New Studies Explore How Students’ Learning Opportunities Are Increased Through Strategic Partnerships

A longer school day, afterschool programs and community schools are just a few strategies offering students nationally a variety of new “expanded learning opportunities” (ELOs) - opportunities to develop skills and explore concepts well beyond the traditional classroom. Increasingly, expanded learning also is the undertaking of school districts that are reconsidering how past perceptions, policies and practices either create or hinder the types of family, school and community partnerships that research indicates support student learning. Schools and their partners’ understanding of the various contexts in which ELOs effectively operate also is critical.

New case studies sponsored by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and Ford Foundation examine the current state of expanded learning as well as actions taken by district, state, philanthropic and other leaders within and outside of Connecticut to support students’ expanded learning.  

features policy analyses and conversations with more than 30 government officials, educators, advocacy groups, funders, community-based organizations and others. It also provides an overview of the national and state contexts for expanded learning, including relevant policies and programs, political and fiscal conditions, and an examination of the role of philanthropy.  To highlight policy in action, four profiles of expanded learning initiatives are included.

examines how the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has provided grants and facilitated the development of a thriving learning community in Connecticut to support increased family, school and community partnership and expanded learning, incorporating technical support and training, leadership coaching, convenings and other resources. Authors Jane Quinn of the Children’s Aid Society Center for Community Schools and staff of the Connecticut Center for School Change discuss early results, challenges, and key lessons learned in the context of this investment, to inform the work of comparable initiatives undertaken by education funders nationally.   

“The work of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving in its Alliance District initiative runs counter to a recent and growing trend in private philanthropy—the trend that sees a lot of foundations designing their own initiatives and seeking grantees with capacity to implement their stringent, often rigid, designs,” said Quinn. “In contrast, the Hartford Foundation saw an opportunity to leverage major change by using a complementary grant-making approach that addressed an important gap in public funding - the lack of priority placed on school-family-community partnerships) to support student learning and student success.”

Together, these reports offer valuable insights and guidance for policy makers, philanthropies and practitioners nationwide who are committed to closing opportunity gaps, the practice of partnership and increasing educational equity.



Policy, Partnership and Progress: Expanded Learning Opportunities in Connecticut

Building Strategic Partnerships: Expanded Learning Opportunities in Connecticut


For more information, contact Sara A. Sneed, Director of Education Investments at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving,


Related video

Family, School and Community Partnerships: Supporting Student Success

This video highlights some of the work being done in Greater Hartford school districts to create and strengthen Family, School and Community Partnerships through Extended Learning Opportunities and other initiatives.