By League of Education Voters Policy Team

Expanded Learning Opportunities - League of Education VotersLow-income kids get the least exposure to family reading time, weekend day trips, preschool, summer camp, and after-school programming – adding up to a 6,000 hour learning gap by 6th grade.(1)

High-quality expanded learning opportunities, such as after-school and summer programs, correlate with decreased academic gaps, improved behavior and social-emotional skills, fewer school absences, and lower dropout for all student groups. (2) High-quality apprenticeships and internships for high schoolers help students connect their schooling to important workforce skills. (3)

The Washington Legislature made initial investments in the Expanded Learning Opportunities Quality Initiative, which provides professional development, technical assistance, and a quality measurement system to ensure that programs offered to Washington youth are high-quality and effective. An additional $2.25M investment to expand the ELO Quality Initiative can increase the number of programs able to participate by 330— and increase access to high-quality programs for more than 11,000 students across the state.

85% of parents support public funding for increased access to high-quality expanded learning programs – before school, after school, and during the summer. And 7 out of 10 say that afterschool programs help them keep their jobs. (4)

Invest $2.25 MM in the Expanded Learning Opportunities Quality Initiative.


2. Little (2009). Supporting Student Outcomes through Expanded Learning Opportunities.

3. Cunha & Heckman (2006). Investing in Our Young People.

4. Afterschool Alliance: Afterschool Programs in Demand (2014). America After 3pm.

Nissana Nov - League of Education Voters
Nissana Nov

Nissana Nov works with the Many Minds Youth Council, an extracurricular organization that trains youth to become community organizers and advocates for increased mental health services for youth.

“We use a strengths-based approach to youth leadership development. We see our young people as experts as they have an incredible amount of insight. Youth-serving programs such as the one I manage turn classroom concepts into action and students into change agents.

We provide opportunities for youth to work with various stakeholders in their own community setting to understand and investigate the systems in which they live in order to evolve and thrive in healthy ways.

“Afterschool programs provide a safe place for our young people to thrive, grow, be challenged, and engage in positive ways with their peers. It is a place where mistakes and failures are embraced. As a trusted adult and mentor in these young people’s lives, it has been powerful to see how youth-serving programs have impacted their leadership capacities and personal growth. In these spaces, youth have an opportunity to learn and grow which has had a huge impact on their self-esteem. And when our young people’s confidence increases, they thrive. With increased confidence, youth will achieve more and contribute to the communities that they live in.”

For more about the impact of expanded learning programs:

Anderson-Butcher D., Stetler G., Midle T. (2006). A case for expanded school–community partnerships in support of positive youth development. Children & Schools , 28, 155–163.

Durlak J. A., Weissberg R. P., Pachan M. (2010). A meta-analysis of afterschool programs that seek to promote personal and social skills in children and adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology , 45, 294–309.

Iachini A. L., Anderson-Butcher (2012). The contribution of extracurricular activities to school priorities and student success. In Waller R. J. (Ed.), Mental health promotion in schools: Foundations (pp. 127–148). Oak Park, IL: Bentham Science.

Holstead J., Hightower-King M. (2011). High-quality 21st Century Community Learning Centers: Academic achievement among frequent participants and non-participants. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk , 16, 225–274.

For more on the importance of and measuring quality in expanded learning programs:

Anderson-Butcher D., Iachini A., Wade-Mdivanian R., Gezinski L., Gibson A. (2013). The Ohio Quality Assessment Rubric guide. Columbus: Ohio State University, College of Social Work.

Zhang J., Byrd C. (2006). Successful after-school programs: The 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 778, 3–12.


2018 Legislative Priority: Expanded Learning Opportunities (PDF)

Read student Ruben Balderas’ guest blog on how Expanded Learning Opportunities have benefited him

Read our 2018 Legislative Priorities


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