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National Expanded-Learning Advocacy Group Extends to More Cities

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Every Hour Counts is growing.

The coalition of 10 citywide organizations that works to increase access to quality learning opportunities, particularly for underserved students, is launching a new national learning community by adding 13 additional cities and counties.

"This launch expands our reach," said Jessica Donner, the executive director of Every Hour Counts. "Previously, we were in 10 states, and now our work is in 18 states. It really grows this work around knowledge sharing and dissemination of ideas much more broadly."

Hobby Center 3.jpgThe following cities and counties are now part of Every Hour Counts:

·         Allegheny County, Penn. - Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time
·         Dallas - Dallas Afterschool
·         Denver - Denver Afterschool Alliance
·         Detroit - The Skillman Foundation
·         Fresno, Calif. - California Teaching Fellows Foundation
·         Greenville, S.C. - BOOST Greenville
·         Harris County, Texas - Harris County Department of Education's Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids
·         King County, Wash. - Youth Development Executives of King County
·         Newark, N.J. - Newark Thrives!
·         Richmond, Va. - NextUp RVA
·         Rochester, N.Y. - Greater Rochester After-School Alliance
·         San Francisco - San Francisco Expanded Learning Collaborative, San Francisco Department of Children, Youth, & Their Families
·         St. Paul, Minn. - Sprockets

These 13 communities were chosen after completing an application process, and Donner said she expects them to bring new, innovative ideas in several areas including, social-emotional learning and developing public-private partnerships.

"Now our knowledge base is going to grow, and collectively we believe that will have ripple effects across these 23 communities and then across the field more broadly" said Donner.

System Building

This expanded knowledge base is expected to assist the organization in helping even more communities build the systems necessary to provide expanded-learning opportunities. 

"System building is complex and can take years," said Donner. "We've learned that there's no one right way to build a system, but through our decade of experience working together, and since we have a bird's-eye view on many cities to begin with, we now have a better handle on what to do and what not to do to help communities jumpstart efforts."

Donner said the organization is also well equipped to help communities sustain their efforts in the expanded-learning arena, so whether a community is looking to connect providers and schools or develop a cross-sector partnership, Every Hour Counts should be able to help ensure that, "the work is built in a way in which it can withstand either political shifts [or] funding shifts."

Next month, the nonprofit is holding a national institute in Chicago. It will be their first in-person meeting since the 13 new communities joined the coalition.  It's designed to allow the group to decide how best to move forward and advance the communities' shared vision as it relates to policy.

Photo: Students from Kujawa Elementary School in Houston, Texas, perform a puppet presentation as part of Kids' Day at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, an event coordinated by Harris County Department of Education's Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids. (Lindsey Sanders)

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