Illinois Quality Afterschool Resource Bulletin

Winter 2019

The Illinois Quality Afterschool team at American Institutes for Research has compiled this list of resources to help you and your staff provide high-quality 21st CCLC programming. The 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

Supporting Local Experts Who Volunteer

Volunteers provide important support for afterschool programs, and it is crucial that afterschool leaders provide the information and support volunteers need to be successful. This blog post from the U.S. Department of Education’s You for Youth (Y4Y) afterschool website provides guidance and tools for recruiting volunteers, matching them with responsibilities that fit their skills and interests, supporting them, and recognizing their contribution so that they have a rewarding experience and stay involved.

Summer Opportunities: A Research Agenda

The summer learning field is grounded in research on summer learning loss and its disproportionate impact on low-income and minority youth. Created by the National Summer Learning Association, this research agenda assesses how past research has shaped the field and proposes future research priorities. The agenda is organized around three key topics: quality, access, and outcomes. It also includes implementation recommendations for researchers; parents, students, and families; communities and programs; owners of key data systems; public and private funders; and policy makers.

Summertime, Summertime

It may be cold now, but summer will be here before you know it. If you are having a hard time preparing for summer programming, this blog post from Y4Y will help you get started. It includes resources and information to help you and your team get motivated, get organized, get started, and get others involved. Resources include an implementation planner, research page, planning page, and information about the Y4Y Summer Learning Initiative.

Diverse Learners

Youth Don’t Need to Be Fixed: Strategic Framing for Messaging on PYD

Positive youth development (PYD) offers a constructive approach to engaging youth, but commonly held beliefs about youth can pose challenges to successful communication and implementation of this practice. In this archived webinar from the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, experts from American Institutes for Research explore evidence-based strategies for communicating and messaging about PYD, barriers to successful communications, and ways to reframe messages around PYD to communicate more effectively.

Social and Emotional Learning

Addressing Students’ Mental Health Issues

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that every year some 13% to 20% of children in the United States experience a mental health disorder. Yet there is a persistent shortage of mental health professionals to serve students’ needs. This article from Education Dive explores ways that schools are working to support students with mental health disorders. Strategies include forming partnerships with institutions of higher education and implementing trauma-informed practices.

Educating the Whole Child

Educating the Whole Child: Improving School Climate to Support Student Success, a new report from the Learning Policy Institute, offers evidence on the effects of positive school climate, social and emotional learning, and prosocial teaching strategies on student achievement. It also outlines policy strategies that can foster positive conditions and practices on a system level. The report notes that these practices benefit all students but are especially important for those who have experienced trauma.

Afterschool Enrichment

The Role of National Service in Improving K–12 Education Outcomes

National service programs can benefit communities in several ways. Volunteers provide support for K–12 schools and can help reduce educational inequities. The programs also provide opportunities for youth to gain professional experience, learn job skills, and develop a sense of civic engagement. And finally, they help nonprofits develop organizational capacity and achieve their mission. A three-part webinar series from the American Youth Policy Forum explores national service programs through these different lenses. The series is intended for a broad audience and offers useful information for afterschool practitioners who are interested in partnering with nonprofits to offer national service opportunities for their students or engage volunteers to support their program.

The National Mentoring Partnership

The National Mentoring Partnership aims to provide more high-quality mentors for America’s youth and to close the mentoring gap. The organization’s website offers an overview of mentoring and research supporting the initiative, a database for finding or becoming a mentor, and resources for starting a mentoring program.

Sleep Smarter

Sleep, along with exercise and proper nutrition, is an important component of student health. Alliance for a Healthier Generation has created the Sleep Smarter site to help youth learn about the importance of sleep and adopt strategies to ensure they get enough rest. The site also has resources for educators and family members, including self quizzes, informational videos, and several tools to promote sleep hygiene.

PE Central

Is your afterschool team looking to up its game in physical education? Physical Education (PE) Central has a range of resources and activities to energize your afterschool program. The site includes lessons, best practices, professional development resources, and classroom management strategies. There are also instructional videos and a forum to share ideas and ask questions.

Academic Enrichment


TeachEngineering is a searchable database of standards-based curricula for K–12 educators. Created and managed by the University of Colorado Boulder engineering program, the site offers a range of activities that engage students in hands-on math and science activities that are integrated with engineering. The site also includes information on different types of engineering so that students can learn more about the field.

Scaffolding Strategies

Students, especially struggling learners, may need support and accommodations as they begin an academic activity. Scaffolding is one way that educators can break an assignment or project down into manageable learning chunks. This blog post from Edutopia outlines scaffolding strategies that educators can use with their students. Strategies include show and tell, tapping into prior knowledge, pre-teaching vocabulary, and using visual aids.

Social Studies — Analyzing Sources

The Illinois social studies standards ask that students of all grade levels engage with and analyze a variety of sources. To help educators support students in mastering these skills, Illinois Classrooms in Action has developed a series of guides for educators. Grouped by grade band (K–2, 3–5, and 6–12), the guides provide an overview of the sources relevant to the grade band, teaching tips, and sample lessons.

Family Engagement

Increasing Family Engagement

Family engagement is an important part of a student’s education and also a key component of 21st CCLC programs. This blog post from the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments provides a brief overview of the research on family engagement. It also provides strategies for engaging families in their children’s education and a list of resources to support the implementation of these strategies.

College and Career Readiness

Project-Based Learning and CTE

Career and technical education (CTE) offers a way for students to explore career interests and prepare to join the workforce. This blog post from Education Northwest explores different learning models that can provide a framework for engaging CTE programming. The post provides an overview of project-based learning and blended learning models, including the research base and considerations for implementation of these models.

Afterschool and Summer Learning: A City Strategy for Workforce Development

This report from the National League of Cities examines how city leaders are partnering with afterschool and summer learning programs to help students develop job skills that will help them get jobs in their cities of residence. The report outlines some of the labor shortages and skills-gap challenges that cities face and how city leaders have responded. It also profiles two expanded learning programs that provided job training in identified fields with worker shortages.

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Copyright ©2019 by American Institutes for Research. This publication was developed by AIR in 2019 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.