Advancing Equity in Education

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What does it mean to advance equity in education?

Equity in education -- and the need to achieve it -- has come into sharp focus as the COVID pandemic continues to affect learning opportunities and outcomes for students nationwide. 

In communities most affected by COVID school closures, which disproportionately impacted communities of color (Pew Research, 2020), the disparities Horizons has worked for years to combat have only grown. Many students in the U.S. do not have equal access to resources like laptops, wifi connection, or adult support, posing barriers to education over years of virtual learning. These barriers translate to academic learning loss, fewer opportunities to interact with teachers and peers, and what experts are now calling the COVID Slide.

 

Horizons Ahead: Bridging the COVID Divide from Horizons National on Vimeo.

Experts recognize that "The traditional school day and calendar are not sufficient to offset the learning time that has been lost during the pandemic" (The Learning Policy Institute, 2021). Importantly, students have not only been affected academically -- young people's social skills and mental health have also been impacted, and many students have experienced trauma and grief as a result of the pandemic and/or political and racial tension.

For programs like Horizons that traditionally serve disproportionately impacted communities, this landscape has meant a renewed charge to bring our high-quality out-of-school time learning and enrichment programs to as many students and communities as possible, to begin having a positive long-term impact on students' academic, social, emotional, and mental recovery from the pandemic. At over 65 program sites nationwide, and growing each year, Horizons' equitable whole-child approach to programming embraces diverse learning experiences and weaves together students' cognitive, social, emotional, creative, and physical skills to teach the entire individual. By combining academics infused with social-emotional learning with enrichment activities like field trips, swimming, art, sports, and theater, Horizons students have ongoing opportunities to learn and grow in a supportive, inclusive community. Year after year, we see the whole-child approach lead to increased academic performance, improved self-confidence and mental health, strengthened social skills, and positive student behavior.

As schools, communities, funders, and policymakers look for ways to support students' recovery from the COVID pandemic, out-of-school learning programs like Horizons are essential partners to help address equitable, long-term recovery. Read more about how we can come together to meaningfully support education opportunities for all young people.

 

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