Illinois Quality Afterschool Resource Bulletin

Spring 2021

The Illinois Quality Afterschool team at the American Institutes for Research has compiled this list of resources to help you and your staff provide high-quality 21st CCLC programming. This Resource Bulletin brings you the latest information on afterschool research, best practices, tools, conference proceedings, policy briefs, professional development tools, and activities. We hope you will share this list of resources with your staff.

Program Management

A Summer for Learning and Recovery

Summer programs can help students reconnect with peers and caring adults and re-engage in learning. These programs can also accelerate students’ social, emotional, and academic recovery. A Summer for Learning and Recovery, a new brief from the Afterschool Alliance, outlines the elements and outcomes of a quality summer program. The brief also includes research highlights and implementation strategies.

Be One with Your Students

As more 21st CCLC programs return to in-person programming, we are reminded that this does not mean our lives will be returning to the way they were before 2020. A new blog post from You for Youth recaps findings about students experiencing food insecurity and social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. It helps afterschool professionals plan for ways to support students and themselves in the coming months.

Evidence-based Considerations for COVID-19 Reopening and Recovery Planning: Afterschool Coordination Systems to Support Afterschool Programming

The American Rescue Plan Act has made funds available to states and districts to speed up recovery from the effects of COVID-19, including addressing learning loss. The Wallace Foundation has collected evidence from its work that can inform educators’ choices about how to spend those funds in the area of expanded learning and how to implement key strategies.

Data Use in Out-of-School Time

Afterschool programs sometimes struggle to define and measure what their programs do and why it matters for youth and their families. To help afterschool programs use data effectively to demonstrate and guide continuous improvement, the Afterschool Alliance hosted a three-part webinar series on data use in out-of-school (OST) time. Topics include an overview of data use, how to build a comprehensive system in rural and frontier regions, and free and low-cost resources for evaluation and continuous improvement.

Diverse Learners

Teaching the Hard Histories of Racism

Some aspects of U.S. history can be difficult to reconcile with messages of freedom and democracy that we hear. “Teaching the Hard Histories of Racism,” an article from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, outlines five principles to guide educators as they broach the topic with students of all ages. The principles address issues ranging from school climate to historical sources and instructional materials.

Social and Emotional Learning

The Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative

The Wallace Foundation has launched a new podcast series on their Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative (PSELI). The five-episode series includes in-depth conversations with school, district, and expanded-learning leaders about their experiences working together to help children develop social and emotional skills.

Lead with Empathy

We should not be surprised that a challenging year is likely to include challenging behaviors from students and staff. A new blog posted by the Afterschool Alliance encourages afterschool professionals to “Lead with Empathy.” Leading with empathy includes acknowledging our own mental state and challenges and acknowledging the many external factors that may influence youth behavior. Finally, the blog post reminds afterschool professionals to continue collaborating with their teams and adapt student supports to individual needs.

Afterschool Enrichment

Breaking Through Barriers: Elevating the Voices of Young People

In 2020, the American Youth Policy Forum hosted Breaking Through Barriers: Elevating the Voices of Young People, an online event highlighting the talents and stories of systems-impacted youth. The event included performances from young artists, a special guest appearance, and meaningful conversations regarding the experiences of foster youth and justice-involved youth. The forum was specifically tailored for young leaders and adults interested in learning more about justice-impacted and foster youth. The forum also served as a space to celebrate the strengths of young people.

Preparing Teens to Lead the World

Our 21st CCLC programs offer the ideal environment for youth to develop their leadership skills. This blog post from Y4Y lists the research-based benefits of youth leadership. It provides several strategies and resources that afterschool professionals can use to guide youth in leadership roles.

Bolstering Executive Function in Middle and High School Students

Executive function is a set of skills that help us organize, prioritize, focus, and exercise self-control to be productive and accomplish tasks. These skills are strong indicators of success in school and life. A new video from Edutopia explains how educators can help adolescents develop executive function and lay the foundation for future success.

Academic Enrichment

Learn about the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is the first helicopter to fly on another planet. NASA has developed several resources that educators can use to help students learn about Ingenuity and follow its historic journey. These include videos, activities, facts about the helicopter, and information about the NASA team that built and operates the helicopter.

How to Train Your Robot

How to Train Your Robot is a new free children’s book that introduces young readers to the world of robotics and artificial intelligence. Through the story of fourth graders who build a robot to clean up their Razzle-Dazzle Robot Club workshop, the book models engineering practices such as iterative design, testing, and learning through failure. The story includes a diverse set of characters created to inspire girls and members of other under-represented groups to explore engineering, robotics, and coding. An illustrated audiobook and the download are both available free of charge.

Family Engagement

The Benefits of Helping Families Connect

A new study finds that helping parents form strong bonds with each other is critical to family engagement and may improve youth’s educational opportunities. The research focuses on the Families and Schools Together (FAST) afterschool program, which involves entire families in group activities designed to foster connections between parents. The study also finds that it is important to provide regular events that bring families together for repeated and sustained interaction.

College and Career Readiness

The Future of Work

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised new questions about and created new approaches to work. The Future of Work, a webinar hosted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, features perspectives from three economists on how the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped jobs and careers and how educators can prepare young people to succeed.

Subscription Required

A subscription or fee is required to access this resource. If you would like to read the resource you can purchase it from the publisher or ask your local library if they subscribe to the publication or can order a copy.

AIR Logo

American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW
Washington, DC 20007-3835

Illinois Quality Afterschool logo21st Century Community Learning Centers logoIllinois State Board of Education Logo

Copyright ©2021 by American Institutes for Research. This publication was developed by AIR in 2021 and was funded by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) with support by the U.S. Department of Education. The content does not necessarily reflect the views of the AIR or any other source. This publication is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce and disseminate it in whole or in part is granted as long as appropriate acknowledgment is given.