Science Action Club: Bugs In Your Schoolyard launched last fall and now Birds In Your Schoolyard is ready for spring training thanks to Montana State University’s Extended University. MSU is providing free STEM resources and training to a group of educators who work with middle school students in after-school or out-of-school programs.
Afterschool programs can affect how students perform in school and help students be college and career ready. The Montana Afterschool Alliance (MTAA) recognizes MSU’s efforts to increase STEM-based learning opportunities for Montana’s youth outside the school day. MTAA is fortunate to have a strong partnership with Montana State University (MSU), which, as the state’s land-grant institution, has a strong focus on outreach and learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
Montana’s Science Action Club educators today will receive a complete Science Action Club kit featuring high-quality science equipment and classroom supplies for 20 youth, plus digital resources to provide opportunities to extend learning. The afterschool sites across Montana will conduct 12 hands-on activities this spring with youth in middle school; contribute data to researchers via citizen science apps; and assist with evaluation and feedback to the California Academy of Sciences, which developed the Science Action Club curriculum. Science Action Club program is also supported by the Montana Girls STEM Collaborative, National Girls Collaborative Project, the Montana Women’s Foundation, Montana NSF EPSCoR and the MSU Chemistry and Biochemistry Department.
Science Action Clubs: Birds in Your School Yard are from following communities:
- Lame Deer
- Seeley Lake
- White Sulphur Springs
Science Action Club sites that implemented the Bugs In Your Schoolyard curriculum include Ashland, Browning, Hamilton, Hinsdale, Townsend and Willow Creek.
Science Action Club (SAC) is a high-impact STEM program for middle school youth in out-of-school time. Through hands-on games and projects, youth in SAC investigate their local environment and use citizen science to document discoveries, share data, and design strategies to protect our planet.
Montana Afterschool Alliance’s mission is to support and advocate for sustainable, high-quality afterschool programs by drawing together key decision-makers committed to improving outcomes for youth, their families, and communities. The vision of the Montana Afterschool Alliance is that all Montana youth have access to enriching afterschool activities in a safe and healthy environment. In October of 2014, the Montana Afterschool Alliance (MTAA) received funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, making Montana the 43rd state to have a statewide afterschool network.
For more information about Science Action Clubs, contact Suzi Taylor, Assistant Director of Outreach and Communications, MSU Extended University; (406) 994-6550, email@example.comFor more information about the Montana Afterschool Alliance contact Julia Gustafson, Network Lead, (406) 624-9272, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the February 10, 2017 Newsletter from MTAA.
The Montana Afterschool Alliance (MTAA) Steering Council is pleased to welcome Julia Gustafson as our new Network Lead. Julia will serve as the primary contact for the Montana Afterschool Alliance. We appreciate her help as we continue our work supporting and advocating for sustainable, high-quality afterschool programs by drawing together key decision-makers committed to improving outcomes for youth, their families, and communities.
Julia brings strong communication and organizational skills to MTAA and an enthusiasm for our vision that all Montana youth have access to enriching afterschool activities in a safe and healthy environment. Most recently Julia served as the Organizational Development Director for the Montana Nonprofit Association and has also worked with PacificSource Health Plans and the Governor’s Office of Community Service. Julia is the new board chair for Helena Food Share, Helena's food pantry, and previously served on the board of Helena Community Gardens. She lives in Helena.
You can reach Julia at 406-624-9272 or
Please also note that our mailing address has changed to Montana Afterschool Alliance, PO Box 1952, Helena, MT 59624.
In October, 2016 over 10 Montana afterschool programs celebrated the Afterschool Alliance's nationwide Lights On Afterschool! campaign by hosting events across the state. Highlights include:
Governor Steve Bullock visited Greater Gallatin United Way kidsLINK Afterschool's event with about 45 Bozeman school children. Events for the day focused on nutritional education, including making a kale salad and learning about the negative impacts of too much sugar. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle featured the Governor's visit to this event at Hyalite Elementary.
Libby Elementary Afterscool Program hosted a Lights On Family Night. Students helped prepare an evening meal for their families, decorated for the event and assembled math game packets. Seventy guests attended. Libby will also be hosting a free Lights On Halloween event on October 31, including Trunk or Treat, a Haunted House, outside games with prizes and refreshments. More than 300 participants are expected to attend
The Helena Family YMCA hosted a Lights On event on October 13, 2016. In preparation, Helena middle schoolers addressed invitations to Montana political leaders. Bryant elementary schoolers practiced introducing themselves and inviting guests to join them in activities. Together the students prepared kale chips and decorated cookies for the event. During the event families sampled the snacks made by the students and colored a light bulb to be sent to Montana's legislature to show Helena's support for afterschool funding. A record number of Bryant families attended, totaling 40 students and 25 caretakers.
Although over 18,000 Montana children attend programs after the school day ends, there is still more work to be done to meet the great need for afterschool programs that keep Montana’s kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. Of Montana children not enrolled in afterschool programs, 38% (49,273) would if a program were available.
“Afterschool programs keep kids safe, help working families and inspire learning. They provide opportunities to help young people develop into successful adults. MTAA promotes Lights On Afterschool!, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, to demonstrate our dedication to ensuring that all children have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs,” says Jan Lombardi, MTAA Steering Council Past President and Executive Committee member.
Thank you to all the Montana afterschool programs who hosted events for Lights On Afterschool! We hope you will join us next year in celebrating the importance of keeping students safe after school!
On August 15 and 16, 2016 MTAA hosted its second annual Afterschool & Beyond Professional Development Conference for educational professionals. The conference, held at Montana State University (MSU), was a huge success and included 220 participants, presenters and panelists. There were 20 different workshops to choose from throughout the two-day event that focused on out of school time program leadership, program delivery and program wide enhancement. The Conference was an outstanding networking and resource sharing opportunity for attendees and many participants learned about new funding and training opportunities and gained new tools, both tangible and intangible, for their afterschool programs.
MTAA would like to thank conference sponsors for helping to create such a successful event:
- Montana Office of Public Instruction
- BlueCross BlueShield of Montana
- NorthWestern Energy
- Montana Girls STEM Collaborative
- Montana Education Partnership
The Every Student Succeeds Act was passed by the Senate earlier today, and it's expected to be signed by President Obama by the end of this week. In addition to maintaining a dedicated funding stream for 21st Century Community Learning Center programs, the new legislation will also make some improvements.
One of these improvements includes a focus on making it easier for schools, the state, and other community resources to communicate and share resources. In addition, new measurements for helping to keep students on track with college and career readiness will be put in place. Overall, it appears that the legislation is a step forward from the out-of-school time policy viewpoint.
It was a big morning for afterschool policy! Congress agreed upon a bill titled the Every Student Succeeds Act, which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.Read More
Most out-of-school time programs provide a snack or even a meal to kids who participate. The different routes a program can take to be reimbursed for food, however, can be confusing. In this post, we’ll take a look at the two main options in Montana.Read More
The Montana Afterschool Alliance is conducting a survey to gain valuable insight into Montana’s out of school time strengths and needs. We are looking for input from families, providers, advocates, and other interested parties.Read More
Registration is now open for your Lights on Afterschool event!
Lights On Afterschool is the only nationwide celebration of afterschool, and if you are a program provider, a parent, a community member or a program participant, you know that there is a lot to celebrate. Afterschool programs across the country inspire kids to learn everything from coding to poetry to healthy habits, help working parents, and keep kids safe and engaged after the school day ends. Last year, more than a million people celebrated the unique programs that they love at Lights On Afterschool events across the country. This year, help afterschool programs get the attention they deserve by registering your Lights On Afterschool celebration!Read More
It’s back to school time again, and that means new opportunities for kids to learn and grow. While the focus is often on what will happen in the classroom during the new school year, it’s also important to think about how kids will spend their out-of-school time as well.Read More
Montana Afterschool Alliance Seeks New Steering Council Members
BOZEMAN, MT.: August 26, 2015- The Montana Afterschool Alliance (MTAA), a newly formed organization to promote high quality afterschool and summer programming across the state, is seeking new members. Through building partnerships with schools, afterschool providers, community organizations, elected officials, and other stakeholders throughout Montana, MTAA wants to increase and enhance high quality out-of-school time opportunities for youth. The Alliance currently has open Steering Council seats to be filled by out-of-school-time providers from central and western Montana as well as business and philanthropic leaders from throughout the state.
“We need three additional council members to help us strengthen, connect, and expand afterschool programming across the state”, said Director Siobhan Gilmartin. “We know how vital these programs are to both kids and their families -- they keep youth safe during out-of-school time, and enhance academic and social development.”
Over the next several months, the Montana Afterschool Alliance will be conducting a statewide needs assessment, with support from the Department of Health and Human Services, to better understand the gaps and challenges throughout the state. The assessment will include meeting with afterschool providers, families, and community partners, as well as an online survey. Needs assessment results will be released in 2016 and will help to inform MTAA on future policy to support working families and children.
Individuals interested in serving on the Steering Committee or becoming involved with the Montana Afterschool Alliance are encouraged to contact the Director Siobhan Gilmartin, at email@example.com or (406) 587-6390 by October 1, 2015. Further information can also be found at www.mtafterschoolalliance.org.
About the Montana Afterschool Alliance
The Montana Afterschool Alliance was established in 2014 and is supported by a three-year grant from the C.S. Mott Foundation with matching funding from other partners. The three goals of the Afterschool Alliance are to: improve quality, increase access, and increase sustainability of out-of-school-time programs across the state. The Greater Gallatin United Way, located in Bozeman, both houses and serves as the fiscal agent for the Montana Afterschool Alliance.
What is the 21st CCLCs initiative? It is an initiative that provides federal funding to out-of-school time programs. States apply for grants to receive the funding. Programs are aimed at lower performing schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families.Read More
Afterschool programs and out-of-school time have received a lot of legislative attention over the past few months. Summer meals in particular have been in the spotlight. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is up for reauthorization soon. Proposed changes to the current act are included in the Summer Meals Act of 2015.
A major focus of the Summer Meals Act is to expand access to free meals during the summer months. According to the Food Research and Action Center’s report, free and reduced-price lunches are provided to approximately 22 million kids during the school year, but only 3.6 million kids receive meals from a summer meals program. The new act would make it easier for organizations to meet guidelines for summer meal federal funding.Read More
The summer months mean more time spent outside for many kids, but that activity level often isn’t sustained throughout the school year. Afterschool programs are one way to help address this issue and improve childhood health. For kids who participate, these programs can help increase their physical activity levels and access to healthy foods. This is an important part of preventing chronic diseases later in life.Read More
The percentage of Montana children taking part in afterschool programs has changed very little over the past 10 years, hovering between 12 and 14 percent. Currently at 13 percent, the participation rate in afterschool programs is well below the national average. Although afterschool program participation has changed little, unmet demand for afterschool programs in Montana has grown from 26 percent in 2004 to 38 percent in 2014.
The National Research Council (NRC) recently released a long-awaited report, Identifying and Supporting Productive STEM Programs in Out-of-School Settings. The National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored this report as a follow-up companion study to the Successful K-12 STEM Education report that examined effective approaches to STEM education in schools.
As afterschool and other out-of-school-time STEM programs have grown in number over the past decade, the interest in measuring their effectiveness and impact has also grown. The recent America After 3PM study revealed that 10.2 million children participate in afterschool programs in the United States, up from 6.5 million a decade ago. Further, 69% of parents with children in afterschool programs say that some form of STEM activities are included in these programs.Read More