For Kids Only Afterschool Named Leader in Out-of-school Time Social and Emotional Learning

For Kids Only Afterschool (FKO) was recently named as a United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley “Lead Partner” for their expertise in delivering high-quality social and emotional learning programming during the out-of-school time (OST) hours. In this role, FKO will partner with United Way to support OST opportunities through advocacy, professional development, and special projects.

A unique nonprofit organization at the forefront of the OST field, FKO serves more than 1,600 North Shore school-age youth annually from all backgrounds and abilities including those with disabilities or mental health challenges, or who are academically at-risk, affected by trauma, or socially isolated. Programs go beyond tutoring and classes, using the OST hours to engage high-needs youth through integrated social-emotional learning and simple mindfulness activities that help them cope with life’s challenges and develop key skills that they need to be successful in everyday life. 

Children today struggle to cope with stress and worry about the chaos that they see in our communities and across the globe,” says Executive Director Deborah Kneeland Keegan. “Social-emotional learning at FKO equips youth with skills like self-awareness, self-control, and empathy that help them to pause and breathe before reacting to difficult situations they face. Research shows social-emotional skills support academic success, but more importantly, they provide children with the adaptability and resilience they need to navigate a challenging world and create happiness in all aspects of their life.”

With United Way’s partnership and investment from Cummings Foundation, Peter and Elizabeth Tower Foundation, and other supporters, FKO is pleased to welcome Barbara Colombo-Adams, Ed.D. as the organization’s Director of Social Emotional Learning, a newly created position to guide FKO’s vision for integrated social-emotional learning opportunities in 2019 and beyond. 

Dr. Colombo-Adams will work with FKO leadership, programs, and school partners to assess social-emotional needs and outcomes of youth enrolled, identify organization-wide SEL curricula, and ensure FKO staff have the tools, knowledge and skills they need to promote the healthy development of youth, including the many children at FKO who are experiencing intense levels of stress and anxiety. She will manage the organization’s professional development system to develop the capacity of staff to best support all youth and oversee assessment and evaluation practices that inform program design and instructional strategies.

Dr. Colombo-Adams brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the OST and education fields to this new role. She has more than 20 years of experience in OST workforce training and development, youth program management and college teaching in child and adolescent development, social emotional safety, and human services. Most recently she served as an OST Program Quality Assessment Consultant (Master Observer) for the National Institute on Out of School Time.

For 35 years, For Kids Only Afterschool (FKO) has been driven by the mission to help children love, learn and grow through safe and enriching afterschool and summer programming.  Year-round, high-quality programming is provided at 18 program sites in six communities north of Boston through school and municipal partnerships.

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