Rethink Learning

In the past, learning was associated with going to school, but now we understand that learning cannot be confined to a classroom or a building—learning can happen anytime, anyplace, and anywhere.

The Rhode Island Afterschool Network encourages parents, policymakers, and school officials to rethink their definition of learning and consider the expanded learning that takes place outside of the traditional school day.

Expanded Learning


Expanded learning is more than just learning after the school day is through; it’s the idea that our youth can learn anytime and anywhere.

91% of R.I. partners agree school alone isn’t enough. When children participate in afterschool learning, summer learning, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs, they learn the skills needed to succeed.


Why Expanded Learning?

Expanded learning emphasizes:
  • Partnerships between schools and community organizations.
  • A focus on youth outcomes, including social, emotional, academic, civic, and health.
  • Youth voice, family engagement, and real-world relevance.

Expanded Learning improves education:
  • 66% of teachers working with 21st Century Community Learning Center students report improvements in homework completion and class participation.
  • 61% of teachers working with 21st Century Community Learning Center students report improvements in classroom behavior.
  • The Promising Afterschool Programs Study found that regular participation in high-quality afterschool programs is linked to significant gains in standardized test scores and work habits (the University of California at Irvine, 2007).
Expanded Learning keeps kids safe:
  • Teens who do not participate in afterschool programs are three times as likely to skip class and use drugs, as well as drink, smoke, and engage in sexual activity (YMCA of the USA, 2001).
  • James Heckman, an early childhood education expert, concluded that early education combined with participation in afterschool programs can reduce youth drug use by 50 percent (University of Chicago, 2006).
  • A 2012 Afterschool Alliance poll found that 92 percent of working mothers believe afterschool programs are “very important” because they decrease the likelihood children will engage in risky behaviors.
Expanded Learning helps working families and the economy:
  • More than 27 million parents of school-age children are employed; 23 million work full time (U.S. Department of Labor, 2012).
  • Decreased productivity related to inadequate afterschool childcare costs U.S. businesses $300 billion annually (Catalyst & Brandeis University, 2006).
  • On average, parents miss five work days each year due to a lack of afterschool care (Catalyst & Brandeis University, 2006).

How to Get Involved?

There are many ways to help improve afterschool and expanded learning in Rhode Island. You can help by calling or writing your local elected officials, organizing an afterschool program site visit, writing a letter to the editor, and speaking with your friends, family, and neighbors.

Our Expanded Learning Partners

National Partners:

Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project
Afterschool Alliance
The Wallace Foundation
Nellie Mae Education Foundation
National Summer Learning Association
National AfterSchool Association

Local Partners:

Rhode Island Department of Education
Providence After School Alliance
Rhode Island KIDS COUNT