(Washington, DC) – Mayor Bowser today launched Learn24, a new initiative to ensure children and youth have access to quality educational and enrichment activities beyond the regular school day. The new initiative includes the launch of Learn24.dc.gov, a new website to help families and students find safe and enriching programs and resources throughout the city.
“With Learn24 we are ensuring that more young Washingtonians have access to high quality educational and enrichment activities beyond the school day,” said Mayor Bowser. “We know learning doesn’t end when the bell rings and that our students need safe places to learn and play when they are not in class. Learn24 is going to change the way we get families and young people connected to programs and resources that meet their needs and interests and set them up for success in school and life.”
Learn24 includes a network of afterschool and summer opportunities and supports access to high-quality opportunities for students in all eight wards through grants, resources for students and families, coordination among DC Government agencies, training and technical assistance to improve program quality, and increased data collection and evaluation. To support the current school year, the Mayor awarded $2 million in grants to 40 organizations that serve more than 23,000 students. The grants included an increased focus on access and equity, providing most of the funding to high-need areas in Wards 1, 7, and 8. Last year, the Mayor also invested an additional $4 million in 2017 and 2018 summer programming.
“Since the Office of Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes joined my team, we have focused not only on the quantity of out-of-school time programming, but also the quality,” said Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles. “Our students deserve our very best, and to ensure we set them up for success, I look forward to working with the Commission, UDC-CC, and our community partners to provide them with the opportunity to learn and discover their passions and interests.”
The Office on Youth Outcomes and Grants Establishment Act of 2016 transferred responsibility for out of school time grants from the now dissolved DC Trust to the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME). In October 2017, the DME launched the Office of Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes. After opening the Institute for Youth Development at the University of the District of Columbia Community College, the Administration also started a pilot program with 22 sites to improve how organizations serve young people in Washington, DC. The DME’s Institute for Youth Development focuses on ensuring adults who work with children and youth outside of the regular school day have the skills they need to set students up for success. Learn24 staff will also work directly with program leaders and staff through observation, assessment, and coaching.
“At Sitar Arts Center, we engage children and teens from lower-income households in high-quality visual, performing, and digital arts programs so they can learn about themselves and gain critical life skills,” said Maureen Dwyer, Executive Director of Sitar Arts Center, an OST grantee. “The families of Washington, DC both need and value out of school time learning opportunities and Sitar and our peer youth development organizations are affirmed and supported by the launch of the OST Office and Learn24.”
A decade of research indicates that children and youth who regularly participate in quality afterschool and summer programs benefit in terms of their academic performance, social and emotional learning, and health and wellness. Additionally, young people who participate in these programs often have improved school attendance, lower dropout rates, and improved positive behaviors and work habits.
During the launch, community members also had the opportunity to meet the Commission on Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes, which includes 11 public members, including parents, advocates, and former participants in out of school time programs in the District. The Mayor was joined at the launch by Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles.