This forum highlighted the work of the Statewide Afterschool Networks (SANs) in increasing the investment in afterschool, summer, and expanded learning programs. Statewide afterschool networks provide a structure for bringing together key decision makers interested in improving outcomes for children and youth through school-based and school-linked afterschool programs.
In a conversation with three SAN leaders, they explained how they helped build public will and increased advocacy efforts; participated in collective impact initiatives; improved the use of existing dollars and expanded funding; improved quality; and expanded access and equity in afterschool. Speakers: Jeff Cole, Network Lead, Beyond School Bells, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, Michelle Doucette Cunningham, Executive Director, Connecticut After School Network, and Joe Davis, Chief Operating Officer, Florida Afterschool Network.
Jeff Cole is the Network Lead for Beyond School Bells, Nebraska’s Statewide Afterschool Network, a position he has held since 2006. Prior to this state level systems building position, Jeff worked in the afterschool field at both the site level, as the founding Executive Director and external program coordinator of NYC’s Friends of High School for Environmental Studies and at the city level, as part of the team that initiated the Lincoln CLC, a city-wide afterschool system in Lincoln, Nebraska. A lifelong learner who considers the world his expanded learning classroom, Jeff has a Master’s Degree in Economics from Baylor University, was a Fulbright Research Fellow in post-Communist Poland and is a Teach for America alum.
Michelle Doucette Cunningham is the Executive Director of the Connecticut After School Network, a statewide nonprofit organization that advocates for funding, provides resources, and trains after school professionals across Connecticut. With more than twenty years experience in the nonprofit sector, Michelle is passionate about education and child care. In addition to her work with the Network, she serves on the school board for her local community and is the parent of a high school student.
Joe Davis oversees the mission of FAN, which is to provide unified leadership in Florida advocating for the development, enhancement and sustainability of innovative, high quality afterschool programs and policies. Mr. Davis previously served as the Chief of the Bureau of Family and Community Outreach at the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) after having begun his career as a teacher at Augusta Raa Middle School, in Tallahassee, Florida. He has also worked nationally as an education consultant, assisting school districts with the school improvement process and providing strategies to include quality afterschool programming in state and local education systems. Joe and his wife, Elle, are both proud graduates of Florida State University and have lived in Tallahassee for over 20 years.