Anaheim Achieves Success!
Now in its 8th year, the Anaheim Achieves after-school program has grown from 16 original school sites to 44 current sites, serving more than 4,700 students daily in both elementary and junior high schools. The program has received state and national recognition for its commitment to community collaboration and dedication to educational excellence, and was chosen by the California Department of Education to become one of 14 Regional Learning Centers intended to be a model for developing programs throughout the state of California. For all of these reasons and more, the Anaheim Achieves program has made a marked impact on the children, families, and communities in and surrounding Anaheim, California.
The program was developed in 1999 in response to staggering statistics: 85% of high-risk behavior from school-age children occurred during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 5,500 students in the Anaheim City and Magnolia School Districts were off-track at all times. With an initial grant from the California Department of Education, Anaheim Achieves was launched through a unique collaboration, which today includes the Anaheim Family YMCA, City of Anaheim, California and Orange County Departments of Education, five school districts (Anaheim City, Magnolia, Centralia, Savanna, and Anaheim Union High School), and many other community organizations. These partnerships earned Anaheim Achieves recognition as the top collaboration in California by the Cities, Counties & Schools Partnership in 2001.
Today the Anaheim Achieves program is transitioning to After School Education and Safety (ASES) funding from 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) funding. Anaheim Achieves also has funding partnerships with AmeriCorps, the Anaheim Family YMCA, program fees, foundation grants, and funding from school and city partners. This funding allows Anaheim Achieves to expand its diverse programming. Through a grant from the Carol M. White Foundation, Anaheim Achieves offers the Y Be Healthy program to address the growing trends of obesity and diabetes, while allowing for positive recreational activities. The GOAL Getters mentoring program, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, provides students with one-on-one academic mentoring, more enrichment and leadership opportunities, and occasional field trips and special events.
At the core of its collaborative effort is the Anaheim Achieves Planning Team, which includes all key stakeholders from each district and community organizations, along with an education consultant and an evaluation specialist. The planning team follows eight guiding principles, which are used at every level of decision-making throughout the organization.
8 PROGRAM GOALS
1. Safe off-track and after-school environment
2. Students meet or exceed state & local standards
3. Develop positive character traits
4. Healthy lifestyle choices, constructive recreational, enrichment, and community service activities
5. Parent/family involvement and education
6. Family access to health care
7. Community volunteerism
8. Staff development/training
The Anaheim Achieves staff includes 53 full-time and 220 part-time employees. Through continuous training and assessment, the program looks to its staff to become leaders within the program and to develop its content. A full-time evaluation specialist is employed by Anaheim Achieves to continually survey the program’s teachers, students, parents, supervisors, and staff. Addressing gaps in the evaluations and ensuring continuous program growth is what the Anaheim Achieves program calls a “Continuous Improvement Model.”
Anaheim Achieves also works with AmeriCorps members to plan and implement service-learning projects that teach students the importance of civic responsibility. With 138 AmeriCorps members and 225 other community volunteers, Anaheim Achieves engages students in community service activities such as park and beach clean-ups, adopting pen pals from a local senior community, and more.
The Anaheim Achieves curriculum focuses on academics, enrichment, physical fitness, character education and asset development. The program’s full-time education consultant, a former assistant superintendent, works with staff to align the program’s monthly themes and enrichment activities with state and district standards. Anaheim Achieves also teams up with local elementary and junior high school teachers to strengthen the program. These teachers serve as a bridge between the program and the regular school day, and work with staff on a monthly basis to address issues of thematic and curricular updates, behavior management, and the 40 developmental assets. Dedication to academic success garnered Anaheim Achieves the Award for Educational Excellence from the Association of California School Administrators and the Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association in 2003. Anaheim Achieves was also recently nominated as a promising national after-school program in mathematics by the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL).
A typical day at Anaheim Achieves starts with arrival and a healthy snack, which is followed by one hour for homework assistance and supplementary academic-based activities related to the monthly theme. The educational theme is then integrated into all enrichment activities, such as cooking, sewing, dancing, fitness and sports. Enrichment activities and clubs often culminate in quarterly community events such as the Anaheim Achieves Showcase, Read With Me, Kids Challenge, and Fit-n-Fun Family Day. One student enjoyed her dance club so much that she came back as a volunteer to teach Polynesian Dance, a club that has performed at Anaheim Achieves events. “Our collaboration does so much more than just give kids a cool place to hang out in the afternoon,” said Debbie Jauch, Senior Program Director for the Anaheim Achieves after-school program. “It offers young people the unique opportunity to contribute to their communities, develop their academic and life skills, connect with peers and adults, pursue their creative interests, and lead healthier lifestyles.”
Since its inception, the Anaheim Achieves after-school program has developed into a vital resource for students and the entire community. Due to the increased exposure of English Language Learners to their student community and one-on-one instruction, the program has noted improvement within the English Language Learner community. The program is also making a difference for parents and working families, one parent noted, “Since my child is in Anaheim Achieves I have noticed that he has improved a lot and likes to go to school and speaks well of his teachers. The teachers are respectful and friendly and help us, especially parents who do not speak English.” Teachers also note an impact. One elementary school teacher from an Anaheim Achieves site stated, “Anaheim Achieves provides a place for students to get that extra help if needed, not only in academics, but also in their social and behavior skills. It also enhances their physical fitness and enriches their creativity.” It is clear that the Anaheim Achieves program is making a profound influence on its community. This influence goes far beyond academics as noted by one parent of a boy in the program who said, “Thank you, especially to his teacher who is also teaching him right from wrong.”