An update for All-Stars Supporters
After-School All-Stars (All-Stars) students live in the communities hit hardest by COVID-19, and most affected by the inequities most recently brought to light in the media by the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
The impact of the pandemic spreads far beyond academics, with families balancing work obligations, social distancing mandates, and round-the-clock childcare, and in many cases experiencing income loss, food insecurity, and homelessness. The current health crisis has expanded the definition of out-of-school time, from a traditional afternoon to all day, evenings, and weekends, as we provide a necessary and vital safety net. The needs of our students, families and communities have become increasingly urgent. Over the past few months, our team has pivoted our comprehensive school-based approach to a community-focused and virtual one, prioritizing the physical and emotional well-being of our students. There has been no time in our history when our students have needed us more.
SOCIAL JUSTICE ENGAGEMENT
As part of our mission to level the playing field for underserved youth, Racial and Social Justice efforts have always been embedded in our work: ASAS aims to break cycles of inequality and close the opportunity gap. Last year, we created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council, whose work has provided a baseline assessment on how diversity, equity, and inclusion have been integrated into the many facets of our organization. This has served as a foundation for our current, timely efforts. The current protests and actions reflect the voice of the Black community we’ve been serving for nearly three decades in cities across the United States. With longstanding work serving our Black and Latino communities, we are continuing to resource our staff and students for the implications of a sustained voice and continued action against systemic racism. Our network has been engaging in deep and sustained conversations and design work to examine how our programs can continue to address racism, equity, and social justice.
SUMMER SONGWRITING ACADEMY
The inaugural After-School All-Stars | TikTok Summer Songwriting Academy (June 24—July 23) enabled 13 students to showcase their unique voices and perspectives through the creation of original lyrics honed with the mentoring and coaching of music industry experts and 11 All-Stars mentors. Students met in a safe and secure virtual environment to explore the creative, technical, and business aspects of the music industry. Each week was headlined by a Sony/ATV Academy artist interacting with the students as they work through the curriculum, which was developed by the Syracuse University’s Bandier Program. The classes were conducted on a Google Classroom platform, with all mentors (program leaders from All-Stars) being trained on how to conduct virtual classes using the platform. Headline events for the Academy were livestreamed or recorded and shared, featured artists such as Timbaland, Jozzy, Will.i.am and Melanie Martinez, and drew as many as half a million views per week. The Songwriting Academy will continue this fall, with a new cohort of students.
ALL-STAR LEADERSHIP UNIVERSITY (ASLU)
Traditionally, our summer All-Star Leadership University (ASLU) has bookended the program year, providing an opportunity for incoming and outgoing All-Star Youth Advisory Board members from each chapter to gather and learn leadership skills and how to use their voices to raise awareness and take action on issues that impact their communities. With the COVID-19 pandemic precluding an in-person event, we transitioned ASLU to the virtual space, and took advantage of this opportunity to expand participation to over 200 students, including chapter staff, All-Star alums, and speakers.
Virtual ASLU, with the theme of Leaders NOW!, took place July 28 and 29. Partners included the University of Southern California (USC) Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy. Students and speakers were open, inspired, and inspiring, and the feedback from our student and staff survey has been overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic.