New Coalition Commits to Greater Opportunities for Youth

Press Release Contact from Boston After School and Beyond: Chris Smith

Source: Boston Learns Together

New Coalition Commits to Greater Opportunities for Youth
Urges recognition of the importance of after-school and summer learning

BOSTON – Today a coalition of 59 leaders from Boston’s nonprofit, cultural, higher education, business and philanthropic sectors unveiled Boston Learns Together committing their organizations to ensuring that Boston’s young people have greater access to enriching opportunities beyond school.

The coalition’s unusually broad array of institutions reflects growing evidence that enriching experiences, in addition to quality schools, are crucial to children’s success. “School alone is not a strong enough intervention to close the achievement gap,” said Paul Reville, professor of practice at Harvard Graduate School of Education and former Massachusetts secretary of education. “We need a 21st Century education and child development system that treats people differently based on what they need, integrating enrichment, health, and wellness supports.”

This announcement comes as the city anticipates a new mayor and superintendent of schools. Boston has made substantial progress in creating such opportunities for young people, yet national statistics suggest that there remains a significant “opportunity gap” between low-income students and their higher income peers. Data show that high-income families spend nearly seven times more than low-income families on enriching activities for their children, exposure to novel environments, and other activities beyond school.

To address this disparity, each organization that has signed Boston Learns Together has committed to:

  • Apply resources to close opportunity gaps,
  • Share accountability with schools for results, and
  • Collaborate with the next mayor and superintendent on implementation.

Coalition members note that a citywide learning system that incorporates partnerships and time after school and during the summer should enhance cognitive, social and emotional skills such as problem solving, teamwork, and persistence. “Students must be able to demonstrate their mastery of higher order skills, not merely academic content,” said Nicholas Donohue, president and CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, New England’s largest foundation focused solely on education. “We have a number of strong models for helping young people develop these skills.”

Meeting these objectives requires engagement of a broad array of partners. As an example, Brigham and Women’s Hospital provides 80 internships in the medical, health and science professions. “High school students need experiences in actual workplaces with real responsibilities in order to develop the skills that will enable them to succeed,” said Wanda McClain, vice president of community health at the hospital and board chair for Boston After School & Beyond. Partners HealthCare and its founding hospitals Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General have committed $10 million in college scholarships and support for graduates of their high school programs. “To ensure their success we provide academic support and practical assistance from high school all the way through college graduation,” said McClain.

Boston After School & Beyond convenes the coalition through a partnership council focused on six areas of work, including summer learning, school-community partnerships, working with teens, STEM, quality measurement, and skills.

To learn more about Boston Learns Together, please visit www.bostonlearnstogether.org.

To view the entire Boston After School & Beyond press release please click here.