Rethink LearningALC Logo_RGB

Learning is not something that is confined to a classroom.

In fact, learning is something that can happen anytime, anyplace, and anywhere!  At the ALC, we encourage parents, policymakers, and school officials to rethink the definition of learning to think about expanded learning that takes place outside of the traditional school day. Check out more information to the left on Expanded Learning Opportunities, STEM, and Summer Learning.

Our Approach

Expanded Learning Works!


  • 66% of teachers of 21stCentury Community Learning Centers students report improvement in homework completion and class participation.
  • 61% of teachers of 21stCentury Community Learning Centers students report improvements in student behavior.
  • 91 % of Rhode Island partners agree that schools alone are not enough.  To develop the skills needed to succeed, children need to participate in additional activities afterschool and during the summer.

What is Expanded Learning?

Expanded learning is more than just afterschool.  It is the idea that children and youth can learn anytime, anywhere.  Expanded learning emphasizes:

  • Links between schools and community organizations.
  • A focus on many youth outcomes, including social, emotional, academic, civic, and health.
  • Youth voice and choice.
  • Family engagement and involvement.
  • Rigor and real-world relevance.
  • Shared leadership between schools and community organizations that translates into youth success.

Expanded learning happens in several environments, including:

Why Expanded Learning?

Expanded Learning improves education:

  • An analysis of 68 afterschool studies concluded that high quality afterschool programs can lead to improved attendance, behavior and coursework. Students participating in a high quality afterschool program went to school more, behaved better, received better grades and did better on tests compared to non-participating students. (Durlak, Weissberg, & Pachan, 2010)
  • 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 as well as reductions in behavior problems among disadvantaged students. (University of California at Irvine, 2007)
  • Annual teacher-reported performance data from 21st CCLC grantees across the country demonstrate that students attending 21st CCLC programs raise their Math grades (37 percent) and English grades (38 percent), while also improving their homework completion and class participation (72 percent) and their behavior in class (67 percent). (Learning Point Associates, 2011)

Expanded Learning keeps kids safe:

  • The hours between 3 and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex. (Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2003)
  • Teens who do not participate in afterschool programs are nearly three times more likely to skip classes than teens who do participate. They are also three times more likely to use marijuana or other drugs, and are more likely to drink, smoke and engage in sexual activity. (YMCA of the USA, 2001)
  • Early childhood education expert James Heckman concludes that a complement of early education and participation in afterschool programs can reduce initiating drug use among youth by nearly 50 percent. (University of Chicago, 2006)

Expanded Learning helps working families: 

  • Parents miss an average of five days of work per year due to a lack of afterschool care. Decreased worker productivity related to parental concerns about afterschool care for their children costs businesses up to $300 billion per year. (Catalyst & BrandeisUniversity, 2006)
  • More than 27 million parents of school-age children are employed, including 23 million who work full time. (U.S. Department of Labor, 2012)
  • A 2012 Afterschool Alliance election eve poll found that 92 percent of working mothers believe that afterschool programs are “very important” given that kids in afterschool programs are less likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as criminal activity and drug or alcohol use.

Get Involved!

There are many ways to help improve afterschool and expanded learning in Rhode Island.  It is critical that elected officials and policymakers understand the importance of afterschool programs.  Here are a few ways to reach them:

  • Call or write a legislator.
  • Organize a site visit of a local afterschool program.
  • Write a letter to the editor.

Our Partners in Expanded Learning

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