Opinion: Schools Expect Too Much of Working Parents

While balancing work and family life is never a simple task, it often seems that public schools add to the problem. A few weeks ago, for instance, the school nurse rang me up: My 8-year-old daughter had a headache. Could I come by the school with some Tylenol?

Gates Foundation and Citizen Schools Using Digital Courseware to Improve Education

BOSTON – October 24, 2016 – Citizen Schools, a national non-profit that extends the learning day for students in lower income communities, will continue piloting and evaluating digital courseware to learn more about how best to integrate technology into Expanded Learning Time (ELT) for middle school students, thanks to a continued grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The $250,000 grant continues the foundation’s support for the pilot program Citizen Schools launched last year. More than 1,000 students from public school districts across the country will take part in this program.  Data gathered at the sites will examine barriers to experimentation with digital courseware and continue exploring ways to improve product efficacy.

“We at Citizen Schools look forward to continuing the important work of evaluating digital courseware,” said Emily McCann, CEO of Citizen Schools. “We are in the unique position of being able to offer feedback from expanded learning sites across the country as well as offer constructive product improvement ideas based on what our students and staff learn. We appreciate the commitment the Gates Foundation has once again shown to students facing socio-economic challenges both at home and during their school day.”

Citizen Schools is offering resources and coaching at the pilot sites to facilitate planning and execution of the product testing. Year two of the pilot will include more targeted training for front-line program staff, and an emphasis on applying data gleaned from using from the digital courseware to drive academic support strategy.

The locations included in this program are:


  • Joseph George School in San Jose


  • Carter School in Chicago
  • Woodson School in Chicago


  • Wright School in Chelsea
  • Browne School in Chelsea

New York:

  • Academy for Future Leaders in New York City
  • Renaissance School of the Arts in New York City
  • Isaac Newton Middle School in New York City
  • Global Tech Prep in New York City
  • Urban Assembly Unison School in New York City


  • Sugar Grove Academy in Houston

The grant also supports Citizen Schools’ ongoing participation in the Learning Assembly, a national network of organizations piloting and evaluating ed-tech innovations with schools across the country. Citizen Schools will report learning-to-date from the pilot project as part of a panel discussion during the upcoming iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium, Oct. 25-28 in San Antonio, TX.


Media Contact:

Darcie Fisher Ellis Strategies, Inc. darcie@ellisstrategies.com | 774-281-3506

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 http://www.citizenschools.org/

Help Every Student Succeed!

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The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015, keeps important accountability components, such as disaggregating and reporting data on student subgroups, but does away with one-size-fits-all federal requirements. Overall, ESSA calls on states, districts, and schools to offer ALL students a well-rounded education through increased flexibility over accountability systems and funding, and provides an opportunity for deeper engagement with families and community-based organizations. We are calling state education leaders into action to  leverage the flexibility in ESSA to call for innovation and alignment of our education system to a 21st Century global economy by expanding learning time, making learning more relevant, and involving citizens and residents of this country in the shared enterprise of education. Only by critically rethinking and boldly re-imagining the basic structures of education, can we advance our educational system and develop a workforce that is prepared to meet the challenges of the global age.

In 2015, we formed the Expanded Learning Middle School initiative  along with 19 other  national, state, and local groups committed to education and child and youth development, with a particular focus on expanding learning opportunities through creative school designs and out-of-school-time programs. Collectively, we represent thousands of educators, parents, children, private-sector donors, volunteers, and community-based advocates. We firmly believe that all students—regardless of income or background—need access to high-quality, real-world learning opportunities and mentorship that will help put them on a path to success.

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We are proud that our partnerships with schools, companies, and national service programs are contributing to student learning in unique and effective ways, which will have long-term impacts on students’ life trajectories and contributions to society. Students we serve have rapidly increased their learning and academic growth during their elementary and middle school years, entered high school more prepared for success, and enrolled in college at rates higher than their peers. Moreover, the staff from Citizen Schools and many of the other organizations have enjoyed careers as teachers, school and district leaders, researchers and policymakers.

Core to our beliefs is that all children need to be inspired through their education and surroundings to develop the necessary academic and social and emotional skills—such as growth mindset, resilience, and self-management— to be college and career ready. Yet income and background often limit access, especially to high-quality programs. For instance, upper-income families have tripled their investment in their children’s education in a generation—amounting to a gap of 6,000 hours of extra learning by 6th grade. Lower-income children count on public schools, even though most students only spend 20% of their waking hours in the classroom. To shift this trend, schools and community organizations like ours across the country are collaborating to expand learning opportunities for low-income students, with a special focus on the critical, but often neglected, middle school years.

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Studies show that expanding time and opportunities for student learning has an impact on student achievement—particularly for at-risk students. By expanding the learning day and creating summer learning opportunities, more students can have access to academic support, enrichment activities, and mentoring. Recent research has also found that afterschool programs contribute significantly to the development of skills required to thrive in the 21st century, like problem solving, communication, and teamwork. These skills, such as leadership, effective communication, and teamwork, are essential to supporting college and career readiness among students and ensuring they are prepared for life. Please see appendix for resources on evidence of the impact of expanded learning time (ELT).

Congress included ELT[1] in several sections of ESSA. This is a milestone for our students and school communities, as the new law represents the biggest commitment the federal government has made to ELT. ESSA sets conditions that will help schools and community partners sustain and grow expanded learning opportunities around the country.

As state education departments begin their ESSA state planning, we ask that they engage a diverse group of community partners on the front end of your planning process. We believe that state and local leaders are best served by designing a process that includes community stakeholders—such as educators, parents/families, young people, local government, community-based organizations, higher education institutions, philanthropy, private sector, faith-based institutions—that offer assets and expertise that can support the education of our young people. Below is a list of programs and provisions in ESSA that different states can leverage to grow and sustain expanded learning.

For any questions, please contact Roxanne Garza at roxannegarza@citizenschools.org.

[1] The official federal definition of “ELT” can be found in Title VIII “General Provisions”—”The term ‘expanded learning time’ means using a longer school day, week, or year schedule to significantly increase the total number of school hours, in order to include additional time for— ‘(A) activities and instruction for enrichment as part of a well-rounded education; and (B) instructional and support staff to collaborate, plan, and engage in professional development (including professional development on family and community engagement) within and across grades and subjects.”

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PRESS RELEASE: Walmart Grant Sparks Positive Outcomes in Adolescent Literacy

Media contact: Denise Olson, denise_olson@wgbh.org 617-300-3995

Report Shows Gains in Adolescent Literacy

Walmart Foundation grant prompts results in six programs for disadvantaged students

BOSTON, Massachusetts (May 19, 2015) – A report released today by WGBH Boston and five other organizations found significant increases in educational outcomes in literacy, based on programs they implemented with middle school students across the country.

Titled Telling Our Stories, the report (http://middleschoolsuccess.net/) profiles each organization’s research-driven solution to bridging gaps in adolescent literacy and improving education outcomes for disadvantaged students. The organizations are: BELL, Citizen Schools, City Year, Innovations in Civic Participation, National Summer Learning Association, and WGBH Boston.

The work of the six organizations was funded by a $33 million adolescent literacy grant from the Walmart (NYSE: WMT) Foundation.

"Walmart is dedicated to strengthening the communities it serves around the world. The Walmart Foundation grants profiled here have benefited thousands of students in the most disadvantaged schools in the country,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, CEO, Walmart Foundation. “These initiatives offer a rich collection of data-driven outcomes and best practices for leveling the educational playing field for all of our nation's students."

The Walmart Foundation selected the six organizations because of their successful track records in directly improving literacy outcomes for high-needs students, and each organization’s ability to build a program that would be scalable and sustainable over time. Each organization’s adolescent literacy program showed significant measurable increases in academic outcomes for participating students:

  • Four months of gains in math and two months of gains in literacy skills for BELL summer scholars in six weeks.
  • English Language arts proficiency in grades served by Citizen Schools extended learning time increased by an average of 4.2 points, and math proficiency increased by 6.2 points each year.
  • A full letter grade improvement in English language arts for 39% of sixth through ninth graders working with City Year in the 2012-2013 school year.
  • Expansion of Innovations in Civic Participation programs to over 600 at-risk students in seven communities.
  • An average gain in math of 4.1 months by NSLA Summer Advantage USA scholars in Chicago and Indianapolis, and an advancement rate of 94% to top college preparatory schools by scholars in Washington D.C.’s Higher Achievement Program.
  • An 8% increase in vocabulary for 300 students after completing just five WGBH-developed literacy lessons that were funded with the grant.

About BELL

BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) is a national non-profit organization that partners with schools and community organizations to expand learning time in the summer and after school.  BELL's mission is to transform the academic achievements, self-confidence, and life trajectories of children living in under-resourced, urban communities.  More info at www.experiencebell.org.

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 http://www.citizenschools.org/.

About City Year

City Year is dedicated to helping students and schools succeed. Diverse teams of City Year AmeriCorps members serve full-time in high-poverty urban schools, providing high-impact student, classroom, and school-wide support to help students stay in school and on track to graduate from high school, ready for college and career success.

A proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network, City Year is made possible by support from the Corporation for National and Community Service, school district partnerships, and private philanthropy from corporations, foundations and individuals.

Learn more at www.cityyear.org.

About Innovations in Civic Participation

Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP) is a global leader in the field of Youth Civic Engagement. ICP believes that well-structured youth service programs can provide innovative solutions to social and environmental issues, while helping young people develop skills for future employment and active citizenship. ICP carries out its mission through three main activities: 1) Incubating innovative models for youth service programs; 2) Assisting governmental and civil society organizations with the development of youth service programs and policies; and 3) Conducting research and serving as a source of information on youth civic engagement, especially national youth service and service-learning. Learn more at http://www.icicp.org/

About The National Summer Learning Association

The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) is the only national nonprofit exclusively focused on closing the achievement gap by increasing access to high-quality summer learning opportunities. NSLA recognizes and disseminates what works, offers expertise and support for programs and communities, and advocates for summer learning as a solution for equity and excellence in education. NSLA’s work is driven by the belief that all children and youth deserve high-quality summer learning experiences that will help them succeed in college, career, and life. For more information, visit www.summerlearning.org.

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Curious George and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series. WGBH also is a major supplier of programming for public radio, and oversees Public Radio International (PRI). As a leader in educational multimedia for the classroom, WGBH supplies content to PBS LearningMedia, a national broadband service for teachers and students. WGBH also is a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to those with hearing or visual impairments. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors. More info at www.wgbh.org.

A capital victory

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Guest Post by CEO Steven Rothstein

I wish you could have been with me last week in our nation’s capital. I am so inspired by so many of the students, principals, corporate partners, and others who joined us there.

On Monday, we had a special briefing on key education and STEM issues at the White House. On Tuesday, we organized, with the partnership of many other groups and organizations, the first-ever Expanded Learning Summit: Meeting In The Middle. Many joined in person and hundreds more participated in the conversation via live stream or social media. Then on Wednesday, we continued the advocacy and momentum and brought students, educators, corporate partners and our team to Capitol Hill for meetings with 36 Democratic and Republican members in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on key education issues.

The summit was the first time a group of this scale – including more than 55 distinguished speakers and panelists – has convened to discuss how expanded learning can help close the opportunity gap for our nation’s young people. We had a range of thought leaders and policy makers participate, including our chairman, Dr. Larry Summers; the Mayor of Washington D.C.; Wendy Spencer; the Deputy Mayor of New York; a representative from the George Bush Center, and literally dozens of the “best and the brightest” in our field.

We were honored to receive a special message from President Obama himself. “Events like this summit,” he wrote, “bring together those of us working on the front lines to make better use of educational time… If our next generation is going to meet the challenges of this century, they will need more time in the classroom.”

We are deeply grateful to all of those who participated in the summit, and to the many supporters and convenors who made this event possible. They are all highlighted on our event website. We are committed to the thousands of children whom we serve, and to growing the field of expanded learning. We believe that last week’s activities were critical in advancing this agenda.

As we recognize our 20 years of service, the Expanded Learning Summit highlights how much more there is to do in our next phase. In the coming days, we’ll continue to share opportunities to engage with these important ideas, including archived video from all summit sessions.

Yours in service,


CEO, Citizen Schools

P.S. We welcome your support to help more students across the country build the skills, access, and beliefs required for them to thrive as students and succeed as adults.


Student Ideas Take Shape in 3D Printing Apprenticeship

When he was attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chris Haid and his friends spent what little spare time they had tinkering and building what would become the world’s first fully automated 3D printer. Years later, he is bringing this technology into middle school classrooms in Boston through a 3D printing apprenticeship with the company he co-founded, NVBOTS. 13928389447_9e35dfedab_z

Chris is the Chief Operating Officer of NVBOTs, handling daily operations, customer service, and ensuring manufacturing meets demand. He has broken his routine once a week for four semesters to volunteer as a Citizen Teacher. His goal is to teach middle school students how to design and build with a 3D printer.

Chris is helping to extend NVBOTS' impact with the installation of an NVPro 3D printer at McCormack Middle School in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The printer is stimulating creativity and providing hands-on learning for many students. It is “one of many” that will be installed in Boston middle schools through the company’s partnership with Citizen Schools.

We recognize Chris as the March Citizen Teacher of the Month for his dedication to teaching students and increasing student access to the state-of-the-art 3D printers!

Meet Chris…

What apprenticeships have you taught?

I teach an Introduction to 3D Printing Apprenticeship. We teach the students how to go through the design process. We help them decide what they want to create and sketch out what they want to design and print. Once we get them through the design process, we teach them how to 3D print the parts. They get to take it home the following week.

This is my fourth time around. We’ve done two classes per semester a couple times around.

Do you have a favorite WOW! moment? Did anything surprise you about the students?

I get to see them go home and come back the next week only to tell me that they got so interested in this 3D printing design that they went home and looked up new part designs. They’re coming up with new ideas on their own. That’s one of the biggest things for me.

Chris Haid keeps souvenirs of his apprenticeships on his desk.

Some students don’t see the path to get to higher education. That’s how a lot of students start off in the beginning of the class. They say “before I was uncertain about 3D printing and how to design everything.” And now they want to go to college for 3D printing.

That’s really heartwarming. Just seeing the kids get excited about engineering. They’re not constrained in life and they have every ability to create things and bring their own ideas to life. Our apprenticeship shows them they can do that and it’s not that hard. There’s failing but at the end of the day it’s about taking something in your mind and making it into reality.

Why do you think students should engage in hands-on learning?

I think all students have an idea of something they want to create, but they’re often constrained. They don’t have all of the necessary tools at their disposal, but once they see that they have the ability to make something,knowing that they can create those designs gives them confidence.

A student of Chris Haid's shows off 3D printed objects as he explains how they are made.

What advice do you have for new Citizen Teachers?

Get to know your students. Teach something you’re passionate about. Try to build a personal connection with the students and get to know them while still maintaining your role as teacher. That really help to keep the  students engaged.

Why should people volunteer to teach students?

I believe it’s the most important thing to do. The students will be living in the future we’re building and it’s important to arm them with the tools and abilities they need to make a difference.

One day I brought in a prosthetic hand and said, “I designed it but it could be better. This is an application of the tools I’m teaching you right now. That’s why we’re doing this, so we can help each other and make the world a better place.”

Learn more about volunteering with Citizen Schools here!

A Teacher's Perspective on the Expanded Learning Day

Female student smiling in front of lockersAmy Bednar is a teacher at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina. Here is her take on how Expanded Learning Time and Citizen Schools are impacting her school community.  How long have you been involved in the education field?

This is only my second year as a teacher at MLK. However, I have been involved in the field from a young age - always reading with elementary children, working at summer camps, working as a peer tutor in college, and volunteering with after-school programs.

What brought you to the education field?

I have always wanted to be a teacher. In every autobiography I wrote for school growing up, I wrote that I would be teaching (and illustrated myself beautifully of course!). My little brothers had to sit through countless "lessons" with me, and I loved going to work with my dad to use the copy machine. My mom is also a teacher, so I guess that rubbed off pretty well! I was always the girl who loved going to school. I am naturally curious, so everything interested me. I also had awesome teachers who went above and beyond to ensure we had what we needed to be successful. I went into teaching to instill this love of learning onto the next generation and to be as influential and inspirational to my students as my teachers were (and still are) to me. Plus, I get to continue doing what I love to do!

What are your views on expanded learning time?

As a teacher, I absolutely love it. I appreciate how Citizen Schools supports us in reinforcing important topics after school. We only have 90 minutes per day to teach, which sounds like a lot, but it most definitely is not! The students are able to get the extra attention that they need after school in a smaller class setting and expand their knowledge with extension activities. Citizen Schools also reinforces important middle school habits such as the importance of completing homework, how to develop study skills, how to set and achieve goals, and how to use an agenda. I love how the program emphasizes the same values that we hold in the first shift, so our students are really getting what they need to be successful.

How do you see the Citizen Schools program impacting your students?

The biggest impact that I see Citizen Schools having on my students is giving them the confidence they need to be successful and happy in class. However, they are not only improving their academic skills and developing study habits. They are also given opportunities to engage in activities that they would not have time to do during the regular school day, such as apprenticeships. The WOW! event is my absolute favorite night of each semester. During these events, I see my students visibly light up while presenting everything that they have learned and experienced. My students speak with such passion because they are interested in what they chose to pursue. Their preparation is evident and I can see the pride on their faces. This confidence follows them into the classroom and helps them see that they can accomplish what they put their minds to do.

"You can do it!" Meet Robert France, January's Citizen Teacher of the Month

Citizen Teacher Bob France works with students. “I’m interested in bringing the best possible hands-on experiences to as many students as possible.” 

Robert France has seen first-hand that students learn best by experiencing something new, while being supported by a mentors who believe in them. Robert began teaching in 2013 after learning about Citizen Schools through his role at SanDisk as VP of Customer Technical Support. He teamed up with a couple of colleagues to teach robotics at Joseph George Middle School in San Jose, CA. “Team teaching is great: it provides more viewpoints for the students, coverage when someone is out, and the ability to maximize hands-on time, as one person can run the lesson while the others can set-up the activities, said Robert.

We recognize Robert as the January Citizen Teacher of the Month for his dedication to teaching students and belief that every student has potential! “I believe that if [we] can excite students and show them that they can do something new, maybe that is the nudge that will change that student’s path for the better.”

Meet Robert...

What apprenticeships have you taught?

My first class as a Citizen Teacher was in 2013 teaching robotics. I just finished preparing and teaching a class on 3D printing with my team. Each student got to go through the whole process from creating an idea, to modeling in CAD on the computer, and ultimately printing in the classroom on a printer. The two most popular colors were silver and glow in the dark!

Do you have a favorite WOW! moment? Did anything surprise you about the students?

There are so many great mental “snapshots”, it’s hard to pick just one. But one that stands out was when we started printing the first student-designed object in the classroom. 3D printers make a very distinct sound and the motion is mesmerizing. Seeing the class’ reaction was really priceless. I think the reaction was partly because it is just such a cool thing to experience. But partly I believe, at least for some, that that was the point where they understood that they really did it, from concept to reality.

Why do you think it’s important to provide students with hands-on opportunities?

I am a huge believer in learning by doing. There is no better way to build confidence as you gain proficiency. You also find that there are usually a couple of failures along the way, and that is okay, too.

During the 3D printing WOW!, I was watching the printer working away and listening quietly to one of the students explaining the process. He was showing and describing the layers in the object, not just reading off of the presentation board. It was really great to hear his explanation. But I was especially excited about the idea that these WOW! moments would continue for our students beyond their presentations, and this idea is a driving force for me.

I knew that after the class was over, every time one of the students showed their 3D printed object to someone, I could just imagine the person saying something great to them like, “It is so cool that you did that!” Because that is what this is all about for me – to show these students that they can do it. Sure some things you have to work at, but they are not beyond reach. The ability to extend the WOW! moment for as long as possible, to have as many WOW!s as possible, continues to reinforce the message: you can do it!

What is one piece of advice you have for new Citizen Teachers?

Believe in the students. Do not underestimate them. Pick something you love and challenge yourself to challenge them. If you are teaching a complex topic, it will take some work to make it age and grade level appropriate. But it also gives you the richest opportunity to make the experience engaging and challenging for your entire range of students. You have many resources to help you with this, partner teachers, other Citizen Teachers, colleagues – ask for help!

Why should others volunteer to teach with Citizen Schools?

Education changes lives. Confidence changes lives.  Working with students is fun, rewarding, and occasionally a little tiring trying to keep up with all those brains. Citizen Schools and SanDisk have partnered together to make it easy to spend a little time, invest a little energy and in return have an awful lot of fun sharing something you love with some very energetic, really special students. The Teaching Fellows manage the classroom part (thank you!) so you can focus on your topic. And who knows, maybe one day, you’ll get a second thank you note, that you did in fact make a difference in someone’s life. I hope I do!

How I Helped Middle School Students Make a Difference in Their Community

This blog post was originally published on Cisco's Corporate Social Responsibility blog.

By Stephen Liem, IT Director, Global Quality and Support Services at Cisco

Stephen and his apprenticeship students at their end-of-semester WOW event, a Citizen Schools tradition where students teach back what they learned to teachers, parents, and community members.

There is no limit to what education can bring. It opens up many opportunities that otherwise may not be available.

In the past 10 weeks I‘ve had the privilege of teaching journalism to the middle school students in Joseph George School in East Jan Jose, California. Cisco has been partnering with Citizen Schools, a nonprofit organization, to deliver after school educational programs to low-income schools across the country.

Citizen Schools aims to prevent students from dropping out of high school through its Extended Learning Time (ELT) model, which provides after-school mentoring and support to low-performing middle schools. Volunteer professionals, or “Citizen Teachers,” teach 10-week after-school apprenticeships on topics they are passionate about, from blogging to filmmaking to robotics.

On average the schools Citizen Teachers visit do 300 hours less of after school programming compared to their counterparts. In East San Jose, where the graduation rate is at 79%, providing more meaningful educational programs has certainly helped not just the students themselves but also the community.

As a “Citizen Teacher” with the nonprofit Citizen Schools, Stephen Liem helped sixth graders create their own newspaper

In my journalism class, students in the sixth grade learned how to interview and collect data, how to write an article well, and how to express and publish their opinions honestly and truthfully. Collectively they decided on the name of the newspaper – the East San Jose News — and the subject of their stories.

The results were both eye opening and touching at the same time.

Erika and Tracy, for example, wrote that while they do not necessarily like to wear a school uniform, nevertheless it is important to wear one, because, “it protects you from gangs!” The story describes the reality they often must face outside of school, a reality that under normal circumstance they should not have to live with. It is a touching statement.

Christopher in the editorial section wrote about the importance of voicing your opinion to make a difference: “School could be cooler if you just speak up and ask for what you want. Sometimes your answer will be ‘no’ or ‘maybe,’ ‘just wait,’ or straight up “yes.’ But you will never find out unless you speak up and make your voice heard.” They may be in sixth grade, but the students absolutely understand that they can contribute to their community and they are ready to make that difference.

I enjoyed every minute I spent with my students. It was an educational process for me, but most important, I believe it was a tremendous educational experience for the students. In our country, where inequality in access to education and income disparity exist, I applaud Cisco and Citizen Schools’ effort to level the playing field for the sake of our future generation. I am glad that through Cisco, I have the opportunity to give back to my community.

Cisco employees are among Citizen Schools’ largest group of Citizen Teachers – 184 employees have taught 89 apprenticeships – and Cisco has provided more than $2 million in cash and product grants to the organization since 2009. Learn more about the partnership between Cisco and Citizen Schools.

Words from Citizen Schools’ CEO Steven Rothstein

This is the first in a series of blog posts featuring Citizen Schools' program in New Jersey. The first installment is a Q&A with Steven Rothstein, CEO of Citizen Schools, reflecting on his recent visits to Citizen Schools New Jersey and vision for the organization nationally.  You've traveled to New Jersey often these past couple of months. What opportunities do you see for Citizen Schools New Jersey?

Steven: I am excited about the opportunities in New Jersey and across the country for Citizen Schools. I am impressed with the team, enjoyed meeting students, and recognize the impact our team members and Citizen Teachers are having every day.

I'm particularly proud of how Citizen Schools is getting students ready for high school and job opportunities through the 21st Century skills being taught in our apprenticeships. In addition to being introduced to a wide array of career options ranging from financial management, software, technology to cooking; students are also learning about working with others, leadership skills, and public speaking. This combination is helping to prepare Newark students for the future workforce.

As we look forward, we hope to reach more middle school students in Newark and in other cities.

Steven and Keely

What has been your favorite moment thus far as the new CEO of Citizen Schools, and what are you looking forward to?

Steven: My favorite moments are visiting our schools and seeing the students we serve. I have been to half of the schools in our network and really love the energy, enthusiasm and leadership from our AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows, campus leadership, and other team members. I had a great time visiting Chancellor Avenue School [in Newark] recently, and visiting three special apprenticeships there including “Beautiful Girls”, “I Scream, You Scream,” and “Secrets of a Millionaire.”

What are your future plans for Citizen Schools? 

Steven: Citizen Schools is on the move. I am excited about strengthening our existing partnerships, establishing new ones, serving more students, and looking for ways to expand our STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) focus through our apprenticeships and US2020. We also want to broaden the representation on our state boards.

As we look forward to 2015, we are preparing to celebrate our 20th anniversary. This is a great opportunity to reflect on our work, celebrate the extraordinary citizens who have served over the past twenty years, and prepare for the next 20 years.

Our focus will remain on the quality of our program, expanding our services, and playing a key role in policy initiatives at the local, state, and national levels.

For more information on Citizen Schools New Jersey and how to get involved, contact Kit Nugent, Director of External Engagement, at kitnugent@citizenschools.org.

North Carolina Students WOW! the Crowds

A Neal Middle School student shows offs his golf swing What happens when middle school students present to a group of adults on topics like the physics behind a golf swing, how to invest  in the stock market, or how to launch a rocket? Chances are, they won’t just be impressed, but they will say “WOW!” From top executives of major companies to parents and teachers, the adults that fill the room at the culminating WOW! events are consistently blown away by what students have learned with volunteer “Citizen Teachers” over the course of a semester in Citizen Schools.

This spring things were no different at three schools in North Carolina...

Students from Citizen Schools’ three North Carolina partner schools in Durham and Charlotte presented what they learned throughout the semester to over 800 guests including a member of Senator Richard Burr’s office. They might have been a little nervous, but it didn’t show. With confidence, they demonstrated how a robot operates, how a computer works, and their design for an air quality sensor that will be used in the community.

After the Lowe’s Grove WOW!, one parent commented, “Our son has received more educational and real life experience than we could have imagined…[He] was able to meet various professionals in different industries from biologists to electrical engineers ... We believe this will help him diversify his outlook on what field he would like to pursue in college."

The true “WOW!” moments are when students wow themselves, like when Angie and Tyresse from Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Charlotte shared  essays they wrote on their hopes and goals for the future:

Angie, a Martin Luther King, Jr. 6th grader, speaks at the school's WOW!

“When I grow up I want to be a crime scene investigator. I know I will impact the world in so many different ways. All the children in the world will be someone when they grow up,” said 6th grader Angie.

"My dream is to become a psychologist and help people who have a disorder. I believe those who are Autistic are born with a gift. Autistic people will show the world that they are smart, genius people who can do anything in the world," said 7th grader Tyresse.

And just like that, an aspiring  crime scene investigator and psychologist are on their way to making a difference in their communities.

These are just a few of the many moments that keep volunteers coming back to work with middle school students in North Carolina, and across the country. Sign up to volunteer this semester and see for yourself, that all students are capable of amazing you.



Expanded Learning Time Panel Discusses How Community Partners Can Make an Impact for Students

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TVyBqLSHjk "Extended learning may be the only reason some young people come to school." - Jonathan Brice, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, US Department of Education.

On May 19, the Center for American Progress (CAP) hosted a panel, All Hands on Deck: How Expanded Learning Time Schools and Community Partnerships Work Together to Improve Outcomes for Students, to discuss how expanded learning time (ELT) and community partnerships can create a positive impact for students and schools.

The event featured remarks from Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President of Policy at CAP, and Jonathan Brice, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, US Department of Education. The panel was moderated by Jennifer Davis, Co-Founder and President of the National Center of Time and Learning, and included Eric Schwarz, Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools, Megan Bird, Managing Director of Program for Citizen Schools Massachusetts, Chris Caruso, ExpandED Schools Senior Vice President, and Kerri Ayn Seow,  Third Grade Teacher, Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School.

The panelists discussed how community organizations, such as Citizen Schools, have partnered closely with schools and their administration to make an impact for students, teachers, and the community at large with an expanded day. The additional hours allow for more time for academics, more enriching activities, and more time for teacher collaboration and planning.

"ELT gives me the chance to teach what I wasn't able to during class and the extra activities enrich my lessons," Kerri Ayn Seow.

Read more about the event here.



Sheryl Sandberg Leans In to Video Chat with Bronx 6th Graders

The global phenomenon that is Lean In has recently expanded to reach younger and younger audiences. A second edition of the blockbuster book, Lean In For Graduates, adds material directed to recent grads starting their careers. And, as the Ban Bossy campaign demonstrated earlier this year, the message of leadership and ending bias toward women resonates with school-age girls too. Lean In WOW blog post photo 5

That has proven true for a group of 13 sixth graders at Bronx Writing Academy, who signed up for a “Lean In – Girl Power” apprenticeship as part of their expanded learning day. Under the guidance of volunteers from Facebook, they studied issues that women face and used the book as a jumping-off point.

After ten weeks of eye-opening conversations and mentoring, they had an unusual opportunity to share their solutions with a symbol of female empowerment: Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg herself!

Facebook strategist and lead volunteer Kirstin Frazell brought her students to Facebook’s New York office for their final presentation, and turned on the projector to reveal Sandberg via video conference in Palo Alto. Sandberg listened to the thoughtful and passionate reports from each student, and applauded them for tuning in to inequities even as they start envisioning their careers.

"I'm so glad that you are spending time thinking about this,” she said. “The world’s still not equal. It’s still not equal based on gender, it’s not equal based on race. We don’t give the same opportunities to everyone.”

The afternoon video chat was the culmination of a semester-long volunteer project that Frazell and fellow Facebook volunteers Eunice Jin, Katherine Thomas and Emma Zaretsky embarked on through Citizen Schools, which partners with Bronx Writing Academy and 31 other middle schools across the country to provide apprenticeships in a variety of subjects.

The team of Facebook volunteers traveled to the Bronx once a week to teach these students a course they designed with AmeriCorps member Maddie Oliver, who is serving a two-year Teaching Fellowship with Citizen Schools. "I was so excited with how involved the girls got, and how passionate they got about women's issues at their age,” said Frazell. “I wish I had had that."

Their curriculum gave the students the opportunity to study four issues that women face: the gender pay gap, the media's presentation of women and lack of female role models, stereotypes, and gender policing. Each girl kept a journal, and their final project was to present an issue, share how it affects her, and propose a solution to address it.  The audience included their peers, teachers, and Facebook employees—including Facebook’s famous COO.

Lean In WOW blog post photo 1

"We have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible,” quoted Ebony, one of Frazell’s apprentices. "Beyoncé said that, because we cannot let young girls get held back by stereotyping. This matters to me because boys tell me I can’t play basketball because I’m a girl. This makes me feel useless and like I can’t do what boys can do. This is wrong because that’s hurtful and I need to know I can accomplish anything."

Iesha’s presentation emphasized hope. "I believe that equality is possible,” she read.” Men and women are being treated differently, and we can change that. The gender pay gap matters to me because when I get older and become a teacher, I want to be paid the same, as well as treated the same, as the men in my job."

"The most important thing that needs to happen is a great education,” Sandberg told the group. “So for all of you in Citizen Schools, the most important thing we can do to prepare you for your future is to make sure you have a great education, great teachers, and opportunities to do projects like this."

The Facebook volunteers not only provided their students with a chance to learn about the discrimination that they will likely face as they pursue their goals. They also embodied one of the solutions, by serving as successful female mentors themselves. Frazell, Jin, Thomas, Zarestky, and Sandberg are living examples of what female empowerment looks like in the modern workplace.

“You build these lasting relationships with the students and they start to see you as mentors, not just teachers,” reflected Frazell. “I think that’s really important as they’re going through their educational journey.”

NY Daily News: Citizen Schools Students Get a Boost from Google Volunteers

“One of the things people don’t talk about is the inspiration gap,” said Kamar Samuels, Principal of Bronx Writing Academy, in a recent interview with NY Daily News. “My students don’t necessarily have as many role models, and so one of the things that Citizen Schools brings is a core group of high-functioning, high-achieving adults to help students, to inspire students, to make a clear transition between what’s happening in their classrooms and what it could mean for their life. If you’re thinking, ‘How is math applicable to my life?’ Who better to show you than a Google software engineer?” A senior account manager at Google watches Ethan, a student at Isaac Newton Middle School for Math and Science, maneuver a robot he built during a  presentation at Google's Manhattan office.

Volunteers from companies like Google help students see how what they're learning in school now relates to a college degree and a successful career. Expanded learning time (ELT) opens up new experiences such as building a robot or writing a computer program that wouldn't be available to students otherwise.

“When they want a program to do something and they finally get it working, it’s totally exhilarating,” said Alexandra Taylor, a software engineer at Google, in the article. “They get the same moments of frustration and satisfaction that I do in my job everyday.”

Read the entire piece, Getting a Boost From Google: Citizen Schools makes STEM education relevant to at-risk students, at NY Daily News.

Crain's New York Business: Bringing Charter Innovations To Traditional Schools

The charter school revolution of the last few decades has transformed the conversation about education reform in America's large cities, including New York. Data suggests that simply organizing a school through a charter agreement does not guarantee greater student achievement. But some charter schools have used their flexibility to test innovations that seem to make a measurable difference. 8719556047_0705f56835_bAnd as Citizen Schools' New York Executive Director Kathrine Mott writes in an op-ed in Crain's New York Business, the public school system overall should look to what high-performing charters have done in deciding what resources to invest in.

One such variable is the length of the school day....

"Charter schools and traditional public schools alike have implemented this approach in New York City," she writes. "We are already seeing evidence that this can improve academic outcomes."

With the right investment from policy makers, public schools can implement the innovations that work. Schools that have formed partnerships with non-profits like Citizen Schools, for instance, have been able to extend their learning time by several hours each day, and--more importantly--enable students to improve at rates comparable to the highest performing charter schools.

"There is a heated debate in New York City about how public resources are allotted to charter schools," she writes. "Regardless of where one stands on this issue, we can find common ground when it comes to bringing some of the innovative aspects of charter schools into the city's public schools. A good place to start is with a longer school day."

Read the full op-ed, A Charter Lesson To Lift Public Schools, at Crain's New York.

How to Lengthen the School Day Without Overworking Teachers

We are always happy to see a longer school day featured in the news, such as in today's piece by Scot Lehigh. But too often these articles don’t tell the full story. Lehigh describes Expanded Learning Time in terms of three basic models, each of which are based on different ways of paying teachers for the extra time. However, Lehigh doesn’t consider a fourth model –  partnerships between schools and non-profit organizations, including Citizen Schools, with a proven track record of improving student outcomes without overworking teachers.

8717758801_8463b839a6_bWe agree with Lehigh’s recommendation to focus Expanded Learning Time efforts on low-income students who would most benefit from the added time. There's another way to focus attention strategically: concentrate on middle school. Research shows that middle school is a critical point in education, when students who show early warning signs of dropping out are most likely to become unengaged. By targeting expanded learning efforts in low-income middle schools, districts can make the most impact.

While Expanded Learning Time partnerships still require an investment from the district, schools are able to build capacity and make gains without spreading existing teachers too thin. For example, Citizen Schools mobilizes AmeriCorps members as Teaching Fellows, whose serve two years for a stipend funded by the federal Corporation for National & Community Service. They support teachers during the day, allowing time for collaboration and planning. In the afternoon hours, Teaching Fellows lead classes in math and ELA, focusing on homework and common core standards. They also engage with parents and families intensively (and bilingually), something that schools often lack the capacity to do.

Schools that partner with Citizen Schools, like the Orchard Gardens K-8 School and Edwards Middle School in Boston, have seen significant success with this model. Students who participate in Citizen Schools gain 3.5-5 months of added learning per year, which is greater than or comparable to the highest achieving charter school networks. Students are also seeing long-term success such as a 12 percent point increase in graduation rate.

6522376161_49ecf338e4_o (1)Furthermore, partnering with organizations like Citizen Schools provides schools access to valuable resources such as support from local corporations. Citizen Schools engages the professional community around schools through financial investments as well as bringing volunteers from all types of careers into the classroom to work hands-on with students. This engagement boosts the school’s presence in the community and provides students with real-world experiences and the chance to build new skills.

The result of Expanded Learning Time partnerships is a longer school day that is rich with opportunities for students, and doesn’t place a burden on teachers. Students see significant gains in achievement while exploring college and careers, and schools are able to thrive without breaking the bank.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post misspelled the surname of columnist Scot Lehigh.


Nine-Hour School Day is the Norm, and a National Model, at Oakland Middle School

In Susan Frey's recent article on EdSource, also picked up by the Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, and The Hechinger Report, Citizen Schools' Expanded Learning Time (ELT) partnership with a middle school in Oakland, CA, is highlighted as a model that works. Elmhurst Community Prep's principal, Kilian Betlach, describes his vision to close the opportunity gap for low-income students by bringing a variety of experiences to life. Partnering with Citizen Schools is a powerful alternative to traditional after-school programs, he says, because it allows him to create an integrated longer school day filled with academic support and enrichment like apprenticeships:

Rodzhaney Sledge, dressed in the light-blue school uniform, is new to the school as a 6th grader, but she already understands how the after-school part of the program supports her academic work. For example, she took a class called Tools for Peace, where she learned to meditate. Meditation, she said, has helped calm her so she can focus on academics. She also appreciates the help with her homework she receives for at least an hour each day.


“I don’t understand the students who have problems staying after school until 5 p.m.,” she said. “You can do your homework and don’t have to do it when you get home. You’re free.”


Betlach and community partners – primarily Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit that focuses on providing quality expanded learning programs for middle school students in low-income communities – have cobbled together federal, state, local and private funding to support the unique program...


What makes the expanded school day economically possible is the school’s reliance on AmeriCorps teaching fellows like [Ashur] Bratt. The fellows are funded by the federal government and receive special training from Citizen Schools staff on how to teach in an urban environment. They are involved in both the academic morning program and the after-school classes from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, helping to provide a seamless transition for students. The schedule also allows the regular academic teachers an hour each afternoon, from 2 to 3 p.m., to work collaboratively and plan.


In exchange, the AmeriCorps fellows will have earned their intern teaching credential at the end of their two years at Elmhurst.


Edgard Vidrio, a sixth grade history teacher who joined the Elmhurst staff this year, said he appreciates the variety of opportunities the program is offering his students...Vidrio says the young, dynamic AmeriCorps teachers develop deep relationships with their students. If a student in his class is upset, he or she will often ask to talk to one of the teaching fellows, Vidrio said...


AmeriCorps teaching fellow Jeannette Aames, who is finishing her second year and hopes to teach high school math in Oakland Unified in the fall, said teaching a math intervention class was her most rewarding experience at Elmhurst. The class of three girls and nine “rowdy boys” could not grasp the concept of negative numbers.


“Direct instruction didn’t work with them,” Aames said, requiring her to develop more hands-on approaches to teach the concept...


The students also get opportunities through Citizen Schools to participate in apprenticeships with “citizen teachers,” any adult from the broader Bay Area community who has a passion, such as robotics or radio reporting, to share with the students. The citizen teachers receive basic training on how to teach from Citizen Schools staff before they begin the after-school class.


The citizen teacher is partnered with an AmeriCorps fellow who assists the teacher with handling classroom management. At the end of the apprenticeship, the students make a presentation (called a “WOW!”) to their parents and business and community leaders, showcasing what they have learned.


In addition, local companies invite students to their offices for apprenticeship experiences. At Pandora, students learned how to make an app.


“It was a video game where you dodge fireballs,” Betlach recalled.


The positive school culture that Frey captures is the result not of a miracle education reform formula, but of a committed collaboration of human beings, caring and working really hard.  The students, AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows, and teachers whose voices fill the story bring that to life better than most research briefs and infographics. We're proud every day to serve alongside Principal Betlach, Mr. Vidrio, and the rest of the ECP community, meditating, dodging fireballs, and dreaming big!

Apply to the AmeriCorps Teaching Fellowship today and you can join next year's team at ECP!

Read the full article on EdSourceOakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, or The Hechinger Report.

Citizen Schools Launching Expanded Day Educator Residency - Request for Proposals

Citizen Schools is excited to launch Expanded Day Educator Residency, an innovative program combining our successful Expanded Learning Time model with comprehensive teacher preparation for educators entering the field through our teaching fellowship.  We are currently seeking Institutes of Higher Education or credentialing partners that share our vision for developing teachers that can accelerate student achievement in our partner school districts.  The Request for Proposals, including dates for informational and Q&A webinars, is below. Please contact Mike Malkoff, Citizen Schools' National Director of Training and Support, at mikemalkoff@citizenschools.org if you have any questions. Upcoming informational and Q & A webinar: 

If you have any questions as you are completing the proposal or would like to hear an overview of the program from Citizen Schools and UTRU staff, please contact Mike Malkoff (contact information above) to register for the following webinar: Friday, December 13th at 12:00 PM EST

1.  Please join my meeting, Dec 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM EST. https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/896747053 2.  Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) - a headset is recommended. Or, call in using your telephone. Dial +1 (213) 289-0010 Access Code: 896-747-053 Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting; Meeting ID: 896-747-053

DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS: December 23rd, 2013 at 5:00 p.m.


Request for Proposals:

PURPOSE Through this RFP, Citizen Schools seeks to enter into partnership with an Institution of Higher Education (IHE) or teacher certification provider to design and deliver an Expanded Day Educator Residency (EDER) program.

ORGANIZATIONAL BACKGROUNDS Citizen Schools: Dedicated to helping children discover and achieve their dreams, Citizen Schools uses an innovative model to help close the opportunity and achievement gap in low-income communities. Citizen Schools expands the learning day by mobilizing community volunteers to provide hands-on, experiential learning, and Citizen Schools National Teaching Fellows to deliver rigorous academic instruction grounded in best practices. Since its inception in 1995, Citizen Schools has proven that additional hands-on learning and rigorous academic instruction in the critical middle school years can have lasting impact on student outcomes.

Urban Teacher Residency United: Founded in 2007, UTRU is the only organization in the nation dedicated to developing, launching, supporting, and accelerating the impact of residency programs. UTRU partners with school districts, charter management organizations, institutions of higher education, not-for-profits, and states to develop teacher residency programs as quality pipelines of effective and diverse new teachers. UTRU supports 20 Network partner residency programs that have prepared over 500 residents and support more than 1,000 graduates across the country in high-need schools.

RESIDENCY PROGRAM The Citizen Schools EDER program is designed to accelerate student achievement in partner school districts through the recruitment, preparation, and support of highly skilled and diverse new teachers. The program is an innovative partnership between Citizen Schools and its school districts/Local Education Agencies (LEAs). Urban Teacher Residency United will act as expert consultant around the design and launch of the EDER program.

Pioneered in the early 2000s in Boston, Chicago, and Denver, urban teacher residency programs adapt the medical residency model to teacher preparation and are designed to provide residents with the skills, knowledge, and practical experiences necessary to become effective urban teachers. The EDER program represents an innovation on the traditional teacher residency model as the only expanded day residency program in the nation. The EDER program will prepare Citizen Schools Teaching Fellows (TFs) to be highly effective teachers by providing:

  • A two-year AmeriCorps Teaching Fellowship that includes year-round training, professional development, and ongoing evaluation and feedback
  • A rigorous, year-long classroom apprenticeship and mentoring experience with a highly-effective district teacher focused on student learning and effective instructional practice
  • Concentrated and aligned coursework culminating in a Master’s Degree and/or teacher certification;
  • Experience actively engaging families and volunteers in the education of students through the Citizen Schools model
  • A collaborative cohort experience with fellow TFs who share a passion for urban education

PARTNERSHIP OVERVIEW Citizen Schools seeks Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) or teacher certification providers that share its vision for improving the academic futures of low-income, high-need children and youth in partner LEAs. This IHE/certification provider will provide a Master’s Degree and/or teacher certification to TFs who successfully complete the program, and will commit to ensuring that coursework is aligned to the Citizen Schools’ program model. Applicants to the program will be recruited and accepted based on selection criteria jointly established by the program partners, and will complete the program of preparation, which is organized around an expanded day residency experience. Mentor teachers will be required to participate in professional development for this role. The program is a one-year apprentice-style program of study, which will take place during the second year of a two-year AmeriCorps Teaching Fellowship. At the completion of the residency year, TFs will be eligible to earn a teaching license. LEA partners will interview program graduates and determine qualifications for full-time positions within their respective districts.

The IHE or teacher certification provider will be asked to fulfill the following roles and responsibilities:

  • Make appropriate personnel available to serve on the program’s steering committee and on relevant subcommittees
  • Collaboratively develop selection criteria for program participants (Teaching Fellow residents and mentor teachers) and participate in the recruitment and selection process for both
  • Communicate the admissions requirements for the IHE and oversee the admissions process for selected candidates
  • Modify or develop teacher preparation scope, sequence, and content in response to the Citizen Schools’ program model, training model, and context in which the EDER graduates will teach
  • Collaboratively design and implement the EDER program, including making proposed curriculum changes and submitting these changes to all partners in time to meet any university or other deadlines
  • Pursue grants or other fundraising opportunities or supply necessary supporting documents for whichever partner is the fiscal agent for a given grant
  • Award a Master’s degree and/or teacher certification to all candidates who successfully complete the program, meet graduation requirements and are in good standing as determined by the program
  • With Teaching Fellow consent, collect and share course assessment data (and Teaching Fellow performance data) for the purposes of program evaluation and ongoing improvement
  • Collaboratively recruit, select and approve program course instructors
  • Align field support with support provided by Citizen Schools staff to create a cohesive coaching experience for residents

During the 2013-2014 academic year, EDER partners will engage in thorough program planning and design. This will require ongoing collaboration, including planning meetings, development of core curricular and program documents, site visits to model residency programs, and other activities to ensure a successful launch. The program will launch during the 2014-2015 academic year in California (Oakland Unified School District and Alum Rock Union School District), New York (NYC Department of Education), Massachusetts (Boston Public Schools), and Texas (Houston Independent School District).

SELECTION AND ELIGIBILITY Citizen Schools will prioritize the following criteria when selecting an IHE or teacher certification provider:

  • Commitment to the EDER program’s mission and vision
  • Institutional support for launching and sustaining a residency program
  • History of effective partnerships and strong track record of serving urban school districts as demonstrated by impact on student achievement
  • Ability to create a tailored curriculum for the needs of Citizen Schools and its partner LEAs
  • Flexibility and willingness to make changes to address the EDER program’s needs and goals
  • Ability to allocate resources to the EDER program
  • Ability to accept the AmericCorps Education Award as part of tuition for the program
  • Demonstrate a track record of strong fundraising
  • Ability to hold courses before 2:00 PM and/or after 6:00 PM or on Saturdays to accommodate residents’ Expanded Learning Time teaching responsibilities

Note: Preference will be given to IHEs/certification providers who can serve multiple states and can develop a one-year residency program in partnership with Citizen Schools.

REQUIRED INFORMATION Interested Institutions of Higher Education and teacher certification providers should submit the following by email no later than Monday, December 23, 2013, to Mike Malkoff at mikemalkoff@citizenschools.org. Final submissions should be no more than 5 pages, single-spaced, excluding resumes of key personnel. Questions can be sent to the same email address.

1. A description of your organization’s qualifications and how the tasks outlined above would be carried out 2. Resumes of key personnel who would be involved in the project 3. Contact information for representatives of three schools or school districts you have partnered with recently who can act as references (please accompany with data regarding the success of recent partners, if available) 4. Estimated tuition and other costs per enrolled resident and a list of potential ways those costs can be reduced for high-potential residents 5. The specific credentials that could be offered to our residents 6. A summary of how you would plan to evaluate the impact of the program

INFORMATIONAL WEBINARS If you have any questions as you are completing the proposal or would like to hear an overview of the program from Citizen Schools and UTRU staff, please contact Mike Malkoff (contact information above) to register for he following webinar: Friday, December 13th at 12:00 PM EST

DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS: December 23rd, 2013 at 5:00 p.m.

Work Together and Take It One Day at a Time

October is commonly referred to as the most difficult month for teachers--the end-of-summer anticipation  of August has passed, the energy and enthusiasm of September has waned, and reality is setting in. Teaching is challenging. But there is a cure for the "October slump" that all teachers should know about...

At the third annual Expanded Learning Time Partnership Summit hosted by Citizen Schools, hundreds of school leaders, teachers, and innovative educators gathered to discuss how to make expanded learning time possible and successful in schools across the country. We heard incredible stories of perseverance, collaboration, and humility over the course of the two day event. Tamara Osivwemu, Director of Professional Development at Citizen Schools California, shared a story about how she learned to get through the most challenging moments, days, and even months as an educator. Her advice is simple-- work together and take it one day at a time.

Here is her story...


I’m entering my seventh year at Citizen Schools and I’m excited to still be here. I’ve held many roles; Teaching Fellow, Campus Director, and currently Director of Professional Development. I’ve learned a lot from the people I’ve worked with, and of course from my students. But I can honestly say that the role I’ve learned the most from is that of a mother. I’ll try not to be too corny, but I have a four-year-old and a seven-month-old and every day they teach me so much about how to be resilient, about how to be patient, and how to care about and think about others, even when you don’t really feel like it or when you don’t think you can.

So, I hate cooking. I actually hate, hate, hate cooking. And sometimes when I do cook I feel accomplished. I say, “Yes! I cooked a meal. The chicken is not burned. It’s all good. The rice is still white. It’s yummy. Eat it!”

So, then my kids eat it and all I want to do is hold on to that meal and the next day say, “Great. Eat it again.” And then the next day say, “Okay, that was really good. Eat it again.” I just don’t want to cook again. And sometimes we feel like in our work as educators, right?

We can think about how we did such a great job last year or we did such a great job yesterday that we forget that we have to continue to do that great work day in and day out for our students. They can’t eat yesterday’s meal. They can’t live on yesterday’s results.

We have to make sure that we’re putting our best selves forward every single day so that our students are getting the best of us every day.

Another thing that I learned from being a mother is the importance of recognizing our mistakes and then fixing them. A few weeks ago my daughter, Kiah had a sing-a-thon at school. She was upset with me because I wasn’t able to go to the sing-a-thon because I had to attend an event for work. And so when I told her I couldn’t come, she started crying and then I was trying not to cry.

I said, “Okay, mommy loves you. I have to go to work.” But she was visibly upset and that was one of those moments where, as a mother, I felt like I wasn’t doing my job. And all of us as educators, I’m sure there are moments when we feel like we’re not doing our job.

If when we get our test results back at the end of the year and we’re not where we expected to be, or a student struggles, or a student gets in trouble, we feel like we failed as an educator. And I want to encourage you that we’re not failing; every day we make a mistake and every day we have the opportunity to fix that mistake.

So, when I came home and she was upset that I didn’t go to the sing-a-thon, we sat down on the couch. My husband had recorded it and we were able to watch the sing-a-thon together and I sung and danced with her. Then she said, “It’s okay, mommy. I still love you.”

That was a big deal -- and I cried. As educators we may not hear from our students, “It’s okay. I forgive you,” or “I understand that this is difficult,” but in our heart of hearts and as a team, we need to be able to forgive ourselves and encourage ourselves to take the challenge again. It’s okay. What we did yesterday may or may not have worked, but we’re going to take this step again.

The last thing that I’ve learned about being a mother is that it’s not possible to do it yourself. I have people around me to help support. We can accomplish a lot when we all work together and take it one day at a time.

Boston Globe: Key lessons on expanding the school day

Boston Globe October 8, 2013

In an opinion piece co-authored by Pat Kirby, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Citizen Schools, and five principals of Citizen Schools' partner middle schools, describes the lessons learned from expanding the learning day in Boston.

Key lessons on expanding the school day

"Expanded Learning Time has been touted as a key lever for school improvement in the Boston mayoral campaign. As a network of middle schools partnering with the nonprofit Citizen Schools, we have first-hand experience navigating the complexities and opportunities of expanding the school day for Boston Public School students.

Together, we are partnering to build better school communities with increased family involvement and the resources necessary to close educational gaps. We leverage Citizen Schools’ “second shift” of AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and volunteers to compliment a swing shift of Boston Teachers Union teachers. Together, we aligned to improve our student’s academic performance and engagement while building greater teacher collaboration." Continue reading.