Sample Annual Task Timeline 

Q8: What data do I have to collect for my state and the federal government? 

The Implementation Strategies section of the Managing Your 21st CCLC Program course addresses many aspects of data reporting. Your state coordinator is your best resource for learning everything that’s required of you to maintain funding.   

Q9: What are the roles and responsibilities for my executive staff, site coordinators or managers, family engagement specialist and for me as a program director? What are the responsibilities for my frontline staff and child care workers? 

It’s an excellent idea to have roles as well developed as possible as you build your program. Y4Y’s Sample Human Resources Packet provides standard role descriptions that you can customize to fit your budget and the people you hire. It can be tempting to rest more or less responsibility with employees based on their demonstrated abilities, but bear in mind that, in the event of turnover, your hiring practices need to have solid alignment with the descriptors you decide on.  

Q10: What are the responsibilities of the parents for the program? 

As you know, family engagement is a centerpiece of 21st CCLC programs. The Y4Y Family Engagement course helps program leaders consider many aspects of programs’ critical relationship with students’ families. The Sample Calendar (Family Engagement) offers a glimpse of what that might look like throughout the year. 



September 16, 2019

Creativity. Collaboration. Persistence. Questioning. Impulse control. Increased motivation. Improved academic performance. When students engage in project-based learning, these are just some of the outcomes you can expect to see.

Why does it work?

Project-based learning builds on the theory that learning is more likely to “stick” when it’s active rather than passive. Projects help students actively discover, process and apply new information rather than passively get information from textbooks, lectures or worksheets.

How does it work?

For thousands of years, educators from Confucius to Montessori and Piaget have outlined steps to help students define questions that lead to exploration, discovery and a lasting love of learning. The Y4Y Project-Based Learning course is a step-by-step guide to using this hands-on learning approach in your program. Briefly, it goes like this:

  • Check student interests to identify a topic to explore. This might be cleaning up the local river or learning how rockets work.
  • Guide students as they develop a driving question to organize the learning. Keep in mind the specific skills you want to help students master.
  • Help students create a project plan and timeline. They’ll need to decide on a product or outcome that will demonstrate their learning. Creating a product with real-world relevance motivates and rewards student efforts. They might build a model rocket, create a video to encourage community members to act against pollution, develop a how-to guide so others can replicate their work or create multiple products.
  • Facilitate the process as students work in groups to conduct research, brainstorm ideas, develop answers to their driving question and complete their projects.
  • When the final products are complete, celebrate student learning with an event that helps show off the work.

Ready to start exploring?

The Introduction section of the Y4Y Project-Based Learning course provides an overview. The Y4Y Project-Based Learning Project Planner is a handy checklist and reminder to help you facilitate this kind of learning in your program. For examples of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects completed by students in other 21st CCLC programs, see the Y4Y National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration project overview page.



September 16, 2019

The start of a new program year is a good time to remind staff members, partners and volunteers of your program’s mission, goals and expectations. For starters, put your mission statement, goals and expectations in writing, and post them for everyone to see. Refer to them in meetings and discussions. Prompt others to reflect and act on the values these statements represent by asking questions like these:

  • In what ways do our planned activities align with our program’s mission and goals? Do we need to make adjustments?
  • What evidence do you see that we’re moving toward our goals? Are we getting the hoped-for results? How well are we following through on our plan? Do we need to make adjustments?
  • Are we living up to the expectations we’ve set for ourselves and our program? What about our students and their families, our partners, and our volunteers? Do we need to make adjustments?

Notice that each prompt ends with a question about whether you need to change some aspect of your approach (such as planning, implementation or behaviors). That’s important because, despite our best intentions, it’s human nature to fall back into old patterns and go with the flow.

Remind everyone that you’re all in the same program boat and aiming for the same goals. Encourage one another to fight the prevailing winds by focusing on your goals, implementing your program as planned and evaluating your progress. Invite everyone on your team to suggest changes anytime they think the “program boat” seems to be drifting off course.

When you fight the prevailing winds, you’re fighting for the success of the students and families you serve!



August 9, 2019

Did you ever wonder why there are so many idioms around sound financial decisions? “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” “A penny saved is a penny earned.” For generations, parents have talked about money when passing along life’s wisdom. But our complex world has moved past simple rhymes.

Your 21st CCLC parents may envision their children becoming first-generation college graduates, or simply fitting in after arriving here from another country. They understand the importance of planning, are dedicated to their children’s futures and know that money talks. Unfortunately, common sense may not be enough to navigate modern-day financial decisions and talk back

The Y4Y Building Financial Literacy Click & Go is a great resource for you to help children and families get to know the basics outlined through an international effort to improve personal financial literacy. Many states now include financial literacy in learning standards and curriculum. The Y4Y Financial Literacy Standards Overview and Crosswalk tool can be a guide for building these crucial concepts and life skills into your program as you support multiple academic disciplines. Adult financial literacy courses offer a perfect opportunity to engage parents. You can invite in-depth conversations around how to make smart financial decisions in a notoriously complex arena. Be sure to check out Y4Y’s Evaluating Financial Literacy Resources to become confident about sharing the right information.

“Money talks” just means that money makes things happen. Even if they’re not tomorrow’s Rockefellers, citizens who understand basic financial concepts — earning income, spending, credit and debt, saving and investing, and protecting and insuring — are better poised to participate in personal and public financial decisions. Give your families that voice to talk back.



August 9, 2019

Experts agree that heeding student voice can help out-of-school time programs engage students and help them grow academically, socially and emotionally. Sometimes, though, when the defining characteristic of your program seems to be noise, you might think you have more student voice than you can handle! How can you be sure you get it right? Here are some quick tips and Y4Y tools.

Engage Students in Program Decisions

Consider these questions. If you can’t answer “yes,” decide what actions you need to take:

  • Are students represented on your program planning team?
  • When your team starts to plan for the next program term, are all students included in a goal-setting activity or discussion?
  • When your team reflects on results at the end of a program term, are students included, too?

Also consider this:

  • Who thinks about program culture and climate, and sets norms for behavior — staff alone, or do students contribute?

Involving students in decisions helps give them a sense of ownership in program activities and supports engagement. Equally important, it equips young people with important skills like collaboration, communication, caring and reflection.

Do Formal and Informal Observations

The next time you’re surrounded by students in your program space, conduct an informal observation: Close your eyes and listen.

  • Maybe you’ll hear comments like this: Wow! I get it! Cool! Can we do that again? I want to try that, too.
  • Or, maybe you’ll hear this: Go away, I’m doing this. Get somebody else to hang with. Do I have to do that now?

This type of quick, informal check can tell you how things are going in the moment, so you can act immediately if students and colleagues need help to find their focus.

To capture information for designing an effective schedule and engaging activities, use a formal observation tool. Y4Y’s Observation Checklist will help you consider staff and student engagement, fidelity of implementation, and the status of the physical environment. The data you gather can help with intentional design of student activities and staff professional learning events.

Conduct Surveys and Use the Results

Want to know how students and families feel about your program, and how you can do things differently or better? Surveys offer a quick, anonymous way for audiences to tell you what they think. Here are some Y4Y survey tools you can use:

When you ask others to respond to a survey, be prepared to react in turn. You won’t get future feedback if you ignore what respondents tell you now. After you analyze the combined data, be sure to share the results. You can post charts on the wall, include numbers in the electronic newsletter, or announce results through social media. Present the data beside plans for future activities to demonstrate how audience input helps to shape your program.