To dream the impossible dream

Guest post by Wokie Weah. This post originally appeared on the Youthprise blog on July 8, 2016.

Nancy Wong Photography, LLC

Like most Minnesotans, I woke up yesterday to the horrific news of Philando Castile’s death. My first thought was for his family. I marveled at the poise of his fiancé Diamond Reynolds, his four-year-old stepdaughter, mother, and uncle. As a mother myself, I was filled with all of the complex emotions that come up for the mothers of African American males. We live in constant fear for the safety of our sons. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, 13% of black drivers are stopped by police while only 10% of white or Hispanic drivers are stopped, meaning that African Americans are 31% more likely to be pulled over.

Systems recreate systems. Violence perpetuates violence. The time is ripe to reimagine a way to end systematic racism.

Continue reading

Policy Update: What We Know So Far About Federal Funding for Expanded-Learning in 2017

The federal budget and appropriations process can be quite a roller coaster, and this year is no exception. In the early phases of the annual appropriations process, the expanded-learning field faces the possibility of significantly reduced federal funding in fiscal year 2017 (FY17) as Congress balances competing needs and limited funds.

Continue reading

Announcing the Every Hour Counts National Learning Community!

Every Hour Counts put out a call for applications for a new initiative: a peer learning community composed of expanded-learning systems-builders ready to take their system to the next level. Today we are excited to announce the Every Hour Counts National Learning Community has launched with 13 cities and counties from around the country.

Continue reading

What factors spark STEM engagement?

Guest post by Marielle Lovecchio. This post is part of the Every Hour Counts STEM Connections series.

Last month, our Nashville-based trio made the trek to New York City with a specific aim in mind: to figure out how ExpandED Schools creates opportunities for students to engage in high-quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning after school, specifically through partnerships with formal (school day) and community (out-of-school) educators. We had all seen our share of one-off STEM activities, such as the infamous slime project, and were interested to see how collaboration between educators could lead to deeper STEM engagement. We wanted to learn how to help our students in Nashville’s expanded learning system, the Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA), reimagine their idea of what’s possible through the application of STEM.

Continue reading

Bringing STEM Education from Niche to Necessary: the Every Hour Counts FUSE 3.0 Institute

This post originally appeared on STEM Next, a national leader in increasing opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning for youth across communities both in and out of school.

Editor’s Note: In 2010, ExpandED Schools and Every Hour Counts launched the Frontiers in Urban Science Education project with support from the Noyce Foundation. The project aims to scale access to high-quality STEM learning for kids in out-of-school time programs, building off lessons piloted in New York City by ExpandED Schools. In 2014, the FUSE project published a resource guide of strategies to advance informal science education in after-school, and is now leading six organizations from across the country in connecting out-of-school and in-school STEM learning with the Next Generation Science Standards.

“What variable do you think students were testing during the Rockin’ Rockets Design Challenge?” Jasmine Maldonado, Science Coach Supervisor from the New York Hall of Science, asked FUSE 3.0 Winter Institute participants before testing the rockets in the video above. The question sparked a buzz of conversation around the room as participants explored how the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) can be applied to expanded learning.

The presentation allowed us to step into students’ shoes to experience learning rooted in NGSS firsthand. We used our observation, critical thinking, communication, and teamwork skills to analyze the design variables students tested in the rocket challenge. We quickly realized that we were flexing the same social-emotional skills (SEL) to answer Maldonado’s question that students must use to be successful in the Challenge. The exercise highlighted a key FUSE theme: there are many ways to integrate both content acquisition and youth development in high-quality STEM learning.

Continue reading

Literacy in the Zone – A Partnership for Sustainability Between Nashville After Zone Alliance and Nashville Public Library

Guest post by Rachel Roseberry

“A critical and sometimes overlooked resource is the public library, which is well-positioned to facilitate collaboration, build partnerships, address gaps, and support a lifetime of improved education outcomes.” – Urban Libraries Council, Winter 2015

Former Mayor Karl Dean created the Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA) in 2009 to increase the high-school graduation rate by leveraging after school programs’ capacity for student engagement, a capacity that has been linked to increased school-day attendance, improved behavior, and grades. NAZA is an expanded learning system whose programs provide free, high-quality after school opportunities for middle school students throughout Metro Nashville Public Schools. Its services are organized by geographic zone, in order to ensure students can safely access afterschool resources within their own communities.  With Mayor Dean’s departure due to term limits looming in 2014, NAZA began looking for a permanent home.

Continue reading

A View of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Every Hour Counts is pleased that Congress and the President reached agreement to move past the era of No Child Left Behind, and approve the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We are particularly pleased that the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program has remained a focused funding stream for expanded learning programs, and has received a funding increase. This program certainly needs to grow to meet the enormous demand, and this is an important step in the right direction. We are also pleased that the law enhances the role of community partners a provision we long fought for in partnership with many champions in Congress, specifically Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Representative David Cicilline, of Rhode Island. There are policy implications for expanded-learning programs and summary of important changes to the 21st CCLC program is detailed here by Penn Hill Group.

Read on for our blog post, co-authored with Jennifer Peck of the Partnership for Children and Youth, originally featured on the Huffington Post.  Continue reading

Bringing Expanded Learning Systems from Idea to Action

140 people. 25 communities from around the country… and the world with one team hailing from Brazil! One big goal: to build expanded learning systems that increase students’ access to high-quality learning opportunities and equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive.

In March, we hosted “From Idea to Action: An Institute for Building Expanded-Learning Systems,” a two-day event where community leaders gathered to discuss the essential elements of expanded-learning systems. We kicked off the meeting with city leaders distilling their system-building work into six-word stories:

  • Communicate, coordinate, collaborate for youth. Repeat.
  • Quality is the thread we’re connected by.
  • A plan, need partners, please help.
City teams discuss system-building challenges

City teams discuss system-building challenges

Our Every Hour Counts partners presented workshops focused on the themes of sustainability, and data. Our new Institute Summary shares the system-building strategies, best practices, and challenges that were discussed. Here are a few insights from the report: Continue reading

Public Media and Expanded Learning — Natural Partners in Digital Learning

Seeking to use the latest digital learning tools to boost student engagement in your expanded learning program? Look no further than your local public media station. While public television has long provided high-quality programming for children (who didn’t grow up learning the ABCs with Sesame Street?), public media is entering a new age of providing learning experiences to children at home, on-the-go, and wherever they are. And the resources, games, and apps from public media are a perfect fit for the informal learning that takes place in after-school and summer settings.

Like expanded learning systems, public media seeks to provide exceptional learning Summer Adventureexperiences to children in low-income families to prepare them for school and beyond. In order to boost the math and literacy skills of children in low-income families, the CPB-PBS KIDS Ready To Learn initiative has created new shows (Odd Squad and Peg+Cat), and designed educational apps and games that incorporate popular PBS KIDS characters. This strategy—called transmedia—tells a single story across multiple platforms. For a young learner used to watching Curious George on their television at home, playing a game with George on a tablet in an after-school program makes learning more comfortable, fun, and engaging. Children also gain early, interactive exposure to the tools of the digital age. Research has found that this approach can have a powerful impact on learning for young students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Continue reading