Guest Blog: Social Media and You(r Program)

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I should probably start this post by telling you that I sort of fell into my role as Communications Director for Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri.

Previously I was a reporter for a few community newspapers and while I loved social media as much as the next person, I didn’t use it regularly in my professional role.

That changed when I started working for the Club and my main job became overseeing all marketing efforts to promote our 11 Boys & Girls Club sites in the six communities we serve. As my role expanded to include other duties, I noticed our social media sites were expanding too. Today, we rely on our sites more and more to connect with parents, board members, supporters, donors, and colleagues to inform them about what’s going on at the Club. Here are a few tips I picked up along the way that may be useful for your own afterschool programs.

Judge your time truthfully.

If your program is anything like mine, many employees wear many hats and I’m guessing it’s just one or two employees doing the heavy lifting on your social media sites. Posting takes time and content and I see quite a few organizations that seem to want to do it all and end up having so-so pages in the process. I really urge you to think very hard about what you can actually manage and then make that page great. For us, that means Facebook and Twitter because that’s where our parents, teachers, and supporters are.

Another thing to consider is how you’re going to stay consistent. Have you ever been to a website or Facebook page that hasn’t been updated in months? It’s better to update regularly than post a ton of updates/photos all at once. If you have a lot of content and can post every day, great! If you’d rather post every other day or just twice a week, that’s OK too. Just make sure you’re posting regularly.planning-2573116_960_720.png(Facebook and Twitter both have great options to schedule posts to make this easier. Check out their “help” sections to more on this.)

Think about your audience.

For most afterschool providers, our social media audience is primarily parents of the kids we serve and teachers/administrators in our districts. Those of us who rely on community support should also consider the donors, partners and board members (if applicable) who help make our program run. Think about what posts would be most important to them, what do they want to see?

You can also have the best and most updated social media site but it won’t do much good unless someone is looking at it. On Facebook, for example, I know that 8 p.m. sees a spike of our audience who are logged on. Therefore, I schedule all my posts to publish at that time, giving the posts a better chance to be seen. The “insights” tab on Facebook is a great resource to learn everything about your audience.

Consider the information.

Photos of smiling kids having fun and learning are the bread and butter of afterschool program posts – as they should be. But instead of just a photo and short caption, consider adding a little more information to give your audience the whole picture.

For example, if I posted a few photos of Club members working in our garden, I might caption it with “These Boys & Girls Club members are learning how fruits and vegetables go from seed to table – and the hard work it takes to get them there! When they harvest these cucumbers later in the summer they’ll learn a few simple recipes that can show them how delicious fresh vegetables can be, putting them on a lifetime path of healthy eating.”

Instead of a photo just showing kids weeding a garden, I can explain how this program benefits them in a long-term way.

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Ignore all this advice as needed.

To be really honest, at the end of the day I’m sort of just winging it with social media. One of the great (and annoying) things about social media is that it’s always changing, so keep it loose and fun. See what posts your audience likes, shares and comments on and continue doing that until you need to change it again.

I also recommend following other afterschool program social media pages and shamelessly “borrowing” their good ideas. We’re all about sharing our best practices for our afterschool programs, social media should be no different.

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Emily-Jarrett

 

Guest Blogger: Emily Jarrett, Communications Director of Boys and Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri

You can shamelessly steal her social media ideas by following the Club on Facebook and Twitter.

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October is for Lights On Afterschool!

Click here to download a PDF version of this blog.

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The month has finally arrived- Lights On Afterschool will be celebrated throughout the country on October 26th! In Missouri, afterschool programs will host events to highlight the value of afterschool for our local communities.

Legislative Advocacy in October

Last month in Washington DC, Congress worked on the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, appropriating funds to afterschool and rebuffing President Trump’s proposal to cut federal programming entirely.

These appropriations included provisions for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Child Care and Development Block Grants, Full Service Community Schools, and more (check out a fuller list here). While the House and the Senate proposed different levels of funding for the programs, both showed strong support and maintained or increased funding from FY 2017.

As it stands, the budget debate has been pushed back to December 8th after a deal was struck to ensure federal funding for hurricane victims. We will keep you updated as the funding process moves forward on Facebook, Twitter, and our blog.

Finally, while the Senate and House Appropriations Committees have shown their support for afterschool programming, the Afterschool Alliance reports that for every child in an afterschool program, two more are waiting to get in. Our advocacy and outreach efforts must stay strong, so that our members of Congress know that Afterschool Works in Missouri! 

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Local Advocacy in October

Lights On Afterschool is a great way to raise awareness for your program and to share personal stories about what your program means to the youth and families you serve. Be sure to send invitations as soon as possible to local, state, and federal leaders, community partners, and parents, so they can attend and see the great work happening every day in your program.

Visit the Afterschool Alliance website to register your Lights On event and view their toolkit for making your event a success. You can also use this Legislator Lookup Tool to find your local legislators to invite to your program’s event.

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Activities for Youth and Parents

Make sure youth and parents are engaged in whatever activities you have planned for Lights On. Youth should be given a chance to help plan your events and showcase what they are doing in your program. It also presents a great opportunity to engage parents in your work by having them share their afterschool stories.

Use our Lights On Printable graphic at your events to capture why the parents and youth in your programs value afterschool and be sure to share via social media!

Staying Connected via Social Media

To coincide with Lights On Afterschool in Missouri, we are asking you to take to social media and share why afterschool is important to you!

You can do this in two ways:

  • by writing and posting your afterschool story or
  • by taking photos with your personal message on this Lights On Printable graphic You can also engage parents, youth, other afterschool professionals, school leaders, community partners, and policymakers by having them participate.

Share both using the #MOLightsOn hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook! When you post using our hashtag, you’re showing support to friends, family, and followers and can even be featured on our blog!

Don’t forget to follow us @MO_Afterschool on Twitter and look for the Missouri AfterSchool Network on Facebook!

Upcoming Dates to Remember

This Month:

10/26/2017: Lights On Afterschool

10/31/2017: Halloween

Next Month:

11/16 – 11/19/2017: MOSAC2 PDI in Kansas City

11/23/2017: Thanksgiving

What If Wednesday: Are we working to make our youth well-rounded?

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What If “Soft Skills” Are as Important as STEM Skills?

For the last decade or so, STEM topics have been among the top priorities in education, and for good reason. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) are all subjects students need to understand as we move forward into our increasingly technological future.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor estimated an increase of 1 million jobs in the STEM sector from 2012 to 2022; taking the total number of STEM related jobs to more than 9 million in the very near future. We need to give our afterschool participants opportunities to explore STEM activities on a regular basis and increase their knowledge of what is possible for them in this realm.

But…

What If STEM isn’t the be-all and end-all of education?

Recently, there has been a shift toward increasing social and emotional learning (SEL) in our schools. The guidelines for the newly implemented Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) create an opportunity for schools to teach—and measure—beyond the traditional classroom subjects and reach into areas of SEL. This has the potential to be a real benefit to our students. It also has the potential to create more work for our teachers. This is where the world of afterschool becomes a critical partner for schools, students, and parents.

Afterschool programs have been working in areas of SEL for years. We play games that teach teamwork. We are giving students a voice in our programs and giving them responsibility. We have opportunities to talk about managing emotions and solving problems. We get to know our students in different ways than teachers get to know them and we can create opportunities for teaching and learning empathy towards others. These so-called soft skills have historically been secondary, at best, to the more technical skills that allow individuals to “produce” in their chosen careers. When someone has a strong set of soft skills, we typically don’t think anything about those skills. However, when soft skills are weak or absent, it is sometimes all we can think about when working with that individual.

In our society, it seems that civility toward those who are different from us is on its way out. People react emotionally to cultural hot buttons and lash out. In our professional lives, very few of us work completely on our own, so it is critical that we know how to work as part of a team. If we learn all we can regarding technical skills or STEM topics but we are socially and emotionally incompetent, the academic knowledge benefits no one.

Afterschool programs have the good fortune to be able to teach SEL skills to our students on a regular basis. These skills will serve our kids well at home, in school, in relationships, and in all they do in the future. Alongside the STEM activities, don’t be afraid to focus on increasing the soft skills of the students in your program. The world needs them to have both.

What If we work to give our kids as many tools as possible to help them be successful?

 

brad-lademann

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Brad Lademann

Afterschool Resource Coordinator
Missouri AfterSchool Network 

Brad Lademann is a dynamic youth speaker with 16 years of public speaking experience and 12 years of experience working with middle school and high school students. He has worked with teens in many capacities including teacher, youth pastor, coach, mentor, and afterschool program supervisor. He currently works with MASN as our Resource Coordinator and provides technical assistance to SAC and 21CCLC grantees.

Day of Sharing

It’s time to show the world what afterschool can do!

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Join the Afterschool Alliance on September 27 for a Day of Sharing to show policymakers what afterschool is all about! We’ve broken the action down into three easy steps. On the 27th,

1. Use your social media platforms to tell your story, share an image, or create a video that portrays the impact of your afterschool program.

2. Tag your members of Congress on Twitter

@McCaskillOffice and @RoyBlunt for all of Missouri or

@RepBlainePress for Luetkemeyer’s office– @USRepLong for Long’s office

@LacyClayMO1 for Clay’s office– @RepSamGraves for Graves’ office

@RepAnnWagner for Wagner’s office– @RepHartzler for Hartzler’s office

@repcleaver for Cleaver’s office– @RepJasonSmith for Smith’s office

3. Add #AfterschoolWorks to your posts so you can take part in a nationwide showcase of everything that afterschool programs are doing to benefit students, families, and schools across the nation.

Will you join us in celebrating afterschool?

For more information, click here.younger_boy_with_race_bib_email

Advocacy Update: A big week for Missouri afterschool!

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Last week was a big week for Missouri afterschool programs on the advocacy front! The week started out with Mayor Karen Best representing Missouri in Washington DC at a Congressional briefing on Tuesday, September 12. Mayor Best talked about the importance of afterschool and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program in supporting youth and families in her community. While in DC, Mayor Best also met with Senator Roy Blunt.

Read more from Mayor Best and her thoughts on the importance of afterschool, particularly for city leaders, on the National League of Cities blog here.

The week continued with some action on funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers in Congress. On Wednesday night, the House voted on an amendment to restore $100 million in funding for the program that was cut in the initial appropriations bill. Through bipartisan support, the amendment passed! There are still many hurdles in the process, as the House and Senate will work over the next few months to reconcile their appropriations bills into the final FY2018 budget. The strong bipartisan support, however, indicates that there are champions in Congress willing to fight to ensure afterschool programs remain a priority.

Click here to read more details on the Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool Snack blog.

Also, make sure to thank the 3 Missouri Congressman who voted in favor of the 21CCLC funding amendment! We send our sincerest thanks to Congressmen Lacy Clay (District 1), Blaine Luetkemeyer (District 3), and Emanuel Cleaver (District 5).

Take 3 minutes to call their offices at the numbers below to thank them for their support of afterschool!

Representative William Lacy Clay, Jr. (D – 01) 202-225-2406
Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (R – 03) 202-225-2956
Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II (D – 05) 202-225-4535

Finally, our great week of advocacy ended with our first policymaker roundtable discussion and site visit hosted by the Eldon Learning Enriched Afterschool Program (LEAP) in Eldon, Missouri. The idea behind the event was to bring together local, state, and federal policymakers and staff to learn more about the importance of afterschool and what policies currently support programs and professionals, and to see programming in action to gain a deeper understanding of what our field means to the youth and families we serve.

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The event was kicked off by our Afterschool Champion Representative David Wood (District 58), who talked about the need for afterschool programs in a time where kids and teachers simply can’t squeeze all that they need into the typical classroom or typical school day.

Terri Foulkes, Director, and Casey Hanson, Policy and Communications Coordinator, from the Missouri AfterSchool Network shared a bit about the Network and what current policies are supporting afterschool programs in Missouri, including the 21CCLC Program, the various programs funded through the Child Care Development fund, including child care subsidies, the School Age Community grant program, and the Out of School Time Partnerships, and various local efforts that help to support and sustain programs throughout the state.

Eldon Superintendent Matt Davis shared what afterschool means to the Eldon community, specifically talking about the notable academic improvements seen in the school district since starting an afterschool program in 2008. Mr. Davis also talked about a unique partnership between the school and Adient, a major local employer. Not only does the afterschool program support a large number of parents in the community who work at Adient, but the program also provides participants with an introduction to robotics, which is a need for Adient’s future workforce.

Chuck Miller, an afterschool parent, and his son Ethan, who participates in the program, shared how much the program has meant to their family. After moving into the community a few years ago, the Millers did not necessarily have the strong support base that they had in their previous community. LEAP helped support the Millers through the transition, by serving as an outlet for Ethan to meet friends and to support their working-parent household.

Finally, Colleen Abbott, LEAP director, shared with the group all of the innovative practices their professionals are implementing into their program every day, which was illustrated by the site walkthrough and tour. Policymakers were able to see youth working on building life skills through their gardening program and cooking club; preparing to be the workforce of the future through their Robotics projects; and working on social emotional control and focus while engaging in a bit of exercise through their Archery program. Much of Eldon’s success is dependent on their partnerships, which was exhibited in the Nike volunteers assisting youth with their garden projects, and the Missouri Department of Conservation partnership with the Archery program.

The event was attended by the Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Dr. Margie Vandeven, area state representatives, including Mike Bernskoetter, Rocky Miller, and Sara Walsh, representatives from Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, representatives from US Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, and several area superintendents interested in starting afterschool programs or enhancing their existing programs.

MASN will also host roundtable events this fall in St. Louis and the Sedalia area. For more information, contact Casey Hanson at hansoncb@missouri.edu.

Afterschool WORKS in September

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 Click here to download a PDF version of this blog.

September brings the beginning of the school year and the end of the 2017 fiscal year. As we celebrate Labor Day this month, it is important to reflect on the positive effects afterschool has on the economy. Increased parent work productivity, time for students to explore their potential and unique, innovative curriculum are some of the many ways Afterschool Works for Missouri.

 Advocacy in September

The end ofthe current fiscal year is October 1st, meaning Congress will have to pass a budget before then to maintain smooth government operations. In mid-March, President Trump proposed a plan which eliminates more than a billion dollars in funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers. In May, he released a more detailed version of the plan, but maintained the federal cuts to afterschool programs.

We have received some positive signs from Congress since, in their increasing spending for afterschool in the FY 2017 plan, but now, as a new budget moves through the House, we are once again looking at substantial cuts—to the tune of $191 million.

As the budget makes its way through Congress, it is vital that we continue reaching out to our representatives in Congress to ensure funds for 21st CCLC and afterschool programs are maintained. Afterschool Alliance has created a letter for concerned citizens send to Congress. To send an email to your congressman, follow this link.

Attending town hall meetings and constituent events is a great way to speak personally about the benefits of afterschool for you and your family. You can also connect with your representatives through phone calls, emails and letters is the best way for them to understand the benefits of afterschool.

For more information about Trump’s budget and its impact on afterschool, click here.

Local Advocacy in September

To support our advocacy efforts, we are encouraging afterschool leaders to share how your program fosters academic involvement and leads to brighter futures. If your program provides a safe environment for kids to explore learning, access to STEM related education, or time to build soft skills, share your stories with us!

We would be happy to help set up a meeting with your local representative! It is a great way to discuss the benefits of afterschool for your community and make personal connections with the program.

Share your afterschool story here!

Activities for Youth and Parents

Banned Books Week is an event that annually falls on the last week in September, this year beginning the 24th and ending the 30th. Celebrate the power of reading and the value of free and open access to information by looking back at the list of most frequently opposed books and teaching your kids about the value of reading in society.

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Staying Connected via Social Media

Share how your program is preparing youth for the workforce this month using the #AfterschoolWorks hashtag.

Don’t forget to follow us @MO_Afterschool on Twitter and look for the Missouri AfterSchool Network on Facebook!

Dates to Remember this Month:

9/4/17- Labor Day

9/21/17- Next Quarterly Meeting in Columbia

Save the Date:

10/26/17- Lights On Afterschool