July 19, 2023 -- The Mayor's Office of Education and Youth Engagement has achieved a momentous milestone in its commitment to fostering academic and holistic development among the youth. The United States Department of Education recently recognized the Office as an official ally of the Engage Every Student initiative. A bold new call to action to provide high-quality out-of-school time learning opportunities for every child who wants to participate.
"There are so many issues surrounding our young people that have been left unaddressed for far too long, such as the lack of accessibility to afterschool and summer programs," said Mayor's Office of Education and Youth Engagement Director Olivera Jankovska. "Receiving this recognition from the U.S. Department of Education demonstrates that our efforts are aligned with national priorities to advance education."
The recent acknowledgment solidifies the Office's dedication to empowering our youth's educational journey beyond the classroom. In a testament to their commitment, the Mayor's Office of Education and Youth Engagement attended the United States Department of Education’s Raise the Bar Summit in Washington, D.C. to further their expertise and foster collaborations. They were joined by other school district leaders, state and city elected officials, and summer and afterschool learning program providers to celebrate the collective efforts made at the national, state, and local levels to ensure students have access to high-quality afterschool and summer programs.
“The City of Houston is proud to champion these opportunities for our children and youth,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “We look forward to working with the U.S. Department of Education to provide schools and communities the connections and assistance they need to expand access to afterschool and summer learning programs.”
In partnership with United Way of Greater Houston, Houston Endowment, and the Harris County Department of Education, the Mayor’s Office of Education and Youth Engagement leads the Out 2 Learn program, a public-private partnership committed to expanding access to high-quality out-of-school time services to all families in the Greater Houston region through a coordinated, youth-centered approach.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with the City of Houston as we work together to champion out-of-school time opportunities for young people,” said Brandis Stockman, Senior Program Specialist at the National League of Cities. “Through the Engage Every Student initiative, and by welcoming Houston to our After School Policy Advisors Network, the National League of Cities looks forward to continuing our powerful partnership to drive meaningful impact and empower students to reach their full potential beyond the classroom.”
Children spend 80% of their waking hours outside of school, and what happens after the school bell rings can be the difference between success and failure. Research shows that children who participate in after-school programs engage more in class and express higher aspirations for pursuing a college degree.
In February 2023, the Mayor’s Office of Education and Youth Engagement welcomed the spring 2023 cohort of O2L Youth Leaders. The decision to include youth voices in O2L aligns with the city’s continued efforts to engage more young people to be active contributors to the city’s policies, plans, and programs, as demonstrated through Houston’s recent designation as the first city in the United States as a candidate for the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Initiative.
About the Mayor’s Office of Education and Youth Engagement
Public education is a human right, the great social equalizer, and a key to a prosperous community. Mayor Sylvester Turner believes that each generation of children should be assured a better life and education. Through collaboration, communication, and coordination, the Mayor’s Office of Education and Youth Engagement strives to ensure this goal for all families in Houston by promoting access to equitable education and opportunities.