Expanded Learning Systems

Youthprise works to create more and better opportunities for youth to learn outside the regular school classroom by supporting community-wide efforts in Minnesota – called expanded learning systems – that coordinate the work of service providers, public agencies, funders and schools so dollars stretch farther and more young people are served.

mf-graphicExpanded learning opportunities are programs that provide support for young people’s intellectual, social, emotional and physical development outside the traditional school classroom, including afterschool and summer learning, youth leadership initiatives, youth employment, and youth entrepreneurship models. Expanded learning opportunities can occur both before and after school, and during weekends, holidays and summer breaks. The content of expanded learning opportunities varies, from science to performing arts, nature studies, and sports. But they all help youth be more connected to school, build self-confidence, develop critical-thinking skills and connect with caring adults.

Expanded learning systems:

  1. improve access for underserved youth to high quality expanded learning opportunities,
  2. more efficiently use existing resources by coordinating services and reducing duplication,
  3. improve the quality of programs, and
  4. raise awareness and build public support to increase public and private investment.

Systems Building

Since 2012, Youthprise has invested more than $2 Million in building the infrastructure of expanded learning systems in Minnesota. Four comprehensive citywide expanded learning systems are in operation – in Saint Paul, Minneapolis, Brooklyn Park/Brooklyn Center and Northfield. In addition to these four communities, representatives from Burnsville, Fargo-Moorhead, Itasca County, and Suburban Ramsey County form the statewide Expanded Learning Systems Peer Learning Community. We are also part of a national coalition of cities — Every Hour Counts — that are building expanded learning systems.

The Peer Learning Community is a community of practice that provides opportunities for participants to:

      • Share resources and promising practices in building effective expanded learning systems;
      • Discuss practice dilemmas in a safe and supportive environment;
      • Decrease the learning curve for new initiatives and accelerate the creation of systems infrastructure;
      • Spawn new ideas that can be tested; and
      • Diffuse knowledge from local and national sources while advancing a Minnesota systems model.


For more information on Youthprise’s citywide systems building, contact our Communications Director, Lizzy Shramko at Lizzy@youthprise.org.