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Policy Projects 2018-19

Policy Projects 2018-19

During their time in the Fellowship, 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 in their state. These projects align with their State Afterschool Network’s policy goals and help to build the capacity of the Networks. Projects focus on a range of topics including coalition building, afterschool quality standards, statewide line items for afterschool, summer learning pilot programs, STEM afterschool programming, career and technical education partnerships, middle school afterschool, among many other things.

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.

Click here to meet the 2018-19 class of Policy Fellows!

Neal Barbour, Kansas

To view video about Neal's project, click here.

Graycen Colbert Bigger, Arkansas

My White-Riley-Peterson Fellowship project advocates for increased support for afterschool and summer learning at the state level by developing stronger connections to career exploration and workforce training (CTE). The project started by researching and creating the first afterschool and summer learning program map in Arkansas. I also compiled case study analysis of programs that already offer quality workforce development education. This information will used to continue building public-private partnerships across the state. It will also be utilized to advocate for stronger fiscal support of afterschool and summer learning programs at the state policy level as well as through federal Perkins CTE funds. The overall goal of the project is to increase access to quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities for youth, particularly in rural communities, while combatting Arkansas's statewide workforce shortage crisis.

Jennifer Dietrich, California

While the costs and responsibilities of California's After School Education and Safety (ASES) programs have consistently increased, the state's investment in afterschool has not kept pace for more than a decade. As coordinator for the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance, I led the campaign to increase ongoing funding for ASES by $112.8 million starting in FY 2019-20. We mobilized Members of the Legislature, 150 organizations -- including school districts, cities, child advocacy groups, law enforcement, and afterschool providers, and more than 17,000 parents, students, and afterschool staff. In the end, California's FY 2019-20 budget included an additional $50 million in ongoing funding to raise the per-pupil funding rate for ASES.

To view video about Jennifer's project, click here.

Stephanie Fitzgerald, New York

Work with NYS Network for Youth Success staff seeking an increase in the per student rate for NYS Advantage After-school from $1375 to $2320 per student.  An increase in this grant may lead to an increase in per student rates for both the NYS 21st Century and Empire State After-school grants in the future (currently at $1600/per student).   Created and fielded a survey to out-of-school time providers seeking information describing staff characteristics:  percent full and part-time staff, gender, average hourly wage, education attainment and description of planned use for a per student increase.   Survey results shared by NYS Network for Youth Success staff with legislative staff during the NYS After-school Advocacy Day in NYS capital, Albany, on January 23, 2019 and in one-to-one meetings with state employees prior to budget vote.  Staff primarily female, part-time, college educated and an increase in the per student rate would be used for programming, professional development and staff salary increases. Result: NYS Advantage After-school rate per student increased to $2000 from $1375. for the 2019/2020 school year.  

To view video about Stephanie's project, click here.

Sheronda Fleming, North Carolina

Through the White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship, I endeavored to develop and implement a policy effort focused on the following: the needs of youth and families within rural North Carolina; the ways in which afterschool and summer programs can meet those needs; and the barriers to access and availability to high-quality OST programs in rural North Carolina. This policy project engaged local and state elected officials and rural North Carolina stakeholders including afterschool and summer program providers and community partners. In addition to rural NC engagement, the policy project included the observance of state-specific policy related to out-of-school time programs. Specifically, this included the allotment of the Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports Grant for the 2019-2021 fiscal biennium that will provide $6M in funding for high-quality, independently validated extended learning and integrated student support service programs for at-risk students that raise standards for student academic outcomes.

To view video about Sheronda's project, click here.

Amy Gorn, Alaska

My policy project as a WRP fellow was to cultivate local champions and advocates for a needed afterschool prevention system for youth and families in a large geographic area where there is a documented service deficit. These champions will support, prioritize and possibly invest in established and new afterschool programs and funding streams. Alaska has a new statewide source of afterschool program funding, created by marijuana tax dollars. Proving and messaging the return on investment for this funding stream will be a continuous consideration and likely need. I have started a Mat-Su Afterschool Network which will link to the statewide network. The network will work to increase the social capital for afterschool through relationship building with policy makers, and coordinating the message for the value of afterschool. As well, this network will tie into a new community initiative launching next month called Youth 360, based on the Icelandic model of primary prevention for out-of-school time, of which future policy needs will be identified and in need of the Network’s advocacy.

To view video about Amy's project, click here.

Anna Harutyunyan, Tennessee

The focus of her project with Riley Institute this year was the Federal Tile IVA funding (Student Success and Enrichment Grant). This is the only Federal funding that is targeted on the whole child learning experiences and creates unique opportunities for schools to partner with community youth services to maximize the benefits for children. Unfortunately, very few districts chose to do that and her goal in this fellowship was to learn how to influence the Districts’ decision making on making the best use of these federal dollars. She has come up with a review paper about the funding and partnership opportunities under Title IVA and a specific proposal to the Metro Nashville School District for FY2020.

To view video about Anna's project, click here.

Karla Johnson, South Dakota

South Dakota does not have a school age quality standards assessment for its Out of School Time (OST) industry. My policy project is to create such a rating scale with an assessment tool, and assist the South Dakota Department of Child Care Services in rolling it out to providers throughout the state. The SD Department of Child Care Services, the South Dakota Afterschool Network and the South Dakota School-Age Care Association are partners in this project. A rating scale, along with a third-party assessment tool will be created with the intention of encouraging continuous improvement and self-assessment in every program.

To view video about Karla's project, click here.

Tamsyn Oakes, Kentucky

To view video about Tamsyn's project, click here.

Elyse Preston, Maryland

Preston worked with the Maryland Out of School Time Network and the Maryland Coalition for Community Schools to ensure that Community Schools and Expanded Learning were included in the Revised Education Funding Formula for Maryland. The Kirwan Commission or The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, was charged with finalizing their funding recommendations in 2019 and we wanted to ensure that Community Schools remained a component of their recommendations and the bills introduced by law makers. The core activities of this project included growing the membership of the Community School coalition, educating policymakers and the public about the importance of funding Community Schools and afterschool programming and having an active and consistent presence in the state capital. We organized lobby days and actions in Annapolis, testified before a number of committees and were invited to provide language for a statewide Community School definition bill. The most exciting result at the end of the legislative session was Community School Funding becoming available for schools in Maryland with student populations where at least 80% of families are eligible for free and reduced lunch. This resulted in funding for over 60 new Community Schools around the state.

To view video about Elyse's project, click here.

Betsy O Saatman, Pennsylvania

My White, Riley Peterson Fellowship project was about getting the Weikart School Age Program Quality Assessment (SPQA) tool recognized in our Quality Improvement Rating System (QRIS). We worked with the Weikart Center to achieve 30 reliable assessors across our state. We conducted baseline assessments in the fall and post assessments in the spring. The data was very favorable on the types of improvements in quality we wanted to see. I went to the state lead, Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and requested the tool be adopted in our QRIS system. I am happy to announce that this tool is now approved and will be an option for providers to use beginning July 1, 2019. We will now be working on system supports for the use of the tool.

Eric VandenHeuvel, Wisconsin

My policy project is focused making modification to the childcare regulations required to access Childcare Development Block Grant Funding. Currently, there is one set of regulations, geared toward day care providers. This effectively prohibits afterschool providers from accessing the funds because of unrealistic expectations for staff and facilities. Several other states, including Ohio, Tennessee, and Colorado, have adopted separate regulations for school aged afterschool providers. We are working in Wisconsin to draft and adopt similar regulations in order to increase the quantity and quality of afterschool programs across the state.

To view video about Eric's project, click here.

Cassie Willner, Vermont

Cassie is the communications coordinator at Vermont Afterschool. Cassie's policy project covered two areas: awareness and access. First, a short-term goal of the project is to develop and implement a communications plan for the VT9to26 Coalition order to change the story in Vermont around youth. Legislators and policymakers are a key target audience; and new talking points and messaging developed out of the Coalition position afterschool and out-of-school time programs as a primary prevention strategy. The long-term policy goal is a $2.5 million appropriation for afterschool, summer learning, and expanded learning programs in the Vermont budget.

To view video about Cassie's project, click here