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ExpandED Schools Uses Leap Day to Make Public Think About Extended Learning

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We all get an extra day this year on February 29 thanks to that astronomical oddity known as leap year. And, the people at ExpandED Schools are challenging us to use it wisely.

It's part of a campaign to raise awareness about the learning gap and the importance of extra instructional time.

"Owning leap day seemed like a really natural fit to honor what we and so many others around the country are doing in terms of advocating for expanded learning time," said Deb Levy, the group's director of communications and marketing.

The mission of the New York City-based organization is to close the learning gap between students from low-income families and their upper- and middle-class peers by increasing access to extended-learning opportunities.

"For kids growing up in poverty, they're very likely to suffer, by the time they reach 6th grade, a 6,000-hour learning gap," said Levy. "This is things like summer camp, after-school activities, and weekend trips to cultural institutions."

In honor of leap year, ExpandED Schools has put out what they're calling a Bonus Day Bucket List. It lists ways you can make the most of the extra day and includes things such as registering to vote, hiking, and learning to knit.

"It's just to make people think about what they can do with extra time, and it really correlates to the work that we do in the schools," said Levy. "We expand the school day, but it's not just so kids can sit at a desk longer and be drilled on math and reading. It's so that they can get exposed to learning experiences that they might not have otherwise. That's the learning gap that we're talking about."

The nonprofit also hopes to raise some money for its cause through all this. ExpandED Schools is partnering with several companies in New York City to sponsor events or classes on leap day with the proceeds going to support their programs.

Students at many ExpandED Schools will also participate by taking a group leap at some point during the day on February 29. The group's staff is also participating. They'll be gathering in Time Square to take a coordinated, public leap as well.

(CORRECTION: This post has been updated to correct the name of the organization ExpandED.)

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