DENVER–(BUSINESS WIRE)–RESCHOOL, a Colorado-based nonprofit that creates equitable access to learning that happens in and beyond school, is excited to launch DISCOVER, a free, online and mobile-friendly tool for families to easily learn about organizations providing learning resources and activities for children, ages birth to 18, when they aren’t in school.
In a 2019 Colorado statewide study RESCHOOL conducted with its partners at the OMNI Institute, 75% of the 200 parents surveyed said they struggled finding learning activities for their children when they were not in school. Parents also reported that it is hard to find affordable programming and scholarships, and programming that is conveniently located, interesting to their child, age-appropriate, and/or that reflects their culture, values and identity. DISCOVER gives parents a snapshot of this information and contact information so they can learn more about the organization and sign up for programming.
DISCOVER can help families find out-of-school learning opportunities that are in-person, live or pre-recorded online as well as activities their children can experience at home. More than 55 organizations are listed on the site across various categories including academic support, arts, community engagement, life skills, physical activity and outdoors, and STEM. Approximately 49 of these organizations offer free programming or scholarships, and RESCHOOL is adding more every day. The majority of programming on DISCOVER right now is based in the Denver Metro area, and RESCHOOL is looking into expanding the site to include programming in additional regions of Colorado in the near future. DISCOVER also makes it easy for families to see if organizations have expertise in supporting children with disabilities, find organizations who have leaders that identify similarly to their children and determine whether there is language support in a child’s primary language.
“COVID-19 not only dramatically changed what in-school learning looked like, it also shut down child care and out-of-school learning programs forcing families and providers to adapt in a wide variety of ways,” said Amy Anderson, Executive Director at RESCHOOL. “We saw providers create take-home activity kits that families could safely pick up, curriculum being adapted to be accessed online, and providers re-constructing their physical spaces to make them safe when limited, in-person activities were allowed. Meanwhile, families made choices and accessed learning that was safest and made the most sense for their situations. There are so many factors that go into choosing activities for your kids, and so many great options out there. We want to make it as easy as possible to connect families and learning providers.”
Seeing the need for a tool that highlights activities anytime throughout the year when kids and teens aren’t in school, and one that highlights in-person, online and take-home activities, RESCHOOL developed DISCOVER to replace Blueprint4SummerCO, the growing online tool it ran for three years.
Remote learning and child care challenges created by COVID-19 only underscored the complexities that families already manage when it comes to finding and choosing learning options for their children. “Since 2014, RESCHOOL has been co-creating resources and services with families to make accessing meaningful learning for their children easier,” said Anderson. “DISCOVER was developed after learning from families about what kind of tool would be most useful to them when they are searching for out-of-school activities that meets both the parents’ needs and sparks their children’s interests and passions.”
COVID has impacted families financially as well, oftentimes leaving less money to put towards activities outside of school. Since 2018, RESCHOOL has raised and distributed nearly $140,000 to eliminate financial barriers for children to access activities with fees and to reduce the costs organizations incur to provide free out-of-school programming to kids and teens. RESCHOOL hopes to raise and distribute nearly $400,000 in learning and provider dollars in 2021.
Many organizations have also struggled to provide affordable programming after a year of having to run programs at partial capacity or incur additional costs to adapt programming to be available online or at-home, and as a result don’t have much left in their budget for advertising. RESCHOOL makes it free for local learning providers to list their organization on DISCOVER, giving them access to additional free marketing opportunities and exposure to more families in the Denver Metro area.
RESCHOOL believes that learning happens everywhere. When young people experience a variety of opportunities that they drive, they THRIVE. We know inequities exist. We work alongside a variety of people to address inequities in our educational system both in and outside of schools so all young people have the resources to access the learning experiences they choose. Learn more about our work here, check out DISCOVER here, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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