Six Things School Districts Should Look For In
An Extended Day Provider When Going to RFP
In the world of modern education, school districts have the responsibility of ensuring that approximately 1,000 hours of classroom time each year are not just ticks on the clock but cherished opportunities for student growth. These hours hold the promise of shaping bright futures for countless young minds, making it all the more important to provide top-notch education.
But let’s not forget the other side of the coin. The additional 1,000 hours per year that students spend in childcare before and after school are equally important. These hours hold the potential to be just as transformative for child development, impacting their physical, mental, social-emotional, and academic well-being in remarkable ways.
Every student needs a robust system of support, one that covers all the bases. But guess what? Schools can’t do it all between the hours of 8:00 AM- 3:00 PM , and they certainly can’t do it alone.
This is where community partnerships come into play. School districts are always on the lookout for ways to enrich their programs and services. The path they often tread is the Request For Proposal (RFP) process – a pathway to finding those perfect partners who share their mission and vision.
We’ll outline six essential factors that every school district should consider when evaluating potential partners for an RFP.
1. Seek a flexible, high-quality enrichment curriculum tailored to student and family needs.
During traditional learning hours, educators take great pride in a holistic approach to supporting students. According to the AfterSchool Alliance, high-quality extended day programs focus on developing social-emotional competencies, expanding academic skills, and facilitating connections to schools and communities. Third-party partners should continuously seek to create a warm, welcoming, and inclusive environment for all students by practicing culturally-responsive pedagogy and fostering positive identity development.
This development includes providing programs that :
Offer S.T.E.A.M. focused curriculum.
Use CASEL’s social-emotional learning standards.
Tap into experiential education.
Embed opportunities for students to be challenged while having FUN.
Align with state academic standards.
Flexible partners should have the capacity to adapt to the potential modification of timelines and align with the district’s strategic goals and plan so students can spend more time meeting standards and learning targets.
What to ask: “Please provide two examples of how you adapt to the needs of students and families in a similar district.”
2. Find a partner that aligns with your vision and eases the implementation workload for school administrators.
Is the provider able to demonstrate their alignment with your district goals? Partnering with a flexible, responsive school district means advancing your vision to inclusively nurture and prepare all students for their future growth and success. Take the time to explore the provider’s core values, educational philosophy, and program design, and inquire about how these elements align with the vision, beliefs, and objectives of your district.
When it comes to implementation, ask the provider what kind of communication plan is put in place to ensure an open dialog with all stakeholders. To ensure a smooth program launch and ongoing operations, it’s essential to maintain regular check-ins with district administrators and school principals to discuss shared space, support for children with special needs, and share family feedback.
What to ask: “How does your company, your programs, and your team actively engage as partners with school districts? Please provide examples of how your mission aligns with our unique District goals.”
3. Seek providers who prioritize compliance and align closely with district initiatives.
When considering providers, prioritize those who run programs that are fully licensed, in complete accordance with your state’s stringent regulations. This commitment entails hosting state inspections, employing qualified staff who undergo thorough background checks before interacting with children, conducting consistent monthly compliance assessments, and offering dedicated support for any ongoing professional requirements.
What to ask: “How will you strategically build our program staff with individuals whose skill sets and personalities balance one another and meet the unique needs of our students? What opportunities are available to staff members to enhance their professional development over time?”
4. Seek community-driven teams that embrace state or local initiatives to better connect students with their neighborhoods.
Go beyond inquiring about a provider’s willingness to hire existing paraprofessional staff. Instead, challenge them to identify how their new team will integrate into the school’s fabric and actively foster engagement with families. Look for concrete examples of their adaptability and capacity to truly listen to families. For example, how does the partner communicate with families in their native languages and use modalities that are most effective for connection? (email, text. written/printed letter, in-person communication, etc.)
Partners who hire local and consistently participate in school and district events, gain a deep understanding of community norms and school nuances, effectively bridge the gap between schools and families.
What to ask: “We are in search of partners, not just providers, committed to engaging every student and fostering relationships with caregivers and families. How does your organization provide pathways for positive communication for both local and global engagement?”
5. Look for partners who champion a holistic ecosystem of support for all students and families.
A comprehensive student support ecosystem operates from 7 am to 6 pm, encompassing both before and after-school care providers, as well as the school district itself. This collaborative partnership bears the responsibility of consistently nurturing students from the instant they enter school grounds until learners leave at night.
This ecosystem is driven to create a warm, welcoming, and inclusive environment for all students by practicing culturally-responsive teaching and fostering positive identity development. In addition to ensuring equitable access to programs for all students and families; partners should serve as an extension of your instructional day, complementing rather than replacing your own efforts.
This is why alignment with the goals of your district and the needs of your students is crucial. When programming is highly intentional, encompassing meticulously crafted content and methodologies that cultivate 21st-century skills, students forge stronger connections with their school, local surroundings, and the global community. This, in turn, nurtures a positive personal identity characterized by a profound sense of belonging within a respectful community, intrinsic motivation, unwavering persistence, and a belief in oneself.
What to ask: “What does being an ecosystem of support mean to your company? Provide examples of how you are currently providing ecosystems of support in similar districts.”
6. Seek partners who value and celebrate diversity on all levels – from neurodiverse students to multilingual families.
If your district supports and honors all students, regardless of ability, needs, or background, then so should your partners. You can identify how partners do this through program structure and curriculum that expands opportunities for students. This presents them with the chance to cultivate their passions and test out their abilities in a safe space beyond the confines of the conventional school day.
Can the partner provide examples of how their team identifies and addresses the special academic, physical, emotional and/or medical needs of all students enrolled in the program? Communication is the key to creating a highly inclusive environment that promotes the educational, social, emotional, and personal development of all children.
Another way to identify if a potential partner values diversity is by providing real-world examples of project-based activities and self-directed learning where students share accomplishments and build collaborative relationships with staff and peers.
While participation in a variety of culture-based holidays and related activities is an excellent way to celebrate diversity, meeting caregivers and guardians where they’re at through communication helps build trust and ultimately, better outcomes for students.
What to ask: “What kind of training does your staff have in varied learning styles? How do you celebrate multilingual learners?”
Selecting the right partner through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process can significantly shape the educational landscape within school districts. By prioritizing key aspects such as alignment with district goals, a track record of successful collaboration, flexibility in catering to unique student needs, a commitment to 21st-century skill development, and the ability to seamlessly integrate with the existing educational framework, districts can ensure a transformative partnership.
The partner-district partnership should not merely be transactional, but a synergistic journey focused on enhancing the learning experience for all students. As districts embark on this crucial selection process, keeping these five considerations in mind will pave the way for a successful, enriching, and forward-looking educational experience.
New Jersey Quality Standards alignment
The needs of every school and district are different, and our goal is to complement, not replicate, when expanding learning opportunities for students beyond the school traditional day. Below are examples of how Right At School is aligned with New Jersey Quality Standards for Afterschool Programming and Activities.
Right At School’s mission is to provide high-quality and inclusive programming for all students. This dedication to quality includes hiring professionals and providing ongoing training and mentorship so each staff member can support learners of all backgrounds and abilities. We continuously seek to improve our programming by reviewing and modifying based on family and district feedback for maximum student impact. We take respectful communication seriously and keep it top of mind, especially when it comes to establishing and fostering relationships with program families.
Healthy Behaviors: Nutrition and Physical Activity
Making time for daily movement and fun fitness activities is an essential part of our program. We provide unique equipment and activities to make physical activity fun for all. Our fitness curriculum offers staff a wide range of outdoor as well as indoor options, so even when weather is inclement, we keep students moving and fit.
RAS snacks are nut-free and consistent with the Federal Smart Snacks Guidelines. We always avoid high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and high levels of sugar and instead incorporate energizing, high-protein, and whole-grain foods. All food and beverages are boxed self-serve snacks.
All students need a system of support for their physical, mental, social-emotional, and academic well-being. Right At School continuously seeks to create a warm, welcoming, and inclusive environment for all students by practicing culturally-responsive teaching and fostering children’s positive identity development. All students, regardless of ability, needs, or background, are supported in their individual growth, encouraged to be their authentic selves, and celebrated for their uniqueness as a member of our community. Staff is trained to use Positive Child Guidance to engage the child as an active participant in a healthy program environment and problem-solving processes. Beyond supporting students, the RAS team actively seeks out opportunities to positively and respectfully interact with families, teachers, principals, and district stakeholders through open communication.
Indoor and Outdoor Environment
Right At School hosts programming in the same environments students experience their traditional learning day. We devote ourselves to the additional 1,000 hours per year students spend in childcare because we believe those hours can be just as impactful on childhood development. We pride ourselves on our expertise in highly engaging programming based in:
CASEL’s social-emotional learning standards
embedding opportunities for students to be challenged while having FUN
Indoor and Outdoor Environment cont.
Our educators model positive social interactions and sportsmanship through fun games and sports. Children are provided choices, including participating in staff-led games, such as Steal the Bacon and Johnny Come Across, as well as the opportunity to self-navigate in supervised play on the playground individually or with friends, or to develop a game on their own with peers, such as Flag Football. Our fitness curriculum offers staff a wide range of outdoor as well as indoor options, so even when weather is inclement, we keep students moving and fit.
All fitness equipment is provided by Right At School. If the district partner provides playground, field, and/or gym access, staff will lead students in activities that include those spaces.
In addition to outdoor play, Right At School encourages an appreciation for nature and provides opportunities to engage in service learning and conservation projects in their school, local, and global communities.
Programming and Activities
Right At School’s dedicated curriculum team works year-round to develop new and engaging curricular themes and lesson plans while incorporating feedback from the field. Every moment of programming is highly intentional, with content and methods designed to:
foster skills for the 21st century
connect students with their school, local, and global communities
nurture a positive personal identity (a sense of belonging in a respectful community, internal motivation and persistence, and belief in oneself)
Focused on programming and enrichment that supports development, students are offered a variety of multi-sensory, multi-intelligence, age-appropriate activities to engage with:
math and science
reading and writing
nature and outdoor learning
creative and performing arts
composition and design
history and commerce
fitness and conditioning
community service learning
Safety and Environmental Health
Maintaining a healthy and safe program environment is our absolute number one priority. We have developed best-in-class supervision and safety plans, as well as nationally-recognized employee training that ensures the health and safety of all children in our care. Right At School staff work closely with School Partners to make sure that the same, consistent set of safety expectations are implemented after school. We integrate each individual school partner’s crisis management procedures into our staff onboarding. Staff also join in on school trainings throughout the year to stay up-to-date on school-specific safety approaches.
“We partnered with Right to School 5 years ago. They have been receptive to district needs, attentive to parent feedback, and have provided a truly quality program for our students. Right to School has been amazing to work with and we could not be happier to have them as a part of our Barnegat Family. "
-Dr. Brian Latwis, Superintendent of Barnegat School District