The final two programs we’re spotlight in the series are Safe Harbor, in Michigan City, Indiana, and Project EXTRA, in Laconia, New Hampshire. Safe Harbor, primarily a STEM focused program today, introduces kids to STEM curriculum starting at a young age, and continues to build upon those skills as they get older. By the time students reach middle and high school, they have already built foundational STEM skills and are prepared to take on more advanced projects. Elementary students are introduced to STEM through Safe Harbor’s manufacturing academies, where students learn the basics of engineering and how to use the program’s machinery, as well as through robotics. At the high school level, students take on more complex projects such as building 3D printers and electrical panels.
Project EXTRA, which is part of the Laconia School District Office of Extended Learning (OEL), offers an example of how 21st CCLC programs are always changing to continue to meet student and community needs. The program, which has been operating since 2002 and is now an integrated part of the district, utilizes a community advisory board to ensure needs are met. While academics have always been a primary focus of the program, they have evolved to take a project-based learning (PBL) approach to help build 21st century skills that are necessary in today’s world. Recently, the program has also incorporated social and emotional learning into the curriculum, and staff have been trained to best support students with adverse childhood experiences. 21st CCLC programs play important roles in communities across the country, from supporting some of our country’s most vulnerable children by providing social and emotional supports, mentorship, and meals, to helping high school students learn the skills needed to thrive after graduation.