Partner Spotlight: Collective for Youth

Where can you find a gardening group, soccer match and book club all in the same space on a school day? At a Collective for Youth After-School Program! 

This year, OPL celebrates 13 years as a Collective for Youth after-school program provider. As a partner, OPL responds to the needs of students and program sites, and explores how literacy support after school can be educational and fun.

Collective for Youth programs share a mission to provide safe, enriching experiences to children in an after-school setting. “Each site is unique in terms of the programming it offers on a daily basis but still has an overall framework providing students with a hot meal, homework help, enrichment opportunities and caring adults,” said Nicole Everingham, development director at Collective for Youth.

OPL’s After-School Program Coordinator Farhana Husain believes this framework is essential to the relationship building that supports this successful partnership. “Being able to connect with the students in a way that is unique from any other adult relationship in their lives is so special. We strive to provide them with a safe space where they can truly be themselves while engaging in the activities we have prepared for them.”

Collective for Youth after-school program partners have the ability to structure their own curriculum and workflow. OPL’s offers a traditional book club with a twist. “All books students receive in the after school program are theirs to keep,” said Maggie Petersen, OPL’s outreach and partnerships manager. “It’s one way we can support students in building their own home libraries and hopefully taking what they talk about in our club back home to their friends and families.”

Students meet weekly to discuss assigned titles and relate them to their own lives. After discussion, students may participate in an activity that enhances that week’s reading and fosters a sense of curiosity.

Collective for Youth’s mission is to advocate for and facilitate resources for the after-school community. Positive partnerships with OPL and over 40 other participating organizations program are key to its success. “Partnerships are cemented when organizations take mutual interest in each other,” said Everingham. “Partners are open-minded, able to pivot, reimagine, and determine measures of success at any point in time—instead of walking away.”