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

matt@ellisstrategies.com 617.278.6560

For Spark

Rachelle Damminger rdamminger@sparkprogram.org 856.904.5767