Statement to our Membership

In the past year, ACT Now has written to its members to address issues of racism, discrimination, violence, and police brutality. As an organization that acts as a voice for afterschool in Illinois, we feel it is our responsibility to continue to make our stance on these issues known, to hold space for those members and communities most affected, and to encourage action.

Archive of Our Statements

Resources on Anti-Racism and Equity

At ACT Now, our vision has always been for ALL Illinois youth and teens to be prepared for success in school, career, and life, fostered through access to high-quality afterschool and summer programs. Please see our note in our newsletter on racial violence. We will continue to share resources related to this issue as listed below.

The Intersection of Anti-Black Racism and Adolescent Development: The National Scientific Council on Adolescence (NSCA) released its first report on the Intersection of Anti-Black Racism and Adolescent Development. This piece elevates research on how racism and related inequities impact key developmental stages of adolescence. The report also offers recommendations to support Black youth during middle and high school years, and strategies for supporting healthy youth development in the context of programming and community.

The Learning Policy Institute has written a blog post on the role of expanded learning programs in advancing educational equity. The blog post also touches upon the challenges associated with the ongoing pandemic and references how Out-of-School Time (OST) providers have stepped up to address them. To read the blog post, click here.

PBS Learning Media has developed a virtual professional learning series on tools for anti-racist teaching. Themes focus on deepening one’s understanding of race and racism, using media to know more and teach better, amplifying student and youth voice, and focusing on young learners. Each session is approximately 1 hour and can also be linked to Google Classroom. To access the series, click here.

Anti-Defamation League: Lessons on Black Lives Matter, Identity, and Bias

50 State Afterschool Network: Resources for Anti-Racism & Equity Education

Museum of Tolerance: Dynamics of Discrimination Then & Now (English and Spanish) Lessons

EmbraceRace: 31 Children’s Books to Support Conversations on Race, Racism and Resistance

Teaching Tolerance: How to Talk to Youth About Race, Racism, and Police Violence

EmbraceRace: Supporting Kids of Color in the Wake of Radicalized Violence

Center for Racial Justice in Education: Resources

EducationWeek has compiled 16 resources for educators and afterschool providers looking to host conversations with young people on racism and police violence. Materials include lesson plans, articles and essays, videos, and more. To access these resources, click here.

The National AfterSchool Association has created a resource for supporting youth to become advocates and activists while in out-of-school time programming. The article highlights opportunities for providers to elevate youth voice. To read the article, click here.

ShareMyLesson has compiled resources on teaching about race and racism for educators and afterschool providers to use in programming with their young people. These lesson plans and materials are to encourage young people to express themselves, reflect on how we can work to be anti-racist, and provide a safe space to speak about tough topics. To review the resources, click here.

Forbes has collected a variety of materials on countering racial rhetoric and violence for educators, program providers, and youth to help foster conversations and actions. To access these materials, click here.

EducationWeek has compiled some strategies for educators and out-of-school time (OST) providers looking to discuss the trial of Derek Chauvin with students and young people in a constructive and supportive manner. To read the article, click here.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice and Hollaback: Bystander Intervention Training

Scholastic: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Lessons and Curriculum

Zine Education Project: Asian Americans and Moments in History Resources

Learning for Justice: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Resources

Mizzen by Mott Now Hosts The 1619 Project Curricula: Through a new collaboration between Mizzen by Mott and the Pulitzer Center, afterschool educators will be able to tap into 1619 content tailored for afterschool programs. The 1619 Project is an award-winning and ongoing initiative by the New York Times that aims to inspire national reflection and dialogue about U.S. history, the institution of slavery, racial justice, and the contributions of Black Americans to our democracy and society.

The National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment (NCASE) has compiled and developed a variety of resources for program providers to utilize to ensure equity in program practices and facilitation of services.

Tips for School-Age Child Care Providers: Strategies for creating safe and welcoming spaces for school-age youth.

Tips for Parents and Caregivers: Suggested activities to encourage families and caregivers to reflect on the things they already do with their children to help them learn and practice equity.

Culturally Responsive Programming Resources from WHUT: The Afterschool Alliance has written a blog post highlighting culturally responsive resources for afterschool providers. The blog focuses on WHUT – Howard University Television, which is the first and only public broadcast television station, owned and licensed to a Historically Black College and University (HBCU).

Toolkit for Fostering Conversations about Race and Civil Disobedience: Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and faith and community leaders have called for peace and unity with the recent verdict in the murder trial of the three Georgia men charged in Ahmaud Arbery’s killing. The verdict may be emotional and a lot to process, especially for young people. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has developed the “Say Their Names” toolkit to guide productive conversations about race and civil disobedience with youth.

Resources for Understanding Human Rights
December marks Human Rights Month and many educators and afterschool providers can take this time to encourage youth to learn more about the importance of human rights. ShareMyLesson has compiled a variety of resources on globally recognized human rights topics, including education, equality, and food, water and housing.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Resources:
EducationWeek has a special spotlight with a list of resource on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, for afterschool providers to utilize in their programming. There are also educator and youth notes on why this work is so important and key lessons learned when hosting these conversations.

Resources for Teaching About ‘Hard History’:
ShareMyLesson has compiled resources for educators and providers to use in programming in order to address and teach about slavery in the United States. The 1619 Project’s lesson plans and accredited national organization’s resources are available in this online list.

Strategies for Engaging and Culturally-Responsive Programming:
EducationWeek has shared two articles with suggestions and strategies for program providers looking to ensure that their programming is culturally-responsive and engaging in a virtual setting.

Resources for Learning about Immigrant Heritage Month:
ShareMyLesson has compiled a list of resources and curriculum that afterschool providers may use to teach about immigrant history and heritage.

New DEAI Tools Booklet For STEM Programming:
The NISE Network works to support a lifetime of STEM engagement for all communities. The Network has recently developed a toolkit on Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI), which focuses on tools for engaging communities and incorporating DEAI practices into informal STEM projects. “The tools, practices, and project examples are designed to support NISE Network partner efforts in making their experiences more relevant and inclusive in order to promote a more equitable STEM future in our local communities.”

Civil Rights Movement Resources for Programs
August 28, 2022 marks the anniversary of the historic March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech. To help with facilitating programming on the Civil Rights Movement, ShareMyLesson has compiled 86 teaching resources.

If you would like to discuss your program’s reaction to racial violence or share additional resources, please reach out to Susan Stanton at

Black History Month Resources

To access resources relating to teaching about Black History, click here.

Anti-AAPI Hate Resources

ShareMyLesson has compiled a variety of resources on celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage for afterschool providers to incorporate into programming. There are videos, lesson plans, and strategies for hosting deep conversations relating to historical racism in the United States. To access these resources, click here.

Anti Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Hate Resources

ACT Now has compiled a list of resources on Anti-AAPI hate and violence. We will continue to share resources with our membership.

The TEAACH Act – Public Act 201-0044

The Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act amends the Illinois School Code to ensure that students in every public elementary and high school in Illinois learn about the contributions of Asian Americans to the economic, cultural, social, and political development of the United States. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) created a one-page document and supplemental educational resources to assist educators in providing instruction on Asian American history.

AAPI Heritage Month Resources

Join ACTNow and our coalition partners in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (AAPI Heritage Month)! We have compiled several resources to teach about the generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have been instrumental in America’s history and future success.

Resources for Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month

The National AfterSchool Association (NAA) has compiled 12 high-quality and equity-centered resources for celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage month. These resources may also be leveraged throughout the year!

LGTBQ Pride Resources

ShareMyLesson: Resources for Celebrating Pride Month

ShareMyLesson has organized and developed free lesson plans, activities, and resources for providers to utilize in supporting and celebrating LGBTQ students and inspire meaningful advocacy.

Afterschool Alliance Article: 5 Things You Can Do Today to Support LGBTQ Youth

This year alone more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in states across the country, many of which directly affect young people. In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance report showing that LGBTQ students are more likely to be bullied than their straight, cisgender classmates. In response, the Afterschool Alliance has written an article with five strategies for supporting LGBTQ youth in out-of-school time environments.

Resources for Celebrating LGBTQ History Month

ShareMyLesson has compiled a variety of resources for providers and educators to use in celebrating LGBTQ History Month and elevating the contributions of this diverse community throughout the year as well.

Supporting LGBTQIA Youth Amidst the Pandemic

EducationWeek has shared an article on several topics LGBTQIA students are worrying about during the pandemic. This article could help to focus support services to youth that are part of this diverse community throughout programming.

Anti-Discrimination Resources for Program Providers

Nickelodeon has developed anti-discrimination resources for program providers, families, and youth to encourage these populations to take action and combat racism and LGBTQIA discrimination. The guides allow for tough conversations and help individuals create a safe space for discussing these topics.

Resources for Supporting LGBTQIA Colleagues in the Workplace
The National AfterSchool Association (NAA) has compiled several resources for organizations and afterschool professionals to utilize for ensuring supportive workplace environments for LGBTQIA colleagues.

Value Based commitments to support LGBTQ+ youth

With the high levels of bullying in LGBTQ+ youth and the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, The Afterschool Alliance released a list of seven commitments for both formal and informal educators to use to support LGBTQ+ youth.

How Educators Can Support LGBTQIA Youth

Chlakbeat National published an article on how formal and informal educators can work to affirm, support, and uplift LGBTQIA youth in programming. These suggestions and resources were submitted on behalf of Chalkbeat’s reader membership.

Understanding Juneteenth Resources

Resources for Understanding and Teaching Youth About Juneteenth

First celebrated on June 19, 1866, Juneteenth marks the day that African Americans living in Texas first learned that the Civil War had ended and slavery had been abolished. Though the holiday has existed for 155 years, both as a day or remembrance and celebration, very few students learn about Juneteenth in school. To learn more about the origins of Juneteenth and how to share its history with younger generations, visit: 

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month Resources

National Hispanic Heritage Month

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15, 2021 to October 15, 2021), here are some resources that serve to promote Latinx students in STEM:

  • Latinas in STEM: Spreads awareness about STEM and encourages middle and high school Latinas, especially within underserved communities, to consider pursuing a STEM career.
  • TECHNOLOchicas: Designed to raise awareness among young Latinas and their families about opportunities and careers in technology.
  • Space Place by NASA (in Spanish): It’s mission is to inspire and enrich upper-elementary-aged kids’ learning of space and Earth science online through games, hands-on activities, informative articles, and videos. Includes resources for parents and teachers.

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month Resources

November is Native American Heritage Month

During the month of November, we elevate the importance and diversity of Native American heritage. Native American traditions are steeped in science and engineering. Native American engineers and scientists have built on that legacy to benefit society. Learn more about notable STEM trailblazers and their contributions and access teacher resources by visiting the Native American Heritage Month website.

Sisterhood of Native American Coders (SONAC)

Sisterhood of Native American Coders (SONAC) is a nonprofit that creates access and exposure to the field of computer science to address the disparities in opportunities to learn for underrepresented Native American girls. SONAC’s aims to inspire the next generation of young female innovators to pursue careers in STEM by engaging them at an early age (9 to 12 years old), when interest levels can falter, and to foster a lifelong passion for STEM.

Expressing Gratitude to Indigenous Peoples Resources

Expressing Gratitude to Indigenous Peoples

ShareMyLesson has compiled a variety of culturally-sensitive resources on paying respect to native and indigenous cultures as a part of deeper learning from indigenous practices.