Dear Catalyst Chicago Readers,

I am pleased to announce that Catalyst will be part of a multi-city reporting project that will examine the issue of expanded learning time.

We will join EdNews Colorado, EdSource Today, GothamSchools and the Philadelphia Public School Notebook for this year-long project. The collaborative effort was made possible by a grant from the Ford Foundation, which has made More and Better Learning Time a priority in its philanthropy.

In addition to reporting on developments in their own localities, the news organizations will take advantage of this unique collaboration to produce a cross-city report that compares and contrasts policies and practices.

Expanding learning time for students, especially those in low-income neighborhoods and districts, has emerged as a major reform initiative.

  • In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was successful in lengthening the school day and year, which has been among the shortest in the nation.

  • In Denver, School Superintendent Tom Boasberg has made a concerted effort to run pilot expanded-learning-time programs in district schools, especially in middle schools.

  • In California, the Los Angeles and Oakland Unified school districts have instituted “community schools” initiatives and are turning to outside partners to provide after-school learning activities and health and social services that engage students beyond the regular school day.

  • Schools in New York City are experimenting with a “community hub” model, adding to other expanded-learning-time efforts by city schools and outside partners.

  • In Philadelphia, the city government is offering training for nonprofit organizations that run afterschool programs in schools to ensure that the time students spend there results in real learning.

This project presents an exciting opportunity for us at Catalyst to place our work in the context of what is happening in other cities. We are excited to be part of it.

Linda Lenz

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