11/06/2013 -

By Hillary Salmons, PASA Executive Director

On Monday, I was thrilled and honored to be presented with the Lawrence O'Toole Leadership Award from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. This is was such a wonderful surprise, and one that all of us here in Providence should feel proud of. 

While I may have been handed this fantastic oversized check (what fun!), all of the work we here at PASA do wouldn't be possible without our amazing network of collaborators and partners here in Providence and beyond. For ten years, we've had a wonderful time building a great after-school and expanded learning system with some of the most inspiring and passionate people working in education and with youth, and that spirit of sharing resources and ideas is what has made the AfterZone and the Hub student-centered learning models for the whole country.

Over the years, we've worked with the city, the school district, over 100 community-based organizations, teachers, and of course young people and their families to make sure that every student in Providence has the same opportunities that lead to academic success, as well as to healthy social and emotional development. 

Together, we've been able to serve over 7,000 young people through the years. We've been able to improve school attendance, and now that our AfterZone participants have begun moving through high school, we're seeing that the majority (97%) of students who participate in programming more than 50 days in middle school are going on to graduate high school

That's what our community has been able to accomplish! 

What a wonderful feeling to look around on Monday and see so many members of that dedicated and passionate community, from Mayor Taveras, to Nellie Mae President Nick Donohue, PPSD Superintendent Susan Lusi, the Rhode Island Foundation's Denise Jenkins, State Representative Ray Hull, and even former Hub ELO student (now...

10/31/2013 -

By Jessica Donner, Director of Every Hour Counts

Have you ever sat down with your schools superintendent or local funder, or even that person sitting next to you on the plane, and struggled to describe exactly what an “after-school system” is? Or “intermediary?” Or “expanded-learning?” We have, too, and frankly, we realized it was time for a change – a bold change. A rethinking of how we communicate the value of what we do, in clear and compelling language.

Through a comprehensive messaging planning process, we learned a few lessons for talking about our work:

•    Focus on outcomes and impact, rather than process.
•    Use language that makes sense to external audiences.
•    Tell key audiences what’s in it for them.

What are the big changes we made? For one, we changed our name to Every Hour Counts, formerly the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems. Why the change? Across the nation, our partners and peer organizations are employing an impressive range of strategies to provide all students with additional learning opportunities. We needed a new name that captured the power of expanded learning. Plus, Every Hour Counts is sticky, aspirational, speaks to high-quality programs, and conveys urgency. Our mission remains the same: expanding learning so every student can thrive.

Instead of adopting more lay terms, we decided to embrace the words “system” and “intermediary,” but to do a better job defining them and highlighting the benefits of building systems and supporting intermediaries.

We’re bringing complex ideas in system-building, such as quality improvement and school and community partnerships, to life through storytelling.

10/09/2013 -


Monday, October 28, 2013

3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. ET


Have you ever sat down with your schools' superintendent or local funder and struggled to describe exactly what an “after-school system” is? We have, too. Luckily, the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems has been working with a consultant over the past 9 months to develop clear, effective messaging that defines and explains the value of expanded-learning systems and intermediaries.

Drawing from the expertise of our national coalition partners and over a dozen stakeholders from the field, we developed a messaging guide to help systems and intermediaries better make the case for their work to diverse audiences.

Join CBASS for a webinar to hear what we discovered through the process, and learn how you can use these messages. You’ll also hear directly from an intermediary and policy advocate on their perspectives.

Susan Brenna, Chief Communications Officer, ExpandED Schools by TASC
Jessica Donner, Director, Collaborative for Building After-School Systems
Kara Marchione, Vice President, Penn Hill Group
Andrea Sussman, Vice President, KSA Plus Communications


09/26/2013 -

By Hillary Salmons, PASA's Executive Director



I just returned from Fogo Island in Newfoundland as part of my Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence fellowship from the Rhode Island Foundation, where I went to explore new angles on community efforts that are truly collective, strategic, and result in community-wide impacts—something we here at PASA and in the systems-building field think about all the time. 

Fogo has been a fishing community for generations, but when overfishing regulations were put into place in the 1990s, Fogo—like so many communities that relied on a single industry for economic strength—began to struggle economically. Now this tiny island community has begun a collective revitalization effort that weaves together the cultural heritage of their island with an economically diversified future that incorporates social enterprise, the arts, and preserving and placing value on local traditions. 

I spent my time on Fogo camping and exploring the gorgeous landscape, learning about its history, and, because its inhabitants are so warm and welcoming, I found myself being invited daily to strangers' homes for tea and conversation. One couple even invited me to camp in their backyard for a few nights! During my stay on the island, I also managed to bump into a caribou who decided he was not too happy about my catching him eating the neighbors' cabbages. 

In addition to surviving an impending caribou charge, I spoke with a wide variety of community members and island elders who share the same kinds of goals that we do—community ownership and the ability to build upon local assets and traditions! The people of Fogo have a long and rich cultural history, a legacy of arts and crafts styles specific to their island, and the natural beauty of the Newfoundland landscape on which to build the foundation of a bright future.

Together, they've tapped these resources to...

09/25/2013 -


Excerpted from her original post on Competency Works, September 25, 2013



Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in the American Youth Policy Forum’s meeting on The Role of Expanded Learning Opportunities in Competency-based Education Systems.  It was a fun meeting for me as I hadn’t sat in a room with the nation’s after school leaders since I was a program officer at the Mott Foundation during the launching of the 21st  Century Community Learning Centers.

To open the meeting, I was asked to share some thoughts about the relationship between expanded learning opportunities (ELO) and competency education.  I like the term ELO as it is so inclusive — think after school, youth program, badging, online learning, community service, sports, arts, career/college exploration and of course jobs.  As there are more and more people involved in ELO that are trying to make sense of where they fit into this expanding world of competency education as well as educators trying to figure out how to effectively use ELO’s I’m sharing my comments. 

Many people describe competency education with the phrase “time is a variable and learning as a constant”. It is not referring to self-paced. In fact it means the exact opposite. Students that are struggling are to get more time on task, more interventions, more support. There is greater concentration of resources so that students can continue on pace and continue to make more progress. We have to eliminate the imagery of moving through a curriculum in order to understand competency education.


09/25/2013 -

Watch former Hub ELO student Bryan Norato chat with the country's leading education and technology thinkers about the benefits and possibilities of digital badges for this White House Google Hangout!

09/10/2013 -
11:00 AM PST/2:00 PM EST

How can digital badges connect our interests & passions both inside and outside formal education, and make lifelong learning pathways more visible?

About The Speaker(s)

  • Craig Watkins studies young people's social and digital media behaviors. He teaches at the University of Texas, Austin, in the departments of Radio-Television-Film, Sociology, and the Center for African and African American Studies. Craig is also a Faculty Fellow for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin. Craig is also a Principal Investigator on the Connected Learning Research Network (CLRN) project, The Digital Edge.
  • Sybil Madison-Boyd ia the Learning Pathways Program Director with the Digital Youth Network at DePaul University and is examining how learning pathways can make transparent "possible futures" in ways that support agency and that can be translated across spaces in ways that "count".
  • Tim Riches is the CEO of DigitalMe, a nonprofit dedicated...