Become An Afterschool Champion

We kicked off 2022 with an inspiring Fireside Chat last week featuring Matt Watrous, Government Relations Midwest Director from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Dana Benjamin-Allen, Founder of Back of the Napkin Consulting. Matt and Dana shared insights into afterschool advocacy and how you can be a champion for your program and community.

If you missed the chat, you can watch the full-length version HERE.

A few of the takeaways for starting your advocacy journey:

Know a definitive answer to “What is my WHY for Advocacy?”
What do you want to accomplish? For example:

  • Accessing local or federal funding
  • Effecting changes to policies or legislation
  • Building relationships with key stakeholders

Create an advocacy plan that outlines your WHAT and HOW.
Keep it simple with one or two goals, concrete steps, and metrics for success. Be mindful of including steps that are actually achievable in the context of everything else going on with your program.

Click HERE to download Dana’s Data for advocacy planning template.

Decide WHO you should be targeting.
Think about which stakeholders are most important to your why and how to best engage them. Ask yourself:

  • What do they care about?
  • What are you currently saying to them?
  • What do you wish you could say to them?

Look for creative ways to leverage data that tells the story of what you have achieved vs. what you want to accomplish in a way that resonates. Consider coalitions to amplify your message to these core stakeholders.

Click HERE to download the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Legislator Visit Toolkit.
Click HERE to download the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Detailed Tips for Setting up a Meeting with Legislators.

Include youth as spokespeople in your advocacy efforts
Your role is not only to elevate your program, but also to elevate youth voices and experiences. Whenever possible, include them in advocacy visits and give them opportunities to share directly with stakeholders.

Take the next step to Becoming an Afterschool Champion

SDAN offers advocacy resources if your program is looking for data or support in your efforts:

      • Our data map launched last year and provides a deep dive into the landscape of afterschool in South Dakota. View the map HERE.
      • Our Executive Director Billy Mawhiney is available to help you strategize and plan your advocacy efforts. To schedule a meeting with Billy, click HERE.
      • The Afterschool Alliance has a robust toolbox of templates and resources your program can customize for your advocacy needs. Click HERE to access.



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The South Dakota Afterschool Network works to better our state and its communities by connecting providers, parents and policymakers with proven tools and resources to increase the quality of and access to out-of-school time programming for K-12 children and youth.

Afterschool is a lifeline that keeps youth safe, helps kids learn and grow, and provides parents the ability to work without worry. While South Dakota is home to more than 300 afterschool programs, the demand for programs exceeds available spaces. In fact, 1 in 3 South Dakota children (34 percent) who are not in an afterschool program would be enrolled if it were available. That’s more than 42,000 children who are missing out on opportunities to participate in programming that supports their development academically, socially and economically.

Afterschool can provide valuable opportunities for students to explore STEM, and we are here to help your program succeed in STEM Learning! From webinars and trainings to our signature TMC Trailers that bring turnkey STEM activities to your doorstep, our diverse collection of resources meets you and your students where you are and provides the support you need to deliver quality programming to your students at any age. 

The South Dakota Afterschool Network wanted to create a mapping tool to better understand the landscape of afterschool and summer programs available for children and families. From the initial launch of the new mapping tool, we have identified some startling findings.