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2016 BSB Policy Summit

Budget appropriations, efficiencies, return on investments and the role of Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) in larger education reform efforts were just some of the topics discussed at this year’s October ELO Policy Summit organized by Beyond School Bells.  Held in partnership with the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s Center for Civic Engagement, this year’s summit brought together approximately 70 afterschool and summer program advocates, policy makers, funders and other leaders for a half day meeting filled with presentations and discussions focusing on to grow more, high quality ELO programs across our state.

The Summit was facilitated by NU Regent Bob Whitehouse who as a Board member of both Collective for Youth, Omaha’s afterschool and summer programming intermediary, and Beyond School Bells, is himself an ELO systems leader. Presentations began with a welcome by Dr. Cory Epler, Senior Administrator of Teaching and Learning at the Nebraska Department of Education, emphasizing how high quality afterschool and summer ELO programs support the Department’s goal of providing every student in Nebraska a quality education.  Senator Heath Mello led off the panel discussions by providing a brief overview of recent legislative successes as well as a look into opportunities for future wins an uncertain future budget climate. 

The conversation continued with Dr. Greg Welch, of NU’s Center for Children, Youth, Families and Schools, presenting preliminary findings from a literature review of state level Return on Investment studies illustrating the positive economic impacts of investments in ELO programs.  Finally Tiffany Seibert Joekel, Policy Director at  the Open Sky Institute and John Spatz, Executive Director of the Nebraska Association of School Boards discussed how ELO programs fit into a larger agenda of education enhancements advocates envision providing more Nebraska youth with the opportunities they need to be prepared to contribute to Nebraska’s continued prosperity.

Presentations were interspersed with questions and table discussions enabling participants were able to share their own reflections on these important topics.  Beyond School Bells intends to use insights gained from the Summit to advance its core mission:  to develop strategies to grow more high quality, sustainable ELO programs that will prove more Nebraska youth, especially youth from our state’s most challenging educational environments, with access to ELO programs that bridge the learning opportunity gap that contributes to academic achievement gap that prevent all Nebraska youth from achieving their full potential. 

 

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