Afterschool Alliance National Kick Off Features Thinkfinity Demonstration

Fourteen million children in the United States (26 percent), including 40,000 kindergarten children, are on their own when the school day ends. That's why the Afterschool Alliance, a national organization dedicated to advocating for more investment in afterschool programs, and the U.S. Department of Education kicked off the annual "Lights on Afterschool" rally on Oct. 6 in Washington, D.C. The rally is being celebrated in 7,500 communities by one-million Americans to call attention to the importance of afterschool programs.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and 80 afterschool students from the D.C. area, as well as other government, business and nonprofit organizations attended. The Verizon Foundation, one of the event sponsors, challenged the students to participate in an interactive, afterschool program provided by Thinkfinity.org, called PowerUp! (See below).

In addition to celebrating and advocating for afterschool programs and recognizing the importance they play in a child's life, the event provided a platform for the release of key findings from the study, America After 3PM, presented by key sponsors, JC Penney and the Afterschool Alliance. Jodi Grant, executive director of the Afterschool Alliance, reported findings gathered from 30,000 households with school-age children. The study showed that in the last six years, demand for afterschool programs has increased, yet only 15 percent of K-12 schoolchildren are currently enrolled. Thirty-eight percent of students who are not enrolled would be, if there was a program available.

The Verizon Foundation has a longstanding commitment to and belief in the importance of afterschool education. Our signature initiative, Thinkfinity.org, is designed for afterschool programs, as well as in-school activities.

"Studies show that quality afterschool programs can improve school attendance and engagement in learning, raise test scores and improve grades, keep kids safe, help with social skills and self-esteem and make life easier for working families," said Patrick Gaston, president of the Verizon Foundation. "We are a huge supporter of using technology to create innovative afterschool resources for teachers, tutors and caregivers."

Verizon Foundation Powers Up to Reach Kids After School

Verizon's Thinkfinity.org is the centerpiece of an innovative new afterschool program created with a $2.2 million Verizon Foundation grant in partnership with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the National Urban League (NUL).

The program's objective is to improve achievement and graduation rates among minority students by using culturally sensitive education resources, with an emphasis on literacy, math and science. It was introduced at CentroNia, an affiliate of NCLR in Washington, D.C., that provides education services in a bilingual and multicultural environment and is one of the pilot locations.

Children from CentroNia helped demonstrate the PowerUp! lesson, which challenges students to think critically about types of power supplies and consider their impact on the environment, their effectiveness, budget impact, etc.

Education experts from both organizations will work with content providers for Verizon's Thinkfinity.org to create special multimedia resources and test them in pilot programs at 12 locations. Following a review to determine which resources produce the best results, the program will be available online and through a Thinkfinity.org afterschool guidebook for the afterschool affiliates of both organizations. It will also be available free to the public on the Web site, www.thinkfinity.org.

"For today's students to reach their full potential, educators both inside and outside the classroom must find unique and compelling ways to reach them," said Janet Murguia, president and CEO of NCLR. "We're proud to partner with the Verizon Foundation and the National Urban League to create a dynamic, afterschool education initiative that focuses on real-world, relevant themes to reach youth."

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