Madison Community Conversation to Focus on Family and Youth Engagement

Madison, Wisc. - Local leaders, educators, social service agencies, parents, students and community members will convene tomorrow for a "community conversation" focused on implementing effective mechanisms to increase family and youth engagement in Madison's afterschool and educational offerings. This Town Hall meeting will provide the community and stakeholders an opportunity to learn from and provide feedback to Madison Out-of-School Time (MOST), a city-school initiative that works to ensure all of Madison's youth have access to comprehensive, high quality, out-of-school time programs that support positive youth development, educational achievement and career readiness.

MOST was created by the City of Madison in 2013 and is now jointly funded between the city and school district to serve as the intermediary organization working to develop a citywide system of quality afterschool learning opportunities. Many cities around the country are developing these citywide systems to coordinate programs, create increased access and participation, and create professional development training opportunities to strengthen programs and outcomes for children and youth.

Mayor Paul Soglin will lead the Town Hall event, which is being held at the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. "Meaningfully engaging the community in the development of MOST is an essential piece of creating a robust local MOST system," said Mayor Soglin. "I am excited to host this Town Hall meeting on Family and Youth Engagement along with the National Leagues of Cities, the U.S. Department of Education, the Madison Metropolitan School District, Dane County and our many organizational partners to learn from and work with those involved with family and youth organizing."

Jennifer Cheatham, Superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District and Lynn Green, Director of Dane County Department of Human Services will be on hand to describe the work done so far to build MOST, and emphasize how critical it is for the city and its partners to continually engage the community, particularly families and youth.

"As a school district, we have worked hard to be incredibly focused on the day-to-day work of great teaching and learning," Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said. "As we keep that sustained focus in our schools, we are excited that so many people in our community are coming together to ensure that when students aren't with us, that they have access to comprehensive, high-quality, out-of-school time programs. We're looking forward to continuing this work together, especially focused on family and youth engagement, at the town hall this weekend."

Today's community conversation is one of a series of similar events held around the country resulting from a "memorandum of understanding" signed by the National League of Cities and the U.S. Department of Education in March. The conversations focus on early childhood education, afterschool learning and postsecondary success, and explore ways that cities are working to close the achievement gap and increase student outcomes, including non-academic outcomes such as social-emotional skills.

"The National League of Cities is proud to support the City of Madison and the Madison Metropolitan School District in its efforts to strengthen family and youth engagement and develop a city-wide out-of-school time system based on collaboration and coordination. We are so pleased to partner with the U.S. Department of Education to improve public schools, support a college-going culture and expanding high quality afterschool opportunities," said Clifford Johnson, Executive Director of NLC's Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.

The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.