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After-school endorsements

Middle and high school students in Providence, Rhode Island, can earn badges—and class credit—for skills learned in after-school programs.

The Providence Afterschool Alliance offers badges to its 2,000 students for completing STEM activities and for displaying skills such as problem-solving, communication and perseverance.

“We work to give value to learning beyond the school space,” says Hillary Salmons, executive director of Alliance, which partners with Providence Public Schools and the Rhode Island Department of Education on the badging program.

A student’s regular school transcripts likely won’t mention they helped build a skate park in an after-school program. The badges, therefore, allow students to show off and articulate the skills they’ve learned.

Students can compile a e-portfolio of badges they can use when applying to colleges, Salmons adds. “The badge is a way for us to have value-proposition conversations with young people and pitch it to the marketplace,” she says. “It’s the next phase in competency-based learning.”