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'Stay Late and Graduate' - Afterschool Programs Working 'Beyond the Bell' to Combat Dropout Crisis

By Sarah Simpson

At the Afterschool Alliance we’re always eager to learn of innovative and effective practices in the afterschool field and are happy to help highlight and celebrate those quality programs that are being recognized for leading the way.  One such Los Angeles afterschool program, Beyond the Bell’s Take Action Leadership Campaign, was given the first-ever Innovations in Education Award this past Saturday at Insight University’s “An Evening with Arianna Huffington.”  The award was presented by Stu Semigran, co-founder and president of EduCare Foundation.

In anticipation of the event, Stu wrote a great post in the Huffington Post’s Education Blog that outlines the Take Action Leadership Campaign’s “state late and graduate” philosophy and the strong academic outcomes that they’re seeing among participating youth.

School districts across the country are struggling with budget cuts that make it harder to address the individual academic and developmental needs of each student.  Before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs are proven to be effective partners in offering hands-on, engaging learning opportunities that provide real benefits to students who are struggling in the classroom—and at a significantly lower cost.  Take Action is an innovative partnership between the Los Angeles Unified School District, EduCare Foundation and other community-based organizations that was designed as a cost-effective approach to combat the district’s growing dropout crisis and resulting risky behaviors like crime and teenage pregnancy.  In tough budgetary times, Stu makes the case that Take Action is a winning solution that exemplifies the possibilities of the out-of-school space:

“By giving students before- and after-school programs that they have a hand in creating, they are staying in school and improving their grades…And the best news of all it [sic]  is it is funded by anti-smoking monies, foundations and many other sources that do not deplete school budgets. These before- and after-school programs are extremely cost-effective when compared with the monies spent in service to the more expansive student population during the regular school day.”

We encourage you to check out Stu’s full blog post on Huffington Post and share your thoughts.  And if your afterschool program is being recognized for its important contributions to the success of our youth, we want to hear from you!  Let us know by posting a comment below.