In 2017, Kansas Enrichment Network celebrated its 15th year anniversary of ensuring that all Kansas youth have access to safe, affordable, and high-quality out-of-school time learning.  The year was spent training afterschool staff, advocating for out-of-school time funding, and growing our team, not only in size, but professionally as well.

In January, KEN attended the 2017 Kansas Workforce Summit.  At the summit, youth from throughout the state sat on a panel and explained to attendees how afterschool has impacted their lives.  This event was a major success and attendees were very impressed with the youth.  One attended stated that, “If you kids are anything like the rest of the youth in this state, we’re going be in good hands in the future.”

The annual Day at the Capitol was spent facilitating STEM activities and distributing paper airplanes that informed our elected officials about the importance of afterschool.  Local programs visited the capitol and participated in STEM and helped the Network distribute the airplanes.  First Robotics also attended the event and showed off their engineering and coding skills by showcasing the robots that they created.

The Network hosted two state-wide conferences, one in October and the other in April.  These conferences brought together afterschool professionals from Kansas and Missouri and provided opportunities to learn and network to grow professionally in the out-of-school time field.  The October conference alone had 108 attendees which, all together, would reach around 18,800 youth!

In June, the Network, along with the Jazmyne McNair and Colby Wilson from the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence and Tony Yungeberg from Valley Heights USD 498, visited Washington D.C. for the Afterschool For All Challenge.  The Kansas team met with U.S Representatives and Senators to advocate and express the importance of out-of-school time.  Jazmyne made a massive impact with everyone she met and the Network was proud to have her represent Kansas.

For Lights On 2017, the Network partnered with multiple organizations to host an event at the statehouse lawn in October.  Afterschool programs from Topeka, Manhattan and Salina attended the event and participated in multiple enrichment activities lead by KEN partners and the youth of the Salina afterschool program, The City.  The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, along with KEN staff, ended the day with a couple of giant kick ball games!

The Network is known around our research center as a team of travelers.  In the months of August to December, the Network team traveled a total of over 14,000 miles!  That is strictly driving miles (thank you Enterprise!), that doesn’t include any out-of-state travel.  To put that into perspective, that is over half way around the Earth in miles.  By this time next year, the Ken team will have circled the globe…and then some!

The successes listed above were just a few of many that the Network achieved in 2017.  We couldn’t have made the year successful without the help of our partners.  In 2017, we established 120 new partnerships which add to our already massive list of current partners.  Everyone in afterschool knows that it takes a village to raise a child.  The Network knows that our work cannot be done alone.  Bring on 2018!