After-School All-Stars Launches New Chapter in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) February 11, 2015

After-School All-Stars (ASAS) and the New York Life Foundation are proud to be hosting two formal chapter launch events in Philadelphia today. Philadelphia is the second new ASAS chapter to be launched with the help of a $ 4 million, four-year grant from the New York Life Foundation. The grant supports expanding after-school programs focused on middle school students to six more cities, beginning with Newark and Philadelphia. This multi-year grant is the largest in ASAS’s 20-year history. The Newark chapter held its launch event in late 2014.

Today’s Philadelphia launch day begins with a service project in which ASAS students from the William D. Kelley school team up with New York Life volunteers to create care packages for homeless Philadelphians. Following the service project is a VIP reception at Northern Liberties art gallery Bahdeebahdu. At the reception, Deputy Mayor Rich Negrin will present a citation from Mayor Michael Nutter lauding the importance of ASAS’ arrival in Philadelphia. The Kelley School in Brewerytown is one of two inaugural schools receiving programming from ASAS’ Philadelphia chapter; the other is the Theodore Roosevelt School in Germantown.

Despite a dramatic increase in participation over the last decade, a recent household survey of 30,000 families conducted by the Afterschool Alliance found that for every child enrolled in a program, there are two more who are not, but whose parents would enroll them if a program were available. According to the same survey, more than 321,000 Pennsylvania children, or 17 percent, participate in an after-school program, up from nine percent in 2004. But the demand for afterschool activities – as measured by the number of children whose parents would enroll them in a program if one were available — increased to over 811,000 children, an increase of 50 percent. [1] Demand is especially high among low-income, African-American and Hispanic families in urban centers like Philadelphia.

“We recognize that the Philadelphia School District has faced some difficult times lately,” said Ben Paul, president of After-School All-Stars. “There are a lot of good people doing wonderful things for the city’s children, but it’s just impossible to keep up with the demand. That’s why we’re so pleased to add another resource to help address some of the unmet need.”

Notable guests during the afternoon school service project include State Representative Michelle Brownlee, as well as U.S. Senator Pat Toomey’s field representative, Imani Johnson, who is presenting a citation honoring the program. Heather Nesle, president of the New York Life Foundation, is also speaking, along with New York Life Managing Partner Rob Recine, who was recently appointed to the ASAS Philadelphia Board. The evening VIP reception will include remarks from National Board Member, and former World Series of Poker winner, Annie Duke. Human Resources consultant company Insperity is partially sponsoring the event.

“Research indicates that boys and girls who are properly prepared for ninth grade are more likely to graduate high school and go on to college. We see After-School All-Stars as a model program that not only reinforces, but augments middle school curricula after regular school hours and during summer months,” said Heather Nesle, president of the New York Life Foundation. “Investing in After-School All-Stars’ programming was a natural fit because it directly aligns with our priority of helping middle school students get the most out of those critical education years.”

Founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Los Angeles in 1992, ASAS provides comprehensive school-based out-of-school time programs to nearly 90,000 participants at more than 360 schools throughout the United States. Free for all students, ASAS programs only take place at Title I schools where more than 50% of students qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program. ASAS focuses primarily on middle school children, helping to prepare them for high school, college, and beyond.

After-School All-Stars recently named Reynelle Staley as founding Executive Director of After-School All-Stars Philadelphia. Prior to joining ASAS Philadelphia, Staley managed efforts to promote equal rights and opportunities within Philadelphia as Deputy Director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. A native of Harlem, she knows firsthand the impact that high-quality academic opportunities can have for students in the poorest of neighborhoods.

“I am passionate about building more educational and enrichment opportunities to improve the lives of Philadelphia’s children,” explained Staley. “Thirty-three percent of the children here live below the poverty line, and every school in the district meets the federal definition of ‘low income.’ But ASAS has found in cities across the country that by adding high-quality after-school programs, we can increase school attendance and raise graduation rates, while reducing juvenile crime and obesity.”

“After-school is a wise investment but, unfortunately, we’re not investing nearly enough,” said former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, founder of After-School All-Stars. “These programs help kids with homework, teach them teamwork, engage them in community service, pair them with mentors, help them to be physically fit, involve them in activities like rocketry and robotics, and much more.”

About After-School All-Stars

Founded in 1992, After-School All-Stars (ASAS) is a leading national provider of year-round, school-based, comprehensive afterschool programs. The organization’s mission is to keep children safe and help them succeed in school and in life. Every school day, students in low-income communities have access to free programs that offer academic support, enrichment opportunities, and health and fitness activities. Nearly 90,000 children from 13 U.S. regions benefit: ASAS serves Atlanta, Chicago, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, North Texas, Ohio, Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego, South Florida and Washington, D.C., and, beginning in Fall 2014, Newark and Philadelphia. For more information, visit

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[1]The Afterschool Alliance notes: In Pennsylvania, 435 households and 2,557 children were screened for this study. According to 2011-2012 data from the Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, the total school enrollment in Pennsylvania is 1,935,518, which is the foundation for all statewide projections in Pennsylvania After 3PM.

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The robotics

The image usually thought of by the word robot is that of a mechanical being, somewhat human in shape.  Common in science fiction, robots are generally depicted as working in the service of people, but often escaping the control of the people and doing them harm.

The word robot comes from the Czech writer Karel Capek’s 1921 play “R.U.R.” (which stands for “Rossum’s Universal Robots”), in which mechanical beings made to be slaves for humanity rebel and kill their creators.  From this, the fictional image of robots is sometimes troubling, expressing the fears that people may have of a robotized world over which they cannot keep control.  The history of real robots is rarely as dramatic, but where developments in robotics may lead is beyond our imagination.

Robots exist today.  They are used in a relatively small number of factories located in highly industrialized countries such as the United States, Germany, and Japan.  Robots are also being used for scientific research, in military programs, and as educational tools, and they are being developed to aid people who have lost the use of their limbs.  These devices, however, are for the most part quite different from the androids, or humanlike robots, and other robots of fiction.  They rarely take human form, they perform only a limited number of set tasks, and they do not have minds of their own.  In fact, it is often hard to distinguish between devices called robots and other modern automated systems.

Although the term robot did not come into use until the 20th century, the idea of mechanical beings is much older.  Ancient myths and tales talked about walking statues and other marvels in human and animal form.  Such objects were products of the imagination and nothing more, but some of the mechanized figures also mentioned in early writings could well have been made.  Such figures, called automatons, have long been popular.

For several centuries, automatons were as close as people came to constructing true robots.  European church towers provide fascinating examples of clockwork figures from medieval times, and automatons were also devised in China.  By the 18th century, a number of extremely clever automatons became famous for a while.  Swiss craftsman Pierre Jacquet-Droz, for example, built mechanical dolls that could draw a simple figure or play music on a miniature organ.  Clockwork figures of this sort are rarely made any longer, but many of the so called robots built today for promotional or other purposes are still basically automatons.  They may include technological advances such as radio control, but for the most part they can only perform a set routine of entertaining but otherwise useless actions.

Modern robots used in workplaces arose more directly from the Industrial Revolution and the systems for mass production to which it led.  As factories developed, more and more machine tools were built that could perform some simple, precise routine over and over again on an assembly line.  The trend toward increasing automation of production processes proceeded through the development of machines that were more versatile and needed less tending.  One basic principle involved in this development was what is known as feedback, in which part of a machine’s output is used as input to the machine as well, so that it can make appropriate adjustments to changing operating conditions.

The most important 20th-century development, for automation and for robots in particular, was the invention of the computer.  When the transistor made tiny computers possible, they could be put in individual machine tools.  Modern industrial robots arose from this linking of computer with machine.  By means of a computer, a correctly designed machine tool can be programmed to perform more than one kind of task.  If it is given a complex manipulator arm, its abilities can be enormously increased.  The first such robot was designed by Victor Scheinman, a researcher at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.  It was followed in the mid-1970s by the production of so called programmable universal manipulators for assembly (PUMAs) by General Motors and then by other manufacturers in the United States.

The nation that has used this new field most successfully, however, is Japan.  It has done so by making robot manipulators without trying to duplicate all of the motions of which the human arm and hand are capable.  The robots are also easily reprogrammed and this makes them more adaptable to changing tasks on an assembly line.  The majority of the industrial robots in use in the world today are found in Japan.

Except for firms that were designed from the start around robots, such as several of those in Japan, industrial robots are still only slowly being placed in production lines.  Most of the robots in large automobile and airplane factories are used for welding, spray-painting, and other operations where humans would require expensive ventilating systems.  The problem of workers being replaced by industrial robots is only part of the issue of automation as a whole, and individual robots on an assembly line are often regarded by workers in the familiar way that they think of their car.

Current work on industrial robots is devoted to increasing their sensitivity to the work environment.  Computer-linked television cameras serve as eyes, and pressure-sensitive skins are being developed for manipulator grippers.  Many other kinds of sensors can also be placed on robots.

Robots are also used in many ways in scientific research, particularly in the handling of radioactive or other hazardous materials.  Many other highly automated systems are also often considered as robots.  These include the probes that have landed on and tested the soils of the moon, Venus, and Mars, and the pilotless planes and guided missiles of the military.

None of these robots look like the androids of fiction.  Although it would be possible to construct a robot that was humanlike, true androids are still only a distant possibility.  For example, even the apparently simple act of walking on two legs is very hard for computer-controlled mechanical systems to duplicate.  In fact, the most stable walker made, is a six-legged system.  A true android would also have to house or be linked to the computer-equivalent of a human brain.  Despite some claims made for the future development of artificial intelligence, computers are likely to remain calculating machines without the ability to think or create for a long time.

Research into developing mobile, autonomous robots is of great value.  It advances robotics, aids the comparative study of mechanical and biological systems, and can be used for such purposes as devising robot aids for the handicapped.

As for the thinking androids of the possible future, the well-known science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov has already laid down rules for their behavior.  Asimov’s first law is that robots may not harm humans either through action or inaction.  The second is that they must obey humans except when the commands conflict with the first law.  The third is that robots must protect themselves except, again, when this comes into conflict with the first law.  Future androids might have their own opinions about these laws, but these issues must wait their time.


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