“What if we invited you down to Charlotte and showcased your work?”
We’ve been fortunate to work with MeckEd in Charlotte and support their initiative, Charlotte NEXT – a program to coordinate quality afterschool programs for Title I middle schools via three key pillars:
- Access and Awareness
Providing support for this initiative has allowed us to discover other cities and their efforts to enhance expanded learning in their communities.
Our research led us to NextUp in Richmond, VA. NextUp is “a free, coordinated system of after-school programs for Richmond middle schools.”
The team at NextUp and their Executive Director, Barbara, has created an incredible organization and movement in the Richmond area. As we continue to support Charlotte Next we started to think – maybe we should invite NextUp down to learn more about their work and provide the Charlotte community with insight to what is possible.
On October 10, 2017, NextUp’s Executive Director and a key board member traveled to Charlotte for a community conversation. The room was filled with members from the corporate, nonprofit, and government sectors engaging in team conversation regarding how to support students through extended learning.
The Charlotte community spent the morning learning and asking specific questions. There were a number of takeaways but we want to highlight three that have stuck with us:
- Build buy-in
- NextUp continually mentioned the importance of the program providers and local community members they serve. “We’re are only as strong as the afterschool programs in Richmond”. They found that in order to work together, every stakeholder had to be bought into a singular mission.
- Communicate both ways
- A key tool in establishing trust and buy-in with their local afterschool programs and community stakeholders was to consistently communicate. NextUp found that not only talking but listening, responding, has been vital to their success as a community leader.
- Leverage data
- How do we know it’s working? NextUp has captured remarkable data in their early years:
- 84% of their students improved or maintained positive behavior
- 65% of their students improved or maintained a C or higher in Math
- 60% of their students improved or maintained school attendance
The information and knowledge we were able to gain regarding funding a new organization, building buy-in, and growing quality programs to best serve students was unparalleled.
We’re grateful to the NextUp team for taking to time to travel and share their knowledge. We’re eager to leverage their lessons learned to further push the envelope for students.
- Research top performers in your field or area of focus
- Always ask
- Send a thank you note
- Implement lessons learned