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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Facebook to offer new options to help those feeling suicidal

You may be able to save someone considering suicide -- with the help of new features soon to be available through Facebook.

In a post published Wednesday, the social network said it has expanded the support available to potentially suicidal people.

Aware that its network includes a community of more than 1 billion active users, Facebook has already taken steps to try to help people thinking of suicide. In 2011, the company launched a service that allowed users to chat live with a suicide prevention specialist. Another feature introduced at the time lets you click the "report" link if something concerns you.

"Currently, if you flag a post or account from someone whom you believe may be suicidal, Facebook will take over the process from there," Facebook said. In addition, Facebook has said that if someone sees a "direct threat of suicide" that the person should contact "local emergency services immediately."

Now, the social network is expanding the resources available on both sides.

For those considering suicide, "we now also give them the option of reaching out to a friend, and provide tips and advice on how they can work through these feelings," according to Facebook.

In addition, the person reporting the concern will be offered more assistance. "We're also providing new resources and support to the person who flagged the troubling post, including options for them to call or message their distressed friend letting them know they care, or reaching out to another friend or a trained professional at a suicide hotline for support," Facebook noted.

Facebook has also added videos and other information available to people who may be having suicidal thoughts to serve as additional help.

In introducing and expanding its suicide prevention features, Facebook has worked with several mental health organizations, including Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and The company said it has also spoken with people who have attempted to harm themselves or have other personal experience with suicide.

The new features will roll out to all Facebook users in the US over the next couple of months. Facebook said it's also trying to improve its suicide prevention tools for people who live outside the US.

Click here to read from this article's source.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cool Code Moves: Shall We Dance?

Written by Mary Lord

Many girls like to dance. Code? Not so much.

Women fill only 27 percent of computer science jobs and earn only 20 percent of computing degrees.

More might be encouraged to study computer science and engineering if Shaundra Daily’s choreography software catches on. The Clemson University assistant professor of computing and her colleague Alison Leonard, an assistant professor of education, used motion-capture technology to create a system that lets fifth and sixth grade girls program a virtual 3-D dancer’s movements based on movements they themselves make. The girls then have to develop new computing strategies to improve their choreography.

“Executing one bit of code or movement one after the other exists in both programming and choreography. Likewise, loops or repeating a set of steps,” Leonard notes.

Click here to read from this article's source.

Friday, February 13, 2015

CryptoClub Project is offering a 3-day summer training workshop

The CryptoClub Project of the University of Illinois at Chicago is offering a 3-day summer training workshop for middle-grade teachers and afterschool leaders on June 25-27, 2015.

Cryptography, the science of secret messages, is an intriguing STEM topic and an important application of mathematics.

CryptoClub is a 16-20 hour afterschool curriculum designed to teach cryptography and mathematics to students in grades 6-8. It uses games, treasure hunts, and other informal activities to engage students in learning cryptography and applying middle-school mathematics. The CryptoClub curriculum has been developed and tested with support from the National Science Foundation.

Additional information and an application may be found on our website at:

Registration priority is given to applicants who have their administrator's approval to conduct a CryptoClub program in 2015-2016.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bronx Kids Who Beat 350 Teams In Country To Create Math App Will Be Featured in Black History Month Verizon Ad

Written by Ed GarcĂ­a Conde

The Bronx really does it best.

Six 13 year old students from The Bronx who attend the Bronx Academy of Promise edged out 350 other teams across the country for a chance to create a math app in a contest sponsored by Verizon. Now these industrious Bronx children have an increased thirst for the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering and mathematics) where people of color make up less than 10% of the workforce in this industry and they will also be featured in a Verizon ad that will run all month long for Black History Month.

NBC New York said:

During a month in which schools around the country will open their textbooks to explore the lives of the first black inventors, scientists, or astronauts, there are six black and brown students who are turning the page, making a bit of history of their own.

These kids from the Bronx beat out more than 350 other teams across the country to create their own math app for Google Play. The competition, backed by Verizon, encouraged students to learn computer code and develop applications for mobile devices.

Their competition came from wealthier schools and whiter districts, but it was the work of 13-year-olds Rokiatou “Rokia” Sissoko, Michael Bonnah, Samuel Owusu, Sherly Quezada, Jhony Flores and King Lewis that prevailed above all.

“I was overwhelmed because I doubted that we would win. It was a long run,” Rokia said. “And when I found out that we won, I was happy because all of the work that we did – staying after school, coming to school early.”

For their efforts, the students were awarded Samsung Galaxy Tablets and the Bronx Academy of Promise won $20,000 dollars. The students also star in a Verizon campaign that will run all month, in which they make a good point, “We can’t sit back and watch history, we have to create it.”

Rokia, Michael, Samuel, Sherly, Jhony and King were all mostly 11, attending Bronx Academy of Promise Charter School in New York City, when they started their journey of learning code and creating their app, QuestMath for the competition back in 2012.

The six of them were part of a Greek Mythology club at the school that they helped create. Selected by a teacher to participate in the app-making competition, the sextuplet combined their fascination of the stories of Zeus and Perseus with their love for math, engineering an app meant to help both children and adults brush up on their computation skills.

We couldn’t be prouder of our own kids!

Watch the videos and ad from Verizon:

Click here to read from this article's source.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The president' s FY2016 budget: An afterschool and summer learning perspective

Written by Erik Peterson

On February 2, President Obama released his budget request for the upcoming 2016 fiscal year, which begins this October. The president requested $1.152 billion for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) —reflecting the same funding level as the current 2015 fiscal year. Unlike his previous budget requests, the president’s proposal appears to keep 21st CCLC as a formula grant that flows to state education agencies, with states holding a competitive grant process at the state level. The proposal from previous years to turn 21st CCLC into a national competitive grant competition is not included in the proposal this year. However, as in past years, the budget proposal does propose using 21st CCLC grant funding for new purposes including adding time to the traditional school day or year, and for teacher planning and professional development. The budget proposal comes as ESEA reauthorization efforts in the Senate HELP Committee seek to eliminate 21st CCLC.

In a challenging budget environment in which many programs face consolidation or elimination, the proposed level funding for 21st CCLC in the budget request demonstrates the importance and value of afterschool and summer learning programs. Yet, we know that even with this strong support, more than 11 million students remain unsupervised after school and the parents of almost 20 million students would like their children to be in programs but they are unavailable, unaffordable or both.

The Afterschool Alliance supports 21st CCLC funds being directed to high-quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs that focus on hands-on, engaged learning that complements and enhances but does not replicate the traditional school day. While not mentioned in the president’s Budget book, the Afterschool Alliance feels strongly that 21st CCLC funding should continue to support the partnerships between schools and community- and faith-based organizations that help children improve academically, socially and behaviorally while parents are at work.

For more information on expanded learning, see our Expanded Learning resource page.
Additional Education Department funding that supports afterschool and summer learning includes $15.4 billion for Title I grants—an increase of $1 billion— and includes $150 million for Promise Neighborhoods, to provide additional awards to local partnerships that meet the cradle-to-career, educational, health, and social services needs of children and families in high-poverty communities. The Department of Education’s Budget Summary is online.

Other budget news of note for the afterschool community:
The budget includes a new Equity and Outcomes pilot for up to ten participating Title I schools and districts. Applicants would demonstrate a commitment to equitably distributing local, state, and federal funding—and, in turn, would have more flexibility when using Title I and other federal funds to support school districts’ comprehensive plans to improve student achievement.

National Service
The budget requests $1.18 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The funding level would support a record-high 90,150 AmeriCorps members, including summer positions for disconnected youth, new positions for retired Americans, and additional public-private partnerships to create more opportunities for Americans to serve. The Corporation’s AmeriCorps and VISTA programs help support afterschool programs.

Child Care Development Fund (CCDF)
The president’s budget makes a historic investment in early childhood education by providing an additional $82 billion over ten years in mandatory funding for the Child Care and Development Fund to ensure that all low-income working families with children ages three or younger have access to quality, affordable child care. This investment will increase the total number of children served to more than 2.6 million, reaching more than 1.1 million additional children, and ensuring that the youngest children from the most vulnerable communities are in high quality settings where they are safe and ready to learn. The budget also provides a $266 million increase in discretionary funding in 2016 to help states implement the policies required by the new bipartisan child care law and improve the safety and quality of care while giving parents the information they need to make good choices about their child care providers.

Community Service Block Grant (CSBG)
The budget maintains funding for the Community Services Block Grant at $674 million. This is a change from recent Administration budgets that proposed reductions to CSBG. Under the budget, the Upward Mobility Project would allow up to 10 communities, states, or consortia of states and communities to combine funds from up to four existing block grants— CSBG, Social Services Block Grant, and funding from HUD through the Community Development Block Grant and HOME Programs—for efforts to promote opportunity and reduce poverty.

Informal STEM Learning
Across departments and agencies, the president’s budget includes a total of $3 billion for STEM education a 3.6 percent increase over 2015 enacted levels. In addition to increases for the popular Math and Science Partnerships and Investing in Innovation grant programs, $125 million is allocated to a competitive grant program to establish Next Generation High Schools focused on STEM. On the informal STEM side, $60 million is directed to the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal Science Learning program and $5 million to the Smithsonian Institution to improve their reach in STEM learning. Funds are included for the continuation of the Institute for Museum and Library Sciences STEM and ‘making’ programs for you and the STEM AmeriCorps VISTA program. NASA’s Office of Education receives $89 million and the Science Mission Directorate receives $20 million to make their programs and materials more accessible.

Take Action
The president’s budget request now goes to Congress, where budget and appropriations deliberations for FY2016 are getting underway. House and Senate Appropriations Committees are holding hearings this winter to hear details of the education budget request from Secretary Duncan. Friends of afterschool programs can contact their Members of Congress to express support for 21st CCLC and federal funding for afterschool programs.

Click here to read from this article's source.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Women empower women at Rutgers' HackHers hackathon

Written by Pamela MacKenzie

There even is an international organization that oversees these gatherings, Major League Hacking, which tracks the scores earned by universities and colleges at all of its sanctioned events. In 2014, Rutgers University was ranked 16th in the nation for its students' participation and winning achievements.

Late in 2014, some of the female computer science majors in Rutgers' computer science department, who dubbed themselves HackHers, conceived of a hackathon with a special focus to meet the needs of women. They went to two advisers — Elaine Zundl, dean of the Douglass Project for Rutgers Women in Math, Science and Engineering, and Beth Bors, program coordinator for Pre-College Programs for Women in STEM, and outlined their plan for a new sort of hackathon.

Yes, it would have the popular competition between teams of programmers writing code throughout the night. But they wanted to attract women who are not in computer science and teach them to code. They also wanted to bring in experts who could take computer science students to new levels.

Click here to read from this article's source.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Due 2/12 Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program

The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program represents an innovative approach to computer science education, pairing seven weeks of intensive instruction in robotics, web design, and mobile development with engaging, career-focused mentorship and exposure led by the industry's top female entrepreneurs and engineers.

Key programmatic components of the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program include:

SKILLS: Seven weeks of intensive instruction in computer science, robotics, algorithms, web design, and mobile development.

EXPOSURE: Speakers, demos, workshops, and presentations from female engineers and entrepreneurs; field trips to technology companies, startups, academic institutions and more.

MENTORSHIP: Top female executives, entrepreneurs and engineers provide career and academic mentorship.


Accenture, Adobe, AIG, Akamai, Amazon, AOL Charitable Foundation, AppNexus, AT&T, BSA| The

Software Alliance, eBay, Electronic Arts, Expedia, Facebook, GE, Goldman Sachs, Google, Groupon,

The Honest Company, IAC, IBM, Intel, Intuit, Lockheed Martin, MassMutual, Microsoft, Moody's,

Pixar Animation Studios, Prudential, Saban Family Foundation, Square, TripAdvisor, Twitter,

Verizon, & Viacom.


Prudential and Verizon at NJIT: 7/13/2015 - 8/28/2015


Apply at

Applications are due by February 12th at 11:59pm

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Join us in Participating in NJ Makers Day! SATURDAY 3/21/15

NJ Makers Day enhances community engagement and develop connections among New Jersey residents by collaborating with multi-type libraries, museums, small businesses and others to promote and explore new opportunities for entrepreneurship, innovation and hands-on learning experiences.

  • Celebrate the culture of making in New Jersey
  • Foster collaboration between makers and makerspaces across New Jersey
  • Host a program/event on the same day at all participating New Jersey makerspaces
  • Promote the role of NJ libraries in supporting makers and maker culture throughout the state
  • Schedule at least one event in every county in New Jersey
  • Contract with vendors based in New Jersey whenever possible
  • Create projects with low or no barriers of access, including one or two statewide projects live streamed
  • Create a Google Map of makers and makerspaces in New Jersey
Visit them on the web at: