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New Initiative Brings Together Out-of-School Leaders

Out-of-school programs can reduce negative behaviors like drug use and improve students' attendance, grades, and test scores, says a new report released today that draws comprehensive findings from more than 60 after-school studies.

The details behind those findings and more comprehensive information on the report will be officially released this afternoon in conjunction with the launch of the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project, an initiative and website that promote expanded and extended learning efforts nationwide, supported by some of the leading foundations and organizations in the out-of-school-time realm.The Noyce Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, and the David & Lucile Packard Foundation are leading the charge on the project, among others.

The site itself will offer the latest on research in the field, promising practices, and avenues for collaboration between programs and community partners.

"The project's website gives educators, parents, and community leaders across the country access to more than a decade of research and practice into how we can advance education through high-quality after-school programs," said Cathy DelVento, program coordinator of the 21st Center Community Learning Center program and spokeswoman for the project, in the press release. "Having worked in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for 10 years, I know firsthand how important it is that policymakers, educators, and communities have access to research and information on how we can help children succeed in school and in life."

So far, 450 organizations and leaders of OST have signed on to support the project, and statewide after-school networks have plans to host summits that further the discussions on what current research says are best practices for out-of-school programs to have the most significant impacts on participants. Florida, Kansas, Indiana, and Iowa will host the first summits.

The findings from the study by Joseph A. Durlak of Loyola University Chicago and Roger P. Weissberg of the University of Illinois, Chicago, along with more specifics on goals of the new expanded learning project and the future of out-of-school programs will be discussed today at 3:00 p.m. EST. Sign up here.

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