Blurring the Boundaries of School: How Providence, Rhode Island, is Taking a Community Approach to Expanded Learning Opportunities

Blurring the Boundaries of School: How Providence, Rhode Island, is Taking a Community Approach to Expanded Learning Opportunities
Blurring the Boundaries of School: How Providence, Rhode Island, is Taking a Community Approach to Expanded Learning Opportunities


This forum showcased the AfterZone Initiative in Providence, RI, that has taken a community-wide approach to providing afterschool opportunities for middle school youth. Designed through a community planning process and unveiled in 2005, AfterZones engage partners throughout the city and bring key community stakeholders together while providing transportation free of charge to allow students access to community resources. An initial evaluation by Public/Private Ventures on the implementation of the program was released earlier this year and was presented at the forum.



During her nearly 20 years at Public/Private Ventures (P/PV), Dr. Lauren Kotloff has designed and conducted implementation studies of a wide range of single and multi-site programs and community-based initiatives. These studies have served to guide program model refinement, identify start-up challenges and best practices, illuminate the relationship between program implementation and outcomes, and delineate the ways in which programs adapt to—and are shaped by—conditions in their local communities.
Dr. Kotloff was the principal investigator of a study that examined the expansion of Experience Corps, a program that places older adult volunteers in elementary schools to tutor and mentor underperforming children. She recently completed an implementation study of the AfterZone initiative, a citywide effort in Providence, RI, designed to support and sustain high-quality after-school programs for middle school youth.
Dr. Kotloff has extensive expertise in researching high-risk populations, including formerly incarcerated individuals, unemployed noncustodial fathers and immigrant and refugee populations. She directed an in-depth interview study of inmates returning from Riker’s Island jail who were seeking employment in their communities. Dr. Kotloff also directed a multi-site ethnography of Fathers at Work, a national demonstration designed to help low-income noncustodial fathers increase their employment and earnings, become more involved in their children’s lives, and provide them with more consistent financial support.
Dr. Kotloff received her Ph.D. in child development from Cornell University, and her B.A. and M.Ed. from Temple University.



Prior to her appointment as Mayor David N. Cicilline’s Director of Operations in March 2008, Alix Ogden served as Providence Parks Superintendent for four years. Before moving to Providence, Ms. Ogden spent 13 years in Seattle, working for the City in the Mayor’s Neighborhood Planning Office and for the Superintendent of the Department of Parks and Recreation. During her tenure as Providence’s Parks Superintendent, she focused on improving basic service delivery in each of Providence’s 112 neighborhood parks, developing an operating agreement with the Rhode Island Zoological Society that positions the Roger Williams Park Zoo for ongoing success, and constructing and opening the new Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. In her current position, Ms. Ogden serves on the Mayor’s Senior Staff and is responsible for the overall policy direction and operation of all City Operations departments including Art, Culture & Tourism, Workforce Development, Parks &Recreation, Public Works, and Inspections & Standards. In addition, she is charged with supporting the Providence After School Alliance (PASA) by aligning City resources with PASA needs, creating opportunities for partnerships to further the opportunities for after school programming, and supporting the work of PASA’s current and emerging initiatives. She also serves as the Mayor’s appointee to the Providence Community Library Board, on the Board of the Downtown Improvement District and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Providence Foundation.



Hillary Salmons served as Director of PASA during its first three years of incubation at The Education Partnership. Prior to that Hillary spent one year launching Rhode Island Scholars, a federally funded initiative that connected Rhode Island business leaders with middle school youth with a focus on orienting them to course taking, careers and colleges in the hopes of their enrolling in higher level math and science courses.  This statewide campaign inspired Rhode Island’s new more rigorous high school graduation requirements.

Hillary’s knowledge of Providence’s schools, city government and state departments and their impact on youth comes from her 6 years as Vice President of the HELP Coalition.  She worked for the presidents of 4 colleges/universities and four hospitals to develop systemic health and education initiatives to benefit Providence children and build lasting partnerships between the city and the higher education and health care institutions.   With an annual budget of $1 million she was able to develop several models that continue to this day, such as mobile dental teams that visit Providence’s school every year, a treatment and education center for lead-poisoned children, the health science high school which partners with the hospitals, and the Providence school department’s computerized health card used by all the school nurses.

Hillary spent eight years living in Japan on two international assignments with her family. During that time she helped found Refugees International-Japan.  She was responsible for distributing $500,000 a year in grants through visits to the refugee camps in Thailand. While in Japan she obtained a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Oklahoma at the US Army base.  In between trips to Japan, Hillary served for five years as Deputy Director of CAMBA, a large community-based organization in Brooklyn.  While there she helped triple their budget and  develop their afterschool Beacon programs, family literacy and homeless parenting models.  She started her career administering community grants for the Citizens for New York City.

Hillary has served on the boards of the International Institute, Providence League of Women Voters, and Refugees International US and Japan. She helped establish the grant review policies of the New York Women’s Foundation in its early years and has been an active advisor and supporter of Phillips Brooks House at Harvard University, from which she graduated.



In April, 2010, Public/Private Ventures published a study on the implementation of AfterZones conducted from February, 2008 through March, 2009. This report will be presented and discussed at the forum. To read it in its entirety, please visit:


Blurring the Boundaries of School: How Providence, Rhode Island, is Taking a Community Approach to Providing Expanded Learning Opportunities Powerpoint Presentation


Edutopia video from PASA


Laurie Kotloff
Deputy Director of Research
Public/Private Ventures
2000 Market Street
Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Alix Ogden
Director of Operations
Executive Office – Mayor Cicilline
Providence City Hall, Room 202
25 Dorrance Street
Providence, RI 02903

Hillary Salmons
Executive Director
Providence After School Alliance
17 Gordon Avenue
Suite 104
Providence, RI 02905


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.