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Providence's After-School System Proves Effective

Providence's trademark after-school program, AfterZones, has been shown to reduce absences and improve the academic performance of its middle school participants, according to research released today from Public/Private Ventures.

AfterZones are "campuses" that include schools and community facilities where students attend after-school programs. The concept was created by the Providence After School Alliance in 2005. Leveraging support from then-Mayor David Cicilline, as well as a number of other community leaders and local organizations, Providence developed a citywide system for after-school programs.

The program has served as a model for other cities and was one of five included in a RAND study on building a city system for after-school.

The new research, supported by the Wallace Foundation, examined close to 800 6th graders who participated in the program for two years, and compared them with their nonprogram peers. The results showed improvements in behavior, attendance, and grades, and were better if a student attended the program longer.

"[This study] further reinforces the philosophy that student success can benefit from a hands-on, full-day learning strategy that brings together local communities and schools," said Hillary Salmons, executive director of PASA. "Students involved in the AfterZone had better social skills and more positive connections to schools, showing that working together and focusing on the learning needs and potential of each child produces positive outcomes."

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