Last Tuesday, RFA hosted a Learning Community Workshop for out-of-school time (OST) providers who are recipients of the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) grants. The discussion followed the release of the RFA’s 21st CCLC aggregate report which looks at program implementation and student outcomes across 11 provider agencies and 50 sites in Philadelphia. Tuesday’s discussion focused on STEM programming and school partnerships in 21st CCLC programs, topics identified by the providers as areas they would like to discuss. Ten provider agencies, who were 21st CCLC evaluation clients of RFA, were in attendance, as well as representatives from the School District of Philadelphia including central office staff, one principal and one classroom teacher who work with 21st CCLC programs in their schools.
Providers and teachers shared successes, challenges and tangible strategies for effectively implementing STEM OST programs and developing partnerships with schools. Many of the program provider representatives reported finding comfort in knowing they are not alone in their struggles and through this experience, some were able to find solutions to existing problems. Others left with ideas for new programs and methods. However, many questions and concerns about how best to go forward with OST STEM programs and school partnerships remain. This workshop was a meaningful step toward creating a Learning Community of OST providers in which providers can reflect on program practices in the context of research findings and benefit from the shared experience of peer organizations.