Over the course of six weeks, the Nebraska Children blog has invited Jeff Cole, Associate Vice President of School-Community Partnerships for Beyond School Bells, to write some guest posts sharing his program’s work.
In my final installment as guest blogger, I will focus on what Beyond School Bells has found to be the heart of high-quality Expanded Learning Opportunity (ELO) programs: strong school-community partnerships.
Nebraska is blessed with a strong tradition of support for public schools – and rightfully so. With one of the nation’s highest graduation rates, above-average ACT scores, and off-the-chart satisfaction rates from parents, Nebraska citizens take pride in their intergenerational investment in our state’s high-quality public schools. We can also be proud of the high level of participation and civic engagement that characterizes Nebraskans from Sidney to Omaha and all points in between.
ELO programs bring together these two Nebraska strengths. Built on learning opportunities taking place after hours in school buildings across our state, ELO programs create a platform for involved citizens and organizations to provide meaningful learning opportunities and support for the next generation of Nebraska citizens and leaders.
As I outlined in previous blogs, these partnerships are helping to provide the hands-on, engaging STEM learning experiences that our young people need to grow Nebraska’s future prosperity. Increasingly, these programs are also providing opportunities for local businesses to expose youth to career opportunities that await them in every Nebraska community. These collaborations are also strengthening the time-honored bonds that unite our public schools and the communities they serve.
The final video in our series outlines the role that community partnerships play in strengthening the capacity of ELO programs to provide all Nebraska youth, especially youth from our state’s most challenging educational environments, with the additional learning opportunities they need to be successful in school, in careers, and in life.
Although the blog series has come to an end, we encourage you to check in with Beyond School Bells to see what’s new with ELO programs in Nebraska. Thanks for following along!