From Idea to Action: Reflections from Denver Afterschool Alliance

Guest post by Katherine Plog Martinez and Maxine Quintana. This is the second post in a series on our Third Annual Institute for Building Expanded-Learning Systems. Read part 1 here.

We’ve all been to the conferences where you meet back up with your group between sessions and the ask of “How were the sessions?” are met with – “Meh.” “Well, I guess I have one new idea.” “I’m hoping the next one’s better.” In other words – a bust.

If you think about a conference like that and then imagine the polar opposite you would have the Every Hour Counts System-Building Institute.

Between each session, the Denver team couldn’t stop sharing our ideas, aligning our learning, and beginning to think about how we can adjust and grow as a result of what we learned. We excitedly discussed data dashboards. We wondered about youth employment and its connections to after-school programming (both for students, and in building our work force of youth development professionals). We talked through ideas for programming and ideas for supporting programs. We talked deeply about equity and how to model it in all we do.


Participants discussing reflections during a breakout session.

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From Idea to Action: Third Annual Institute for Building Expanded-Learning Systems

“This is not a mystery. It’s what we want for our own kids: activities where kids discover themselves and the world around them.” Rahm Emanuel, Mayor, City of Chicago

In August, Every Hour Counts hosted, “From Idea to Action: An Institute for Building Expanded-Learning Systems,” a two-day event that brought together teams of leaders from 19 communities around the country to discuss the essential elements of expanded-learning systems. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, steadfast supporter of after-school and of our host city partner, After School Matters, set the tone for the event with his belief that after-school can transform lives: “Our obligation does not end at 3:30 pm on June 10. For our kids to live up to their potential, we need to live up to our obligation.”


City of Chicago Panel (from right to left): Moderator Mary Ellen Caron, CEO of After School Matters; Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Robbie Robinson, Managing Director of BDT& Company, After School Matters Board of Directors Vice Chair; and Gillian Darlow, CEO, Polk Bros. Foundation

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