Videos and Presentations|3f6440e0-71d6-4420-bbf9-85d885ac8de5 Page ContentIn 2003, this city saw a crucial need to create more high-quality after-school opportunities for middle-schoolers. To meet the need, you built not just a program, the AfterZone, but also a public-private partnership capable of creating a system – a system that would link nearly 100 after-school providers with a coordinated schedule and centralized registration. This partnership, and the system that resulted, measurably increased after-school participation for middle-school youngsters in Providence. In the 2005-6 school year, some 590 middle-schoolers, 10 percent of the district total, participated in the AfterZone program. Last year, a remarkable 1,600 – fully 33 percent – of them participated. That's a three-fold increase. This is especially impressive because nationally, middle-school youth – who are undergoing that difficult transition from childhood to stormy adolescence – are much less likely than younger children to attend after-school programs. Few programs in our country provide the autonomy, choice and opportunities that kids this age want. But in Providence, you not only took the unusual step of listening to the youth before designing the effort, you even got them to name it. More impressive still, as you increased the number of children you served, you boosted the quality of the activities you offered them. This is vitally important because it's only through quality in programming that kids stick around and gain benefits. AfterZone programs exceed national quality averages in most dimensions today. You have achieved this because you developed standards for the quality of programs, and because PASA helps providers meet them. This is a system grounded in hard data that has helped improve trust and collaboration between schools and the nonprofit community. Importantly, it's a system pulled together by an effective coordinating entity, the Providence After School Alliance, or PASA, that is backed by an enlightened city leadership. And although it is a huge challenge in these tough times, you are working to sustain the system. It's encouraging that PASA has been able to raise a one-to-one match for Wallace's investments, which has meant real dollars for both the system and expanded services. On that score, it's good to see so many of you here today because it suggests that the city takes pride in the AfterZone's success. What you may not know is that your work is helping to shape what other cities are doing. From Asheville, North Carolina, to Albany, Omaha and Pittsburgh, cities around the country are taking note of lessons from your achievements. They have come to understand: That a "neighborhood hub" approach to after school can work. That a hardworking intermediary organization can help a community of dedicated providers and schools do their work more effectively. And, most importantly, that a system to support after school built around data, quality standards and coordination can not only increase access and equity, but also generate real benefits for kids. Finally, you are not resting on your laurels. You are continuing to use evidence – including the evaluation report discussed today – to make further progress. We're delighted, along with your partners, to have helped you start the AfterZones. And we're delighted you own it. Because in the long run, the only community development efforts that stick are those that are authentically owned by a local public-private partnership such as the one you have created here in Providence. Thank you.