Sparkupdate: April 17, 2012

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April 17, 2012 |  Win a Chance to Transform Your Community - and an iPad to Boot!     

We're full of ideas this week -- what the latest evaluation research tells us about quality after-school programs, ways to strengthen families and protect young offenders, and building pathways for young people seeking their first summer job.

But the best new ideas could come from you! Check out our SparkOpportunity Challenge -- a chance to enter your solution for increasing opportunities for young people. Winners will get an iPad, a cash prize, and mentoring from a business, community or government leader. Members of my local Boys and Girls Club came up with a great entry - see if you can guess which one it is!

DC-watchers, like Lindsay Torrico of the United Way Worldwide, say there are opportunities for state and local advocates coming out of decisions in Washington. And juvenile justice experts say we may be reaching a tipping point in juvenile justice reform.

It's all here in this Update.




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| Quote of the Week  

"So what did you learn at school? You learned to stop questioning the world, to go with the flow, and that there's only one right answer to each question."
          - 14-year-old Line Dalile in her Huffington Post column on how schools are killing student creativity.
In This Issue
Washington, DC
Strengthening Families
Juvenile Justice Policies - Thinking Positive
Summertime, and the living ain't easy
What Really Works - Quality After School
Contest Opportunities

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| Washington, DC    

From Head Start to Career Pathways, some decisions in Washington may offer new opportunities that state and local advocates can take advantage of for improving local programs.The United Way explains.

A Smart Student Debt Bill
Policymic takes a look at Senator Dick Durbin's new proposal to eliminate special treatment of private student loans and restore the bankruptcy option that existed before 2005.

New USDA Standards Due for School Foods
A new poll finds American voters favor national standards that would add more veggies and limit calories, fat, and sodium in school snack and à la carte foods. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expected to propose new standards in the next few months. 

| Strengthening Families

VIDEO: Starting Life Without a Home

ZERO TO THREE's short video calls attention to the negative effects of family homelessness upon the developmental needs of young children and presents examples of successful intervention programs.

Become an effective advocate on improving housing options for low-income families, with the help of the 2012 Advocates' Guide to Housing and Community Development Policy from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The Problem with Family Poverty: Missing Rings or Missing Rungs?
Jodi Levin-Epstein argues that lower marriage rates are a reflection, not a cause, of poverty and financial instability. It's not missing rings, but missing rungs at the bottom of the ladder to financial success that keeps families at risk.

With the Stroke of a Pen: Twenty Low-Cost Federal Policies to Increase Financial Security and Opportunity in Tough Fiscal Times
The Corporation for Enterprise Development says low and middle-income families can build assets for financial security, with help from some policy changes that are readily doable, despite tight budget restrictions and tense partisan relations in Congress.  
| Juvenile Justice Policies - Thinking Positive

Art Works!
First let's hear it for prevention! A new National Endowment for the Arts report finds that at-risk students with access to the arts in or out of school tend to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement.

Reforming Juvenile Justice
Reclaiming Futures blogs on judges talking about how the Reclaiming Futures model works in their court, on Shay Bilchik's reflections on what he's learned about improving policy and practice for young offenders, and what legal scholars say about three recent Supreme Court decisions that indicate a new standard for treating children as different from adults in the justice system.

PASS Awards Honor Keith Hefner
The National Council on Crime Delinquency PASS Awards (Prevention for a Safer Society) honor those who bring America's attention to our criminal justice, juvenile justice, child welfare, and adult protection systems in a thoughtful and considerate manner. Among this year's winners is a good SparkAction friend - Keith Hefner!

Federal Dollar Decisions--Act Now!
The Campaign for Youth Justice says decisions on federal funding for juvenile justice programs is moving this week - your voice is needed.  



| Summertime, and the Living Ain't Easy

College Grads Face Tough Times
Soon-to-be college graduates, some carrying more than $25,000 in debt, are stressed out about job prospects in this economy. Meghan Farnsworth takes a look at this season's graduating seniors for The Hechinger Report.

Student "Debt Bomb" Alert: Support the "Know Before You Owe "Act
Most students don't know the differences between private and public student loans - a lack of knowledge that can have serious financial consequences. That's why U.S. PIRG is urging support for this legislation.

This U.S. Education Department database can help you calculate the net costs for college or other training programs. The White House is also encouraging feedback for a soon-to-be-added "College Scorecard."

A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education
The Lumina Foundation says the U.S. needs to educate nearly 800,000 more college graduates each year from now until 2025 to meet the growing needs of the workforce. Check out your state.

Summer Jobs = First Rungs on the Career Ladder:

Last Summer's Teen Jobs Crisis: Lessons from the Ground
A young man with a minor drug offense can't get his life back on track unless he can find a job, but employers are wary and public dollars for summer job opportunities are declining. Some communities, like Seattle, have built strong public/private partnerships to meet this challenge, but Matt Poland, last summer's director of a San Francisco non-profit dedicated to investing in youth education, training, and employment, argues that more communities need to change the odds for low-skilled or at-risk youth.

Summer Jobs Plus Online Bank
Businesses and nonprofits are encouraged to help populate the new Department of Labor Summer Jobs Plus database. Young people can share their summer job stories and sign up now to be notified when the database goes live.

Looking for Service Opportunities?
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America.

SparkOpportunity Challenge
If you have an idea for strengthening the job market for young people in your community, especially those whose police records, lack of skills or disadvantages pose a steep challenge, let us know about it! The SparkOpportunity Challenge is your chance to tell about your idea, and learn about what others are thinking.

Summer School Online
If your school district has had to cut back on summer school offerings, you might find ways to expand summer opportunities for students online. We recently heard from the Virtual High School Global Consortium about their K-12 online courses for this summer.

The Employment and Training Administration has added an adaptable new slideshow you can use to "make the case" for career pathways.
| What Really Works - Quality After School

A Home Run for Quality Improvement
Karen Pittman says the recent YPQI evaluation gives us the answers we've been waiting for - that the continuous improvement approach works well, works everywhere, works with different quality programs, works over time and works with modest staffing plans and budgets.

Afterschool Programs That Follow Evidence-Based Practices to Promote Social & Emotional Development Are Effective
In their research, Durlak and Weisberg have identified four evidence-based practices - dubbed SAFE - that are predictive of academic and social success for students: sequenced step-by-step staff training (S), active forms of learning (A), focusing specific time and attention on skill development (F), and making explicit the skills that are being promoted (E).
| Contest Opportunities

SparkOpportunity Challenge
Deadline: May 25

Afterschool Poster Contest
Deadline: May 1

Civic Data Challenge
Deadline: July 29
The Civic Data Challenge turns the raw data of "civic health" into beautiful, useful applications and visualizations, enabling communities to be better understood and made to thrive.
| Upcoming Webinars
April 18: Share Save Spend: Your Money Traits and How They Are Impacting Your Kids

April 18: How Cities Can Use Federal Meals Programs to Reduce Child Hunger & Obesity
National League of Cities

April 19: Leveraging the Time Beyond School to Accelerate Student Achievement
The Coalition for a College- and Career-Ready America

April 23: Digital Learning: Student Voices Heard
Alliance for Excellent Education

April 24: Connecting the Dots: Data Sharing in States & Communities to Better Connect Youth Services
Forum for Youth Investment

April 25: Building a Grad Nation
America's Promise

Caitlin Johnson and Thaddeus Ferber
SparkAction and the Forum for Youth Investment


April 17, 2012

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Improving housing should also be done not only on type of housing they build but also the idea of reselling home improvement products including furniture and construction materials.

Luke at

March 7 at 12:18am

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June 3 at 02:48am


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