From Providence’s City News:
New Director to Lead Providence’s After School Initiative for High School Students
Stanford University graduate & former Met School teacher to create citywide network to engage high school students after school
Mayor David N. Cicilline announced that the Providence After School Alliance (PASA) has hired Damian J. Ewens to lead a new after-school network for Providence high school-aged students. The network will complement PASA’s successful AfterZones – an award-winning and nationally replicated system which is an initiative of Mayor Cicilline’s that provides high-quality after-school programming for thousands of middle school students ranging from sailing, film production and dance to culinary arts and gymnastics.
“We are fortunate to have someone with Damian Ewens’ experience and deep commitment to young people leading PASA’s new after-school network for high school students,” said Mayor Cicilline. “He has already helped to shape the future of countless young people as a teacher and student advisor, and he possesses the vision, talent and organizational skills needed to make this initiative a great success.”
The new initiative for high school students, call The Hub, is a citywide, sustainable approach to connecting high school students with high-quality opportunities after school ranging from job training and mentoring to arts and sports programs.
“We are building The Hub in response to countless AfterZone graduates who want to continue connecting to engaging after-school programs, services and employment,” said Hillary Salmons, PASA’s Executive Director. “Damian’s combined experience as a teacher, leader and entrepreneur will help shape and build the hub in a way that responds to young peoples’ needs and real interests.”
Ewens will work closely with PASA’s partner organizations to begin building a system of after-school programming for high school students. A collective of 10 local non-profit organizations and youth representatives have conducted research, arranged site visits to various schools and sought input from young people, parents, providers and other stakeholders in developing a plan for an after school system for teens.
The PASA high school initiative will include sharing knowledge and information through a dynamic web tool; creating a centrally located youth-run space where youth and providers can gather to share ideas, provide programs, and host events; creating an alternative transportation plan, including shared bicycles, a circulating shuttle and improved bus routes, to better connect youth to programs; and developing public policies that increase youth access to after school learning, including receiving graduation credit for their “out of school time” experiences and access to public transportation after school.
Ewens most recently held the position of Special Projects Manager for Big Picture Learning (BPL), a non-profit organization whose mission is to “lead vital changes in education by generating and sustaining innovative, personalized schools that work in tandem with the real world of the greater community.” As Special Projects Manager at BPL, Ewens was responsible for the organization’s overall strategic initiatives including communications, board development, educational goals and fundraising.
Ewens, a mathematics certified teacher who has taught in grades 6-12 in both Providence and California, worked as a teacher and student advisor at the Met School from 2003 to 2007. In addition to advising students in academics and providing college counseling at the Met School, Ewens is also heavily involved in the Providence arts community as a DJ and central organizer of large-scale arts events such as Straight Mixed Culture and Woolly Fair.
He obtained a Masters degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor of in Science in Economics from Santa Clara University.
The partner organizations that helped shape PASA’s high school initiative are AS220’s Broad Street Studio, College Visions, Everett Dance Theater’s Carriage House School, Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, New Urban Arts, Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM), The Steel Yard, Young Voices, Youth In Action and Youth Pride. The initiative is made possible with the generous support of the City of Providence, The Rhode Island Foundation, The Rhode Island After School Plus Alliance, The Nellie Mae Education Foundation, and The Partnership Foundation.
Mayor Cicilline created PASA in 2003 in response to the need for high-quality after-school programming for middle school-aged students. The program has grown beyond the school year to include exciting summer activities, academics to reduce summer learning loss and job opportunities for young people.