The after-school hours are full of opportunities for young people to explore career and college pathways, yet this time is often seen as separate from or less important than the school day for a young person’s learning and development. When Governor Gina Raimondo visited our AfterZone at DelSesto Middle School in mid-December, she saw how, in fact, the after-school hours are critical hours for a young person to find their passions, make connections between the classroom and their interests, and develop their whole selves. When communities prioritize after school, the whole day becomes a seamless day of learning, and young people have more time and more support to develop their career and college pathways.
During Governor Raimondo’s visit, the governor walked DelSesto’s hallways with PASA alumna Genesis Sanchez, who led the governor on the tour and shared with the governor how her experiences with PASA helped her to be where she is now, a senior at Rhode Island College preparing to go to law school. The rooms off the hallways buzzed with activity as young people participated in a mix of arts, STEM, and sports programming. The governor visited with students along the way. In one classroom, young people in HomeEc. Studio gifted the governor with a beautifully crocheted scarf that they made. In another classroom, the governor saw young people designing and building their own functioning robots led by partners at Tri-Tech Pathways, Inc.
Later that week, the youth in this robotics program attended the Computer Science for Rhode Island (CS4RI) Summit, which was part of the governor’s launch of a computer science initiative to offer more widespread computer science education. The summit was held at the University of Rhode Island’s Ryan Center and allowed the six AfterZone youth to show off their robots and learn about the career opportunities that connect to their experiences. In total, approximately 1,800 middle and high school students and over 60 industry leaders from across Rhode Island flooded both floors of URI’s Ryan Center to discuss cryptography, virtual reality, and game design. The CS4RI Summit exemplifies how PASA programming connects young people to the world, and expands their sense of possibility in education and career pathways.
At the conclusion of the governor’s tour, Governor Raimondo sat down with Youth Development majors from Rhode Island College with whom we partner to hear about their experiences working in the AfterZone. The students shared with the governor their insights studying the AfterZone, which is valuable experience for them as they prepare for professional careers with young people within after-school programs, recreation centers, community art centers, youth residential housing, justice and probation sites, youth ministry, and governmental agencies.
Governor Raimondo glimpsed PASA’s unique world of AfterZone, where young people explore their interests and partnerships flourish as we build learning communities. Although the AfterZone world is unique, we are not separate. We are working alongside school day educators, community organizations, and city leaders to ensure all young people have the exposure and support they need to pursue their career, college, and life dreams.