The MOST Support for Our Young People
Today I will be presenting on a webinar about Education Secretary Miguel Cardona’s “Engage Every Student” initiative. The initiative is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Education, the Afterschool Alliance, AASA, the School Superintendents Association, National League of Cities, National Summer Learning Association, and the National Comprehensive Center to provide schools and communities the connections and assistance they may need to expand access to afterschool and summer learning programs. I’ll be talking about the work the City of Madison does to engage students after hours and sharing information about the success of the Madison-area Out-of-School Time initiative (MOST).
MOST ensures that all of Madison's children and youth have access to comprehensive, high-quality, out-of-school time programs that support positive youth development, educational achievement and readiness for college, career and community.
MOST is an unprecedented collaboration between the City of Madison, Dane County, the Madison Metropolitan School District and over 45 Madison-area youth-serving organizations, all working together to support 16,000 young people who rely on afterschool programming weekly.
Through the pandemic, MOST was more important than ever. With schools virtual for a whole year, our young people were isolated and without the extra adult support that had helped them succeed in the classroom. In response to this new need, elementary schools in Madison opened their doors, giving City-supported community-based organizations the space to support young people in-person all day long. MMSD assigned nursing staff and food service staff to support the CBOs and ran buses to get kids to the community learning hubs. The City supported this partnership by investing directly into the partnered community-based organizations, by successfully advocating for State funds (GEER funds then ARPA funds) that would support the CBO-led MOST programming, and by assigning public health staff to support the in-person teams. Ultimately, this collaboration and ingenuity served about 5,000 predominantly BIPOC children over the course of the pandemic.
That’s a lot of kids!
But school is not just a 9-month commitment. With pandemic pressures on the hiring market, finding people willing to dedicate their time to our youth became more difficult. So it was no surprise when in the summer of 2022 MMSD couldn’t fully staff summer school prompting the district to un-enroll 600 students from summer school. Again, the MOST partnership sprang into action, convening Community Based Organizations, and using funds from un-hired MMSD staff to provide scholarships to any open programs across the city for the un-enrolled summer school students.
While the City and school district have been able to bring together disparate funds for this coordinated response, we knew early on we couldn’t do this alone here in Madison. That’s why early in the pandemic, I organized with other Mayors to ask the Governor that he invest federal dollars into child care and afterschool programming. This resulted in $10M from the State for programs in our region, on top of the already allocated City ARPA funds, and some MMSD ESSER funds.
The crisis of the pandemic inspired collaboration locally and at the State level for the sake of our young people. Further, when our partners at the state loosened restrictions and created flexibility around funding, more black and brown led and smaller organizations, who are doing amazingly creative work, received state funding, many for the first time.
We want to see this agile response to the needs of our community continue. Federal and State funding allowed MOST to be a lifeline for young people and their families at one of our community’s more challenging moments. Madison will keep working to provide out-of-school time opportunities to our young people, and we look forward to continued collaboration in this work.