Engage Every Student: Department of Education Honors 2024 Champions of High-Quality Afterschool Learning

United States Department of Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Education has recently revealed the champions of the 2024 Engage Every Student Recognition Program. The spotlight this year are 13 non-profit organizations and city municipalities, hailed for their commitment in making high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs available to students on a broader scale.

57 nominations were submitted from 29 states for this prestigious recognition in its inaugural year. The selection process was carefully carried out by review teams distributed among the 50 state afterschool networks and state education agencies, who then recommended state finalists for final assessment and approval by the Department.

So, what did it take to be hailed a ‘Champion’? Besides providing exceptional afterschool or summer learning programs in any of the 50 states or territories, the nominees exhibited excellence in areas such as:

  • Utilizing proven strategies, for instance, prioritizing students who need additional support, ensuring certified teachers are facilitating academic instructions and tutorials, and implementing experiential learning that could comprise project-based learning, enrichment, career pathways, and field trips.
  • Expanding their program enrollment number by a minimum of 20% for K-12 students from the 2022-23 school year to the 2023-24 school year.
  • Serving students who attend schools with 40% or more students qualifying for the free and reduced lunch program at the beginning of the 2023-24 school year.
  • Utilizing American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, along with state and local funds to further broaden access to afterschool and summer learning programs for students.

According to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, this year’s champions are playing a pivotal role in making sure that all students, nationwide, have the opportunity to prosper, learn, and grow by participating in superior out-of-school learning programs. He pointed out that nearly half of these award-winning organizations are located in under-resourced or rural communities, underlining the importance of equal opportunity in education.

This announcement will set the stage for the 2024 Engage Every Student Summit scheduled for July 16, in Washington, D.C. The summit will assemble youth, school leaders, state and city elected officials, afterschool and summer learning program providers to highlight the successful achievements in out-of-school time and offer an array of learning, exploration, and networking opportunities.

The successful champions for the 2024 U.S. Department of Education Engage Every Student Recognition Program spanned across the country from Litchfield, CT to Sturgis, SD and represented an array of successful partnerships between non-profit organizations and public school districts.

Following are the 2024 U.S. Department of Education Engage Every Student Recognition Program Champions:

  • CT – Litchfield – Ed Advance BASES in partnership with Torrington School District, Category: Non-Profit
  • GA – Atlanta – Camp Twin Lakes in partnership with Hall County School System, Category: Non-Profit
  • ID – Idaho Falls – Community Youth in Action in partnership with Idaho Falls School District 91 and Booneville School District 93, Category: Non-Profit
  • IL – Springfield – Compass For Kids, Inc. in partnership with Springfield Public Schools – District 186, Category: Non-Profit
  • MD – Baltimore – Arts For Learning Maryland in partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools, Category: Non-Profit
  • MS – Ridgeland – Scientific Research, SR1, in partnership with Forest Municipal School District, Category: Non-Profit
  • NE – Lincoln – Lincoln Community Learning Centers in partnership with Lincoln Public Schools, Category: City Municipality
  • NH – Nashua – YMCA of Greater Nashua in partnership with Nashua School District, Category: Non-Profit
  • NJ – Fair Lawn – iLearn Schools in partnership with North Jersey Arts and Science Charter Schools and Linden Public School District, Category: Non-Profit
  • OH – Youngstown – Ohio Urban Renaissance in partnership with Youngstown City School District, Category: Non-Profit
  • OR – Canby – Todos Juntos in partnership with Canby School District, Estacada School District and Molalla School District, Category: Non-Profit
  • SC – Florence and Lake City – Boys & Girls Club of the Pee Dee Area in partnership with Florence 1 Schools and Florence County School District No. 3, Category: Non-Profit
  • SD – Sturgis – Black Hills Special Services Cooperative in partnership with Rapid City Area School District, Category: City Municipality

Each of the winning programs is a shining example of Secretary Cardona’s ambitious call to action launched in July 2022: To provide every child or youth who wants to participate with high-quality out-of-school time learning opportunities. An integral part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Improving Student Achievement Agenda, these afterschool programs allow communities and states to utilize additional funding from the American Rescue Plan to support expanded learning and academic growth of millions of students. This initiative is a collaborative effort involving the Department, the Afterschool Alliance, the School Superintendents Association (AASA), the National League of Cities, the National Summer Learning Association, and the National Comprehensive Center at Westat.

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