We have exciting news to share with you. Catalyst:Ed has partnered with the National Afterschool Association (NAA) to develop the Afterschool Expert Hub. Nested within the larger Catalyst:Ed network, this unique service will specifically focus on meeting the needs of the 10,000+ afterschool and expanded learning program providers and partners around the country by helping them connect with experts for projects and professional development.
What is an Expert Hub? Think of Expert Hubs as smaller networks within the larger Catalyst:Ed network – each Expert Hub will be focused on a specific domain or geography, while still leveraging Catalyst:Ed’s wider expert networks, technology platforms and processes to position projects to be successful. The Afterschool Hub is the first of many hubs that we hope to develop over time. Each Expert Hub will be created in partnership with a lead organization (typically a networked organization such as a foundation or an association) that has both a vantage point of organizations working in the area and an interest in supporting their work and mission.
We see Expert Hubs building organization and sector capacity by (1) helping organizations access expertise quickly, easily, reliably and affordably and (2) generating data and information on the demand for and supply of expertise across different areas. Potentially, an Expert Hub may also evolve into a platform to create community and learning opportunities for consultants and professional service providers working in the area. Ultimately, our envisioned “networks-within-network” structure will enable organizations like NAA to provide a unique service for their constituents while benefiting from cross-flows of information and expertise across networks.
Why afterschool? Research shows that opportunities for out-of-school learning (including before and after school, weekend and summer programs) predict children’s development, educational achievement, and school success. We also know that kids from low-income families are less likely than their more-advantaged peers to have access to these out-of-school learning opportunities. Given this context and the Catalyst:Ed mission, we were very excited when NAA approached us about working with them to develop the Afterschool Expert Hub. In NAA, we saw the ideal partner: mission-aligned, strategic and deeply invested in the success of its membership and the out-of-school-time (OST) community as a whole. By helping OST program providers around the country tap into the right expertise to meet critical challenges and leverage opportunities for impact, we aim to build sector capacity, create efficiencies and improve program quality so more kids can have access to more enriching learning opportunities.
How will the Expert Hub differ from the wider Catalyst:Ed network? In many ways, Expert Hubs will be identical to the wider Catalyst:Ed network – same processes, same technology platforms, same templates. Each Expert Hub will, however, have its own dedicated pages within the Catalyst:Ed website, with content and scopes tailored to meet the specific needs of organizations working in the area. It will be supported by targeted communications and outreach to the organizations to generate awareness and inspire action. We will also have a separate expert recruitment and vetting cycle, especially during the launch period of each Expert Hub, to ensure we are seeding it with appropriate experts. We will work closely with our partner organizations to generate this expert list.
Our thinking on the mechanics of the Expert Hubs will evolve as we learn more about what’s working and what isn’t (the flip side of being a pioneer is that there aren’t any models for us to emulate!). If you have any feedback or suggestions for us, please do drop us a line.
Thank you so much for being with us on our journey!