Citizen Schools Recognized by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics

Citizen Schools is pleased to announce it has been recognized as one of America’s Bright Spots in Hispanic Education by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics for its commitment to educating Hispanic students, narrowing the achievement gap they face and strengthening the communities in which they live.

Citizen Schools currently serves 5,000 students, 52% of whom are Hispanic. Through its partnership with public middle schools and citizen volunteers in seven states, Citizen Schools provides expanded learning opportunities which includes academic support and hands-on learning projects. With its focus on STEM, Citizen Schools introduces students to professions in science and math, in addition to many other fields – connecting their middle school experience to opportunities and careers they may never have known existed otherwise.

“We are honored to be recognized for our work with Hispanic students,” said Citizen Schools CEO Steven Rothstein. “We’re committed to engaging and inspiring our students during the critical middle school years, helping them discover and achieve their dreams and putting them on a path for success in high school, college and beyond.”

As a Bright Spot organization, Citizen Schools will be part of a national online catalog that features more than 230 programs and organizations that focus on key education priorities for Hispanics including STEM education, college access, college completion and teacher training.


Citizen Schools se complace en anunciar que ha sido reconocido como uno de los Puntos Brillantes de Estados Unidos en la Educación Hispana (Bright Spots in Hispanic Education) por la Iniciativa de la Casa Blanca para la Excelencia Educativa de los Hispanos por su compromiso a la educación de los estudiantes hispanos, la reducción de la brecha en el rendimiento que ellos se enfrentan y el fortalecimiento de las comunidades en las que ellos viven.

Citizen Schools sirve actualmente a 5.000 estudiantes, el 52% de los cuales son hispanos. A través de su asociación con las escuelas secundarias públicas y ciudadanos voluntarios en siete estados, Citizen Schools proporciona amplias oportunidades de aprendizaje que incluye apoyo académico y experiencia práctica con proyectos de aprendizaje. Con su enfoque en STEM, Citizen Schools introduce a los estudiantes a profesiones en ciencias y matemáticas, además de muchos otros campos – conectando sus experiencias escolares a oportunidades y carreras que nunca hubieran conocido de otra manera.

“Nos sentimos honrados de ser reconocidos por nuestro trabajo con los estudiantes hispanos”, dijo el CEO de Citizen Schools Steven Rothstein. “Estamos comprometidos a inspirar a nuestros estudiantes durante los años críticos de la escuela secundaria, ayudándoles a descubrir y alcanzar a sus sueños y poniéndolos en el camino para éxito en el colegio, la universidad y en sus profesiones.”

Como organización Bright Spot, Citizen Schools será parte de un catálogo nacional en línea que cuenta con más de 230 programas y organizaciones que se centran en las prioridades clave de la educación para los hispanos como la educación STEM, acceso a la universidad, la finalización de la universidad y el entrenamiento de maestros.

Six Month Update – Meet in the Middle: Expanded Learning Summit

Over six months ago, 250 guests from 11 states and 16 cities nationwide came together for Meet in the Middle: Expanded Learning Summit where we laid out an important mission — make expanded learning opportunities the new normal for all students, especially during the critical middle school years. Some KEY TAKEAWAYS include:

  • High-quality expanded learning can help raise student achievement through engagement and mentoring during the critical middle school years, a leading indicator of success in college and beyond.
  • Many districts and schools could get close to funding extended learning time (ELT) under more flexible policy conditions, but funds are often still tight and uncertain year to year. Hence, increased local, state and federal funds that are concentrated for student need would give schools and districts the ability to make ELT a sustainable reality.
  • By 2022, our economy will require more than nine million STEM professionals; currently, we’re producing fewer than 300,000 college graduates to fill these jobs. Hence, it is critical to partner with STEM professionals to share their experience and teach students how to apply their academic learning in STEM to real life situations in order to inspire and ignite their interests.
  • States like Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina–among others–have supported expanded learning in their budgets or through legislation to provide high-quality expanded learning opportunities.


View the summit sessions online to learn more  about a wide variety of topics such as:

In addition, all reports, handouts, and PowerPoint presentations can also be found HERE.


We encourage you to remain an active part of the national discussion for expanded learning, here are a few things you can do to make ELT the new normal for all students:

This work is far from finished, and we encourage you to continue to TAKE ACTION by:

  1. Sharing Your Story LinkedIn is running a #ThankYourMentor Campaign. Please take a few minutes to #ThankYourMentor today!
  2. VolunteeringJoin one of our convening partner organizations or find an expanded learning or mentor program near you using sites like,, US2020, and Million Women Mentors.
  3. Advocating — take two clicks and two minutes to respond to this ACTION ALERT on legislation in the U.S. Congress.


Since the summit, Citizen Schools and others in the expanded learning field have been actively involved in advocacy and policy development at the federal and state level to support expanded learning time programs.

ESEA Reauthorization — The U.S. House and Senate passed respective bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) earlier this year. Each chamber has appointed members to a conference committee to decide on a final version of the bill to be signed into law by President Obama. The Senate bill, Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), which passed with strong bipartisan support, preserves federal programs critical to expanded learning and STEM.  In addition, the bill provides enough flexibility within the program to support states, districts, schools, and community partners that provide high-quality expanded learning time. In September 2015, Citizen Schools, along with the National Center on Time & Learning and the Afterschool Alliance, sent a letter to education committee leaders with signatures from 671 organizations across all 50 states calling on Congress to adopt the Title IV language in S.1177 in a final reauthorization bill. Please click on the links to view the letter and press release. Congress is expected to vote on a final bill before the end of the year.

Budget & AppropriationsOn November 2, 2015, President Obama signed the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015” into law to raise the debt limit and set the federal budget for the next two years.  The deal extends the debt ceiling to March 2017 and raises the budget caps set by the 2011 budget agreement. The bill increases spending caps for defense and nondefense discretionary spending by a combined $80 billion over fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Nonetheless, each congressional appropriations subcommittee must reset their allocations for specific programs in order to pass an omnibus bill for the President to sign into law. We urge Congress to restore cuts to federal programs that support expanded learning, such as the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) program that provides targeted funds for expanded day and out-of-school time programs, and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers the AmeriCorps program. Moreover, we are urging Congress to avoid using the appropriations process to create new restrictions, known as a “policy rider”, on the 21st CCLC program that would set back the progress being made on the authorization side. In particular, we oppose the current provision in the FY16 House Labor-HHS Appropriations bill that would prohibit states and districts from using expanded learning time as part of their 21st CCLC programs. This policy rider would be particularly harmful to states, districts, and schools that have already incorporated expanded learning time into their 21st CCLC programs.

Career & Technical Education (CTE) — In October 2015, the US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee solicited recommendations and proposed legislative changes to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. Citizen Schools recommends the Perkins Act be more inclusive of middle school grades, including offering enough flexibility in the law to allow state and local entities to leverage federal CTE funds for middle school CTE-related coursework and learning activities. Currently, the funding is targeted for activities at the secondary and post-secondary level, which in some states includes seventh and eighth grade, but usually not sixth grade.

Title II and Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) — Citizen Schools, along with several Summit convening partners, were part of a group of 9 organizations that collectively produced a memo to the White House’s Domestic Policy Council on the use of ESEA Title II and the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) dollars to support expanded learning programs. We are now working with staff at the US Department of Education on non-regulatory guidance and proactive letter to states highlighting and encouraging the use of Title II and TIF funds for expanded learning.

Texas — In September 2015, Citizen Schools submitted proposed interim charges to the Texas Senate requesting that the Texas Legislature examine opportunities and make recommendations about evidence based models that can be used by Texas public school districts and charter schools, including but not limited to postsecondary education and career counseling in middle school, for addressing implementation of high school endorsements. The Senate Interim Charges were released in October and include a reference to address training support for counselors and advising courses for middle school students. We are continuing to advocate for the importance of high-quality mentoring and learning opportunities for middle school students in Texas.

North Carolina — In July 2014, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a budget that included $5 million for “Competitive Grants to Improve After-School Services”. This is targeted funding carved out of state funds already appropriated for school services to at-risk youth. The Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the State Education Agency, was then charged with designing and executing the grant program, including prioritizing programs that integrate clear academic content in STEM learning opportunities or reading development and proficiency instruction. In 2015, the NC final budget included an additional $1M in grant funds for a total of $6M.


White House Announcement Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative — Twenty education-based organizations from across the nation are investing a collective $620 million to create the Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative and enhance learning for 1.3 million 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders over the next five years. Steven Rothstein delivered the announcement on behalf of the group at the White House Next Gen High School Summit, a national conversation on transforming high schools to better serve 21st century high school students. Click HERE for the official White House fact sheet, which includes a blurb on the middle school announcement (page 10). Click HERE for the press release Citizen Schools released on behalf of the group

While we have made and seen tremendous gains since the Meet in the Middle: Expanded Learning Summit, there is still a long way to go. We hope you continue to feel inspired and empowered by the Summit and encourage you to continue engaging with each other, with policymakers, and with your communities. Again, please see the call to action for specific steps to take.

Citizen Schools Texas Participates in Houston’s Fifth Annual Energy Day Festival

Houston, TX – A check of the calendar showed it was a Saturday, but for nearly one hundred Citizen Schools’ Houston students, school was in session – and they couldn’t have been more excited. Because on this day, the tables were turned and they were the ones teaching!  That was the experience for 90 Jackson and Edison Middle School Students participating in the Fifth Annual Energy Day Festival held earlier this month.

Hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) and the Consumer Energy Education Foundation (CEEF), the annual Festival offered a day of fun and games for thousands of students and their families, while at the same time exposing them to many of the careers available in the energy industry.

More than 70 exhibits and demonstrations were designed to spark students’ interest in STEM-related studies which is what Citizen Schools is focused on every day in Houston middle schools.  Through hands-on, project-based apprenticeships taught by volunteers from local businesses, students connect lessons being taught during the traditional school day with their real-world applications beyond the classroom – and that’s exactly what our students did at the Energy Day Festival.

Working with the Children’s Museum Science Workshop, students held a “Blast Off” challenge, using straw rockets created by attaching straws to plastic pipettes.  Attendees could take the challenge by simply aiming their rocket toward the target.  But it was our students, teachers for the day, who showed participants how to adjust their angle of trajectory, cut down on surface area and improve their accuracy.

In another demonstration, Children’s Museum Science Workshop students channeled their creative side to showcase aspects of the oil industry.  Using just a fish tank and foam board, they built a model of both offshore and on-shore oil rigs. To simulate oil drilling, they schooled participants on extracting the liquid gold from a sand filled cup, using a straw!

Experts predict that there will be nearly two million unfilled STEM–related jobs by the year 2025.  Students who participate in Citizen Schools show measurable improvement in their learning; alumni of Citizen Schools enroll in college 22 percent more often than other low-income students. What’s more, surveys of eighth graders nationally show only one-third express an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) as a college major or career, but 80 percent of students who take Citizen Schools’ apprenticeships taught by STEM professionals showed interest in the STEM fields.

“Every year, we are excited by the opportunity to partner our middle schoolers with professionals from our community,” said Greg Meyers, executive director of Citizen Schools Houston. “Participating in the Energy Day Festival allows our students to take what they’re learning and share their knowledge with the tens of thousands of attendees. It’s an invaluable experience.”

Media Contact:

Matt Ellis
Ellis Strategies, Inc. | 617-278-6560

About Citizen Schools

Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams. For more information, please visit


Expanded Learning Groups Pledge $620 Million to Boost Middle School Education


Washington, DC—November 10, 2015—Twenty education-based organizations from across the nation today announced a collective investment of more than $620 million to enhance learning for over 1.3 million 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders over the next five years through the new Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative. The announcement was made during the White House Next Gen High School Summit, a national conversation on transforming high schools to better serve 21st century students.

“Success in high school relies heavily upon students’ engagement during the middle grades,” said Jason Cascarino, CEO of Spark, which provides apprenticeships to middle school students and is a member of the group of 20. “When we tailor 7th and 8th grade learning to meet students’ developmental needs, they build the non-cognitive skills and social capital to transition well into high school.”

Citizen Schools, the organizer of the initiative, incorporates apprenticeships and academic support by partnering with public schools to provide expanded learning opportunities in seven states.

“The expanded learning model proves that middle school students enter high school with a greater chance of graduating and going to college, especially in low-income communities where there is a greater opportunity gap,” said Steven M. Rothstein, CEO of Citizen Schools, who spoke at the White House summit and announced funding for the new initiative. “Providing academic enrichment in subjects like STEM and access to mentors who are scientists, engineers and doctors motivates students and gives them a chance to imagine themselves in those careers.”

Every 26 seconds a student drops out of school. Data shows middle school students who take part in Citizen Schools’ expanded learning programs are more likely to reach their full potential:

  • Participants show 2.5 times more interest in STEM fields
  • 71% of students graduate from high school on time, compared to 59% of their peers who do not participate
  • 61% of the students enroll in college, compared to 41% who do not participate

In collaboration with the Afterschool Alliance, these twenty organizations created The Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative:

Their combined $620 million investment is supported by corporate and philanthropic donations, including funding from foundations, individual supporters, and some existing public grants. But, the consortium says, to ensure all middle school children are fully prepared to participate in a true 21st century high school experience, public funding is necessary to scale evidence-based best practices and programs.

Media contacts

For Citizen Schools

Matt Ellis 617.278.6560

For Spark

Rachelle Damminger 856.904.5767

Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative: Fact Sheet

The White House has started a national conversation on transforming high schools to better serve all students, through their Next Gen High School Summit. This initiative will catalyze new thinking on the challenges and opportunities for advancing this agenda, and share strategies for progress.

The middle school years are increasingly recognized as a critical “make or break” period in youth’s academic success. As such, middle school reform needs to be a part of this conversation. A group of 20 organizations that directly serve middle school students is already focused on building a foundation for successful transition to High School. Over the next five years, this Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative is committing to collectively invest over half a billion dollars in private and public resources to impact the lives of over a million students by delivering high-quality expanded learning opportunities through multiple, evidence-based models and practices.

This investment, nonetheless, will only reach a portion of the middle school students in the United States. Similar to what has already been done with Preschool and Special Education, government and others in the private sector need to scale high-quality programs and make expanded learning the new normal for all middle school students.

  • Studies show that attendance, grades, test scores and behavior during the middle grades all predict students’ performance in high school and their odds of graduating.[1]
  • By high school, as many as 40-60% of students are chronically disengaged from school – not counting those who have already dropped out. The Gallup Student Poll found that 7th and 8th graders account for more than half of the total decline in school engagement.
  • Some research suggests that roughly two-thirds of all dropouts quit in 9th grade or are held back in 9th grade and then drop out. Intervening before high school is important for transition.
  • In FY15, the federal government spent $2.5 billion on middle school students, much lower than the $26 billion spent on early childhood through 5th grade and the $31.1 billion spent on post-secondary education.
  • The 20 partner groups listed below are investing over $620 million in middle school over the next 5 years to offer a range of activities that capture student interest and strengthen student engagement in learning.
  • Half of the 30 fastest growing occupations in the US require math and science training. Participation in after-school math and science programs exposes students to these fields, and inspires them to consider pursuing careers in STEM.
  • It is important for both government and expanded learning programs to engage around the middle school years, and help scale high-quality programs to reach more than a million students in the next 5 years.

The following organizations have signed on to be part of the Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative:

Citizen Schools, Middle Grades Partnership, High Jump, BELL, ExpandED, Spark, Higher Achievement, Every Hour Counts, Aim High, Classroom, Inc, Harlem RBI, Sprockets (Saint Paul Out of School Time Network), Horizons National, Family League of Baltimore, Million Women Mentors/STEMconnector, National Center on Time & Learning, and Partnership for Children & Youth.




ADVISORY: White House to Host Summit on Next Generation High Schools

Office of the Press Secretary

November 5, 2015

ADVISORY: White House to Host Summit on Next Generation High Schools

WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, November 10, the White House will host the first-ever White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools, hosting students, educators, philanthropists and entrepreneurs who are reinventing the high school experience to better empower students to seize opportunities in today’s  economy and expanding access to innovative science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teaching and learning.

In addition to outside leaders, the program will also feature senior Obama Administration officials, including:

·             Valerie Jarrett, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor
·             Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council
·             Megan Smith, United States Chief Technology Officer
·             John King, Delegated Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
·             Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
·             France Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation
·             Tom Kalil, OSTP Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation
·             Roberto J. Rodríguez, Deputy Assistant to the President for Education

WHAT:          White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools
WHEN:          TUESDAY, November 10, 9:00AM to 4:30PM
WHERE:        White House South Court Auditorium

If you have any additional questions, please email with the subject line “High School Summit.”