For the past few years I’ve been really curious about the Cities of Learning initiative. I’ve watched with interest as several cities launched, using the Cities of Learning framework, a variety of activities to support youth learning. One aspect of this work that impressed me was the way in which different community groups, elected officials, and community agencies worked together to provide quality formal and informal learning opportunities for teens.
Then when the LRNG project got underway I was very interested to see how that project helped libraries and other youth-focused out-of-school time organizations continue supporting teen afterschool experiences. In case you aren’t familiar with LRNG (or Cities of Learning), as the LRNG website states, “LRNG redesigns learning for the 21st century so that all youth have an opportunity to succeed.”
During the summer months some LRNG cities support teen workforce development opportunities through programming, training, and internships. During the school year the LRNG work doesn’t stop, out of school time just happens to take place afterschool and on weekends instead of during the “work” day. Much of the work that LRNG helps to make possible is centered on connected learning, and as has been noted on the YALSAblog previously, the idea of connected learning goes to the heart of supporting 21st century teen needs. In the afterschool environment libraries are perfectly positioned to work with teens to design projects and activities that help them to connect to their passions and interests while at the same time connecting to peers, experts, and building a community of those with like interests and who teens can learn from and with.
LRNG is getting ready to build the next cohort of cities and will host a two-day summit “designed to bring together cities and partner organizations to ground them in the basics of LRNG, and provide an opportunity to learn from other programs and cities who have launched the LRNG movement in 2016” You can learn more about the summit, how to register, and how to prepare to participate.
Even if you aren’t able to take the plunge and become a LRNG city, the ideas and opportunities being initiated by this project are worth investigating. There are lessons to learn about partnering with others in the afterschool community to support teen success. Perhaps something someone else implemented will spark ideas on how to support afterschool learning with teens in your locale.