"Mentorship and out-of-school time saves so many kids..."

The pop-up ad on its website,, is clear:

“Support out of school time programs in Rhode Island! The Building Opportunity through Out of School Time (BOOST) Act [House Bill] 8047 would provide $4 million to support comprehensive and effective afterschool, school vacation, summer learning and workforce development programs for students in grades kindergarten through twelve (K-12). Learn more and take action in support of the BOOST Act!”

The Rhode Island Afterschool Network (RIAN) also has data proving out-of-school time learning has immediate benefits, but for every student in Rhode Island attending an afterschool program, three students are waiting for an available program.

The Network, which supports afterschool and summer programs through professional development opportunities, and advocates for quality programming and practices, along with several allies, is fighting to change that statistic.

Established with funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, RIAN has named the Rhode Island Foundation as its fiscal sponsor. This critical community partnership also illustrates one of ways that the Foundation continues to invest statewide in educational success, with priority placed on investments that will break down the barriers that hold back low-income Rhode Islanders and Rhode Islanders of color.

Nearly everyone involved with RIAN’s mission has personal stories about the benefits of afterschool programs.

“Out of school time was something that really helped me,” said RIAN Network Lead Carlene Fonseca, who started working at the Network in late 2023, with previous experience from Providence College and the Central Falls School District, where she once went to school. “I played five sports growing up and attended every afterschool program. I was president of my student council. I did 500 hours of community service in high school. I was just very active. That kept me on the right path and helped me with my academics. It also taught me to be a leader.”

She continued, “Mentorship and out of school time saves so many kids.”

Governor Dan McKee’s Learn365RI initiative also champions the benefits of afterschool programming. The initiative strives to empower communities to offer more high-quality, out-of-school learning opportunities with the long-term goal of improving student learning outcomes. In 2023, it provided $3.8 million in grant funding to cities and towns to expand extended learning programming statewide.

The BOOST Act proposes an additional $4 million of state funding in the 2024-2025 budget that, if approved, RIAN will distribute through a competitive grant process. In a recent RIAN meeting, a panel affirmed the importance of the Act and quality afterschool programing.

“We were working poor, and so having an opportunity to participate in out-of-school activities…that was my social life, that was my entire world… if not, I would be sitting at home watching re-runs of the Steve Harvey show,” said panelist Senator Jonathon Accosta, who, with others, submitted a companion Senate Bill 2864 to the BOOST Act in the Senate.

Accosta is a former math teacher and a Brown University graduate – undergraduate as well as a master’s degree – who is currently seeking a doctorate. He listed several afterschool programs he participated in while growing up, including playing three sports, Boy Scouts, and “pretty much anything that would keep me out of trouble and I could get my mom’s permission to stay after school for, I was a part of.”

He continued, “I definitely benefited from all those opportunities. That’s the kind of stuff you put on resumes that helps you get into places like Brown.”