The Providence After School Alliance (PASA): Tips and Resources

Helpful hints from the Providence After-School Alliance on a variety of topics, including starting a program, securing funding, and best practices for mentoring relationships.

Helpful hints from the Providence After-School Alliance on a variety of topics, including starting a program, securing funding, and best practices for mentoring relationships.

PASA, located in Providence, Rhode Island, has revolutionized the idea of after-school programs. PASA looked beyond the more common school-based model and replaced it with a community-campus approach made up of different zones -- dubbed AfterZones -- where students coming from nearby schools can attend enriched arts, skills, and sports programs of their choosing. By building high-quality enrichment programs and linking the public and private sectors through a youth-centered agenda, PASA has successfully attracted and retained one-third of middle school youth in Providence.

Getting Started Tips

Want to start a full-time-learning model in your community? Whether you’re a teacher, administrator, or community member, these tips will help you get going.

Do your research:

  • View this site and others for ideas about what type of program you want to create, for which age groups, and during which hours.
  • Review academic standards. Always make sure standards fold into the project.
  • Talk with leaders from similar programs for background information.
  • Getting Started Links

    Check out these websites for more information about establishing your own program.

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    Funding Tips

    Funding for extended-day learning programs comes from many sources. Here's a short sampling.

    • Federal funding. Find federal resources that provide grants and funding for extended learning programs.
    • Parents. Ask for parent donations. Parents are usually willing to donate varying amounts to enrich their child's learning.
    • Local businesses. Recruit businesses to provide support -- through funding or other resources. Do your research first; many businesses receive requests for support. Understand the company history, and make contact with the right representatives.
    • Foundations. Research local and state foundations dedicated to serving youth, the arts, health, and related topics.

    Funding Links

    Check out these websites for more information about funding full-time learning.

    • Department of Education: Federal grant applications, opportunities, and resources for educators in the United States.
    • Afterschool.gov: Comprehensive site that connects educators and the public to federal resources for financing and running full-time-learning programs.
    • Afterschool Alliance: Tools, databases, and advice for funding full-time-learning programs.
    • Children Now: Policy reports and research on California's after-school programs. Includes a kit for applying for California after-school funding.
    • Education World Grants Center: List of current education grants and articles for grant seekers.
    • 712educators.com Grant Resources: Guides and tips on how to write grant proposals.
    • The Foundation Center: Resources, tools, training, and news for grant writing and locating prospective funders.

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    Mentoring Tips

    Mentors function as kids’ bridge to reality. But often hindered by lack of training and time, how do mentors make a lasting impression? Seasoned mentors and educators share their tips:

    • Be enthusiastic and passionate. Motivated mentors make for motivated kids.
    • Be organized, detailed, and flexible. Keep students engaged by adapting to their individual needs.
    • Give students your full time and attention. Get to know them to make a real connection.
    • Develop a manageable but usable project. Make it easy to create but not easy to waste.
    • Encourage students to share with others. This builds a sense of community.
    • Finally, just be yourself.

    Mentoring Links

    Check out these websites for more information about mentoring.

    • Donors Choose: Database of educational projects that connects educators to prospective donors.
    • icouldbe.org: Program model that matches young students with mentors.
    • Volunteer Match: Database matching volunteers with volunteer opportunities.
    • Meetup Mentor Group: Searchable list of mentor groups by geographic location.
    • MENTOR: Comprehensive resources for becoming a mentor and starting a mentorship program.
    • NWREL's National Mentoring Center: Center for training and technical assistance for youth mentoring programs and initiatives.

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    Relationship-Building Tips

    Here are some tips for forming and keeping lasting school-community relationships.

    • Network to build relationships.
    • Spread the word to your internal base. Start with friends and colleagues.
    • Talk to parent and parent-leaders in your school. Identify their skills and recruit them as mentors or spokespeople.
    • Talk about the project at open houses and orientations. Ask anyone and everyone to support the kids.
    • Form and nurture partnerships.
    • Identify companies, youth organizations, nonprofits, and colleges that want to create a school-community connection.
    • Give presentations, and set up a booth at company outreach events.
    • Host thank-you events and provide constant feedback.
    • Develop a seamless tie between classroom and the extended day.
    • Create organization. Provide ongoing training and support for mentors. Schedule meeting times when mentors and teachers can discuss student progress and create cohesive lesson plans.
    • Consider hiring a liaison to act as a mentor trainer and student tutor.
    • Update parents on how their kids are doing socially and academically.
    • Invite mentors and partners to staff meetings and teacher luncheons. Keep everyone focused on a connection between the classroom and project.

    Relationship-Building Links

    Check out these websites for more information about developing community partnerships.

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    Assessment Tips

    How do educators and administrators evaluate the success of a full-time-learning program? Here are some tips for assessing program and student achievements.

    • Assess students based on rubrics rather than relying solely on grades. Student development is often more important than the final outcome.
    • Track student's progress throughout the course of the program through rubrics, or predefined criteria, often based on academic standards and 21st century learning skills.
    • Define clear program goals. Ask students to complete a pre-screening questionnaire, including what they expect to achieve from the project. Also, ask questions relating to student's current knowledge level. This helps in creating rubrics and tracking progress.
    • Collect data and evaluations throughout the program. Train teachers and mentors about the importance of rubrics and the assessment process. Encourage routine progress reports and student interviews, creating open communication throughout the program.
    • Assess the program in part through student progress, using rubrics for guidance. What skills were improved upon? What did the final project look like? How did students exceed the teachers and mentors' expectations?
    • Use academic records and comparison studies. For example, did student attendance improve? What about grades and standardized test scores? How do these results compare to students who didn't participate in the program?

    Assessment Links

    Check out these websites for more information about assessment of your own students and/or program.

    Evaluation Tools

    These are some of the assessment tools used nationally by after-school programs.

    State and International Standards and Benchmarks

    Locate and review the standards for your state and subject.

  • Document your needs and findings.

Recruit good people:

  • Principals should play an active role.
  • Recruit people with strong leadership skills and connections to the community.
  • Ask colleagues, parents, and friends to help. Assign specific roles and tasks.

Develop a business plan:

  • Highlight how the project benefits students.
  • Refer to historically successful learning programs: Include essentials, such as the project goal, outline, funding ideas, resources, and directive.

Sell the project:

  • Get the PTA and parent groups involved. Parents can participate directly (by becoming mentors) or indirectly (by recruiting their employers).
  • Ask civic organizations and businesses for support.

Involve the students:

  • Ask them to brainstorm their own full-time-learning programs.
  • Encourage them to take part in the plan.

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This article originally published on 2/23/2012

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