The Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) recognized 15 champions including elected officials, practitioners, youth and organizations for innovation and excellence in afterschool and summer learning programs that keep kids safe, inspire learning and help working families.
HARRISBURG, Pa., March 15, 2019 — Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) honored U.S. Representative Glenn Thompson as an Afterschool Champion for outstanding work in supporting and promoting meaningful high quality afterschool and out-of-school time programs to benefit children, youth and families across Pennsylvania.
The awards took place last night during PSAYDN’s annual reception, which brought together elected officials, program providers, youth, faith-based leaders, parents and business leaders to emphasize the importance of afterschool programs in the state.
Afterschool programs pick up where the school day leaves off. In addition to offering kids a safe, supervised place to go before and after school, on weekends and during summers to get academic help; programs provide a variety of activities – art, music, dance, sports, science, service learning, career exploration and much more – that help kids develop new interests and skills. The Afterschool Champion Awards honor programs, elected officials, youth and practitioners for excellence in the service of children, schools and communities.
Rep. Thompson led a bipartisan effort in the Congress through co-authoring the overhaul of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which provides 12 million students nationwide with the training and education necessary for success in high-wage, high-skill and high-demand career fields like engineering, information technology and health care. The legislation allows for state flexibility and additional partnership opportunities for afterschool and summer learning programs to connect with Career and Technical Education Centers.
“Investment in the sustainability and increased access to quality afterschool and summer programs means more opportunities for programs to positively impact youth,” said PSAYDN director Laura Saccente. “The research confirms these programs make an important difference in young people’s academic achievement, social skills and risk reduction.”
“We are thrilled to name Rep. Thompson, a congressional leader for children and active supporter of the Boy Scout Council and 4-H, as one of Pennsylvania’s Afterschool Champions,” Saccente added. “His commitment and efforts on behalf of youth and families in his district are an inspiration to the program leaders who nominated him.”
The event also highlighted PSAYDN’s work to advance sustainable, high quality out-of-school time youth development programs through advocacy and capacity building to improve the welfare of Pennsylvania’s children, youth and families. In 2004, PSAYDN began as a 65-member coalition, and now has more than 3000 members representing all regions of the commonwealth.
At the meeting, PSAYDN introduced the second cohort of the 10-month STEM Ambassador program. Thirty-one individuals including K-12 educators, higher education staff and business partners will help shape the future of STEM education in Pennsylvania. The group will target vital policy conversations to legislative leadership in the areas of computer science, STEM Learning ecosystems, state and federal policy for formal and informal education, and workforce needs, including the PAsmart state budget investment. This program is made possible through PSAYDN, with training support from the Education Policy and Leadership Center and STEM Education Coalition, and sponsorship from the Afterschool Alliance and The Overdeck Family Foundation.
“Formative, out-of-school hours can be filled with quality youth development programs that not only promote the well-being of our children and youth, but also families,” Saccente said. “Afterschool programs pay enormous benefits. They inspire children to learn. They keep kids safe in the sometimes perilous hours after school. And they help working parents keep working, free of fears about what their kids might be up to after the end of the regular school day.”
According to the landmark “America After 3PM” study conducted for the Afterschool Alliance, more than half a million Pennsylvania children need – but don’t have – afterschool programs, even as statewide demand for afterschool programs has increased.
“Data shows that too many Pennsylvania children who need afterschool programs don’t have them, and families are carrying a heavier burden as a result,” Saccente said. “These are barriers we can and should overcome, and Afterschool Champions are critical for building support from all sectors; from the business and philanthropic communities, as well as from the government at all levels.”
Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) at Center for Schools and Communities believes all children and youth deserve access to programs that encourage positive youth development and support the successful transition to adulthood.