ASC Afterschool Development Guide: A Toolkit for State Commissions and Partners

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Afterschool Program Development: A TOOLKIT FOR STATE COMMISSIONS AND PARTNERS


CONTENTS Introduction ........................................................................................................................................................................ 3 Understanding and Establishing Roles ............................................................................................................................ 5 Working with Partners/Intermediary Grantees ............................................................................................................. 7 Understanding Your Local Afterschool Landscape ....................................................................................................... 9 Engaging and Recruiting Prospective Grantees ............................................................................................................ 14 Afterschool Convening Outcomes .................................................................................................................................. 17 Addressing Challenges ...................................................................................................................................................... 18 Conclusion.......................................................................................................................................................................... 19

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| Afterschool Program Development Toolkit for Commissions & Partners


INTRODUCTION America’s Service Commissions (ASC) received a $250,000 grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in 2018 to support a multi-year initiative to expand afterschool opportunities through national service and AmeriCorps. ASC selected 11 state service commissions to receive mini-grants to identify potential paths for developing national service programming.

The 11 participating state service commissions included: • Idaho: Serve Idaho • Indiana: Serve Indiana • Iowa: Volunteer Iowa • Kansas: Kansas

Volunteer Commission

• Maine: Volunteer Maine

- Maine Commission for Community Service

• Maryland: Governor’s

Office on Service & Volunteerism

• Rhode Island: Serve

Rhode Island

• Utah: UServeUtah • Washington:

Serve Washington

• West Virginia: Volunteer

West Virginia

• Wisconsin:

Serve Wisconsin

By receiving a subgrant, each state service commission was required to partner with their statewide afterschool network, which foster partnerships and policies in each state to develop, support, and sustain quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities for children and youth. The subgrant provided state service commissions and statewide afterschool networks with valuable information on the local afterschool landscape to determine how AmeriCorps can support community needs and expand the quality and quantity of afterschool opportunities in their states. Through this grant, the statewide afterschool network and the state service commission in each state collaborated to develop new strategies and implemented activities around afterschool program development. This guide provides effective practices for state service commissions and statewide afterschool networks to best execute an action plan to assist afterschool programs in leveraging national service resources to expand and enhance afterschool programs.

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UNDERSTANDING AND ESTABLISHING ROLES Leading a program development initiative requires having a clear understanding of project roles and responsibilities. A lack of role clarity can create challenges and hinder the process of developing afterschool opportunities. Setting clear roles will ensure that the initiative results in the expansion of afterschool programs.

Identifying Commission Staff, Partnerships, and Stakeholders Knowing who will be involved in the afterschool initiative will help determine the parties that will assist in the program development process. Members involved in the initiative should include the state commission, statewide afterschool network, intermediary partners, and other afterschool stakeholders. The 11 participating state commissions and statewide afterschool networks assigned program staff and executive directors to lead the initiative, depending on the activities involved. Partners consist of youth-serving organizations, local businesses, afterschool programs, and/or state agencies that can facilitate the development of afterschool programming through specified means or assigned tasks. Stakeholders are groups or individuals with a strong vested interest in the afterschool system, including parents, youth, afterschool staff, foundations, and sponsors. Stakeholders bring different insights into afterschool programming. Integrating different perspectives will provide a clear picture of the local afterschool landscape. Once initiative members have been identified, roles and responsibilities can be determined. MEMBERS

• State Service Commissions • Statewide Afterschool Networks • Afterschool Programs and Stakeholders

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Roles and Responsibilities

S TAT E CO M M I S S I O N S

• Develop an effective strategy for afterschool program expansion

S TAT E W I D E A F T E R S C H O O L NET WORKS

• Invite afterschool programs and provide support

S TA K E H O L D E R S

• Share needs, ideas, and concerns

The commission and statewide afterschool network staff assigned to lead the initiative will plan and execute a strategy that will create high community participation and engagement to further afterschool programming. Staff will establish a planning committee to design surveys and activities. The commission and statewide afterschool network will lead meetings and communicate the benefits of national service.

The statewide afterschool network will connect the commission with afterschool partners, provide commission event information to interested afterschool programs, and support potential grantees through the grant application process by providing resources. Partners will actively participate in meetings and contribute by supporting the commission and providing afterschool service expertise. The role of stakeholders is to communicate the needs of the afterschool community, possible challenges or concerns, and provide input on the ways that the needs can be addressed.

Volunteer West Virginia worked with the West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network to create an invitation list of local stakeholders in the area. They invited community foundations and local businesses to send representatives to be involved in the project activities and open doors for potential financial support.

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WORKING WITH PARTNERS/ INTER MEDIARY GR ANTEES Finding partners that have the capacity to serve as intermediaries to manage an AmeriCorps grant can allow for a localized support network to guide afterschool programs on national service member placement.

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PROGRAMS THAT HOST NATIONAL SERVICE AND VOLUNTEER MEMBERS CAN PARTNER AS INTERMEDIARIES IN THE GRANT PROCESS.

Connect with your local afterschool service providers such as 4-H, school districts, the Department of Education (DOE), and 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) to establish a plan of action and ensure high levels of community participation. • Provide funds to partners with limited capacity to continue initiative work. • Encourage partners to meet with funders to apply for external grants to further the mission of program expansion. Here are examples of how partners assisted their local state service commission and statewide afterschool network: Serve Idaho’s partnership with the DOE and 21st CCLC fostered a relationship with the Idaho Out-of-School Network. Through this relationship, the Idaho Out of School Network traveled with the commission to regional roundtables and agreed to serve as a future intermediary. Volunteer West Virginia partnered with the WV Statewide Afterschool Network, DOE, 21st CCLC, and the Early Childhood Advisory Council to establish relationships and expand understanding of national service programs. Known programs such as Big Brothers and Salvation Army served as facilitators and helped generate interest amongst the afterschool community. Serve Wisconsin partnered with Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay, DOE, and 21st CCLC to facilitate discussion on national service programs, acquire a landscape of afterschool programming, and create new relationships with the Wisconsin Afterschool Network and other stakeholders. Statewide afterschool networks worked collaboratively with their state service commissions to identify stakeholders and created a list used for outreach efforts. Statewide afterschool networks contacted their own network of afterschool providers and helped disseminate information on AmeriCorps and planned activities. Some statewide afterschool networks provided their facilities to host convenings and helped generate questions that were vital to gauging the afterschool landscape. 8

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UNDERSTANDING YOUR LOCAL AFTERSCHOOL LANDSCAPE

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What is a landscape? Acquiring the landscape is a mapping exercise and tool that allows you to view the “terrain” and valleys, mountains, and deserts of a particular subject - in this case, the afterschool system. The landscape is essentially a needs assessment and is made up of the programs and organizations serving in afterschool or out-ofschool times within a specified geographic area.

ANALYZING THE AFTERSCHOOL LANDSCAPE ALLOWS COMMISSIONS AND STATEWIDE AFTERSCHOOL NETWORKS TO IDENTIFY PROGRAM DESERTS, TRAINING NEEDS, AND KNOWLEDGE OF NATIONAL SERVICE.

Purpose of the landscape In partnership with the statewide afterschool networks, the afterschool landscape exercise can help state service commissions survey and assess the overall afterschool participation, program providers and services, and sources of funding and support. Analyzing the afterschool landscape can allow commissions to identify program “deserts,” training needs, and potential knowledge of national service. Collecting data on afterschool programs helped state service commissions determine the challenges and needs in afterschool services, and create AmeriCorps opportunities to meet afterschool demands to close the achievement gap. • Create a timeline of AmeriCorps member activities, data collection, and analysis. • Plan strategies to better understand the afterschool landscape in your state. • Expand or design new program models through afterschool. Strategies used by state commissions for assessing the landscape: 1

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Mapping

2 Roundtables

and Listening Sessions

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Meetings, Conference Calls, and Webinars


Strategy 1: Mapping

IN-PERSON SURVEYS OFFER IMMEDIATE AND HIGHER RESPONSE RATES.

Surveys provided a clear view of the opportunities for national service expansion. Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, and Qualtrics were all used to collect afterschool data. The surveys asked for the location of afterschool programs, the populations they serve, the services offered, and if programs were interested in AmeriCorps and national service. The statewide afterschool networks helped create and distribute the surveys, and state service commissions used additional tools and strategies at their disposal to achieve high survey response rates and community engagement to gather the information.

Things to consider: Some organizations may not have the human capacity or financial resources to assist in the mapping assessment. Provide funding to partners that can help you research and design a survey to acquire an accurate representation of the afterschool landscape. An alternative solution could be to first host an AmeriCorps VISTA member to research and analyze the afterschool landscape in your state.

Strategy 2: Roundtables and Listening Sessions Roundtables and listening sessions were very successful and widely used to uncover challenges and needs in the afterschool system. The roundtable discussions helped determine knowledge of national service and paved the way for potential program partners and new opportunities for AmeriCorps. • Use grant funds to host convenings in areas indicated as high need in your afterschool mapping activity. • Attend existing convenings hosted by your statewide afterschool network.

Kansas Volunteer Commission partnered with the DOE, University of Kansas, and the Kansas Enrichment Network to distribute surveys to schools. They learned that schools were more willing to participate if the materials came from the DOE. Questions were determined by a core group of partners and routed to afterschool and community-based programs to vet questions and increase the effectiveness of the survey. In total, the Kansas Volunteer Commission surveyed over 500 participants and received responses from all 120 counties in the state representing 268 school districts. The survey revealed afterschool program “deserts,” where community conversations are planned to be held to increase knowledge of national service and discuss how AmeriCorps can resolve community needs.

Having a large number of stakeholders in roundtables and listening sessions did not grant sufficient time to address participants’ needs and provide enough

information about national service. To maximize time, 1-2 hour sessions were held with an average of 5-6 stakeholders.

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Agenda for Roundtables and Listening Sessions ❏ Provide an overview of the state service commission (and statewide afterschool network, if needed) ❏ Describe AmeriCorps and related streams of national service ❏ Ask stakeholders to share program needs ❏ Share how programs can utilize AmeriCorps members ❏ Describe how to apply for AmeriCorps grants and/or other state service commission funding

OFFERING WEBINARS AND CONFERENCE CALLS CAN INCREASE ACCESS TO STAKEHOLDERS.

Volunteer Iowa used social media platforms to disseminate information and invite programs to roundtables held across the state. Volunteer Iowa invited existing AmeriCorps partners, the Iowa Afterschool Alliance, and 21st CCLC to connect and invite their networks to participate. Serve Indiana hosted regional learning circles that helped them gather information on afterschool program needs and how AmeriCorps could create the most impact. Volunteer Iowa engaged with 20 stakeholders to discover barriers to national service, and planned innovative programming ideas. Serve Indiana used the data from the learning circles to pre-plan conversations about designing a national service model. They partnered with the statewide afterschool network to plan a credentialed program for youth-serving professionals that will be potentially housed by the Indiana Afterschool Network.

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Questions to Ask During Convenings Ask questions that will provide an overview of the stakeholder’s community to identify central themes. Questions such as “what are some successes and some difficulties in your program?” and “what type of support services do you need?” can provide valuable information on how AmeriCorps members can best meet and fill their needs.

Serve Idaho hosted a series of meetings across the region to convene with partners and school districts. They presented a statewide webinar in coordination with the Idaho Out-of-School Network. Serve Rhode Island met with the DOE and agencies operating afterschool programs including the director of community partnerships for the largest school district, Providence; the YMCA, the largest provider; Save the Bay; Providence After School Alliance; and Connecting for Children and Families. The meetings were framed around two questions: Is there a way to scale up the deployment of national service participants and how does the state commission assess program quality. Serve Idaho met with 29 organizations representing afterschool sites and school districts, and by using online resources, they were able to provide information and training on the national service grant process to 25 programs. Prior to the meetings, Serve Rhode Island did not have a relationship with the Rhode Island Afterschool Network and 21st CCLC, but the meetings helped cultivate new relationships that will carry program development forward.

After your round of questions, follow through with information on how national service can provide solutions to their community’s challenges. Give examples of programs currently using AmeriCorps or allow time for current partner organizations to share their experience with national service, so prospective grantees can envision AmeriCorps members in their programs. Things to consider: Some organizations may not be able to attend roundtable discussions due to time constraints, unpaid time, or lack of transportation. Utilize the statewide afterschool network to assist with marketing and outreach. Some best practices include hosting convenings in the evening, after sites are closed, and utilizing unrestricted funding to provide food or other incentives that can support community participation.

Strategy 3: Meetings In-person meetings, virtual webinars, and phone conferences can generate opportunities for state service commissions to connect with afterschool programs and provide an overview of how the afterschool programs can utilize AmeriCorps members. Things to consider: In-person participation can be hindered by a lack of services. Rural locations do not generally have the same modes of transportation as urban areas. Use tools that allow for greater accessibility to convenings and provide monthly outreach to generate participation.

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ENGAGING AND RECRUITING PROSPECTIVE GR ANTEES

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Meetings, roundtables, and listening sessions can provide a valuable platform to engage stakeholders in national service. • Have follow-up meetings with interested organizations and agencies.

• Explain how AmeriCorps can provide support in the afterschool focus areas.

Here are some best practices to engage and recruit prospective grantees: BEST PR ACTICE

DESCRIPTION

Provide Succinct National Service Information

Explaining national service and AmeriCorps can overwhelm participants. Use the information obtained from your needs assessment to select and tailor AmeriCorps information that most relates to the needs in your state and will resonate with your audience. Focus on the human capacity-building benefits of national service.

Use Case Examples

Use the knowledge and experience of partners that already host AmeriCorps members as case examples to share national service success stories.

Facilitate Envisioning Activities

Incorporate activities during the meetings and gatherings that allow for potential grantees to envision how national service can help support their programs. Envisioning activities help participants visualize the value and impact of AmeriCorps.

Provide Grant Support

Ensure that organizations know that technical support for the AmeriCorps grant application process is available to prevent potential grantees from feeling intimidated by the process.

Providing National Service Information • Promote AmeriCorps as a resource that can expand program reach. • Keep national service information concise and relevant to community needs. • Explain the AmeriCorps focus areas to expand programming opportunities and change the perception of AmeriCorps solely focusing on education. • Explain the direct and indirect service that national service members can perform and the impact members have made.

• Provide information on service member time commitments to avoid the perception of having only full-time placements. Indicate summer only placements options as well as part-time or minimal-time placements. • Indicate availability for professional development and grant assistance. • Distribute a quick resource guide that explains the benefits of national service in afterschool placements and includes case examples of programs.

Other Methods for Engaging Potential Grantees • Attend afterschool conferences and summits in your state to connect with hundreds of afterschool programs and stakeholders. • Find out if a 21st CCLC or other afterschool conference is coming to your state/territory or region and consider presenting a workshop on national service.

• Provide technical assistance by hosting grant workshops for programs interested in national service. Use Education Service Centers, libraries, community centers, or virtual platforms to provide in-depth training sessions on how to prepare and submit an AmeriCorps grant application.

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Volunteer Iowa was a workshop presenter and exhibitor at the annual Iowa Afterschool Alliance conference. The commission also provided a webinar presentation to Iowa 21st CCLC grantees about resources and national service grant opportunities. Serve Washington presented a workshop at the School’s Out Washington’s annual Bridge Conference on how AmeriCorps programs and out-of-school programs could mutually benefit. Serve Washington also hosted a tabling exhibit that allowed staff to promote national service and distribute informational materials. Volunteer West Virginia presented national service program information to statewide education networks including 21st CCLC steering committee and grantees, and participated as a panelist in a large KidStrong conference. The KidStrong conference convened over 650 stakeholders from youth wellness, health, education, and other community organizations focused on support programs. Volunteer West Virginia also participated in the Statewide Afterschool Network strategic planning session, and presented information on national service to DOE staff and Early Childhood Advisory Council. UServeUtah developed a series of training emails and call topics to guide prospective applicants through the main components of a grant application. Grant training topics included: • Research for a Community Need • Intro to Theory of Change • Selecting Performance Measures • Evidence-Based AmeriCorps Interventions • Logic Models • AmeriCorps Member Experience • AmeriCorps Member Management • Determining the Size of Your AmeriCorps Program • Your Responsibility as the Lead Agency Serve Idaho hosted a series of 6-hour day bidders workshops across the state in libraries and community centers. Participants learned about AmeriCorps programming and grant components, and worked through activities corresponding to the grant application. Serve Idaho also provided quarterly in-person meetings with potential grantees to provide reassurance and support throughout the grant process. Volunteer Maine contracted a part-time staff member from the Maine Afterschool Network to train in the grant process with an emphasis on acquiring AmeriCorps funding. This collaboration helped the state commission design a new workshop opportunity and single day training that helped individuals build knowledge on the AmeriCorps grant cycle and process. The workshop was designed so that participants are not overwhelmed by first engaging them in creating discrete components of the grant, such as a logic model, through a series of question and answer exercises.

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AFTERSCHOOL CONVENING OUTCOMES Roundtables and listening sessions generated information on program deserts and prospective programs’ knowledge of national service. The sessions revealed afterschool program needs and created opportunities to develop new partnerships.

Program Deserts Urban, rural, and suburban settings may all lack afterschool programs. National service efforts need to be concentrated in areas of high need. Commissions should provide outreach in areas that can benefit from national service, and work with large partners to determine how to expand services.

Understanding/Knowledge of National Service Programs initially lacked knowledge of the flexibility of national service. The convenings developed a general understanding of national service models and how national service can be leveraged in communities and afterschool programs.

Challenges and Needs in Afterschool

Connect Prospective Partners and Grantees

Small afterschool programs lack human capacity and tend to be run by part-time staff and volunteers. Many programs determined a need for student transportation to afterschool sites, more STEM programming, and more safe spaces for children when out-of-school. Commissions should focus on promoting the capacity-building aspects of national service to address community needs.

Convening helped develop partnerships with existing organizations. Partnerships led to outreach opportunities that paved the way for several new AmeriCorps grant applications.

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ADDRESSING CHALLENGES The challenges outlined in this section were raised by programs during roundtables and other initiative activities. The challenges revolved around three main themes: program capacity, funding, and the overall grant process.

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Limited Administrative Capacity Programs that mentioned lacking the capacity to apply or sustain an AmeriCorps grant did not have the staff or the data collection and evaluation methods in place. Small programs were run by one or two people and lacked the human resources to take on the duties of supervising AmeriCorps members. Afterschool programs that mainly focused on creating safe spaces did not have performance-based metrics, which caused challenges during the grant application process. Potential Solutions: • Planning Grants. Commissions can offer AmeriCorps planning grants to help 501(c)3 organizations and public agencies plan ahead and reduce potential barriers to program expansion. Interested organizations that lack the program or capacity to manage AmeriCorps grants should apply for a one-year planning grant of up to $75,000. A planning grant can provide applicants with the resources to support the development and design of an AmeriCorps program to build operational capacity. • Intermediaries. Smaller organizations interested in AmeriCorps can partner with larger afterschool organizations already hosting AmeriCorps members to serve as intermediaries and make the site an additional placement for their program. Ask well-established programs to serve as an intermediary for organizations that are not equipped to manage the AmeriCorps grant on their own. Use intermediary grantees to help identify and track performance measures.

Inability to Match Funding Requirements Some organizations and programs expressed concerns regarding their ability to fundraise and track the required 24-50% budget match for cost-reimbursement AmeriCorps grants. Potential Solutions: • Alternative Match Sources. Educate programs about alternative sources of matching funds. For example, grantees can use other federal funds as AmeriCorps match if they have permission from the other federal agency to do so. Programs can often use block grants that provide funding streams for afterschool services, including grants from 21st CCLC, Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). Donations and in-kind contributions from local businesses can also be used. • Fixed Amount Grants. Commissions can let programs know about fixed amount grants, which do not require reporting of match (though additional cash funds are still needed to support program operations).

Need for Professional Development and Grant Training School districts, organizations, and afterschool programs that had the capacity and funds to apply for an AmeriCorps grant reported finding the grant application intimidating and difficult to complete. Programs participating in listening sessions and meetings indicated that the length of the AmeriCorps application made the grant process daunting. Potential Solutions: • Encourage programs to apply directly through state commissions. • Create a toolkit or step-by-step AmeriCorps grant application guide. • Provide technical assistance by hosting grant workshops for programs interested in national service.

Conclusion The practices outlined in this guide provide strategies for how state service commissions and statewide afterschool networks can partner together to expand the quality and quantity of afterschool programming through AmeriCorps and national service. While not all may be able to execute all of these strategies, America’s Service Commissions (ASC) encourages the organizations to have an introductory phone call or meeting to get to know each other and identify one or two ways they can partner to support expanding afterschool programming through national service. If you have questions about this guide, please connect with us at www.statecommissions.org.