Representatives from 10 different cities head to Rhode Island this week to find out how Providence provides afterschool programs. They're interested in the Providence Afterschool Alliance, which coordinates bussing and activities for roughly 2,000 Providence students.
PASA works with nonprofits that provide a range of programs from art and music to science, math and sports. The group also works with city and school officials to serve roughly one-third of all Providence middle school students. In recent years, PASA has been expanding into high schools.
Organizers been able to show that students who participate in PASA earn higher test scores and miss fewer school days than their peers. The program's philosophy is to focus on hands-on activities, designed reinforce the concepts students are learning during the school day.
"Too many of our low-income kids across the country don't have access to the museums, to the water, to the beaches, to the bugs and the owl scat," said PASA Executive Director Hillary Salmons. "It’s like they just don’t know that stuff exists, and once they do they can make these connections to the classroom work."
Salmons says other cities call regularly to get information about the program, which prompted an annual symposium now in it's fourth year. She describes it like sharing a recipe.
"And you may be from a town where you want to put in tomatoes, and someone else may want to put in peppers, but how do you really make sure that young people are acquiring the skills they need – teamwork, problem solving, effective communication – that enhance what goes on in the school," said Salmons.
Representatives from Detroit, Michigan, Brookline, Massachusetts and Richmond, Virginia are expected to be among the group visiting Providence afterschool programs this week.