Category Archives: Education

Bringing TEDx to an Afterschool Program

 

tedxRandy Wallock, a 7th grade Language Arts teacher, stumbled upon TEDx when trying to replace his school’s previous afterschool enrichment program. Inspired by TEDx and with an idea to enhance the afterschool program, Wallock applied for and received a license in the fall of 2012 to include a TEDx program in the afterschool program.

Wallock recruited teachers from various disciplines, such as special education, forensics, and technology to help coach the students. Once a week for two or more hours, the TEDx group met to discuss projects and brainstorm more ideas. At the end of the school year each student got up and delivered a 10-minute presentation, without the use of notes, in front of a 100 peers. Wallock and fellow teachers were careful not to coach the students’ public speaking styles and encouraged the students to talk about their interests.

One participant, Curran Stockton, is now a high school freshman who had participated in the program for two years while in middle school. When asked about the program, Stockton said that the program introduced students to different friend groups while encouraging creative ideas. Despite the fact that all the students were different, Stockton said that, “everyone blended so well.” Stockton was not the only student who had a positive experience with the program. Alexis Greenblatt took part in TEDx as an eighth grader and said that “You really got to know other people through collaborative work.”

Check out Curran Stockton’s and Alexis Greenblatt’s TEDx talks.

Wallock is now in his third year overseeing the afterschool TEDx club. As in the first year, students receive no grades or special commendations for their work. The students participate purely for interest and self-gain. Wallock believes that students who participate in the program are able to cultivate their curiosities and develop cultural identities.

Since 2009, more than 10,000 TEDx events have occurred around the world. The TEDx program allows for community organizations, towns and schools to host their own TED talk. TEDx talks features community experts, authorities and teenagers to speak, versus featuring national figures.

Transform Consulting Group applauds Wallock and the middle school on enhancing students’ learning through integrating TEDx with their afterschool program. Contact Transform Consulting Group today if your organization is looking for innovative ways to enhance your students’ learning.

 

 

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New Preschool in America Report Released

 

The U.S. Department of Education released a new report, A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America, which highlights the current state of early childhood education programs in America and the parity gaps for specific populations. Some of the key highlights in the report include the following:

  • MapSix out of every ten children are not enrolled in a publicly funded preschool programs.
  • Despite the fact that Latinos are the fastest growing minority group in the United States, having nearly a quarter of 3-4-year olds, they have the lowest preschool participation rate of 40%.
  • In comparison, 50% of African American children are participating in preschool programs, and 53% of white children.
  • Socioeconomically, children from low-income families are participating in preschool programs at a rate of 41%, compared to 61% to their well-off counterparts.
  • African American children and children from low-income families are the most likely to attend low-quality preschool programs and the least likely to attend high-quality preschool programs.
  • 40 states and the District of Columbia offer state preschool programs for approximately 1.1 million 4-year-olds. However, enrollment in individual state programs varies significantly

 

Other information highlighted in the report includes tables and charts that summarize data by State. The report also highlights state and federal efforts underway, including the reauthorization of ESEA and new grant opportunities, to address the equity gaps and unmet needs for families.

Transform Consulting Group works to stay current with the latest research and information that informs the work with our clients. Contact us today for a free consultation on gathering the latest research in your industry to build your organization’s capacity.


 

 

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Preschool for All

 

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The expansion of preschool has been a hot topic over the past year as debates on quality education heat up and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is being reauthorized. Arne Duncan, United States Secretary of Education, announced on the 50th anniversary of ESEA that there should be new laws to ensure strong opportunities for all students including children ages 0-5. 

The latest version of the ESEA was the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Secretary Duncan’s vision for the new ESEA includes aligning preschool to K-12 and advocating for strong preschool programs across the nation, know as the “Preschool for All” plan.

“By the end of this decade, let’s enroll 6 million children in high-quality preschool. That is an achievable goal that we know will make our workforce stronger.”

–President Barack Obama

The proposed ESEA would provide states with the opportunity to opt-in to a federal-state partnership administered by the U.S. Department of Education. This partnership would increase the capacity of existing state systems to provide high-quality, publicly-funded preschool.

Funding set aside for the Preschool for All program is approximately $75 billion over a ten-year period. The proposed ESEA would ensure that underserved populations are served and that educators have the resources needed to provide high-quality infant/toddler care and preschool for all children in America.

On February 2nd, President Obama released the federal budget request, which included funding for the revised ESEA. To show the government’s strong support for preschool, the proposal includes $1 billion in additional funding for Head Start programs and $750 million for the Department of Education’s Preschool Development grants. The $1 billion also includes the development of toddler care through the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grants. For more information on the 2016 federal budget, click here.

Transform Consulting Group works with organizations and leaders to provide high quality, affordable, and accessible early learning programs. Contact us today and learn how your organization can expand early learning opportunities for families in your community.

 

 

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English Learner Guidance

U.S._Ed_LogoThe U.S. Departments of Education (DOE) and Justice (DOJ) recently released guidance documents reaffirming the obligation under federal law that public schools must ensure English learner students have equal access to high-quality education.

This comes on the 40th anniversary of the landmark case Lau v. Nichols that gave rise to the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) which prohibits discrimination in schools so all students have the opportunity to succeed. The goal is for all students, regardless of their language background or English proficiency, to have the opportunity to reach their full academic potential.

Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the EEOA, public schools must ensure that English learner students can participate equally in educational programs. According to the DOE, almost 5 million students in the United States are English learners which is about 9 percent of all public school students. In parts of the country such as Denver, Colorado, more than 40 percent of the students in public schools are English language learners. This legislation is tremendously important for a large number of children in their pursuit of their education.

The guidance documents released delineates schools obligations to provide equal opportunities. Here are just a few examples of what is required of schools:

  • Identify English learner students in a timely, valid and reliable manner
  • Offer all English learner students an educationally sound language assistance program
  • Provide qualified staff and sufficient resources for instructing English learner students
  • Avoid unnecessary segregation of English learner students from other students
  • Schools must communicate information to limited English proficient parents in a language they can understand about any program, service, or activity that English proficient parents would have access to.
  • Schools must respond to a parent’s request for language assistance.
  • Schools must provide translation or interpretation from appropriate and competent individuals and may not rely on or ask students, siblings, friends, or untrained school staff to translate or interpret for parents.

In addition to the school’s obligation to the English learner, schools are required to provide equal opportunity to the English learners’ parents.

To see more information regarding schools’ obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students can participate meaningfully and equally in school, click here. Or to see more information regarding schools’ obligations under federal law to communicate information to limited English proficient parents, click here.

The mission of the DOE Office of Civil Rights is to “ensure equal access to education and promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights.” Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division at DOJ said “The diversity of this nation is one of its greatest attributes. Ensuring English learner students are supported in their education supports all of us.”

Transform Consulting Group applauds the release of these guidance documents reaffirming equal access to high-quality education for English learners. Transform Consulting Group works with programs across Indiana dedicated to helping children of all socioeconomic backgrounds access a high quality education, including On My Way Pre-K, the state’s pilot preschool program. Contact us today to learn more, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

 

 

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National Head Start Association

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From cross-country photo exhibits, to Nike Go Smart on the U.S. Capitol lawn, to the Annual Parent Conference in New Orleans, the National Head Start Association (NHSA) had a busy year in 2014. To kick off 2015, NHSA members took part in the Winter Leadership Institute conference in late January to discuss important policies and issues facing the Early Learning community.

Head Start and Early Head Start programs focus on early childhood development and education, and are administered by the Office of Head Start (OHS), within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Head Start supports school readiness for young children from low-income families through local early childhood education agencies. Programs provide support for the mental, social, and emotional development of children as well as health, nutrition, and social services for children and their families.

Beginning on March 29, through April 2, 2015, Washington D.C. will host NHSA’s 42nd Annual Head Start Conference and Expo. It is estimated that more than 5,000 executive directors, directors, administrators, managers, teachers, policy council members, and parents from every state will attend this event. Click here to register. There will be more than 200 educational sessions providing professional development in the following areas:

  • Classroom Management and Teaching Strategies
  • Assessments, Planning, and Management
  • Early Education/Care and Child Development
  • Health, Nutrition, and Safety
  • Parent/Community/Family Engagement
  • Self-Development and Awareness Building
  • Social Emotional Development and Challenging Behavior

Since 1965, more than 31 million children have benefitted from Head Start’s comprehensive services. These children have become business women and men, professors, teachers, lawyers, mayors, members of Congress, athletes, foundation presidents, Grammy-winning musicians, poets, and parents.1

Transform Consulting Group is dedicated to keeping clients current with the latest research, trends, news and events such as the NHSA’s Annual Head Start Conference and Expo. Contact us today to learn more about what we do, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

1 http://www.nhsa.org/50_years_of_opportunity

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Summer Learning Program Enrollment to Increase in 2015?

 

After School AllianceA recent Wallace Foundation report reveals higher numbers of parents enrolling children in summer learning programs.  The data collected indicates that more parents are interested in high quality summer learning programs for their children.  Afterschool Alliance compiled a similar report called America After 3PM highlighting an increase in participation rates and demand for high quality summer learning programs.

Results from the 2014 America After 3PM survey found that, 33% of families had at least one child participate in a summer learning program in the summer of 2013; a 25% increase from the summer of 2009. The survey also indicates the demand for summer learning programs is high. Fifty-one percent of those families surveyed say they would like for their children to participate in a summer learning program next summer.

These reports suggest an increased awareness of summer learning loss.  Summer learning loss is a phenomenon where primarily low-income students lose academic skills and knowledge over the course of the summer when not in school due to a lack of enrichment and engagement activities during the summer.  By some estimates, summer loss is equal to about 1 month of learning.1

Unfortunately, cost is a concern for many families.  Only 13% reported that summer learning programs were offered at no cost.  In 2013, the average weekly cost was $250, which puts summer programs out of reach for many children, especially those of low-income families.  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers 10% of a family’s income to be the benchmark for affordable child care.  The average weekly price of $250 is often unattainable for low-income families.

Since 2009, there has been a 3% increase in parents who support public funding for summer learning programs. Eighty-six percent of parents surveyed indicated that they support public funding, with fewer than 1 in 10 parents in opposition.

Transform Consulting Group helps organizations collect and utilize data to better serve their communities.  Through data analysis, Transform Consulting Group can identify trends that impact communities and recommend best practices to create positive change.  Contact us today to learn more!

1Cooper, H., Nye, B., Charlton, K., Lindsay, J., & Greathouse, S. 1996. “The effects of summer vacation on achievement test scores: A narrative and metaanalytic review.” Review of Educational Research, 66, 227–268.

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Federal Program Spotlight: Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program

 

This post is part of Transform Consulting Group’s blog series highlighting federal programs that provide education opportunities and/or youth development services in communities.

FMNP Logo-web.ashxThe Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is associated with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, colloquially known as WIC. WIC provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education at no cost to low-income pregnant and post-partum women, and to infants and children up to 5 years of age, who are found to be at nutritional risk. The program is managed by USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

Congress established FMNP in 1992 to expand awareness and the use of farmers’ markets by providing fresh, unprepared, locally grown fruits and vegetables to WIC participants. In Indiana, the FMNP is managed by the State Department of Health. Each state that participates in FMNP must submit an annual plan describing how the responsible agency intends to implement, operate, and administer all aspects of its FMNP.

FMNP services also include a nutritional education component. Through local WIC agencies, program participants are encouraged to improve and expand diets by adding fresh fruits and vegetables. Among many other aspects of good nutrition, participants are taught how to properly select, store, and prepare any fruits and vegetables purchased.

The WIC target population are low-income, nutritionally at risk:

  • Pregnant women (through pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after birth or after pregnancy ends)
  • Breastfeeding women (up to infant’s 1st birthday)
  • Non-breastfeeding postpartum women (up to 6 months after the birth of an infant or after pregnancy ends)
  • Infants (up to 1st birthday). WIC serves 53 percent of all infants born in the United States
  • Children up to their 5th birthday

In fiscal year 2013, $16.548 million was appropriated by Congress and 1.5 million WIC participants received FMNP benefits1.  During the same year, 17,713 farmers, 3,322 farmers’ markets, and 2,758 roadside stands were authorized to accept FMNP coupons. Over $13.2 million in revenue to farmers was generated. Click here to find more information about the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program participating state agencies.

The US Federal Government provides billions of dollars in grants every year. Take advantage of the opportunity to use federal dollars to support your cause. Transform Consulting Group has many years experience submitting successful federal grant applications. Contact us today for a free consultation!


 

 

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Annual Hoosier Survey

 

gI_60822_Bowen Center logoEach year, the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University and WISH-TV Channel 8 partner to create a “snapshot” of current public opinion about issues in Indiana. The non-partisan survey is designed to take the pulse of the state with regard to the most pressing issues facing Hoosiers.

At the beginning of every calendar year, survey results are delivered to the Indiana General Assembly so that lawmakers can gauge public views about issues they are likely to face in the coming session. The Annual Hoosier Survey has attracted national attention and received coverage in national media outlets as well as professional conferences.

In 2014, the survey found that job creation was of top priority to Hoosiers, followed by education, reducing crime, and protecting the environment. While views on budget surplus, alcohol sales on Sunday, and same-sex marriage remain split, the support for better education was staggering.

Of all Hoosiers surveyed, 75% indicated satisfaction with public schools, a ten-percent increase from 2013. A 2/3 majority of survey respondents want to see state education spending increase by 3% to cover the costs of textbooks for all students. Eighty-two percent (82%) of Hoosiers favor expanding fully funded pre-K programs for four-year-old children across the state. Currently, state-funded pre-K is only available for students in Allen, Lake, Marion, and Vanderburgh counties, with the addition of Jackson County in Fall 2015.

Transform Consulting Group has helped many organizations increase educational opportunities for students in communities across Indiana. Transform Consulting Group keeps current with best practices in education reform and facilitates agency cross-collaboration when available to build the capacity to serve more Hoosier kids. Contact us today to learn more!


 

 

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Federal Programs: Peace Corps

 

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This post is part of Transform Consulting Group’s blog series highlighting federal programs that provide education opportunities and/or youth development services in communities.

 

The Peace Corps, an independent agency within the executive branch of the U.S. Government, is a volunteer program that sends U.S. Americans to help people in countries of the developing world. In 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy gave an impromptu presidential campaign speech at the University of Michigan challenging students to devote two years of their lives to help people in countries of the developing world. After becoming President, Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961. Between 1961 and 2013, over 215,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps and served in 139 countries.

The Peace Corps budget was $379,000,000 for the fiscal year of 2014. Currently, there are just over 7,200 volunteers and trainees serving in 65 countries. Of those 7,200 volunteers, 63% are female and 37% are male. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. The average age is 28.7 while just 8% of volunteers are over the age of 50. Only 7% of volunteers are married. Minorities make up just 24% of the 7,200 volunteers currently serving in the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps’ mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals: (1) To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for educated men and women; (2) To help promote a better understanding of U.S. Americans among the peoples served; and (3) To help promote a better understanding of other peoples among U.S. Americans. Volunteers can serve in one of the following areas:

  • Education
  • Health
  • Environment
  • Community Economic Development
  • Youth in Development

Peace Corps assignments are 27 months in length. A volunteer will spend 3 months in training and 24 months on assignment. A volunteer may serve in Africa, North America, South America, Europe, or Asia. The volunteer is not paid a salary but instead receives a stipend to cover necessities such as food, housing, and local transportation. Ninety percent of volunteers have a bachelor’s degree, however, a volunteer may qualify if he or she has significant experience in agriculture, carpentry, construction, or woodworking. Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities in the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps is committed to improving quality of life for people across the globe. Transform Consulting Group is also committed to improving people’s lives by helping organizations better serve their communities. Contact us today to learn more!

 

 

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USDA Farm to School Program: New Resources and January Webinar Kick-Off

 

This post is part of Transform Consulting Group’s blog series highlighting federal programs that provide education opportunities and/or youth development services in communities.

Farm to School

In an effort to bring more local and regional foods into school cafeterias, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) division of Food and Nutrition Services has developed a Farm to School Program. The program incorporates nutrition-based curriculum and provides hands-on learning in activities such as gardening, visiting farms, participating in culinary classes, and working with food-related education in the classroom.

Students have access to more locally grown foods while farmers have the opportunity to educate kids about local foods and agriculture. Since the Farm to School Program encourages schools to buy local, communities benefit from the sales, and schools are provided with fresh food grown nearby.

January Kicks off the USDA Farm to School Webinar Series. This 11-part webinar series will help build farm to school skills and develop new strategies for bringing local foods into the lunchroom. Featured topics will include team building, menu planning, program sustainability, and more! For the full listing of webinars, please visit the website: http://www.fns.usda.gov/farmtoschool/videos-and-webinars.

To find out more about farm to school activities, the USDA distributed a Farm to School Census to 13,133 public schools across the nation. In Indiana, approximately 655 schools with an estimated 402,732 children are participating in farm to school activities. During the 2011-2012 school year, Indiana schools spent an estimated $52,444,060 on school food with $7,224,159 directed locally, meaning $7,224,159 stayed in the local economy!

School districts across the nation spent an estimated $3,006,167,550 on school food in the same year. Of that, $385,771,134 went back to local communities. Click here for more info about the Farm to School Census data. For updates, follow Farm to School on Twitter at #USDAF2S or on Facebook at #farmtoschool.

  • To dive deeper into the data provided by the Farm to School Census, the Farm to School Census Explorer Tool can be used to sort data by school, product, sources for local food, grade level engaged, and more, at both the school district and state level.
  • The Farm to School Planning Toolkit is another resource to help answer questions and provide guidance for schools interested in starting or enhancing a Farm to School Program.

Transform Consulting Group has expertise collecting community data and analyzing it to identify trends, strengthen organizational outcomes, and suggest program improvements. Contact us today for a free consultation!

 

 

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