Over the past several years, Foundations has partnered with elementary schools in some of Providence’s poorest neighborhoods to help all children read on grade level by third grade. Working with teachers, principals, afterschool workers, family support specialists, librarians, literacy coaches, health workers, and many others, we are seeing firsthand that when everyone works hard and is willing to collaborate closely across programs, agencies, and departments, amazing things can happen for kids.
When I visited Bailey Elementary in Providence, I saw kids in the afterschool program receiving hands-on lessons from a local conservation society about marine life and ecosystems. It was fun to see the kids’ jaws literally drop when a whale bone was brought out. And close collaboration was evident. The afterschool program director at the YMCA and the school’s literacy coach told me they were in touch several times on any given day.
It’s wonderful to see Providence’s afterschool programs highlighted in a report released by the Wallace Foundation today—one of few rigorous research studies about afterschool programs. The study found that sixth and seventh graders who participated in Providence’s After Zones had improved in-school attendance and grades—even though intense tutoring and remediation are not a focus of this program. What seemed to help was keeping the Arts Zone program closely “grounded” in the school environment.