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Policy Projects 2015-16

Policy Projects 2015-16

Participants in the ten-month-long White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship are required to design and implement a policy action project focused on afterschool and expanded learning during their time in the Fellowship. These projects align with their State Afterschool Network’s policy goals and help to build the capacity of the Networks. In states where no afterschool network exists, Fellows work to establish one. For example, in Hawaii, through advocacy, coalition building, and a statewide conference, Fellows Paula Adams and Marlene Zeug successfully laid the groundwork for the state’s first ever afterschool network, to be launched in 2014-2015. In Nebraska, Fellow Anna Wishart introduced legislation to create an Expanded Learning Opportunity Legislative Task Force. This bill was turned into an interim study for 2014. To read about all of the Fellows’ policy projects and watch their associated videos, please visit the policy projects link that appears within each class year.

Meet the 2015-16 class of Policy Fellows

Thomas Azzarella, Alaska

Thomas is coordinating efforts to address a recently-passed law barring school districts from administering surveys or questionnaires unless there is written consent from a student’s parent or guardian. Several school-based afterschool providers have expressed concern about how this will impact their ability to collect student and program data. Currently, Thomas is conducting outreach to key partners and mapping legislative opinions.

To see a video about Thomas' project, click here.

David Beard, Washington

School’s Out Washington is committed to racial equity and closing the achievement gap for children of color. They are interested in evaluating and improving systems of support to communities and professionals of color who work in the afterschool and youth development field. For David’s White-Riley-Peterson project, he is co-hosting five focus groups and launching a survey to solicit input on the specific needs and hopes of providers of color that will shape SOWA’s service plan to better serve the field at large. The focus groups provide a facilitated discussion with other afterschool and youth development professionals of color (directors, front-line staff, etc.) and professionals of color from culturally-focused organizations serving children/youth of color. The survey will provide data from the broader field about racial equity and related challenges and opportunities in the field. This information will help inform the development of a racial equity policy screen that will help demonstrate the impact of public policy and public funding proposals affecting afterschool and summer programs that serve communities of color and culturally-focused organizations.

To see a video about David's project, click here.

Melissa Beck, Colorado

The Colorado Afterschool Partnership has been meeting with a variety of state agencies and non-profit partners to develop relationships and connections in order to better coordinate for the 2016 Listening Tour. The Listening Tour will be an outreach activity to all 64 counties in Colorado, 51 counties of which lie outside the “I-25” corridor (aka the Front Range). Melissa seeks to hear, document and report out on feedback from parents, guardians, local officials and community referral agencies on a variety of out-of-school (OST) time topics. Melissa will also gather information to begin building a database and/or locator map of OST programs. Finally, the Listening Tour will provide education and outreach on National Summer Learning Day, Lights on Afterschool Day and set the pace for post-season legislative work.

To see a video about Melissa's project, click here.

Susan Gamble, West Virginia

Susan’s policy project focuses on the importance of raising visibility of afterschool in West Virginia by working to secure afterschool ambassadors from across the state to engage elected officials.  Susan is working with a design firm to create an advocacy toolkit for West Virginia as a resource for advocates to share the need and demand of out-of-school time learning opportunities.  A newly-created application and training process for a regional afterschool ambassador program is also being established. Through the development of an Ambassador program, individuals will be empowered to engage local, state, and national officials on the importance of high-quality afterschool.

To see a video about Susan's project, click here.

Ebony Grace, New Jersey

The ultimate goal of Ebony’s policy project is to create a replicable model/tool of a city/town-wide out-of-school time (OST) system, specifically supporting quality OST programming and statewide infrastructure in New Jersey. This tool (mostly in the form of a matrix) will highlight elements of successful existing NJ models of practice, systems-building tools (specifically those created by The Wallace Foundation), the Search Institute’s community assets framework and the NJ Quality Standards of Afterschool. This work will be accomplished through interviews with mayors, municipal leaders, government, community-based organizations and stakeholders invested in OST, mapping of existing programs, funding and resources and research on the above-mentioned tools. Ebony believes this systems-building model will be utilized statewide in the creation and maintenance of quality youth-centered programs and services in areas that are lacking available services, to coordinate existing resources and develop partnerships to sustain funding for afterschool and OST.

To see a video about Ebony's project, click here.

Darren Grimshaw, Iowa

One major concern with developing before and afterschool programs is how to provide sustainable transportation in rural areas. After discussions with the Iowa Afterschool Alliance (IAA) staff and afterschool providers it became evident that one key reason for the inability to begin or maintain afterschool programming was the lack of viable and affordable transportation. In many instances even where quality afterschool programming exists it is not available to many students due to inaccessible transportation. Darren’s policy project involves developing a private/public partnership which provides funding through a competitive grant process, administered by IAA, that will provide transportation costs to eligible start-up and existing afterschool programs located in rural settings throughout the state of Iowa.

To see a video about Darren's project, click here.

Kathryn Johnson, Virginia

The long-term goal is to secure funding for the Virginia Partnership for Out-Of-School Time (VPOST) through legislative action. However, to have the legislative champions necessary to accomplish this, a short-term goal is to create a sustainable network of local champions in strategic legislative districts who will serve as local advocates for VPOST funding with legislators. The strategic approach is to utilize a youth/adult partnership approach that builds on the work of the VPOST Youth Ambassadors and mobilizes providers, youth, and their parents.

To see a video about Kathryn's project, click here.

Don Kent, Indiana

Indiana's policy project is to create a strong network of grassroots and grasstops champions to build awareness and increase state and local funding resources, including a legislative ask for 2017.  The Indiana Afterschool Network (IAN) and partners have been effective in rallying supporters, bringing together state agencies and others to agree on bill focus, and in setting up champions in the Senate and House. The bill passed the Senate (the bill sets up an advisory group that includes state agencies, education and youth development organizations and IAN to provide recommendations to the Indiana Department of Education and state legislature and sets up a funding structure for potential state funding in 2017 through the Department of Education) and has strong co-sponsors in the House. However, it will still require rallying supporters and meeting legislators to overcome the more conservative legislators in the House. Assuming the Indiana Out-of-School Time Funding bill passes the House, the next big challenge will be to rally champions for a 2017 funding request. This will require a lot more advocacy, meetings with legislators, coordinating data on funding streams, preparing local programs to invite legislators to their sites, reaching mayors, and creating a savvy messaging campaign that addresses legislator concerns. IAN is at a significant tipping point of impact, but building the movement to the next level of a specific funding request is quickly outstripping our current staff capacity and expertise.

To see a video about Don's project, click here.

Lani Lingo, Florida

Currently, there are 40 Boys & Girls Clubs Organizations with 235 Clubs throughout the state of Florida. Each Club has the vision of providing developmental opportunities for youth that come from disadvantaged circumstances and offering comprehensive and generation-changing activities for members of all ages that will result in tangible outcomes and demonstrating true partnerships between our members, their families, the volunteers and staff. Each of the 235 Clubs provide education and personal enrichment programs to over 45,000 youth each month. The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has mandated the Boys & Girls Clubs and other Community-Based Organizations must be licensed as childcare centers or, where applicable, apply for exemption. The purpose of licensing is to ensure a healthy and safe environment for the children in childcare settings and to improve the quality of their care through regulation and consultation. The Boys & Girls Clubs are not opposed to the idea of licensing; however, the regulations under the DCF licensing are more appropriate towards working with children under the age of 5.  Lani’s Fellowship Policy Project is to participate in the dialogue and help shape the language that will be used to either align licensure to quality afterschool standards for organizations providing afterschool programs to school-age children or to explore how those programs should be exempt from childcare licensing as long as the organization adheres to quality afterschool standards and meets federal/state/local health and safety requirements.

Alison Reis-Khanna, Texas

Alison Reis-Khanna is working to integrate STEM into the system building work of the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time (TXPOST). Alison is laying the foundation for a legislative ask for STEM-specific funding for expanded learning opportunities in the 2017 session. She is developing greater partnerships between STEM stakeholders and planning a statewide advocacy event focused on STEM for the celebration of National Summer Learning Day in July. Some recent action steps of her project include: meeting with school districts and the Center for STEM Education at the University of Texas to advocate for researchers to look at informal learning programs and opportunities for research; connecting with Big Thought (a provider in Dallas leading system building work); and completing an application for TXPOST to host a STEM VISTA.

To see a video about Alison's project, click here.

Tammy Shay, Maryland

In Maryland, annual funding of the Maryland Afterschool and Summer Opportunity Fund (MASOF), established in 1999 at $10M, was cut to $0 in 2009 and now exists as a dormant, unfunded line item in the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) budget. Attempted legislation in the 2014-2015 Maryland General Assembly to re-establish annual funding failed in committee and the statewide MASOF Advisory Board, appointed by the previous administration, has not been reappointed. Re-establishing the Advisory Board and annual funding for MASOF is a priority of the Maryland Out-of-School Time (MOST) Network to address the significant unmet demand for more and better out-of-school time opportunities for Maryland’s youth, working families and businesses.

To see a video about Tammy's project, click here.

Erik Skold, Minnesota

In Minnesota there has been some tension around afterschool policy designed for grant competition funding versus formula funding. Erik’s White-Riley-Peterson Fellowship policy project will address that tension by convening a policy design group that will analyze policy design options to inform a white paper. The white paper will be used by the Ignite Afterschool Policy Committee to inform future policy design.

To see a video about Erik's project, click here.

Bethany Thramer, Oregon

In Oregon, Bethany is working with several passionate legislators, state agency representatives and providers from around the state to support the expansion of state funding for afterschool and summer learning opportunities. Legislation was introduced to the House Education Committee on February 1st to create a Summer Learning Advisory Policy Group. The advisory group will collect data about the opportunities and gaps currently in summer, as well as make recommendations to be able to provide meaningful summer learning for every youth in Oregon by 2022. If this legislation passes, Summer Learning will become part of the solution in providing more equitable, effective education for all youth in Oregon.

To see a video about Bethany's project, click here.

Craig Williams, Wyoming

Juvenile justice and the "school to prison" pipeline has become, and will remain, a focus of the Wyoming Youth Afterschool Association (WYAA) through the next grant cycle. For Craig’s White-Riley-Peterson policy project, I will work with the Alliance to fund and host our first Mayoral Summit to bring together community, school, law enforcement, and court officials to open a dialogue about the current system, the needs of communities and schools, and through this work begin to problem solve around issues surrounding juvenile justice. This will serve as a data collection point for the Alliance as its begins to work through the next three-year cycle. We are working on finding a funding source, planning, and execution of the summit.

To see a video about Craig's project, click here.

Mila Yochum, Pennsylvania

Originally Mila’s policy project was to work across PA Departments of Education, Labor and Industry and Human Services to create a cross-department task force. Mila’s policy project has changed direction due to difficulties in developing the relationships with key leaders at the various departments within state government to make this happen. Her current project is focused on developing a strong communications plan to strengthen relationships with public officials (including the Allegheny County Caucus) through an awareness campaign. The result of the project will be a broader awareness of afterschool with public officials, as well as meaningful progress toward future dedicated funding for afterschool.  Mila began the communications plan in October 2015 with an initial mailer that provided information on why the quality standards are important. Following the first mailer, every other month Mila mailed or will mail a postcard reiterating the importance of equality while highlighting a quality program partner. In between the mailers, Mila is scheduling meetings with members of the Allegheny County Caucus. In addition, she is working with Representative Jake Wheatley on a bi-partisan and bi-cameral tour of quality afterschool programs in spring 2016. The ultimate goal is for every member of the Allegheny County Caucus to know about the importance of quality afterschool.

To see a video about Mila's project, click here.


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