Learning doesn’t stop when the school bell rings.
School’s Out Washington recently launched its Youth Program Registry, the nation’s first database of expanded learning opportunities and youth development professionals. The registry launch is an exciting moment for afterschool and summer learning programs in the state because improved data will be a huge boon to this crucial, growing field of work. The Youth Program Registry is also the newest component of the Sparkwind Movement, a campaign to decrease Washington State’s opportunity gap by strengthening expanded learning opportunities throughout the state.
By registering, Washington’s expanded learning programs will start to build a robust database of what afterschool and summer learning programs look like in the state. Who are programs serving? What does the field need in terms of resources and workforce development? The registry will also help programs internally with planning, fundraising, and information tracking. Right now, very little data exists about the programs or their impact on young people, but what we do know points a promising field that could be a gamechanger for academic achievement and social/emotional development.
We know that what children learn outside of school has an impact on their academic achievement in the classroom. That is, in part, why it’s so important to make sure children and young people have access to high-quality learning opportunities during the summer and after school. According to a study of children in nearly 70 afterschool programs, students who participated in high-quality afterschool programs received better grades and even performed better than their peers on tests. And in many cases, expanded learning has strengthened the relationship between family and school, and created opportunities for young people to engage with caring adults other than their parents and teachers.
We look forward to watching the database grow to increase access to, and improve the quality of, expanded learning opportunities across Washington.