What is BLOCS?
BLOCS (Building Louisville’s Out-of-School Time Coordinated System) is a partnership of Louisville education, government, and community impact organizations striving to improve opportunities for youth.
BLOCS creates awareness of the important role OST programs can play in college and career readiness, sets standards for program quality, and motivates provider excellence in program performance–because the correlation between quality OST and youth success is compelling.
What is Out-of-School Time?
The idea that learning and enrichment shouldn’t end with the school bell isn’t new. The out-of-school time learning movement grew rapidly in the early part of the 20th century with the Progressive Era, when settlement houses and children’s clubs offered young people a place to learn language, culture and explore other interests. Today, after-school programs have attracted a renewed interest. More than 500 municipal leaders surveyed by the National League of Cities ranked after-school programs among the most pressing needs for children in their communities.
BLOCS’ Focus Areas
BLOCS’s vision is that all youth in Louisville have access to high-quality OST programs that improve their skills and abilities, and support them in graduating from high school prepared for success in college and life. BLOCS focuses on four primary strategies:
The ultimate goal of BLOCS is to improve the academic performance and social-emotional intelligence of students, so high school graduates are college and career ready, and Louisville is able to sustain itself with a highly skilled and employment-ready workforce.
BLOCS originated in response to recommendations from the 2008 “Graduate! Greater Louisville High School Graduation Summit.” The summit ultimately led to the publication of the 2010 YouthPrint Report that presented strategies and recommendations to build a system, guided by a long-term planning process, that would fulfill a vision for bettering Louisville-area youth. The founding organizations are Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville Metro Government, and Metro United Way. The Alliance for Youth joined the partnership not long afterwards. This partnership was formalized in 2012.
Partnerships are by their very nature complex propositions. While undoubtedly schools, parents, local educational associations, the business community, and others may all care about student success, they may approach the topic in vastly different ways. That is why the collaborative structure of the BLOCS partnership is so significant. The internal and external stakeholders of BLOCS make it clear that investing in the social and emotional well-being of youth in our community is a challenge that we must all address together.
As cities across the country seek to leverage community-wide resources to positively impact academic and social-emotional outcomes for young people, the BLOCS partnership serves as an exemplar of how a variety of partners can all work together. By everyone in our community contributing their time, talent, and treasure to support youth, together we can truly build a better life for young people, block by block.