07/16/2013 -

The Wallace Foundation released a report on on their Better Together conference to help cities find

resources to build afterschool systems.


Originally posted in the Wallace Foundation's Newsletter

A decade ago, afterschool systems – which coordinate the work of programs, government, funders and other key afterschool players so they can together build more and better programming for kids – were a rarity in American cities.

Not so now, judging by the 57 city teams at a recent conference on afterschool systems.   

Read about what they learned from one another and field pioneers in a report released today: Better Together: Building Local Systems to Improve Afterschool (A Conference Report).

The report captures clear themes about how systems can open the way to strong afterschool programming for more disadvantaged children – by improving program quality, collecting and using data for informed decision-making, getting the mayor on board, and even finding creative...

06/20/2013 -

We the Geeks: Building a 21st Century Resume

Originally posted by Thomas Kalil on

Watch "We the Geeks" on a 21st Century Resume live on Thursday, June 20th, at 2:00 p.m. EDT Join the conversation and ask your questions with the hashtag #WeTheGeeksSign up to get email updates about future hangouts.

In the same way that “merit badges” have been used by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and medals have been used by the military to demonstrate achievement, a growing number of foundations, government agencies, companies and non-profits are exploring “digital badges” as the 21st century equivalent of a resume-builder that students and workers can use to showcase their skills, encourage their peers, and find meaningful educational and employment opportunities. 

With support from the MacArthur Foundationthe Mozilla Foundation, and others, digital badges are being used to:

  • Recognize student accomplishments in technical fields such as computer science and robotics;
  • Help veterans get jobs by demonstrating the valuable real-world skills they’ve acquired in the military;
  • Inspire students as part of a larger effort to reduce the number of high-school dropouts, which today number more than 1 million per year.

While much work is yet to be done to build an evidence base for the value of badges in various contexts, the badges movement is growing. In March, the City of Chicago, Mozilla, MacArthur, and 143 other organizations launched the “Summer of Learning...

06/19/2013 -


The Providence After School Alliance (PASA), in partnership with the Providence Public Schools, is looking for non-profit organizations and business and industry partners to apply to provide “expanded learning opportunities” of ten or more weeks which provide youth with hands-on, relevant experiences to prepare youth for life beyond high school, in both career and academic pathways.  PASA staff and others will work with those whose applications are approved to further develop their programs to be eligible as credit-bearing opportunities for high school youth.

These Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs) through the PASA’s Hub high school initiative offer young people in Providence a chance to earn graduation credit for learning that takes place beyond the traditional classroom. PASA has developed Hub ELOs in partnership with Providence Public Schools and many community partners over the past three years. Although youth participants do receive credit upon completion of the program, PASA’s focus is on engaging youth in consistent participation, growing their social and emotional competencies and building relevant real-world skills.

The skills young people need to be successful after high school are complex, and learning experiences in school alone are not sufficient to prepare them for their next opportunities. ELOs in Providence allow us to collectively re-imagine what youth learn — and how, where, and when they learn it.  Musicians learn focus and perseverance from long hours of practice sessions and auditions. Gamers and computer tinkerers learn to think critically and push through challenges every time they encounter a new bug or programming problem. Artists expand their minds with big picture, out of the box creative thinking. These learning experiences are invaluable for our young people, the types of learning experiences that our schools are not able to provide in the quantity and depth that youth need.

All ELO experiences are youth-centered, hands-on, rigorous, and grounded in real -world experience. The core elements of the Hub ELO program include:

  • Rigorous learning experiences beyond the classroom – Youth engage in...
06/17/2013 -

President Bill Clinton last week announced a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action to massively expand access to a new method of academic and technical skills assessment known as Open Badges – online representations of earned knowledge and skills – to improve the futures of two million students and U.S. workers.

Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting, an annual event of the Clinton Global Initiative that seeks innovative solutions for economic recovery, Clinton said three partners – the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla, and HASTAC – have created the commitment to Open Badges. Outreach and technical assistance will be provided to help employers and universities across the country incorporate Open Badges in hiring, promotions, admissions, and credit over the next three years.

Open Badges has the potential for in-depth, verifiable credentialing of 21st Century skills no matter where they are learned – in school, in the community, on the job, or online. That creates new pathways to success for students and workers while helping employers identify job candidates that have the skills that are most needed in today’s rapidly changing workplace.

“Veterans transitioning to civilian life who have high-demand skills but no certifications, Internet ‘ninjas’ who are technically adept but self-taught, and child care workers who have years of experience but no formal degree can all benefit from Open Badges, which provides an alternative and more in-depth method to demonstrate new knowledge and skills,” said Connie Yowell, Director of Education at the MacArthur Foundation. “Meanwhile, Open Badges gives employers a new way to assess critical but hard-to-measure skills such as creativity, communication, teamwork, and adaptability.”

Some universities, massively open online courses (MOOCs), high-tech employers, and K-12 programs already use badges to certify skill acquisition. The Open Badges partners are committed to expanding the use of badges nationwide over the next three years so that one million K-12 and college students and one million workers will be able to use badges to advance their academic progress or further their career goals by being able to demonstrate acquired skills and learning.

The partners moved a step closer to that goal on Thursday with a commitment by two...

06/06/2013 -

PASA is excited to announce the AfterZone’s FALL 2013  Request for Proposals (RFP)! The AfterZone provides free after-school and expanded learning programming for over 1,400 middle school youth throughout the City of Providence. Programming will operate in the fall from September 30th, 2013 through December 5, 2013.  

PASA has a total of $130,000 in funding to serve a minimum 700 youth across the city for the 10-week session. In the past, program awards have ranged from $1,200-$3,000. Funding for these programs comes from both private and federal funding sources.

If you are a returning AfterZone provider, please use your existing account at to submit your proposal. There have been some minor changes to the application, including a new requirement of uploading a PDF of your Certificate of Liability Insurance—with PASA and Providence Public Schools listed as "additionally insured." *

If you are interested in becoming a new provider, here is some helpful information below:

-The AfterZone is a great opportunity to increase your organization’s access to Providence middle school youth.

-Your staff will have access to numerous professional development opportunities!

-Programs operate in one hour blocks on a Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday basis between the hours of 2:30pm-5:30pm.

-PASA staff will provide an overview of how to prepare for the proposal submission process during Technical Assistance Sessions, held at PASA, located at 140 Broadway, Providence RI 02903. Attendance at one of these sessions is strongly encouraged for first time applicants. Dates and times are below:

​                    ...
05/15/2013 -

As Providence gears up for another summer of the AfterZone Summer Scholars, we here at PASA are discussing fighting summer learning loss. But what does summer learning loss really mean in the long run? How does it affect students?

Our friends over at Horizons National created this video to illustrate just how dramatically the cumulative issue of summer learning loss impacts young people.


05/13/2013 -

“What's best for youth and families?” Director of Expanded Learning Patrick Duhon asked a room full of representatives from seven different cities, all of who came to Providence last week to learn more from PASA's third annual City Symposium about how to build citywide systems of after-school and expanded learning opportunities for middle and high school youth. Attendees from Louisville, KY, Flint, MI, Cranston, RI, Jacksonville, FL, Richmond, VA, Milwaukee, MN, and Worcester, MA spent two days at the Symposium exploring how to build learning systems that work for their cities. 

Patrick suggested cities, school departments, and community-based organizations should focus on that question when thinking about how to work together. It's not about what's best for YOUR organization, or YOUR department, it's about what's best for the community; what's best for youth and their families.

City Symposium attendees benefit from PASA's hindsight. Though now it’s mostly smooth sailing, we spent years in a planning process that involved every imaginable community stakeholder; went through the process of crafting a data sharing agreement with PPSD; and, critically, listened to what youth and parents wanted. 

A highlight of Patrick's presentation was when he recalled that PASA's original mission was a dedication to arts and science. Panels of community members and experts that contributed to PASA's planning process determined that the arts and science were the areas of greatest need, but when PASA involved parents and their students in the process, they almost universally called for sports programming. 

We asked ourselves as a community, What's best for youth and their families?  This question led us to create the AfterZone, with programming divided into arts, sports, and skills (which incorporated science programs). Sports programming has consistently been popular with our youth,...