The ‘Enrichment Gap’ Is Widening. Students’ Social-Emotional Development Is at Risk

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there’s been a lot of discussion about digital equity in U.S. public schools. But the virus has drastically expanded another gap that is key to children’s learning and wellbeing: out-of-school enrichment.

Through enrichment, children form bonds with peers and mentors and find sustenance for their passions, interests and social-emotional development. The Connected Learning Lab at the University of California, Irvine, has conducted many studies of out-of-school programs that serve BIPOC and low-income youth. Community-based are safe spaces where young people can stop by after school to hang out with friends, get help with homework, take enrichment classes and grab a snack. Organizations like these have continued to stay connected with their members through virtual offerings, during the pandemic, with limited or no support from public sources.

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