Boston Learns Together

Creating opportunity through partnership 

Boston stands at the forefront of education and youth development in the effort to close the achievement and opportunity gaps. In recent years, opportunities for youth have expanded dramatically. The number of students participating in after-school programs has doubled, with a program serving every school. The number of summer program slots has surpassed 11,000. The number of youth summer jobs exceeds 10,000.

Few—if any—other cities can boast these results. This foundation presents an unprecedented opportunity for the City of Boston, its elected officials, community organizations, businesses, and institutions of higher education, working with youth and their families, to take the next steps in closing the achievement and opportunity gaps.

The Partnership Council—a growing coalition of more than 60 organizations which, collectively, provide tens of thousands of program slots for Boston’s young people—has outlined a set of principles for ensuring that we close the opportunity gap for all children in the city.

We hope the next several months will spark a conversation that recognizes the continuing disparities in opportunity and commits to addressing the causes with proven solutions. The Partnership Council coalition is committed to furthering this goal.


 

Every young person growing up in the city of Boston deserves opportunities to succeed. Yet for too many young people in our city, these opportunities are missing.

Boston’s young people grow up in a city surrounded by the ocean and natural spaces. They come from a place steeped in history and blessed with a rich cultural life in vibrant communities. Their city is a home to thriving commerce, a worldwide center of higher education and research, and an incubator for ideas and technologies that are changing all aspects of our lives.

Yet too many of Boston’s young people have no opportunity to access the learning experiences their city has to offer. This opportunity gap is at the heart of the persistent achievement gap that decides the direction of too many lives.

In order to bring equity of opportunity to all of Boston’s young people, we must expand our ideas about what learning means—including when, where, how and with whom it happens.

• Learning defies the boundaries of time and space. It does not stop when the bell rings at the end of the school day or when summer vacation begins. Great schools are essential to learning, but learning does not only happen at school, and schools should not be left to shoulder responsibility for learning alone.

• Learning depends on personal engagement and motivation. Young people need opportunities to ignite a passion for knowledge and discovery through hands-on approaches and real world experiences. Learning must feel meaningful and relevant in young people’s lives.

• Learning equips young people with skills that apply to all aspects of their lives.Opportunities to develop and practice skills equip young people for success in the classroom and beyond. Young people need skills such as critical thinking, relationship-building and drive to become successful as future graduates, as members of the workforce, and as engaged citizens of their city. We must recognize the importance of social-emotional and physical health and supportive relationships in developing these skills.

We will only address the opportunity gap when we make learning everyone’s business. Boston learns together….

• Together across boundaries of institutions. We will not achieve equity of opportunity for our young people by working alone, however strong our practice or noble our intentions. True partnership goes beyond agreements. We need to work together, abandoning territorial boundaries, sharing information, and being willing to try something new. Stronger collaborations will enable us to master the transition points from home to school, school to school, neighborhood to neighborhood, and childhood into adulthood.

• Together so that all young people have access to a common core of knowledge, skills, and experiences. Schools, communities, business, government and higher education share a responsibility—and have a role to play—in developing young people to their full potential.

• Together toward shared outcomes of high quality with relevant indicators of progress over time. An aligned, clear, and longitudinal approach to measurement will leverage our strengths in meeting the needs of our young people.

Equity of opportunity is a step we can take together in order to equip young people with the skills necessary to thrive in the face of poverty and uncertainty. When Boston learns together, this is within reach. Only then will we truly be able to call ourselves a learning city.


 

Boston Learns TogetherFour Strategies for Closing Boston's Opportunity Gap Strategy 1: Summer Learning Strategy 2: Skills for Success Strategy 3: Learning & Earning Strategy 4: Strategic Partnerships

Boston Learns Together

bltBoston stands at the forefront of education and youth development in the effort to close the achievement and opportunity gaps. In recent years, opportunities for youth have expanded dramatically. The number of students participating in after-school programs has doubled, with a program serving every school. The number of summer program slots has surpassed 11,000. The number of youth summer jobs exceeds 10,000.

Few—if any—other cities can boast these results. This foundation presents an unprecedented opportunity for the City of Boston, its elected officials, community organizations, businesses, and institutions of higher education, working with youth and their families, to take the next steps in closing the achievement and opportunity gaps.

The Partnership Council—a growing coalition of more than 60 organizations which, collectively, provide tens of thousands of program slots for Boston’s young people—has outlined a set of principles for ensuring that we close the opportunity gap for all children in the city.

Click here to read the full report.

Four Strategies for Closing Boston’s Opportunity Gap

boston learns togetherRight now we have an opportunity to shape a new agenda for Boston’s children and youth. Up to this point, local investments have focused heavily on improving our public schools, but emerging research points to a broad and growing “opportunity gap” that extends far beyond the school day and is a major contributor to gaps in achievement between low-income students and their more affluent peers.

Higher income families far outspend lower income families on enriching activities, exposure to novel environments, and other out-of-school supports that help their children build the skills and background knowledge they need to succeed in school and beyond.

The good news is that Boston is rich in resources that, if well coordinated, could go a long way toward closing the opportunity gap and putting all students on a path to success. Our children’s afternoons, weekends, and summers (80% of their waking hours) could be filled with quality programming matched to their interests and developmental needs. By working together across sectors, with common strategies, we can support all Boston youth to learn and thrive.

Click here to read the full report.

 

Strategy 1: Summer Learning

summer learningThe achievement gap between low-income students and their higher-income peers is explained largely by unequal access to learning opportunities beyond the school day. Summer is an especially precious resource. Students who don’t participate in summer learning programs lose substantial knowledge and skills gained during the school year. This well-documented “summer learning slide” most adversely affects low-income students, is cumulative across a young person’s lifetime, and represents an expensive leak in our educational pipeline. Mounting evidence suggests that quality summer programs can stem this loss and, in some cases, even accelerate students’ progress.

Click here to read the full report.

 

Strategy 2: Skills for Success

skills for successIndividuals need a range of skills to thrive as learners, workers, and citizens. A growing body of research in education and psychology identifies a set of skills, like creativity and persistence, which people need to succeed in school, college, and 21st century careers. Sometimes referred to as soft skills or “non-cognitive” factors, these learned behaviors are even more predictive of long-term success than traditional measures, like the SAT. In other words, young people who approach new tasks with confidence and creativity, organize their time to achieve their goals, collaborate and communicate well with others, and believe in their own capacity to learn and grow have an edge over everyone else—no matter their prior test scores.

Click here to read the full report.

Strategy 3: Learning & Earning

learningearningWhen it comes to helping teens to achieve in school and beyond, motivation is crucial. Teens make their own choices about how to spend their time and effort both in and outside of school, and they are more likely to engage with opportunities that have clear value, provide  income, or advance them toward personal goals. Such “learning and earning” opportunities have the potential boost outcomes for all teens, including the most disengaged, by providing personally meaningful and tangibly rewarding ways to advance their knowledge and skills.

Click here to read the full report.

Strategy 4: Strategic Partnerships

strategic partnerships

Community partners play an important role in enhancing student learning. Through after-school programs, offerings that extend the formal school day, and enriching summer experiences, partners reinforce and supplement the knowledge and skills students acquire in the classroom. Partners help students develop foundational skills for long-term success through a variety of engaging activities—for example, modeling teamwork and peer relationships in sports programs, improving attendance and learning habits through one-on-one mentorship, and boosting language and literacy skills through the arts.

Click here to read the full report.


 

We, the undersigned, commit to engage with one another in order to make measurable progress in achieving these goals. In doing so, we will:

• Bring our resources to bear in achieving the goals described in these principles,
• Share responsibility for addressing opportunity gaps,
• Share accountability with schools for results, and
• Work with the leadership of the city in order to put these principles into practice across Boston.

 

Eric Arnold
Executive Director, Hale Reservation

Joan Becker
Vice Provost, University of Massachusetts Boston

Sue Bonaiuto
Executive Director for MA, BELL

Julie Brandlen
Director, Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center

Roger Brown
President, Berklee College of Music

Sandra Lopez Burke
Executive Director, City Year Boston

Vanessa Calderón-Rosado
Executive Director, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA)

Carole Charnow
President & CEO, Boston Children’s Museum

Pamela Civins
Executive Director, Boston Partners in Education

Hardin Coleman
Dean, Boston University School of Education

Gene Corbin
Assistant Dean, Harvard College for Public Service

Mark Culliton
Chief Executive Officer, College Bound Dorchester

Dave DiLorenzo
Executive Director, Courageous Sailing Center

Maria Dominguez Gray
Executive Director, Phillips Brooks House Association

Nick Donohue
President, Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Rahn Dorsey
Evaluation Director, Barr Foundation

Ned Eames
President and Founder, Tenacity

Nikki Flionis
Executive Director, MissionSAFE Created by the Partnership Council, convened by Boston After School & Beyond

Max Fripp
Massachusetts Executive Director, Playworks

Gary L. Gottlieb, M.D., M.B.A.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Partners HealthCare System, Inc.

Daphne Griffin
Executive Director, Boston Centers for Youth and Families*

Mossik Hacobian 
Executive Director, Boston’s Higher Ground

Daniel Johnson
Executive Director, 826 Boston

Chris Jones
Executive Director, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI)

Amy Kingman
Boston Executive Director, Strong Women, Strong Girls

Pat Kirby
Chief Operating Officer, Citizen Schools

Josh Kraft
Nicolas President & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston

Judith Kurland
Executive Director, Center for Community Democracy and Democratic Literacy
McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston*

David Lapin
Executive Director, Community Music Center of Boston

John Linehan
President & CEO, Zoo New England

Cathy Livingston
Executive Director, MathPOWER

John Maconga
Executive Director, America SCORES Boston

Katie Magrane
Executive Director, Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership

Liz Marino
Executive Director, Summer Search

Claudio Martinez
Executive Director, Hyde Square Task Force

Wanda McClain
Vice President, Community Health & Health Equity
Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Joseph McGrail
Chief Operating Officer, State Street Foundation

Kristin McSwain
Executive Director, Boston Opportunity Agenda

Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director
Monica Garza, Education Director
The Institute for Contemporary Art/Boston

Gabrielle King Morse
Massachusetts Executive Director, uAspire (formerly ACCESS)

J. Keith Motley
Chancellor, University of Massachusetts Boston

Gil Noam
Director, Program in Education Afterschool & Resilience (PEAR), McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Arthur N. Pearson
President and Chief Executive Officer, Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center

Laura Perille
President & CEO, EdVestors

Kathy Plazak
President, Plazak & Associates

Joan Quinlan
Executive Director, MGH Center for Community Health Improvement
Massachusetts General Hospital

Emily Raine, Director, Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time Initiatives
Colleen Beaudoin, Managing Director of District and School Support
Massachusetts 2020/The National Center on Time & Learning

Paul Reville
Professor of Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education*

Bud Ris
President and Chief Executive Officer, New England Aquarium

Susan Rodgerson
Executive/Artistic Director, Artists for Humanity

Amy Ryan
President, Boston Public Library

Katrina Shaw
CEO, Freedom House

Chris Smith
Executive Director, Boston After School & Beyond

Jesse Solomon
Executive Director, BPE

Peg Sprague
Senior Vice President, United Way of Mass Bay and Merrimack Valley

Steve Stein
Executive Director, Boston Debate League

Neil Sullivan
Executive Director, Boston Private Industry Council

Jane Tewksbury
Executive Director, Thrive in 5

Michael K. Tooke
Member of the Steering Committee, Boston Leaders for Education

Bob Van Meter
Executive Director, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Greater Boston

Mary Walsh
Executive Director, City Connects

Kevin Washington
President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Boston

Heather Weiss
Founder and Director, Harvard Family Research Project

Toni Wiley
Executive Director, Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center

David Wright
Executive Director, Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston

Wayne Ysaguirre
President and CEO, Associated Early Care and Education

Greg Zaff
Chief Executive Officer, SquashBusters
* Organization listed for purposes of identification only.

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