By Diana Delfin
In the past few weeks I have been sifting through Race to the Top (RTT) applications. I’m checking to see how states are incorporating afterschool elements into their plans for the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. And as it turns out there are plenty of different ways that states are tying afterschool into their educational plans.
Here are some cool examples of what some states are doing:
- Oregon: In Portland, SUN (Schools Uniting Neighborhoods) takes advantage of extended hours to build community between neighborhood services, local businesses, government agencies, and non-profits. Students learning in a community context are exposed to a wide variety of opportunities for applied knowledge and new experiences.
- Pennsylvania: Applications with emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are important components in the Race to the Top Initiative. Pennsylvania proposes to use RTT funds to create innovative opportunities for summer STEM programs, using popular draws like video game development to attract students to the area.
- South Carolina: South Carolina proposes a research-based “Pilot Dropout Prevention and Intervention Model” which includes mentoring, afterschool tutoring and a four-week summer enrichment transition program. Additionally, their proposal urges schools to allow students to gain credit through courses offered before and after normal school hours. This offers students increased access to additional support structures through extending learning time opportunities.
- Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Initiative for Neighborhoods and Schools that Work for Children (WINS for Children) encourages connecting children and their families to a full range of community supports—including a mix of afterschool and out-of-school programs. Not only are some of these programs are academic-based, but many are also aimed to strengthen youth self-esteem and sense of achievement. This proposal is modeled after Harlem’s Children Zone in New York City.
In this context, the versatility of afterschool allows states, school districts and communities to be creative and innovative while simultaneously increasing afterschool opportunities to more children. What are some of the creative ways you see afterschool being implemented in your state? What are some new or different ways you would like to see afterschool being implemented in your community?