High School Credit for Expanded Learning Opportunities in Providence, Rhode Island

High School Credit for Expanded Learning Opportunities in Providence, Rhode Island
High School Credit for Expanded Learning Opportunities in Providence, Rhode Island


State and district education leaders are thinking about how they can more closely link what is happening in the school day with unique learning experiences that prepare students for college and careers and that take place in project-based, work-based, and real world settings. Communities across the country are pursuing a collective impact approach that integrates school systems, afterschool providers, and other youth serving providers into a student-centered learning strategy. Some of these approaches are competency-based education systems, in which students are awarded credit not on seat-time, but upon demonstration of mastery in specific competencies, allowing them to move ahead at their own pace. In a competency-based system, there can be more flexibility to gain credit for activities beyond the school day, and increasingly districts and states are starting to allow such flexibility.

As educators begin to think about how to award credit to students, they should consider incorporating expanded learning opportunities (ELOs) into such efforts. ELOs take place outside of the boundaries of the school day and allow students to learn in non-school settings with diverse community providers on topics of relevance and interest to students. There is growing agreement that ELOs, afterschool, and summer programs are a promising strategy for helping youth develop the full range of skills needed to succeed in college and careers. ELOs add to the depth and breadth of learning and draw upon many adult experts to augment, enrich, reinforce, and support in-class learning, help students master academic and other competencies, and apply their knowledge.

There are a few examples of such collaboration between schools systems and ELOs in which students are learning skills in ELOs that count for credit in school. Providence Afterschool Alliance (PASA) has begun to offer coordinated programs to high school students through The HUB, a student-centered initiative which provides high school credit to students for work they do outside of the school day. Activities include video game development, Android App design and development, debate, and environmental science. This webinar will highlight this unique initiative in Providence, Rhode Island and describe the goals of the program, how the program is organized, the relationship between the afterschool providers and the school district, how credit is awarded, and implications for advancing student learning. Hillary Salmons, Executive Director, PASA shared the motivation for the HUB and PASA’s experience working alongside providers and Providence Public School District (PPSD). Patrick Duhon, Director of Expanded Learning, PPSD on loan to PASA, discussed how he has served as a bridge between PPSD and PASA to support the district’s expanded learning initiative in multiple schools. Ashley Belanger, Executive Director, Rhode Island Urban Debate League, shared how her community-based program has worked closely with PPSD to help youth develop academic and other skills.


Presenter Biographies

photo_ashley.belanger_RIUDL[1]Ashley Belanger hails from Central Massachusetts and holds a B.A. from Smith College. After working on a startup non-profit in Western Massachusetts, Ashley came to the Rhode Island Urban Debate League (RIUDL) as an AmeriCorps*VISTA with Rhode Island Campus Compact and Brown University. Following her term of service in 2009, Ashley worked with the RIUDL as Senior Program Consultant until the RIUDL’s incorporation in 2010 when she became the organization’s first Executive Director.



Patrick Duhon works jointly with PASA and PPSD to develop mutually-aligned practices and was responsible for co-designing the AfterZone model. Prior to PASA, Patrick directed the launch of the local City Year AmeriCorps national service program in Seattle. He holds a BA in International Studies from Ohio State University and an MS in Urban Studies from the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.



In this role, Hillary Salmons manages the oversight of PASA and its three strategies. She also has primary responsibility for community engagement and fundraising efforts. Previously, Hillary led an education initiative called Rhode Island Scholars where business leaders spoke to middle school students around the state on the importance of college and taking math and science courses in high school. She also served as the Vice President for Program Development for Health & Education Leadership for Providence (HELP), a now-defunct coalition focused on improving the health and education of the children of Providence. While there, she worked to establish numerous systemic health and education initiatives. Hillary has a MA in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma and a BA from Harvard University.

Click here to view the webinar recording on AYPF’s YouTube Channel»

Presenter Information

Ashley Belanger

Executive Director

Rhode Island Urban Debate League (RIUDL)

Swearer Annex, J. Walter Wilson (69 Brown Street)

Providence, Rhode Island 02912



Patrick Duhon

Director of Expanded Learning

Providence Public Schools District

140 Broadway

Providence, RI 02903



Hillary Salmons

Executive Director


140 Broadway

Providence, RI 02903

401.490.9599, Ext.101



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.