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As a father of two girls ages 7 and 10, married to an amazing educator of over 20 years, I have a 360-degree perspective of the teaching and learning experience. As a matter of fact, my 4th grade daughter is my wife's student. It's a complete family affair. Most people I share that with have an initial reaction of concern. The most common questions are, "How is that working out for your daughter? Isn't that weird for her? Does she feel challenged?" All these have merit. What this arrangement has created for our family is that we tend to continue the teaching and learning timeline at home.

Mother daughter Teaching1

This doesn't necessarily mean that the constructs of the school day are extended into our dining table or living room. It becomes more about expanding the subject matter, questions, activities, content, or curriculum, taking them in a variety of directions. Whether it's using origami to communicate lessons in geometry and structure integrity, talking about how biomimicry (the study of emulating nature's time-tested patterns and strategies) helps us become better designers, or appreciating the history behind the lyrics in Lin Manuel-Miranda's Hamilton, all of it has served as an immersive voyage into context, relevance, and meaning for our kids. The result of this approach has typically ended in them taking back what we expanded on as a family to enrich their learning during the regular school day.

My kids are lucky. As parents, we are also fortunate that our lives allow us to expand on the academic careers of our children. As a teacher, my wife knows she has a champion that ensures that the hard work she puts into the classroom is not gone to waste. In many ways, my family IS the village that we so often talk about in education.

Many kids are not this lucky. Many parents are not this fortunate. Many teachers do not have someone further inspiring what they started.

In 2002, I was offered the opportunity to help start what would be a series of afterschool programs in the City of Los Angeles. Alongside an amazing group of change-makers, we launched the After-School All-Stars program in East and South Central Los Angeles. These neighborhoods sit in unincorporated areas of the city, meaning that they are under-resourced, under-represented, and had definitely fallen behind in a "No Child Left Behind" era. These neighborhoods had suffered years, and one dare say a generation, of low expectations and high rates of poverty and crime. Looking back, it was easy to see the skepticism school principals had when we first arrived on the scene. These particular schools had seen their share of "help" coming in, and just as quickly head out. Teachers and school leaders had very few champions they could lean on. Students had grown accustomed to adults promising more and delivering less. Kids here had few other adults in their lives, as their parents were busy helping their families survive in the literal sense! Parents in these communities felt the helplessness of not having the ability to talk about what their children were experiencing during school. Kids weren't that lucky. Parents were not that fortunate. Teachers had no champions.

A colleague of mine made a keen observation early in the lifecycle of our programs quoting that "two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time". Basic law of physics. This same law existed on the blacktops of these two schools. Our job was to drive out the negative culture that was so prominent by being steadfast and committed to making a difference on these campuses. In doing so, we had the opportunity of changing the feel of the community. Think about that for a moment. For a program to enter neighborhoods such as these and set sights on transforming their aspirations and expectations was a tall order indeed, but it happened.


It started with engaging youth and their attitudes about what it means to learn. Standardized tests do not account for this. It continued with staff walking into an empty and run down school auditorium with the belief that they could fill the space with students and their families (something the school day had seldom seen). You had to be at this event for it to be "demonstrable". It was in moments that included a staff member having the vision of taking a handful of beat up acoustic guitars and grow the idea to become a nationally recognized rock music program. As programs grew from 3, 7, 10, 21, 34, and eventually 54 school sites, programs that our current White House administration claims as having no impact have resulted in students and school day leaders giving direct credit to programs like After-School All-Stars for their high school success, college entry AND graduation, with youth appreciating how we set them up for a lifetime of prosperity and giving back.

The stories are too many to keep up with. A young lady without a voice finding it in the All-Stars of Rock music program, building up her courage and vision all the way to a Yale Education. It was evident in a young man's memory of the program being the first place where he had a desk to do homework (home only offered the floor). That young man is now sitting at a school desk at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Another is the story of a young lady who thought our site leader's idea of her picking up basketball was a joke. There's nothing funny about her full athletic scholarship to Cal Berkley where she was one of the stars of the Pac 12 division of schools, playing basketball for the Cal Bears. She can look at the basketball she now dribbles for the Atlanta Dream and laugh at the irony of it all. You can see it in a young man out of South Florida who's on a mission to become a police officer, finish college, get into law school, and then the White House. Looking back, he shares, "After-School All-Stars helped me deal with my anger. I started writing poetry and played football. So through afterschool, I was actually working with my anger constructively. I was a lot happier." Part of his White House journey has begun with him meeting the former First Lady Michelle Obama during a summer experience with After-School All-Stars.

As programs like ours continue, so do the stories. More and more of our alumni are coming back with narratives influenced by our program's ability to expand their learning. Fast-forward to the NOW, we are standing at the cross roads of a revolution in what it means to prepare a young person for the future. More and more businesses are asking our educational institutions to expand the definition of what it means to learn. Scour the web and you will find a collection of credible research and articles asking questions such as, "We're Graduating More Students Than Ever, but Are They Prepared for Life After High School?" ( Laura Moser – April 2016).

Google cites intangibles when considering future employees. They call it "Googleyness" and it includes attributes like enjoying fun (who doesn't), a certain dose of intellectual humility (it's hard to learn if you can't admit that you might be wrong), a strong measure of conscientiousness (we want owners, not employees), comfort with ambiguity (we don't know how our business will evolve, and navigating Google internally requires dealing with a lot of ambiguity), and evidence that you've taken some courageous or interesting paths in your life.

Learning is more than a test score

Enrichment programs that include coding, video game design, makerspace, and entrepreneurship all have elements of ambiguity and a high need for collaboration and problem solving strategies. All this requires an expansion of the teaching and learning norms that we're familiar with. The new economy is pushing for new ways to facilitate the success of our students. Innovation does not look at test scores, homework completion, and compliance. The future calls our young people to take risks in their learning, to go after things that others think as impossible or unlikely, and to think oneself as the solution to today's and tomorrow's challenges. It requires expanding the definition of success. This calls for a village of adults that youth can count on, champions that teachers can lean on, and people that serve as an extension of a parent's concern for the academic and social wellbeing of their children.

As a leader of a national non-profit committed to expanding the opportunities of youth across the country through afterschool programs, it is imperative that the current administration do the following:

  • Take the data that says afterschool programs have no "demonstrable impact" and share that with the hundreds of corporations, foundations, state and city governments, and individual donors who can account for the longstanding effectiveness of such programs.
  • Sit with constituents from rural and urban communities alike that ushered in the new administration and ask them about how afterschool programs have helped their young people succeed.
  • Talk to school principals about the influence and support their afterschool programs have offered in their schools' quest for student achievement.
  • Finally, sit down with students to appreciate the opportunities, experiences, and personal successes they have had because of afterschool.

kids cheering

I look back at After-School All-Stars and think about how lucky students have been in having the opportunity to expand their academic experiences. I think back at how fortunate parents have been to know they can provide for their families without worry for the safety and development of their children. I think of school teachers that look at afterschool practitioners as having their back, trusting that the learning continues after the school bell rings.

We all know it take a village. Does our leadership really believe that taking away the village is the answer? If so, then village needs to stand up and say, "not on my watch!"

For breakfast I had an omelette, fresh fruit, and an iced coffee!

Published in Breakfast Club

It is with great pleasure that we announce the 2017 BOOST Conference Keynote Speaker, Former Senator Barbara Boxer!


Barbara Boxer BOOST Conference photo - eblast resize


BOOST Collaborative and Afterschool Alliance invite you to join us in honoring Senator Barbara Boxer at this year's BOOST Conference in Palm Springs, CA. Jodi Grant, Executive Director, Afterschool Alliance, will be presenting Boxer with an OSTI (Out of-School Time Innovations) Award on Wednesday, April 19th followed by a keynote address, audience Q & A, and book signing.

Schedule: April 19, 2017

  • 12:30pm-1:30pm - OSTI Award, Keynote, Audience Q & A
  • 1:30pm-2:30pm - Meet the Authors, Meet & Greet, Book Signing

Be sure to purchase your keynote book today! Log in to your online account to add or call us at 619-23-BOOST (619-232-6678)


               BOOST Collaborative Logo      afterschool alliance logo


Introducing: Barbara Boxer

A forceful advocate for families, children, consumers, the environment and her State of California, Barbara Boxer became a United States Senator in January 1993 after 10 years of service in the House of Representatives and six years on the Marin County Board of Supervisors. In January 2017, she stepped down after four terms in the Senate.

A champion of quality public education, Senator Boxer wrote landmark legislation establishing the first-ever federal funding for afterschool programs. Her law now covers 1.6 million children. She continues to work to expand afterschool programs nationwide as chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus.

A strong supporter of the 1994 crime bill, she has worked to fund anti-gang programs, pass the Violence Against Women Law (VAWA), and the Community Policy "COPS" Program. Her bill to prevent the criminal use of personal information obtained through motor vehicle records was signed into law and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read more about Barbara Boxer

BOOST Conference April 18-21, 2017, Palm Springs, CA
The deadline to register for the BOOST Conference is March 24, 2017. Register here.

Published in Breakfast Club

It's 2017 and here's what we're up against: A billionaire Secretary of Education is committed to dismantling public education as we know it. The White House is targeting immigrants, many of whom are Latino and Asian families living in the communities we serve. A Congressional majority is determined to repeal the Affordable Care Act and reduce Medicaid, both of which provide the only healthcare insurance available to many of the families of the children who attend our programs.

A Department of Agriculture Secretary nominee is recommending eliminating the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), free and reduced price meals and summer meal programs – the food so many children and young people in our programs depend on. Federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding may be an easy next step. And the list goes on.

I'm all about doing our best to prevent these things from happening, and I devote part each day to doing this. I also am painfully aware of the fact that the challenges ahead are compounded by the demands we already face. At the state and local levels, new minimum wage laws are increasing program costs each year.


Andi F Photo


I am clear about the seriousness of all of this, but I outright reject reducing the number of students who can attend our programs. I believe this is outrageous, unacceptable, irresponsible – and unnecessary. I won't look a child or his or her parents in the eye and say I'm sorry you can't be in our program anymore. Will you? We can, and must, do better! If you haven't done so already, the first step is to stop the overdependence that you may have on federal support.

It's been almost 15 years since the first edition of Securing Balanced, Diversified and Sustainable Funding for Afterschool Programs: Ten Steps to Success was published. This article has appeared on hundreds of websites. Thousands of program directors and others have attended my workshops. And many of the CEOs and District Administrators I've had the privilege of working with have positioned themselves to weather any financial storm now or in the future. You can, too!

The premise is simple, replicable, socially responsible, fiscally prudent and politically attractive. The argument is compelling to funders and the strategies have proven to make all the difference in whether programs achieve their potential or come up short financially. You can download a free copy at Children can't wait and neither should we. Let's keep co-creating the future together!

For breakfast I had yogurt, blueberries, granola and coffee between social media advocacy and calls to Washington, DC.

Published in Breakfast Club

In partnership with the Afterschool Alliance, we hope you'll pass this along to parents and friends to help raise awareness for afterschool programs by writing a short letter to your local newspaper.  This is a repost from the Afterschool Snack blog. Happy Valentine's Day from all of us at the BOOST office!



"This year, my Valentine is to a program that makes all the difference for me and for my family," So began West Valley City, Utah, resident Amanda Owens in her Salt Lake Tribune letter-to-the editor in 2015. The "program" she went on to describe was her son's afterschool program, run by the Community Education Partnership.

Amanda Owens is not alone. For the past several years, a number of parents of children in afterschool programs around the nation have sent similar letters to their local newspapers explaining from the heart why they love their children's afterschool programs.

Are you a parent with a child in afterschool who feels the same way? Or are you a program provider with parents who might be willing to send a letter?
If yes, here are few questions Valentine letter writers might consider as they write.

  • Do you love that your child's afterschool programs helps with homework?
  • Do you love that your child's program keeps her or him safe in the afternoons and during the summer?
  • Do you love that your child's program gives her or him opportunities to get physical exercise, and provides healthy snacks or meals?
  • Do you love the way afterschool program staff care for your child?
  • Do you love the way your child's eyes sparkle when she or he talks about what they do in the afternoons?




It's easy to submit letters-to-the-editor; most newspapers will take them via their website or by email. To find out about word limits and how to submit, just do a web search for the name of your newspaper and the words "letter-to-the-editor submission." If that doesn't work, try going to the newspaper's website, finding the letters section and looking for submission guidelines.

But the most important tip is the obvious one: Write from the heart!




That tip also applies to another way you can show why you love afterschool: social media. We've created a simple toolkit with guidelines and a printable that you and the afterschool students, parents and providers in your life can use to share what you love about these programs.

Participating is simple: Just print a page straight from the toolkit, fill it out with the heartfelt reasons you love afterschool, snap a photo of the finished product, and share it on your favorite social media sites using the hashtag #AfterschoolWorks (for example, "#AfterschoolWorks for my students!").

We can't wait to see the reasons you and the parents of kids in your program love afterschool. Be sure to tag us @afterschool4all on Twitter and Instagram or @afterschoolalliancedc on Facebook so that we see your social media posts and any letters-to-the-editor that you get published!

Published in Breakfast Club

A crazy thing happened November the eighth
That boggled my senses and battered my faith
In the goodness of people, the size of our brains,
To vote for a con man who rants and complains
That the reason your life isn't all it should be
Is because of some Syrian war refugee.

Who knew that the best way to win an election
Was wage a campaign filled with hate and rejection?
His words were as racist as racism gets,
There were times I could swear he contracted Tourette's.
When NASCAR decides to remove you from branding
It's likely your rhetoric's less than outstanding.

Reality shows fanned the flames of his fame,
So he ventured to run on the strength of his name
Which he values at right around three-point-three billion
(Though Bloomberg would price it at thirty-five million).
Whatever it's worth I'd prefer not to use it
Because if I did I'd most likely abuse it
And as we all know, if he sees it he sues it.

He promised that he'd make America great again.
"You'll all feel such pride when your egos inflate again,"
As if we were suffering from low self-esteem.
He stepped to the mic and said, "I have a dream!
And this dream that I have is to build a Great Wall
That's a thousand miles wide and a hundred feet tall
And the Mexican people will pay for it all."

The first to confront him was fair Megyn Kelly,
Who quoted his slurs but like old Machiavelli
He went for the jugular, speaking of blood,
And begged us to join him down there in the mud
Where his outrageous comments made headlines each day,
And as much as we knew we should all look away
We'd come back once again just to hear what he'd say.

He was media gold; his face was so prevalent,
Sporting a smirk so completely malevolent,
Any opponent who'd dare be benevolent
Soon sunk as low as their lowest low level went.
Of the dozen or so who threw hats in the ring
There were none hurling insults with similar sting.

The name-calling started and taunts quickly spread
First to poor Little Marco and then Lyin' Ted.
Jeb Bush was low energy, Carly too plain,
Chris Christie surrendered and boarded the train.
A new low was reached when the man contemplated
If Ben Carson's type should be killed or castrated.

Everything out of his mouth was so wacky
That Huckabee, Jindal, Santorum, Pataki,
John Kasich, Jim Gilmore, and even Rand Paul
Just withered and shrunk from this Neanderthal
As if none could believe that his venom and gall
Had become the accepted debate protocol.

People opined that he's not presidential,
A characteristic quite inconsequential
To voters in places like South Carolina,
Who agonize that the Republic of China
Has taken our jobs; a practice promoted for
Billionaires just like the one they just voted for.

His delegate count grew to scary proportions
Endorsing a ban on the right to abortions,
And vowing to arm all the teachers in schools
Right after defunding alternative fuels
And putting a stop to this climate change hoax,
But first reassuring those not funny folks
Making "small hands" the stuff of their sick Twitter jokes,
He was packing zucchini and two artichokes.

In May, when his win was considered presumptive
The democrats cheered, "Their whole party's defunct if
They think this buffoon stands a miniscule chance
Of persuading the country with that song and dance!"
But something transpired the left couldn't see
As they watched through the lens of MSNBC.

Though most of his backers preferred to stay silent
He warned that a loss might just turn them all violent,
And then we'd be dealing with riotous mobs
Who are better prepared than you know-it-all snobs
(Who can tolerate Muslims who wear those hijabs)
To engage in a fight when the spit hits the fan
And it's time to enact your survivalist plan.

When conventions were over and tickets were chosen
(Scott Baio's career path was briefly unfrozen)
Republican leaders withheld their endorsements.
Paul Ryan admonished, "Don't back the wrong horse, gents.
We'll wait 'til he begs us to send reinforcements.
You won't see me jump like that sucker Mike Pence.
As for now, I'm quite comfortable perched on this fence."

And now it was time to start mudslinging Hillary.
"I don't like her look and her voice is too shrillery.
She may have support in the 'hood and the barrio
But middle-aged women think Bill's a lothario.
We'll shout like a squadron of crazed kamikaze,
'Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi!'"

He stood with the troops and said, "I've got your sixes.
This ISIS has never seen my bag of trickses.
The thing I can tell you about politics is
If Hillary wins, that's when ISIS relaxes.
You put me in charge and they'll all watch their backses.
I support you completely (just not with my taxes)." 

When asked who'd advise him on matters of policy
His answers did not quite engender the solace we
Hoped we might find as we sought some relief
From the thought of this guy as Commander-in-Chief.
He said he was born with a really good brain,
So relying on instincts he'd soon ascertain
The most perfect solutions then toast with champagne.

And then came the bromance with Vladimir Putin
Whose mind he admires like Sir Isaac Newton.
He claimed they'd have meetings he'd be resolute in
And probably wear a nice Calvin Klein suit in
Surrounded by bowls to put lots of fresh fruit in
(Putin stays fit by abstaining from gluten).

But then it was finally time to display
If this blowhard had something substantial to say.
Fox News was the host of the first big debate
And before the whole nation this junior lightweight
Was invited to offer some semblance of proof
His campaign wasn't all some elaborate spoof
That would end with him flipping the bird for a goof.

While he may be hard pressed to find Uzbekistan
And refused to renounce the support of the Klan
He proved quite adept at creating distortions
With overly magnified facial contortions.
And though she succeeded in stomping his gojis
He did invent seventeen brand new emojis.

By the final debate he'd become such a mocker
She couldn't cross stage without having him stalk her.
The discourse they shared was a far cry from elegant,
Worse than the script of a telenovela went.
Hillary's barbs were just passive aggressive,
Provoking retorts that were downright regressive.
"I'm rubber, you're glue," sounded less than impressive.

They caught him on tape with his "locker room" talk
That would put any candidate's head on the block,
But I guess it takes more than molesting some women
To change a small mind that two brain cells might swim in.
He said, "They're just words," not disgusting debauchery.
Perhaps he enjoys getting grabbed by his crotchery.

When the day finally came for the votes to be counted
It seemed her advantage could not be surmounted.
The pundits for both parties prognosticated
That once all the ballots had been tabulated
This hated, fixated, conflated, X-rated,
And thoroughly, utterly unmitigated
Imposter would NEVER be inaugurated.

But then something happened distinctly unthinkable.
It turned out the Kool-Aid was perfectly drinkable.
We watched as the map got progressively redder
With poor Rachel Maddow appearing half-dead her
Historic night drowning in Wisconsin cheddar.
Even Republicans seemed to be thinking
"Did we just elect him or have I been drinking?"

We woke the next morning still earnestly wondering,
"Did we just witness electoral blundering?"
Perhaps it was all just a terrible dream
And maybe I don't have to let out a scream,
Or regurgitate using the Heimlich maneuver,
Then ask for a visa to live in Vancouver.

We opened our browsers and then it sunk in.
She really did lose and he really did win.
We could hate it, bewail it, lament it, or curse it,
But nothing on Earth could begin to reverse it.
The only thing left was endeavor somehow
To get up out of bed and consider, "What now?"

As I looked in the mirror I happened to see
A reflection that made me reflect, "Golly gee,
All those people who voted for him look like me!"
I was greatly concerned that I might be mistaken
For dudes who vote right and then toast with some bacon.
And it might just be possible that I deserve it if
I don't take steps to appear less conservative.

I thought about how I might change my appearance
To hide any trace of the slightest coherence
With crackers who have no intelligence clearance.
Should I think about dying my hair a bright blue?
Or perhaps get a prominent rainbow tattoo?
I wished I could show all the people around me,
Especially those whose opinions confound me,
That I'd never side with the side that just clowned me.

But then I heard President Barack Obama.
For eight years he's made me so proud of my mama
Who raised me to listen and judge what I hear
By one's words and convictions and let disappear
The distractions of color and accent and fear
Of a person who doesn't seem typical here.

And he asked that this man be permitted his chance.
He may be more pomp than he is circumstance
But he won fair and square and if you look askance
When he takes the high office, well, that is your right.
You can say what you want in this country and fight
To defeat him when he reappears in four years;
Fight with your blood and your sweat and your tears,
And if that doesn't work maybe drink a few beers.

My tolerance, on which I place a high value,
Has forced me to pause and to ask myself, "Shall you
Attempt to relate to the folks who oppose you?
Or will you just stick with the peer group who knows you?"
It's safer to feel like a highbrow superior
Than heed the critique of our nation's interior.

I have to admit that I've often colluded
With friends whose "enlightenment" kept us secluded
From hicks we deemed thick headed, as perhaps you did,
Dismissing their rancor which therefore precluded
A meeting of minds and so onward we feuded.
I'm guilty. I'm sorry (this poem excluded).

The great Aristotle once philosophized
That the mark of a person who's self-realized
Is a keenness to ponder, without reservation,
A concept one feels warrants denunciation.
As much as I loathe him, the truth it must be
That if I close my mind I'm no better than he.

My son is just eight but already perceives
The great sadness his parents are feeling and grieves
That we ruined the world by electing this man.
So I try to deliver what comfort I can
And remind him the future is always unsure,
And while things don't occur as we'd always prefer
We can always be proud we proclaimed, "I'm with her!"

Published with the author's permission. 

Published in Breakfast Club

It is the eve of November 8th, Election Day, a critical and contentious moment in our nation's history. I am currently sitting on a bus sandwiched between three teenage boys, all three who are much bigger than me, and who after several hours of driving are starting to produce a scent I like to call "teen spirit". We are enroute back to Cleveland from a two-day college tour, amongst which one of our stops was the University of Cincinnati, in the city known for its' historical influence of the passage of the Underground Railroad.

It seems after 2 years of growing anger and tension in our countries great divide, today should be a day of reflection and a celebration of those giant's on whose shoulders we stand. So we spent the morning visiting the Underground Railroad Freedom Center in the heart of Cincinnati and spent the morning with Ms. Faith who provided us with an experience we would not soon forget. As a white woman, I stood in J.W. Anderson's Slave Pen amongst 30 young African American youth, and I watched Ms. Faith drop heavy metal shackles on the floor of the pen, describing in details the different markings of the pen and how men, as young as 17, were shackled to the beams and left hanging until they were ready to be moved up the river. As I listened to her words, I was overcome with emotion, realizing that the only difference between the young people in the room today and those who suffered such atrocities was a factor of time. I was also keenly aware that freedom is a fragile thing and is not a universal truth, which is why it is so important that we fight harder to ensure that all young people today are educated to understand the history of those who came before them, in order to ensure that we don't allow history to repeat itself, as it often does, and that we continue to fight for the equality of freedom of all our people. Ironically, the Freedom Center demonstrated this truth, through its' new exhibit, "Invisible", which walked us through slavery that still exists today around the world and throughout our own country. Again, history repeats itself, and we often turn away.

fragility of freedom

I never fully understood the sanctity of the democratic process until I saw it at risk this past year. In all my years of education, I only understood that I had a right to vote and I should practice that right. Yes, of course I knew the three branches, the president, the fables, and all the big scandals. However, I didn't really understand the foundational principles in which our country was founded, how far we have strayed from those founding principles, how incredibly divided and divisive we have become, and how dangerous that division is to the long-term survival of our democracy (regardless of which side of the fence you sit). I am not specifically speaking of this election alone. After all, this isn't the first divisive election we have faced. Abraham Lincoln's presidential run may have still rivaled today's. Rather, I am speaking about the larger picture of our democracy. I am not sure where we begin to break the cycle that is occurring, but as I sat in JW Anderson's Slave Pen today, I couldn't help but feel a level of anxiety for those kids and what is at stake for each of them as they move forward with their education and future paths. In a society so heavily influenced by half-truths and misinformation, how do we fight to develop strong global leaders, with firm principles, and a clear understanding of what makes our country free.

fragility of freedom 2

Of course I might also argue that most of the kids we serve have never truly been free. In a society of haves and have-nots, we have successfully managed to keep those living in poverty, and most specifically minorities in poverty, in a system that doesn't allow for upward movement. The whole mantra "hard work leads to achievement" only works if you have the right resources in play, most of which these young people are not afforded. In case you don't believe me, research it. There are overwhelming bodies of research that show that young minorities in poverty, can't simply work hard and pull themselves out of poverty. So again, these young people aren't free today and as we continue to divide our nation, they seem to further be oppressed by the systems in play. However, this is for another blog... just some food for thought.

fragility of freedom 3

So again, as I sit on this bus, driving back up to "Believeland" I grow continually anxious not only for the results of tonight's election, but more so for the future direction of our country and what it means for our children and generations to come. Our freedom and democracy has endured and expanded through a civil war, the abolition of slavery, multiple wars, terrorism, the civil rights movement, forty-four presidents, new and changing amendments, etc. Yet, this doesn't make it invinsible. As Superman once said, "with Liberty comes Responsibility." Can we reshape the direction we are heading? Can we find middle ground? How do we explain the contentiousness with our children? How do we use knowledge as a source of power, rather than ignorance as a source of control? How do we teach the next generation differently? I don't have answers, only questions. Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying, "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."


For breakfast, I had Almond Cacao Oatmeal. I've included the recipe below:
1 tbsp cacao powder
½ C gluten free oats
¼ C unsweetened coconut
1 tbsp almond butter
1 packet of stevia

Published in Breakfast Club

Civics 3Today is Election Day and while we have read, watched, discussed and likely studied candidates, policies, and perspectives, our civic education shouldn't slow down after this important date. As educators, we have the opportunity to creatively teach and engage young people in civic education. Heather Loewecke, Senior Program Manager, Afterschool and Youth Leadership Initiatives at Asia Society has written a timely piece, Civics Education is the Foundation for Global Citizenship, that we highly encourage you to read and take hold of the resources provided within the article.

Here are a few stats that emerge from this piece:

• Despite the mission to promote a thriving democracy, American public schools are inadequately preparing students for participation in civic life. Only 24 percent of high school seniors scored proficient or higher on the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) civics exam.

• Only about 20 percent of young adults aged 18-29 voted in the 2014 elections, the lowest turnout for that demographic ever recorded for a federal election.

• A 2016 Annenberg Public Policy poll reflected that American adults know very little about the US government, with the majority of respondents unable to answer basic questions.

In response to these staggering statistics, Heather shares the benefits of civic education, what's being done in education settings, and additional resources. Visit Asia Society's Center for Global Education website to read this piece.

In addition to this article, Asia Society has also created a companion unit plan overview sheet for afterschool workers. Be sure to visit their site to access this valuable resource. Let us know what your program is doing to engage youth in civic education!


Published in Breakfast Club

1 in 5 children have dyslexia, a specific learning disability that impacts language processing (speech, reading, and writing). While this is something that impacts the lives of the children in our programs, it is something that doesn't often get covered in teacher or youth worker training programs. As the mother of a child with dyslexia, I have picked up a few tips and hints that I typically pass on to teachers and staff at the beginning of the year. I figured October being Dyslexia Awareness Month was a great time for me to share some of my collection.

(Please note, I am not a doctor, specialist, or expert in this area, I am just a mom who has been collecting resources for many years. This information is not meant to be used to diagnose but to be used to help staff when working with a child with dyslexia or other language-based learning disability.)

DyslexiaWhat is Dyslexia: This video from the Dyslexia Training Institute, they have a lot of resources and information on supporting children with dyslexia.  I have found this video to be helpful in giving a quick understanding of dyslexia.

Sophia's Fight Song: This is a quick video from the perspective of a 5th-grade girl with dyslexia. Sophia captures her experiences and gives great recommendations for how to support her in a classroom.

Decoding Dyslexia: A network of parents leading a grassroots movement for advocacy and support for their children. You can check out the main site that will take you to your state's webpage for information specific to your community.

Yale Institute for Dyslexia and Creativity: One of the first books I listened to about dyslexia was Dr. Sally Schawitz's Overcoming Dyslexia. She and her husband are some of the leading experts and advocates in this area. The website has resources for parents, educators, and advocacy.

There are many things you can do in your program to support children with dyslexia. Some of the accommodations may apply to homework and academic support while others can be used throughout the program.

Giving "think time" (approximately 10 seconds). In an academic setting, this means giving a child a bit of time before having them respond to a question. Think time is also needed when playing certain games. Games like Spot it or other quick identification games may require some thinking time to make it inclusive.
Letting children dictate written responses. In addition to posing a challenge with reading, dyslexia can also impact writing and spelling.
Reading instructions and content verbally to the child. Yes, it may take more time to have someone read a child's homework assignments to them but it helps increase the completion and accuracy while decreasing frustration". This impacts more than just homework as many games or projects also come with written instructions.
Provide reading material in audio format. This allows children to follow along and keep up with grade level comprehension and develop a love of books. We call this "ear-reading" in our house. Some people may view this as "cheating" but it is not. There is a difference in reading fluency and reading comprehension and why to let fluency stand in the way of comprehension when it can be done another way. See this article for more information on the balance of ear and eye reading.
Identify the child's strengths. Dyslexia comes with what Dr. Schawitz's calls a "sea of strengths", the creative and critical thinking skills strengths, that surround the one area of weakness. For my child, his strengths are math, creativity, and sense of humor that won't stop.
Use of a computer to support assignment or project completion. Typing is easier than handwriting, and speech to text is even better as the mechanics of writing no longer hold up the process.  Chrome has quite a few extensions and apps to support people with Dyslexia. Speakit, Readability, and Open Dyslexic Font are three that we have found helpful.
Adding literature that has characters with dyslexia as a role model or someone to connect with. Percy Jackson is probably the first one to come to mind. Henry Winkler, who has been very open about his dyslexia, has a children's book series titled Hank Zipzer. Looking for Heroes: One Boy, One Year, 100 Letters by Aidan A Colvin is a nonfiction collection of letters Colvin sent to and received from successful people with dyslexia.

While this post is primarily about working with children with dyslexia, dyslexia isn't something that is outgrown. Children with dyslexia become adults with dyslexia who may also need accommodations, think time, and resources to do their best work. I am looking forward to seeing your comments on social media as I hope you find this information helpful. Please - if you have additional resources, ideas, and information, share that too.


For breakfast, I had a chocolate peanut butter protein shake while writing this piece.

Published in Breakfast Club

BOOST Collaborative is partnering with the Alliance with a Healthier Generation to share the #‎GirlsAre campaign that inspires a new generation of strong, active women.


Here are some ways you can get involved:

• Visit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation's website, take a quiz, and learn more.
• Read Jillian Michael's blog and hear her story of #GirlsAre Powerful.
• Watch the videos posted on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation's Facebook page. Share these videos with your staff and use them as a platform for discussion in your next staff meeting.
• Join the Thunderclap, scheduled for May 25.
• As out-of-school time professionals, there are many model programs and resources you can use in your program that empower girls. The Alliance for a Heathier Generation has listed their collaborators here and you can find a list of excellent resources and programs.

Let's change the story together and spread the word that #GirlsAre unstoppable, powerful, strong, and more. Below, our BOOST leaders share what they believe.


girls are 1

girls are 2

girls are 4 edited


girls are 3

Published in Breakfast Club

As I board a plane to head off to another location to go train, I reflect on how I arrived in the out-of-school time field. It has been 8 years now and I have loved every minute of it. Even though I focus more on adult learning, as I train OST providers, I still have several opportunities to conduct site visits and interact with youth. I am amazed everyday at the dedication of OST professionals, which is why I would like to dedicate my blog post today to effective messaging for Lights On Afterschool.

Across the country, federal, state, and community sponsored OST programs are under attack, or so it seems. Advocates everywhere have been pushed to the limit to stand up for continued funding as well as the right to have innovative and fun programming. Not only is program funding being challenged but support for OST professionals is being cut too. In my home state, efforts to start a state funding stream have been slow going and the state education agency has cut training and support dollars for 21st CCLC in half even though the resources are still in the overall budget.

Of course, this isn't happening everywhere. In a few states, support for OST is growing and resources are being allocated to help. So my question that I reflect on today is why? Why are some states going backwards and others going forward? What can we do to help?

Well, the Afterschool Alliance has for years hosted Lights On Afterschool in October as a great instrument to drive up the awareness factor of the impact of out-of-school time programs. I have attended many of these events and I walk away amazed each time. However, the most powerful Lights On Afterschool events were the ones that were well-planned with a coordinated message that kept going after the event was over.

birdville 1

Just last year, I was able to attend an event that hit the target in Birdville ISD, Texas. I had known about the event well in advance as the Birdville team had been promoting the event for at least 6 weeks, probably longer. The team had invited district administrators, community leaders, city and county officials, state officials, federal officials, and even their state training manager! The event was hosted at Holiday Heights Elementary and was a Lights On Afterschool / Science Night. In addition to the OST program called Aspire, the PTO & local college were also there. There was food, games, a planetarium, a class where we dissected frogs and owl pellets, a live radio show, a bike making club, a college student science show with explosive demonstrations, and so much more. The Principal, Site Coordinator, and PTO President greeted everyone. Over 400 participants visited this small campus and the night was considered a success. Yet, the message that was relayed and followed up on throughout the year was the biggest success. That message was really simple; this program was provided by grant funding with supplemental funding provided by the school. Yet, one day this grant may end and we need to be ready for that day. Please support continued OST funding and help us keep the lights on Afterschool for all our kids. That message rang clear on the day of the event and has been repeated throughout the year.

birdville 2

As OST advocates, we have a great opportunity to take a nationally sponsored event and make it a year round call to action. Regardless of how big or small your Lights On Afterschool event is, take the opportunity to develop your message. Don't stop with this one event. Let your message ring true throughout the year. In Texas, I use the football example. Imagine if I proposed to the school board of the district that in an effort to close the achievement gap, I was going to cancel football for a year and reallocate the funding to supplemental programming for the schools. I would probably be lynched in the same meeting that I proposed this. For Texas, football is a way of life. It is a community affair and people from 3 years old to 80 years old attend games faithfully. I'm not talking NFL or College games, I mean High School games. When OST programs can achieve this type of status, then we can take a break. Maybe I am a little naive in thinking that we can make OST as important as football, but I have seen stranger things happen (oh and for my Texas readers, I would never advocate for eliminating football, so please don't lynch me).

There are many smarter people out there who have great advice on how to create a message or even implement a movement. I personally like to listen to Jennifer Peck from California as she highlights the Summer Matters Campaign or Eddie Wilson from Pittsburgh as he highlights his efforts around the Dreamers program. I could spend all day listening to Terry Peterson and Milton Chen talk about expanded learning time and the third space of learning. For more main stream contemporaries, how about Guy Kawasaki's thoughts on messaging or Erik Qualman on the power of social media?

Whomever is your personal influencer, take their best advice and channel it into this year's Lights On Afterschool program. Follow California's example, as they have more than double the amount of events happening from the next state registered.  Keep your message alive throughout the year. Blog about it, highlight it, post it on social media, create a Thunderclap, host additional events...Whatever you do, don't let this opportunity go.

It is my dream that in 8 years from now, I will be on a plane with several other trainers going somewhere to host several large trainings because OST programs have become the standard in our schools and are continuing to change the educational landscape. Thank you for all that you do and let's see how far we can take it.


For breakfast today, I am having Rice Crispies with chocolate milk (totally not on my diet so, shhhhhh, don't tell my wife!).

Published in Breakfast Club
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