09/12/2014 -

By Jon Allen, AfterZone Site Coordinator for Nathan Bishop

posted 9.15.2014

Left to Right: Missy Santos and her daughters Emma and Elliesha


For nearly 3 years, Missy Santos has been the program provider for Ocean State CrossFit Kids at Nathan Bishop Middle School. In those years, Missy has become a beloved provider by youth and staff alike. Her work ethic and dedication to youth programming is always above and beyond and often times will reach Herculean levels—something I can only assume is connected to her CrossFit routine. 

When Missy heard that the Nathan Bishop AfterZone site was looking for new program support staff members, she encouraged her oldest daughter Elliesha to apply—an idea I was particularly excited about knowing Missy and knowing how much the youth loved and connected to her. I figured their love for Missy and excitement about the program would enable Elliesha to easily connect with them and vice versa.

Upon meeting her, I was pleasantly surprised to come find another CrossFitian work ethic that I thought was unique to Missy and despite the fact that Elliesha didn't come with a longstanding background in youth development, she was extremely interested in learning and quickly incorporated herself into the culture of the AfterZone and wholeheartedly dedicated herself to youth work.

Suffice it to say, the youth loved her and continue to connect with her. She even has a following of students that will choose to sit quietly next to her.  

Eventually, Missy's youngest daughter began accompanying her mom to the program, and apparently the CrossFitian work ethic runs deep, because despite not being a staff member, Emma worked just as hard helping Missy with the program. She also started hanging out with the other students, and has become an...

09/12/2014 -

By Hillary Salmons, PASA Executive Director

posted 9.12.2014

Left to right: City Councilman Michael Solomon, AfterZone youth MC Kianna Moreno, AfterZone youth MC Niceo Aponte-Andrade, PASA Executive Director Hillary Salmons (back), PPSD Superintendent Dr. Susan Lusi

For the past ten years, PASA has focused on deepening the impact after school, summer, and expanded learning has on in-school outcomes like attendance, classroom behavior, and engagement in learning. As we've continued to hone this strategy, we've been lucky to have the Providence Public School District as a close collaborative partner—something that is entirely unique to Providence. 

PASA has been able to work closely with the district's teaching and learning team to align high-impact practices that PASA’s program providers can deliver, demonstrate, and share with one another and with school faculty. The AfterZone Summer Scholars Camp now functions has a truly integrated summer learning strategy with the district, having replaced PPSD's remediation strategy 3 years ago. In the Summer Scholars, district teachers and informal community-based educators now come together to co-design and deliver a fully hands-on, citywide summer learning program that is aligned with district and national standards. Together they recieve professional development and training from PASA and district staff alike. Last year, PASA's professional development offerings counted toward teachers' district professional development requirements for the first time. 

Superintendent Lusi has been critical in encouraging and helping to develop this trusting partnership, which has evolved from facilities usage and donated buses, to a full-fledged integrated strategy with shared funding, a high school strategy that awards course credits for out-of-school experiences, and a collaborative spirit unheard of in other districts around the country. 

I can't say enough about Dr....

09/11/2014 -

By Ann Durham, Director of Quality Initiatives

posted 9.12.2014


It’s been nearly three years since PASA was one of the winners of the MacArthur and Mozilla Foundation-sponsored Digital Media and Learning (DML) Competition that resulted in the creation of digital badges for the Hub’s ELOs. We knew that Providence youth were engaging in high quality learning experiences outside of school that were just as transformative and relevant as their in-school lessons, but we had no way to help them communicate those experiences to stakeholders that mattered to them, like potential employers and college admissions officers. We also knew that digital badges had the potential to document those experiences and paint a more holistic picture of a young person—one who maybe struggled in algebra class, but excelled in her after school engineering program.

PASA wasn’t the only group to recognize the potential of these relatively new digital credentials. Shortly after the DML winners started rolling out their badge strategies, the city of Chicago announced its plan to badge its City of Learning summer program, giving badges a huge PR and credibility boost. This past year, Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC came on as Cities of Learning, all with badge strategies underway. The Cities of Learning initiative has done a great deal to bring badges into the public consciousness, but as of yet, all of our badge strategies document experiences, but don’t adhere to consistent standards across cities and states.

During these three years, we at PASA have learned a lot about digital badges, not only about their functionality and potential, but about their marketability among youth, program providers, employers, and higher education institutions. Over and over again...

09/11/2014 -

by Cam Walters, PASA Operations Coordinator

posted 9.10.2014


I first met Griselda (aka Gris) Grave and Luis Sanchez when they started attending AfterZone as 6th graders at DelSesto Middle School. During their 6th and 7th grade years, they consistently attended a wide variety of AfterZone programs where I came to know Luis to be an old soul—quiet, thoughtful, and always looking for ways to be helpful. Gris had a rough start to middle school in 6th grade, but realized that she needed to focus and improve her outlook in order to be more successful in school. They became very dedicated to the AfterZone and related to it almost like a second home.

Both Gris and Luis said that some of the biggest reasons they loved being involved in the AfterZone were because they felt accepted, valued, and respected—a huge deal for middle school students! In 8th grade, they both signed up to participate in a pilot program called "HubZone," which PASA designed to create a personalized bridge between middle and high school. During the program, Selena Ramos, the high school intern, helped give Gris and Luis context for what to expect when they got to 9th grade. They learned about high school expectations, academic requirements for athletic programs, and peer-to-peer social influences. 

After successful transitions to high school—Gris to Central high and Luis to JSEC—they both chose to continue participating in expanded learning opportunities. Luis signed up for the Hub's ELOs at JSEC and Gris was hired as the HubZone intern for Gilbert Stuart Middle School, where she imparted wisdom about her own transition from middle to high school to a new crop of 8th graders.

Now juniors, they have kept coming back to volunteer during the AfterZone school year and for the Summer Scholars Camp. This past summer, they were paid interns through Comprehensive Community Action Program where they worked as AfterZone Summer Scholars Camp youth counselors, providing program support, peer-to-peer guidance, and overall positivity and enthusiasm....

09/03/2014 -

by Alexandra Almagno, AfterZone Summer Scholars Educator with Brandaris Maritime

posted 9.3.2014

Over the summer, I had the pleasure of working with students from Esek Hopkins Middle School who wanted to work with local mural artists as their afternoon enrichment activity. Together, they learned about the history and power of public art when it comes to creating positive community messages and energizing public space in new ways. As a result, they decided that they wanted to do something to beautify their own school, striking on an old fence they felt needed a makeover.

They got busy doing image research and, once inspired, began sketching out their ideas in large scale drawings and paintings. Students presented their ideas to one another and ultimately agreed that their mural would depict city and school pride, with images of the Providence skyline flanked by images and messages that reflected an excitement about Esek Hopkins (fitting for a fence next to the sports fields) and the AfterZone Summer Scholars.

Once they agreed on the designs and layout, they grabbed their brushes and paint and got to work, excited to create a piece of public art that would become a permanent part of their school. I was so proud of the way they collaborated and respected one another's creative visions. 


08/26/2014 -

by Lisa Sampson, Hub Coordinator for Jorge Alvarez High School

posted 8.26.2014


Kweyono pointing to her Hub 2010 staff photo post-graduation at the Hub's fall Demo Day in 2012


Kweyono first got involved with the Hub back in 2009 when she answered the call for youth who wanted to be involved in designing a youth run space for high school students. She immediately stood out for her enthusiasm, bright smile, and passion for creating. 

She was always the person that had the most energy on the team and a natural talent for advocating for and promoting the Hub to anyone and everyone. Kweyono would participate in events where the Hub was being introduced to 8th graders, showing up with style and energy that excited everyone around her. 

As the Hub transitioned from its early incarnation as a youth run drop-in space, to a more sophisticated expanded learning strategy, Kweyono stuck with it and continued to spread the word and proudly promote the Hub's ELOs to high school even as she prepared to graduate. She was there for every major Hub milestone, including the launch of ELOs at the Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex—not even her home school.

During the summer of 2011, she spent her break working with local webmaker Kerri Lemoie and local filmmaker Desi Washington to create a series of videos that highlighted all the range of learning opportunities happening across Providence. Along with the other youth staff members, Kweyono found, documented, and put into a public online calendar, and promoted on social media an ongoing list of all the cool stuff that high school-age youth in Providence could participate in. 

A particularly innovative and useful activity that she and the then youth staff did was to survey their high school peers across the city to learn what types of activities...

08/19/2014 -


Southwest Airlines has partnered with PASA as its official airline sponsor for a second year. Last year, Southwest flew PASA staff to national conferences, trainings, and other professional development opportunities. Thanks to their support, we were able to send more staff than ever to participate national conferences and speaking engagements, like the National Summer Learning Association's conference in Orlando, FL, where Naomi Jacobs, AfterZone Summer Scholars Manager, presented for the first time on PASA's quality improvement system.

Not only does Southwest's partnership help PASA grow our staff by affording them more opportunities to deepen their knowledge and engage with other industry professionals, it also ensures PASA remains a leader in national conversations around afterschool and expanded learning, while helping us spend more on programming and less on travel.

PASA and Southwest share a dedication to a thriving Providence community and we're excited to work together for a second year.