National Afterschool Matters Initiative
Funder: Robert Bowne Foundation
The primary objective of this project is to manage the continuation of the well established Afterschool Matters Initiative, which includes several publications and a Research Grantee program, in addition to planning for the national expansion of a related action/research writing initiative.
There are four components of the National Afterschool Matters Initiative: (1) Practitioner Fellowship Program which provides an opportunity for line staff to develop their writing and research skills; (2) Afterschool Matters Journal and Occasional Paper Series publications to disseminate the findings and experiences of the Practitioner Fellows and Research Grantees and other researchers in the out-of-school time field; (3) Edmund A. Stanley, Jr. Research Grantee program to foster high quality cutting–edge research that has lasting impact on the field; and (4) Research Roundtables as a forum for connecting research and practice.
1. The Practitioner Fellowship Program
The Practitioner Fellowship program is a professional development, program quality improvement, and field building opportunity for practitioners working in the out-of-school time field. Its goals are to:
- Generate and disseminate research, effective practice, and strategies for program improvement for out-of-school time programs;
- Build a network of practitioner/scholars/educators/policymakers working in and studying out-of-school time programs;
- Contribute to basic knowledge and the improvement of practice and policy in the area of out-of-school time programs.
Essential Elements of the Practitioner Fellowship Program:
- Long-term commitment to professional development;
- Diverse foci identifying program/staffing/leadership/quality issues;
- Provide opportunity for practitioners to research identified issues;
- Engagement in community building and networking;
- Commitment to quality practice and dissemination of practitioner-research through writing and presentations at conferences;
- Opportunity for mid-career professionals to expand their reflecting, writing, and research skills in contributing to the out-of-school time field;
- Opportunity to research out-of-school time issues from practitioner-oriented perspective.
There will be a partnership with the National Writing Project on the Fellowship Program.
2. Afterschool Matters Publications
NIOST will continue producing a publication that disseminates the knowledge gained and experiences of those involved in the Practitioner Fellowships and Research Grant programs. Currently, the Afterschool Matters Journal is published once a year and the Occasional Paper Series is published up to two times each year. Target audiences for these publications include practitioners, university researchers, policy-makers, and other field stakeholders. Copies of the publications are distributed by mailings to individuals and bulk mailings to key organizations as well as being available on the Robert Bowne Foundation website. Currently both the publications are free.
Essential Elements of the Publications
- Reflect the experiences of Practitioner Fellows and Research Grantees;
- Focused on key issues in the out-of-school time field;
3. National Research Grants
NIOST will continue to assist with the Edmund A. Stanley, Jr. National Research Grant program. Currently, four grants of $10,000 are awarded to support research about community-based youth programs during out-of-school time hours. Recipients of the grants present on their work at a research roundtable. This research contributes to improvement in practice and policy in community-based youth programs.
Essential Elements of the National Research Grant Program:
- Original empirical research, research syntheses, or policy analysis focused on community-based youth programs;
- Build a network of scholars studying different out-of-school time venues;
- Contribute to basic knowledge and the improvement of practice and policy in the area of community-based youth programs.
4. Research and Practitioner Roundtables
NIOST’s vision for Afterschool Matters includes the continuation of the Research Roundtable as a vehicle for exchanging research findings and practice, and contributing to the professionalization of the out-of-school time field. NIOST expects that as they grow the Practitioner Fellowships to multiple cities, there will be a need for regional roundtables to take place.
The Research and Practitioner Roundtables are held annually (in multiple locations as required) to accomplish three specific goals:
- To provide a forum for researchers and fellows to formally present their work;
- To create a body of knowledge that serves as the basis for professionalizing the afterschool program and youth development fields;
- To create forums where practitioners and researchers can dialogue together and share effective practice and research findings.
Essential Elements of the Round Tables
- Presenters include National Research Grantees and Practitioner Fellows;
- Knowledge from field experience is honored and considered equally with that of academic researchers;
- Inquiry and dialogue is a foundation strategy for communication and sharing.
The Research Roundtables will offer opportunities for practitioners, researchers, teachers, community organization leaders, and policy makers to discuss the implications of research for their prospective work; and to work collaboratively to set policy and practice into effect across the field in response to the research findings. Through the Roundtables, we expect to initiate professional networking among practitioners and leaders in the out-of-school time field.
News! Bowne Foundation awards $2.1M for Afterschool Matters!