Q and A: Boston After School and Beyond
Boston School Finder (BSF): Tell us a bit about Boston After School & Beyond. What is your organizational mission, and what offerings do you have for students, families and the community?
Boston After School & Beyond (Boston Beyond): Boston After School & Beyond is a public-private partnership that seeks to ensure that every child in Boston has the opportunity to develop to his or her full potential. Boston Beyond’s role is to expand learning and skill development opportunities for students.
Beginning in 2012, in partnership with Boston Public Schools, Boston After School & Beyond participated in a research study with the Wallace Foundation and RAND Corporation to understand what kind of impact high quality summer learning programs can have on young people. The model that our offices developed, and continue to support today, merge the teaching expertise of Boston Public School teachers with the enrichment and learning expertise of community-based organizations to create a dynamic learning experience that provides youth the same level of quality they’ve come to expect from traditional education and fused it with the fun and excitement of learning in spaces outside of the classroom. In Boston, the city has become a classroom for thousands of youth each summer as they have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of core curriculum that is embedded in fun experiences at the Franklin Park Zoo, Thompson Island, Hale Reservation, and college-campus based programs like Sociedad Latina and Upward Bound.
BSF: What summer programs or opportunities does Boston After School & Beyond offer for students? Who leads these programs?
Boston After School & Beyond has supported summer learning throughout the City of Boston for the past ten years by leveraging public and private funding to support and connect out-of-school time providers with public schools to create a new model of summer learning that integrates academics, enrichment, and the City of Boston as a classroom. Though our office does not provide direct service to youth and families, Boston Beyond has developed a number of program partnerships throughout the city to ensure that we have a variety of program partners that can offer a wide range of experiences that are sure to meet any number of student needs and interests.
BSF: Why are summer activities important for children?
Boston Beyond: Summer can be a time for young people to further hone the skills they’ve developed during the school year through access to high quality summer programming. For many of our youth in Boston, there exists both an opportunity and an academic achievement gap, in which these young people may not have the same access to academic and enrichment programs in the summer as their more affluent peers. This impacts their ability to continue their learning over the summer months, and apply academic knowledge to various settings and experiences. Summer learning loss disproportionately impacts youth from low-income communities and causes them to lose vital ground in ELA and math compared to their more affluent peers. Boston Beyond’s network of summer learning programs address both the opportunity and achievement gap by making high quality programming accessible to youth who may otherwise be able to participate. Summer learning experiences afford these young people access to learning experiences which allow them to cover lost ground while preparing them for the new and exciting challenges awaiting them the following school year.
BSF: How will these summer activities prepare students for the coming school year?
Boston Beyond: Summer learning opportunities prepare youth for the school year by focusing on student skill development, social-emotional supports, and helping youth re-align their perceptions of and relationships with school. By providing young people with a wide range of learning opportunities, connecting them to new teachers and educators, and giving them a learning environment that is unique from the traditional classroom setting, we enable young people to apply academic content in new and different ways, create relationships, and build social and emotional skills that will equip them with a mindset that is ready to learn in the next school year. This summer, we’re working with our program partners to focus on developing Critical Thinking skills, which are highly transferable to a number of academic disciplines, college and career readiness, and positive youth development. Please check out our ACT (Achieve, Connect, Thrive) framework to learn more about our community’s focus on student skill development, how we define these skills, and the supports provided to help programs support this essential skill development each summer, and eliminate the opportunity and achievement gap one summer at a time.
BSF: How can families register for these summer activities? What is the registration deadline?
Boston Beyond: If your child attends a Boston Public School, registration for a Summer Learning Academy will take place at the child’s school. BPS uses the Student Information System to register students into summer programs that have partnered with a BPS school. Families can contact their child’s school and ask about the opportunities that are available and ask that their child be enrolled into a program. Once that process takes place, families will be provided with registration paperwork specific to the program your child was enrolled in. Registration paperwork for the summer learning programs is required before a child is considered ‘enrolled.’ Additionally, families can access the school district’s PartnerBPS website (partnerbps.org) to see which programs are connected to their child’s school. There is also a publication titled, “Summer Stuff” that has a host of summer options, program details, registration information, and a point of contact for each program. It is translated into 9 languages and can be downloaded here: Summer Stuff 2019.
BSF: What other organizations in Boston offer summer activities for students? What are some helpful resources that parents can access to both learn more about these activities, and to prepare their child(ren) for the coming school year?
Boston Beyond: There are well over 180 summer learning sites throughout the city of Boston. Our office continues to develop partnerships and opportunity pipelines to ensure that every child in Boston has access to a high quality summer learning experience. To learn more about what exists, families should mark their calendars for the Boston Public School’s Parent University convenings that take place a few times throughout the year. Parent University also puts up a Summer Learning fair each Spring where families can meet with Summer Learning providers and sign youth up for programming. If your child attends school in Grove Hall, be on the lookout for an invitation from your child’s school to attend a Summer Learning On-The-Spot Enrollment Day. Details to be shared soon. Follow up with Wil Cardwell, Program Director of Summer Learning at Boston Beyond for details.
BSF: Who can families contact at your organization if they have questions about your summer activity offerings and how to register?
Boston Beyond: Wil Cardwell, Program Director of Summer Learning at Boston After School & Beyond via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BSF: Looking for additional summer programs? Check out the organizations below!
BCYF: Boston Centers for Youth & Families offers dozens of neighborhood-based summer day camps and programs, from “Adventure Girls” to the “Summer Snap Shot Photography Program.” Click here to learn more.
Boston Public Library: The Boston Public Library’s website keeps a comprehensive, running list of activities, events and programs across the city and is a great resource for finding summer activities on an ongoing basis. Check out their calendar here to find events at your neighborhood library.
Boys & Girls Club of Boston: The Boys & Girls Club of Boston offers full-day camps for children ages 6-12 that help to prevent summer learning loss through a “diverse roster of activities,” like arts and crafts, science and technology projects, sports, field trips, and more. Learn more and register by contacting your local Club.
East Boston Social Center: East Boston Social Centers Central Square Summer Program is offered to children ages 5-14 and provides “new opportunities that help support your child’s individuality” through activities like Daily Field Trips, Swimming, Art and Culture, Physical Fitness and more. Click here to learn more.
- Family Nurturing Center: The Family Nurturing Center offers multiple, weekly programs for parents and their children on an ongoing basis “that involve the whole family, and community-based services that engage families in school readiness activities, parenting education, and resource referral.” Click here to view the full program schedule.
- First Teacher: First Teacher Boston brings together a “community of parents and caregivers working together to prepare all our children for success in kindergarten and beyond,” and they offer programs and events on an ongoing basis. Check out the full schedule here.
Hawthorne Youth & Community Center: Hawthorne Youth & Community Center’s “Summer Scene 2019” offers summer play programs on Monday and Wednesday evenings at Marcella Park. All activities are free. Click here to register
Highland Street Foundation: The Highland Street Foundation offers ongoing programs and events for families, including Free Fun Fridays, which offer visitors “no-cost admission to many of the most treasured cultural venues in Massachusetts.” Click here to learn more.
Hill House Boston: Hill House Boston offers 11 different sessions of its Summer Day Camp for children ages 5-12, each filled with outdoor activities and field trips. Click here to learn more about session options, schedules and rates
Hyde Square Task Force: The Hyde Square Task Force exists to “amplify the power, creativity, and voices of youth, connecting them to Afro-Latin culture and heritage” and offers multiple, ongoing programs including Jóvenes en Acción (Youth in Action), Arts Enrichment programs, and College Success programs. Click here to learn more about each program and to register.
Maverick Landing Community Services: Maverick Landing Community Services offers its Maverick Makers program during the summer months, which is available to Maverick Landing residents and to East Boston residents with children ages 7-12, slots permitting. Click here to learn more and to register.
Parenting Journey: Parenting Journey programs “help mothers, fathers, and caregivers increase their confidence, capability, and resiliency – as individuals and as parents.” In their programs, “a small group of parents and caregivers meet for 2 hours a week for 12 or 14 weeks. The program includes activities, discussions, a family-style meal, and complimentary childcare.” Click here to learn more about upcoming programs and start dates.
Smart from the Start: Smart from the Start has developed “an ecological approach to promoting school readiness” for children by offering programs for children, parents and community members on an ongoing basis. Click here to learn more about each program.
South Boston Neighborhood House: The South Boston Neighborhood House offers a summer program for children ages 5-12, including “educational activities (i.e. summer reading, writing) to bridge the gap between summer and school year.” Slots are available for children who don’t participate in year-round programming. Click here to learn more.
The Salvation Army Kroc Community Center: The Salvation Army Kroc Community Center offers a “summer long education and enrichment camp,” called “Summer with RJ” for children ages 6-12. The programs are “designed to educate and engage children in a safe environment.” Click here to learn more.
YMCA: The YMCA’s Y Day Camp keeps kids “engaged, safe, healthy and learning” during the summer months, offering many activities including swimming, field games, arts and crafts, group activities, field trips and more. Click here to learn more about the program offerings at your local YMCA.
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