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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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Heather Weiss, Founder and Director of Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP), is featured in a new book on the success of afterschool and summer programs in helping students achieve positive outcomes.

The first-of-its-kind book, Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success, demonstrates what role afterschool and summer learning play in improving and expanding students’ education, how communities with different demographics are building successful supports for their students, what role afterschool programs play in education reform, how these programs are helping students become more career and college ready and engaged in learning, and more.

Edited by Terry K. Peterson, Ph.D., this seminal work features studies, reports, and commentaries by more than 100 thought leaders, including Eva Baker, UCLA Center for Education Research; Governor Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island; Milton Chen, George Lucas Education Foundation; Joe Davis, Florida AfterSchool Network; Carol McElvain, the American Institutes for Research (AIR); Delia Pompa, National Council of La Raza; Governor Bob Wise, Alliance for Excellent Education; and Deborah Vandell, University of California, Irvine.

“Strategic investments in evaluation research over the past 15 years have yielded significant evidence that 21st Century Community Learning Centers…are essential for preparing young people for the future,” said Dr. Weiss.  

In her article, “Fifteen Years of Evaluation of 21st Century Community Learning Centers: A Driver for Program Quality and Capacity in the Field,” Dr. Weiss examines the important role of evaluation in the field of expanded learning. The article explores how strategic investments in evaluation, particularly through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, shed light on how afterschool and summer learning contribute to key academic and developmental outcomes. Evaluation can also identify how to create the high quality services that contribute to these positive outcomes.

“Afterschool and summer learning programs expand minds and opportunities for America’s kids,” said Dr. Peterson. “Expanding Minds and Opportunities provides a window into how educators, schools, and communities are working together to provide opportunities, develop solutions, and break down barriers to student success.  We hope that all those involved in education can use the research, best practices, and examples in this book to make their programs the best they can be to help more young people reach their maximum potential,” said Peterson.

Expanding Minds and Opportunities provides a variety of concrete, effective approaches to expand learning after school and during summers to serve more students. 

The book may be ordered through, and individual articles will be available for free download at

Since 1983, we have helped stakeholders develop and evaluate strategies to promote the well being of children, youth, families, and their communities.  We work primarily within three areas that support children’s learning and development—early childhood education, out-of-school time programming, and family and community support in education.  Underpinning all of our work is a commitment to evaluation for strategic decision making, learning, and accountability.

Building on our knowledge that schools alone cannot meet the learning needs of our children, we also focus national attention on complementary learning. Complementary learning is the idea that a systemic approach, which integrates school and nonschool supports, can better ensure that all children have the skills they need to succeed. Learn more about Harvard Family Research Project at

The Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project is a 50-state initiative harnessing the power of networks and leaders to help schools and communities leverage the time beyond school to accelerate student achievement. A partnership of funders led by the C.S. Mott Foundation support the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project. More information about the book and the project, as well as additional resources, can be found at

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project