By Emily Pickren
Karl Dean, Mayor of Nashville, Tenn. and former co-chair of NLC’s Council on Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Council) was honored last week in Washington, D.C. for his commitment and leadership on afterschool and expanded learning programs. Mayor Dean was named a State Afterschool Champion at the “Breakfast of Champions,” part of the 13th annual Afterschool for All Challenge. This annual event is sponsored by the Afterschool Alliance. NLC has a strong partnership with the Afterschool Alliance to inform cities about state and federal funding streams that can support citywide afterschool system building efforts, as well as help increase public awareness about the importance of afterschool.
Mayor Dean was one of 11 state champions and the only mayor honored at the event. The United Ways of Tennessee nominated Mayor Dean for the honor because of his strong support for innovative approaches to expanding learning that build student skills and create pathways for lifelong learning. Education has been his top priority as mayor.
Mayor Dean was elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2011. In 2010 he launched the Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA) with a bold new line item of $400,000 in the city budget, and has helped to grow support for NAZA to $1.6 million today. NAZA is the first coordinated afterschool system in Tennessee.
A partnership between the Mayor's office, the school district, local agencies and youth-serving organizations that is modeled after the Providence After School Alliance's "AfterZones" model, NAZA targets high-need middle school students and aims to keep them engaged by nurturing a passion for learning and adequately preparing them for high school. NLC worked closely with Mayor Dean and the City of Nashville to develop their afterschool system, and provided guidance and technical assistance to get NAZA off the ground through NLC's 2010 Mayors' Institute for Children and Families, ongoing consultation and through connections to other city leaders building afterschool systems.
"Four years ago, out of our collective concern about the high school dropout rate, we launched this innovative afterschool program to help fill a huge gap in high-quality afterschool programming for some of our most high-need middle-school students,” Mayor Dean said. “What started as a pilot with 200 students will now engage 1,500 middle school students from across the city in academic supports and fun enrichment. Independent research has shown links between these programs and improved school attendance, fewer school behavior issues and even improved grades in math."