Fostering an Engineering Mindset Webinar, August 3rd at 2:00 pm
Are you an afterschool or summer learning professional interested in STEM? Do you want to create a generation of innovative problem solvers? Come join us on August 3rd at 2:00 pm to gain an introduction to engaging youth in engineering mindsets.
This interactive session introduces engineering and engineering mindset, focusing on why they are important. Participants will reflect on examples and short video clips from educational settings that illustrate the practices and what they look like when youth engineer. Participants will also leave with strategies for creating engineering environments that are inclusive and invite all learners to participate and develop an engineering mindset.
Virginia Budget Includes $4 Million for Out-of-School Programs
VPOST is thrilled to announce that the Virginia General Assembly returned today to pass a budget that includes $4 million in funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers! This is a huge victory for our programs and the children they serve. Thank you to everyone who took the time to reach out to legislators and advocate for this funding. We could not have done it without your help!
VPOST would like to especially thank Senator Jennifer McClellan and Delegate Roxann Robinson, who carried the budget amendments for our funding. The next step is for Governor Youngkin to make any amendments or sign the budget. The legislature will return before July 1 to act on any of the Governor’s potential amendments.
This additional $4 million will be used to fund additional community-based organizations that provide afterschool, before school, and summer learning programs for school-age children attending high-poverty, low-performing schools. These programs are critically needed. In Virginia, for every child enrolled in an afterschool program, there are 4 children on a waitlist. Working parents deserve and need reliable, safe, and high-quality afterschool programs for their children to attend, so they are able to work.
These programs are also able to address the significant learning loss that has occurred as a result of the COVID-19 -pandemic over the last two years. We commend the Virginia General Assembly for prioritizing these programs and expanding access to more children.
VPOST Participated in the Afterschool for All Challenge on May 17th, 2022
Building upon the success of our Youth Ambassadors program, VPOST launched a STEM Youth Ambassadors cohort to share stories with Legislators about the enriching experiences that Afterschool STEM Programming provides. Expanded STEM is a vital component of out-of-school time programming. A survey conducted in early 2021 found that 76% of afterschool programs were providing STEM learning opportunities, which is similar to the rates of STEM offerings before the pandemic. As such, supporting expanded STEM learning is one of VPOST’s top initiatives.
To prepare for the legislative meetings, Aditya of Stafford, Shiv, Medha, and Prachi of Loudon, Carissa of Mechanicsville and Govind of Glen Allen, who range from 13-17 years old, learned about advocacy and were guided on how to craft their unique stories. VPOST Youth Ambassadors program helps amplify the voices of tomorrow’s future, empowering them to take an active role on the issues important to their generation. As STEM Ambassador Prachi shared during her legislative meeting, “Day by day, we see new studies – global warming is getting worse, the oceans are filled with plastic, droughts are taking over the planet. There are millions of scientists all over the world who are working to solve these issues, but soon enough, there will be a next generation of those scientists – us.”
VPOST met with three Representatives’ offices. We would like to say a special thank you to Anderson Hayes of NextUp RVA for sharing his compelling story about the pathway between being a participant in afterschool programs and becoming an entrepreneur. Also, thank you to Peter Holland, the Senior Legislative Assistant for Education Issues in Congressmen Good’s Office, Brendan Nigro, the Staff Lead for Education Issues in Senator Warner’s Office, and Karishma Merchant of Senator Kaine’s Office.
For questions regarding the Youth STEM Ambassadors Program, contact Christine Jones Monaccio at email@example.com
VPOST is Proud to Welcome Bridget Langer to Our Team
Bridget Langer is the Administrative Assistant for the Virginia Partnership for Out-of-School Time (VPOST). Her primary responsibilities include network correspondence, updates to the VPOST website, meeting preparation and follow-up, research, record management, scheduling, and data collection. In her free time, Bridget enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her pets.
You can contact Bridget at firstname.lastname@example.org
VPOST Launches Youth Entrepreneurship Strategies (YES) Program
VPOST is partnering with Hampton City Schools, James Madison University (JMU) X-Labs, Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Title IV 21st CCLC, and Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) to develop a coordinated strategic approach to high school youth entrepreneurship experiences in Virginia. The project, Youth Entrepreneurship Strategies (YES) will improve entrepreneurial awareness, by recognizing environmental changes, identifying opportunities, and thinking creatively to develop student voice.
In support of this work, VPOST welcomes Kaitlin Ilnitzki to lead this project! Kaitlin is the Assistant Director of Virginia + DC FIRST LEGO League, located at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. Previously, she was a middle school educator in Staunton, Virginia for ten years. After teaching Language Arts for six years, she moved to STEM education and taught an interdisciplinary course introducing students to the basics of robotics, programming, and engineering. That switch ignited her passion for STEM education and specifically providing students with opportunities that open up pathways to STEM careers and CTE programs.
To learn more about the YES program, check out this feature article here
VPOST Facilitated a visit from Senator Bernie Sanders to a Virginia Out-of-School Time Program!
In August of 2021, VPOST was honored to facilitate a summer learning program site visit with Senator Bernie Sanders (VT). As a result of his efforts to increase funding for afterschool and summer learning programs via the American Rescue Plan, Senator Sanders visited the Reston YMCA, about 30 minutes outside of Washington DC. Here, he toured the summer learning program, where Senator Sanders heard directly from the YMCA staff, including Executive Director David Rodriguez, on the support kids and families received throughout the pandemic from his programs and others just like it across the Commonwealth.
Out-of-School Time programs are educational leaders in maximizing impact through community partnerships. This is exemplified by the partnership between Reston YMCA and Fairfax County, Neighborhood and Community Services, which operates one of their teen centers out of the YMCA. Senator Sanders was shown a robot made in their STEM program and spoke with the teens on their aspirations for the future. In walking from one area to another on the tour, Sanders noted some food in storage. It was explained that the Y is also a place where food was distributed to community members in need.
Senator Sanders passionately expressed that he will continue to fight for affordable childcare and afterschool options for working families. On behalf of the out-of-school time field in Virginia, VPOST Professional Development and Quality Coordinator, Christine Jones Monaccio, thanked Senator Sanders for his diligence in the landmark funding for afterschool and summer learning programs in the American Rescue Plan.
Blaire Denson and Barbara Couto Sipe column: When will we recognize how important afterschool programs are to Richmond families?
VPOST Executive Director, Blaire Denson, and VPOST Advisory Council member/NextUp President & CEO, Barbara Couto Sipe, highlight the dedication of out-of-school time staff since the beginning of the pandemic. The article in the Richmond-Times Dispatch also advocates for the tremendous opportunity through the American Rescue Plan to fund afterschool and summer enrichment programs.