We were at a crossroads. The last of the three 21st Century Community Learning Center grants was coming to an end, the same ones that enabled us to build Beyond the Bell, a network of out-of-school learning programs for nearly 1,000 young people in the Harrisonburg City Public Schools since January 2011.
We had a decision to make. We could call it a day and close up shop OR we could move forward and continue to answer the call and be a part of our community’s solution to close the ‘opportunity gap’ that exists for so many of our young people ‘beyond the bell,’ and help level the playing field so more of them can be on the road to college and a rewarding career. With support from the community and a committed launch team, we set off during the summer of 2014 to explore both the possibilities and feasibility of continuing on. After months of discussion, question-asking and planning….
We decided to answer the call and move forward. And, On the Road Collaborative was born. We have always been about more than just leading after school programs but now it’s official. With a renewed program model that creates an entire pathway of opportunity and support for young people from middle school through high school graduation, we are also extending our efforts into matters of inclusion, equity and justice more broadly as we advocate for issues of importance for the young people and families we serve.