Navigating Out-of-School Learning and the Power of Relationships: Lessons from Year 2 at RESCHOOL Colorado

June 2020

In a growing number of cities, new support structures are emerging to help parents overcome barriers to summer enrichment and learning for their children. These supports provide parents with coaches, often called navigators or advocates, who consult with parents on out-of-school learning and other educational issues for their children.

In 2017 RESCHOOL Colorado introduced an employer-based navigator program to address barriers to out-of-school learning. Known as the Learner Advocate Network (LAN), the program provides one-on-one support for parents on all aspects of their children’s learning.

This report describes the implementation of the LAN between 2018 and 2019 and what it implies for expanding similar efforts elsewhere. Based on interviews with RESCHOOL leaders, advocates, and 33 participating parents, surveys of 49 participating parents (22 of whom answered the survey in 2018 and 2019), and observations of coaching meetings in 2018, we found:

  • Parents needed resources more than agency.
  • Parents wanted help with a range of education issues, not just out-of-school activities.
  • LAN advocates tailored support to meet families' needs.

Since we published our first report, interest in the potential role of navigators such as the LAN has continued to grow. The role of expertise, relationships, and linking social capital in the LAN highlight three key issues that efforts to replicate and expand navigator programs must keep in mind:

  1. Manage the caseload. By the end of Year 2, the Learner Advocates had concluded that the maximum caseload for a single Advocate was 26 parents.
  2. Build trusting relationships. Even if the LAN were to differentiate support, relationships remain the heart of the program.
  3. Link to expertise. Our findings also underscore the importance of linking parents to insider information they did not have access to before.