Michigan’s Afterschool Ambassadors
Raising Our Voice for Kids, Families and Programs
In a rare move, the national Afterschool Alliance has named two leading out-of-school-time professionals - Willie Buford of Flint and Trevor Davies of Wyoming – as Afterschool Ambassadors. They join an exclusive group of just 15 ambassadors selected from across the country for 2019-20120.
"This honor comes with great recognition for the important leadership both men have exhibited in their communities, in the Michigan After-School Partnership (MASP), and in their work to promote high-quality afterschool programming and improved experiences for children and families," said Mary Sutton, MASP's Executive Director. "We couldn't be more proud and pleased to have the Alliance pick two of our best and brightest!
The Afterschool Alliance's Afterschool Ambassador program identifies afterschool providers and advocates of special achievement and helps them raise their voices in support of afterschool. They are selected from some of most effective afterschool programs and advocacy organizations in the nation. Typically, 12-20 Ambassadors are selected each year, and they receive training, technical support, and modest funding for their Ambassadorial activities.
As Ambassadors, their responsibilities include organizing a major event for "Lights On Afterschool" ; working in concert with other local providers, advocates and business and community leaders to promote afterschool; and reaching out to policy makers and the media on afterschool issues. Congrats Willie and Trevor!
Meet Willie Buford
Who is Willie Buford? Buford is a site manager for the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce YouthQuest afterschool initiative, serving nearly 1,500 K-12 students in Flint community school buildings and two programs at the International Academy of Flint. A leader in after-school education for the past eight years, Buford has focused on data-driven approaches to reaching diverse communities with innovative programs and opportunities for leadership.
He is also a National Geographic Society fellow, works as a trainer of trainers for the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality Assessment, and serves as a member of the Quality Committee for MASP.
Buford recently led and organized students and staff members to the MASP Afterschool at the State Capitol Day , where they advocated for the importance of after-school programs by presenting legislators data that support the benefits of out-of-school-time learning.
What turned Buford on to Afterschool? "Originally, my dream was to become a police officer and then a traditional classroom teacher. I changed my course to have an opportunity to guide student growth without having to grade them. Not all people learn in the same way; the Afterschool space allowed me the opportunity to serve the whole child."
Something you might now know about Ambassador Buford: He served three years in the U.S. ARMY as a mechanized Infantryman. His service was preceded with four years in the high school Navy Junior Officer Training Corps Program.
Who is Buford at home? "I have five children - four boys and a girl. I have a son, 19, a son, 17, a son, 14, a son and daughter (twins) who are 12. My children have opportunities that I didn’t receive from my parents. However because of other people in my community, I’ve had tremendous opportunities and it’s why I pay it forward. Servant Leadership is what I want to build in my children."
What Buford says about living in Flint : "I love Flint. Flint residents have a special pride in their city, despite the negative perceptions. There is an undying Spirit of resilience and excellence in this small town. What sometimes plagues our community is the lack of hope. I want to be a part of bringing Hope back to our families.
What's Buford's philosophy on afterschool? "I've seen time and again the extraordinary difference that afterschool makes in the lives of young people in Michigan. These programs help students explore their interests, discover their passions, and learn to communicate with peers and adults while giving parents the security that comes from knowing their children are safe and supervised, with opportunities to learn and grow after the school day ends."
What does Buford want to accomplish as an Ambassador? "My goal this year as an Ambassador is three-fold: Bring more awareness to families, parents, teachers, and administrators about the benefits of OST (Out-of-School-Time) programs; assure that legislators and policy makers continue to appropriate the funding necessary for OST programs to maximize its reach; and work with my State (the Michigan After-School Partnership) and the National Alliance to advance the efforts in making OST a recognized and respected profession.
Meet Trevor Davies