(click here for pictures of the innovations project)
In 2009, AOSN received a grant from the C.S. Mott Foundation to increase the capacity of two local communities to develop a common vision, broad community engagement, critical partnerships, and the political will to establish and sustain quality, school-based/school-linked afterschool and summer programs. AOSN will work with these communities to implement best practice tools and strategies for building and sustaining a coalition, and will provide ongoing technical support through October 2011.
AOSN will utilize a community engagement process called “Study Circles”. This approach will create a sustainable local afterschool initiative by engaging a broad-based grassroots segment of the community in structured discussions about out-of-school time. The process is ideal because in it: everyone is equal, everyone is included, no special experience is needed to participate, each participant has the opporutnity to make an impact, and meaningful dialogue can and often does lead to action. Study circles help people find common ground and build trusting relationships, which are the foundation of building successful collaborative relationships.
We believe that it is imperative that citizens be engaged in discussions of how, as a state and as a community, they might create long-term investment in quality afterschool and summer programming that keeps young people safe, supports academic achievement, families and helps connect what they are learning to the world of work. The Study Circles process is a proven method. Our partners in this project is the Arkansas School Board Association.