10/17/2014 -

By Michael Braithwaite, Director of Communications

posted 10.17.2014

This is Beling Todd!

Around PASA, Beling is known for her radiant smile, quick wit, and outgoing personality. And for being the first 8th grader to start her own AfterZone program. Beling has been dancing since 5th grade—it's one of her many passions (as is acting, writing, and strategizing about getting into NYU). Having pursued her passion for hip hop dance on her own, she'd never signed up for the AfterZone, but she decided in 8th grade that she wanted to bring her knowledge and passion to her fellow middle school students at Roger Williams as an after-school program. She gathered her pitch, wrote a curriculum and presented it to AfterZone Site Coordinator Lauren Proctor, who was so impressed she gave her the go ahead with the caveat that she had to have an adult supervisor.

Long story short, her program "Showstoppers" was a huge hit with her peers. 

Beling is now a 10th grader at the Met and while she's older and wiser and busier, she's still leading her Showstoppers program at Roger Williams. Because she's also just generally an all-star, she decided that she also wanted to intern with PASA in order to deepen her knowledge of youth development and nonprofit administration.

While interning with us through November, she'll be participating in PASA's professional development and training series, doing a variety of different professional projects, and serving as PASA's on-the-ground social media youth voice. She'll be live Tweeting her experiences through our Twitter account (watch for the "Beling" signature on her Tweets) and blogging every two weeks about what she's been doing.  

We're really excited to have her as part of the team!

10/15/2014 -

Ever wonder how your teenager's brain might be impacting his/her educational experience? Are you a teacher that wants to better understand your high school students? Or maybe you've just noticed that adolescents have a lot of feelings. Either way, we've got the event for you!

Join us next Thursday, October 23rd at 3:30 pm at the Providence Public Library as we host Abigail Baird—Developmental Neuroscientist, Vassar professor, and "avid fan of popular culture and anything adolescent." Baird will be joined in conversation by the Wallace Foundation’s Nancy Devine and PASA’s Executive Director, Hillary Salmons. They will participate in a panel discussion with some of PASA’s youth alumni on how adolescent brain development impacts educational success.

Abigail Baird earned her B.A. in biopsychology from Vassar College and her M.A. and PhD. in developmental psychology from Harvard University. Her research interests include the integration of emotion and cognition across development, with a particular focus on neural development during adolescence. She is currently working on a series of studies that examine how teenagers use emotional and cognitive information to inform their decision-making. Her other interests include neuroimaging, as well as the influence of psychological science on law and public policy.

It's not every day that you get a leading researcher of teen minds in dialog with young people, so be sure to register!

This event is generously sponsored by The Wallace Foundation as part of PASA's 10th Birthday Bash celebration


10/06/2014 -

This post was written by Chris Mai, Policy and Communications Manager for Every Hour Counts and originally appeared on their blogEvery Hour Counts, formerly the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems, is a coalition of citywide organizations that increase access to quality learning opportunities, particularly for underserved students.

Data can be a powerful tool, but only if you know how to use it.

For too long, the expanded learning field has struggled with the complex and elusive process of developing and adopting a common framework for measuring youth outcomes and the program and system practices that may influence them. In a webinar last week, we unveiled a new Measurement Framework, a tool to help communities set goals for their expanded learning systems and to help them assess their progress and make data-driven improvements.

How can the Measurement Framework help you? The Measurement Framework offers practitioners:

•    A clear, simple set of outcomes that reflect priority measures of success for expanded learning systems. The Framework presents eight elements across the youth, program, and system levels that reflect high-priority focus areas for a thriving expanded learning system. Each element has corresponding outcomes designed to show whether systems and programs are functioning well. The Framework provides a description of measurement activities that can accompany each outcome, suggestions for how the data can be used, direction regarding how data on a given outcome may be linked to other levels within the Framework, and evidence on the value of each outcome.

•    Tips for...

10/03/2014 -

This post was generously shared by TASC, one of PASA's Every Hour Counts partners, and originally appeared as part of their NeuroConnections blog series, where they explore the bridge between neuroscience and education. Saskia Traill is TASC's vice president for policy and research. Dr. Abigail A. Baird is Associate Professor of Psychology at Vassar. 

The following is an excerpt from their lively and enlightening conversation about the adolescent brain. Dr. Baird will also be appearing in Providence as part of PASA's 10th Birthday Bash celebration on October 23. Her event is free to the public, so we hope this conversation inspires you to join us! 


How are adolescent brains different from adult brains?
This question could fill volumes, and has. Perhaps the biggest difference is that the adolescent brain is still extremely "plastic," meaning it is still structurally and functionally flexible. Adolescence is the best time to acquire the "rules of the road" for adult behavior. Yet, the social and emotional complexities of societies are highly idiosyncratic. Fortunately, the adolescent brain is ready for anything. It’s similar to how we acquire spoken language. We don’t come hardwired for a particular language because we don’t know where we will be born. Because of this need for flexibility, the brain comes with a strong capacity for language, not the language itself. Likewise, the adolescent brain is uniquely set up to quickly learn socially relevant information, and in doing so, ensure the individual's survival. 

What happens to the brain during adolescence?
A lot. Okay, that is probably not the answer...

10/03/2014 -

by Hillary Salmons, PASA Executive Director

posted 10.3.2014

Photo Credit: Office of Mayor Taveras


When Mayor Taveras took office three years ago, PASA hoped that his administration would be supportive of the work that we and our partners had begun under former Mayor Cicilline's administration, but we had no idea that he would so enthusiastically embrace expanded learning and youth advocacy.

In those three years, Mayor Taveras has not only served as PASA's Board Chair, but has wholeheartedly brought his passion for making sure all of our city's young people succeed to his administration. Thanks to Mayor Taveras, the city has been one of PASA's strongest supporters and under his leadership we've grown, deepened community connections, and forged new and stronger partnerships with the Providence Public Schools.

We can't thank him enough for his visionary leadership. 

09/12/2014 -

By Jon Allen, AfterZone Site Coordinator for Nathan Bishop

posted 9.15.2014

Left to Right: Missy Santos and her daughters Emma and Elliesha


For nearly 3 years, Missy Santos has been the program provider for Ocean State CrossFit Kids at Nathan Bishop Middle School. In those years, Missy has become a beloved provider by youth and staff alike. Her work ethic and dedication to youth programming is always above and beyond and often times will reach Herculean levels—something I can only assume is connected to her CrossFit routine. 

When Missy heard that the Nathan Bishop AfterZone site was looking for new program support staff members, she encouraged her oldest daughter Elliesha to apply—an idea I was particularly excited about knowing Missy and knowing how much the youth loved and connected to her. I figured their love for Missy and excitement about the program would enable Elliesha to easily connect with them and vice versa.

Upon meeting her, I was pleasantly surprised to come find another CrossFitian work ethic that I thought was unique to Missy and despite the fact that Elliesha didn't come with a longstanding background in youth development, she was extremely interested in learning and quickly incorporated herself into the culture of the AfterZone and wholeheartedly dedicated herself to youth work.

Suffice it to say, the youth loved her and continue to connect with her. She even has a following of students that will choose to sit quietly next to her.  

Eventually, Missy's youngest daughter began accompanying her mom to the program, and apparently the CrossFitian work ethic runs deep, because despite not being a staff member, Emma worked just as hard helping Missy with the program. She also started hanging out with the other students, and has become an...

09/12/2014 -

By Hillary Salmons, PASA Executive Director

posted 9.12.2014

Left to right: City Councilman Michael Solomon, AfterZone youth MC Kianna Moreno, AfterZone youth MC Niceo Aponte-Andrade, PASA Executive Director Hillary Salmons (back), PPSD Superintendent Dr. Susan Lusi

For the past ten years, PASA has focused on deepening the impact after school, summer, and expanded learning has on in-school outcomes like attendance, classroom behavior, and engagement in learning. As we've continued to hone this strategy, we've been lucky to have the Providence Public School District as a close collaborative partner—something that is entirely unique to Providence. 

PASA has been able to work closely with the district's teaching and learning team to align high-impact practices that PASA’s program providers can deliver, demonstrate, and share with one another and with school faculty. The AfterZone Summer Scholars Camp now functions has a truly integrated summer learning strategy with the district, having replaced PPSD's remediation strategy 3 years ago. In the Summer Scholars, district teachers and informal community-based educators now come together to co-design and deliver a fully hands-on, citywide summer learning program that is aligned with district and national standards. Together they recieve professional development and training from PASA and district staff alike. Last year, PASA's professional development offerings counted toward teachers' district professional development requirements for the first time. 

Superintendent Lusi has been critical in encouraging and helping to develop this trusting partnership, which has evolved from facilities usage and donated buses, to a full-fledged integrated strategy with shared funding, a high school strategy that awards course credits for out-of-school experiences, and a collaborative spirit unheard of in other districts around the country. 

I can't say enough about Dr....