State Perspectives in Expanded Learning: The Role of Statewide Afterschool Networks

State Perspectives in Expanded Learning: The Role of Statewide Afterschool Networks
State Perspectives in Expanded Learning: The Role of Statewide Afterschool Networks


As communities are beginning to realize the benefit of a coordinated approach to expanded learning opportunities in which program providers, schools, intermediaries, and other stakeholders work together to provide high quality programming, states have benefited from the support of statewide afterschool networks (SANs). Currently, these networks operate in 41 states and provide a range of coordinated supports in the form of research, resources, and technical assistance to state and local level stakeholders. SANs have developed valuable expertise in both policy and practice issues. This forum provided an overview of how the SANs support the work of afterschool providers and how they work alongside multiple stakeholders, including state agencies, community-based intermediaries, and program providers.

Presenters Included:

Michelle Doucette Cunningham, Executive Director, Connecticut After School Network

Terry K. Peterson, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board, Afterschool Alliance

Laveta Wills-Hale, Network Director, Arkansas Out of School Network

Presenter Biographies

Photo_Michelle Doucette CunninghamMichelle Doucette (Doo-Set’) 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 middle school student.

Photo_Terry PetersonDr. Terry Peterson has worked on education improvements from school houses to various state houses and to the White House (for President Clinton and US Secretary of Education Riley). He develops strategies and partnerships for education reforms and expanded learning opportunities across America and in developing countries (e.g., Argentina, Brazil and Mongolia).

Terry has helped initiate numerous education policies: at the federal level–the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, E-rate, GEAR-UP; Advanced Placement expansion, and teacher and technology quality grants; at the state level, policies for early childhood education; teacher recruitment; performance pay; school and teacher innovation funds; multi-faceted accountability systems; and the arts in the basic curriculum.

Terry serves on ten national, state and local education organizations including chairing the national Afterschool Alliance. He is the editor of the 2013 landmark compendium, Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summers for Student Success.  He is a Senior Fellow at the College of Charleston and at the Riley Education Institute and a consultant to the CS Mott Foundation.

Photo_Laveta Wills-HaleLaveta Wills-Hale is the current Network Director of the Arkansas Out-of-School Network (AOSN), a statewide network of afterschool programs and stakeholders, whose mission is to create safe, healthy and enriching experiences for Arkansas youth during out-of- school time. In this role, Laveta coordinates all Network activities related to securing additional resources to support an expansion of afterschool and summer programs, program quality, and cross-sector coalition building.

Laveta has twenty-five years of experience in the youth development field, with an emphasis on youth advocacy and program development. Laveta has been involved in the design and implementation of a number of key initiatives, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation funded New Futures for Youth and the Pulaski County Prevention Institute/Our Club Model. While at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service- 4-H Youth Development, Laveta piloted the Arkansas 4-H Afterschool Training Model on a statewide basis. Laveta began her work with AOSN in 2005 as the chair of the Quality Standards Committee and became the Network Director in 2009.

Laveta has served on a number of boards and commissions throughout her career including the City of Little Rock’s Youth Task Force and the Little Rock Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission.  Laveta currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Central Arkansas Library System and is an advisory committee member of the Arkansas Grade Level Reading Campaign and the Arkansas Opportunity to Learn Campaign.

 Laveta holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Henderson State University and a Master of Arts Degree in Management & Leadership from Webster University.

Click here to view Terry Peterson’s PPT slides

Click here to view Laveta Wills-Hale’s & Michelle Doucette Cunningham’s PPT slides

Click here to read the forum brief

Presenter information

Michelle Doucette Cunningham

Executive Director

Connecticut After School Network

12 Melrose Avenue

Branford, CT 06405

(203) 483-1846

Terry K. Peterson, Ph.D.

Chairman of the Board

Afterschool Alliance

1616 H Street

Washington, DC 20006


Laveta Wills-Hale

Network Director

Arkansas Out of School Network

1501 North University Avenue

Suite 465

Little Rock, AR 72207

(501) 280-0577




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.