What is an Statewide Afterschool Network?
An afterschool network is a tool for working toward quality youth development opportunities that ensure all students are successfully educated and prepared for life’s opportunities. The afterschool network for Wyoming includes all organization and and decision-makers that work within or have an interest in youth development. A statewide afterschool network is a critical tool for providing guidance to develop high-quality services in all out-of-school time environments from early childhood through high school and beyond.
The Wyoming Afterschool Alliance (WYAA) was created to support and promote quality school-based and school-linked afterschool programs focused upon improving positive youth outcomes for youth and families throughout the state.
Because the majority of Wyoming communities are remote, they have developed varying degrees of support for youth and families. Until the creation of WYAA in October 2007, there was no one entity in place to connect service providers. WYAA is the linchpin for all Wyoming communities to ensure that necessary resources, support and guidance for school-based and school-linked out-of-school time programs are readily available and functioning with the highest level of qualified staff. WYAA is the critical link to the success of out-of-school time in Wyoming.
Wyoming is one of 41 states that is part of the larger National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks funded through the C.S. Mott Foundation. States participate in two national network conferences yearly that provide technical assistance and professional development in building statewide afterschool networks provided by the Afterschool Technical Assistance Collaborative (ATAC) comprised of partner organizations such as: 1) National Afterschool Association; 2) Council of Chief State School Officers; 3) The Finance Project; 4) National Conference of State Legislatures; 5) National Governors Association Center for Best Practices; and 6) National League of Cities, Institute for Youth, Education, and Families. Partners and supporting organizations include: 1) College of Charleston Foundation; 2) Learning Point Associates; and 3) Collaborative Communications Group.
WYAA Work and Value to the State
Since the implementation of WYAA in October 2007, many of its initial objective have been met particularly in the area of education and outreach. WYAA continues its efforts through a carefully structures strategic plan to connect with communities and organizations, by providing critical information, technical assistance and training opportunities to a cross-section of key stakeholders and a wide variety of local and state organizations. In addition, WYAA provided customized technical assistance to communities in need by offering valuable information and strategies that help in implementing high-quality programs. The benefits of this effort have resulted in: 1) expanded and additional partnerships including the Wyoming Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals; 2) school-based and school-linked hands-on technical assistance; 3) an information hub and resource clearinghouse; and 4) invitations to participate in statewide efforts in early childhood and youth development.
WYAA holds an Annual Partnership meeting in conjunction with its Annual Conference each October for partners, supporters and other stakeholders to provide important informational updates on local, state and national issues pertaining to the field. Participants include state agencies, private foundations, industry, schools, community organizations, and program providers from around the state. This year, the 2nd Annual State Conference on Afterschool Programs hosted distinguished keynote speakers from around the country, including the National Summer Learning Association, National AfterSchool Association, Kids Included Together/National Training Center on Inclusion and the foremost expert and curriculum development for the afterschool workforce. Moreover, WYAA partnered with the Wyoming Department of Education-21st Century Community Learning Centers Programs and ServeWyoming in order to offer a wide range of learning opportunities that will increase program and staff quality.
Some of WYAA achievements and continuing efforts include:
Core Work and Expansion
Even before October 2007, when WYAA officially joined the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation National Statewide Afterschool Network, WYAA was dedicated to the vision that all children and youth in Wyoming have access to high-quality afterschool programs. As a means to that end, WYAA supports and promotes high-quality school-linked and school-based afterschool programs to improve positive outcomes for youth and their families by working with key stakeholders and partners to: 1) create professional development opportunities for program providers; 2) facilitate and encourage important education linkages between education leaders and afterschool program providers; 3) expand opportunities for critical communication across and between educators, afterschool advocates, program providers and policymakers; and 4) secure the necessary financial resources to institutionalize and embed afterschool programs throughout the state.
As an expansion of the core work of WYAA, the next three years (2010-2013) includes supporting and promoting school-community partnerships, research and policy development and advancing the principles of program quality; WYAA will convene state-level summits and workshops with experts to offer innovative strategies to leverage existing federal and state funding streams to effectively expand and support student learning. In addition, WYAA will also address statewide policy development through a variety of strategies including: 1) education and outreach to legislators; 2) advocacy training for program practitioners and 3) an aggressive communications approach that accelerates and improves media outreach. Furthermore, WYAA will work toward consistent implementation of high-quality programming through encouraging statewide program use of research-based assessment tools and frameworks.
WYAA will focus its efforts on two significant areas that have been identified through education and outreach during the first three years of operation. This undertaking is intended to merge the results into one comprehensive plan for high quality professional development to program providers focused on student outcomes that include academic student achievement and positive youth behaviors. This in turn will benefit economic and workforce development throughout the state by: 1) helping to create a more educated and skilled workforce; and 2) reducing drop-out rates and at-risk behaviors which impact the economy throughout the state.
Video – WYAA In Action