AASA, a Partner in U.S. Department of Education’s New Engage Every Student Initiative to Ensure Every Student Has Access to High-Quality Learning



James Minichello


The announcement made during National Summer Learning Week will allow more students to access more programs year-round to support their academic and mental health needs.  

Alexandria, Va. – July 14, 2022 – To support President Biden’s call last week for schools to use American Rescue Plan funds to support summer learning and afterschool programs, the U.S. Department of Education is announcing the Engage Every Student Initiative. The initiative will help communities utilize American Rescue Plan funds alongside other state and local funds to ensure that every child who wants a spot in a high-quality, out-of-school time (OST) program has one. This announcement coincides with National Summer Learning Week.

The U.S. Department of Education is announcing a public-private partnership with five coordinating organizations: the Afterschool Alliance, The National Comprehensive Center, the National League of Cities, The National Summer Learning Association, and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, who will work with more than 20 allied organizations to ensure that students have access to these critical learning and development opportunities year-round.     

The initiative will encourage and support schools, districts, local elected officials, local government agencies, community-based organizations, states, and others connected to out-of-school time efforts to take up ED’s call to action on universal access, and to encourage the utilization of ARP resources in addition to other federal, state, and local resources to support access to out-of-school time as an evidence-based strategy to support student recovery from lost instructional time during the pandemic.     

“Quality out-of-school time programs have always supported students' academic, social, and emotional growth, but as we recover from the pandemic, these opportunities have never mattered more,” said Secretary Miguel Cardona. “We need bold action, especially for low-income students and students of color who have historically struggled to access quality afterschool programs and rich summer learning experiences. This new partnership cements the Department of Education’s commitment to ensuring that more students have access to meaningful, enriching out-of-school programming, not just some of the day, but all day, all year round.”    

“It is critical for educators, families and communities to provide opportunities that not only bolster academic achievement for students but enhance their social engagement as a result of the disrupted learning landscape caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “We are thrilled to partner with the U.S. Department of Education in support of the Engage Every Student Initiative. We know that our young people have lost contact with friends, teachers and mentors over the past two years. This initiative will forge new pathways so they can gain new skills and explore new learning pathways while creating positive memories that will help them thrive during their years in school and beyond.”    

The national partners will provide coordinated support by organizing the technical assistance offerings in one centralized, readily available to navigate for those who are not familiar with particular interventions or programs.    

“At the Department of Labor, we are committed to providing young people with workforce opportunities that put them on the road to success. I am proud of programs such as Workforce Pathways for Youth, as well as the Department of Education’s Engage Every Student Initiative, that expand summer jobs, career exploration, apprenticeships, and so much more. I am grateful for the partnerships—in and out of government—that make this work possible,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.

This announcement builds on the more than two decades of work to build and grow the 21st Century Community Learning Center Initiative that began in 1997. Now through the American  

Rescue Plan funds, schools and districts are further able to expand access to out-of-school time programs that support student learning and have lasting, positive impacts on youth development.

Importantly, this initiative centers on elevating and expanding quality out-of-school time programs. Quality out-of-school time programs are well-planned and well-implemented and center opportunities for enrichment and social engagement alongside academic achievement, helping students build connections to their peers and in their schools.

Click here to access the initiative website.


About AASA 
AASA, The School Superintendents Association
, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.