• Cooper Gould

Unveiling the ACT Video Series

Opalite Media recently partnered with Boston After School & Beyond (BASB) on a 9-part video series showcasing key skills necessary for student success. In 2008, Boston After School & Beyond (BASB) collaborated with various local stakeholders to create the Achieve, Connect, Thrive (ACT) Skills Framework, featuring skills that are most vital for students’ college, career, and life success. In 2014, the framework gained widespread support through the Boston Learns Together initiative, a shared commitment to close the opportunity gap, signed by a coalition of over 70 organizations city-wide. In 2017, BASB released an updated ACT Skills Framework to reflect the latest research from the field and feedback from countless Boston-based after-school and summer learning program leaders.

The framework includes 9 research-derived skills across the three domains, Achieve, Connect, and Thrive. The nine skills (by domain) are:

Achieve: Critical Thinking, Creativity, Perseverance Connect: Social Awareness & Relationships, Communication, Teamwork Thrive: Growth Mindset, Self Efficacy, Self Regulation

Over the past several years, BASB has also managed the Insight Center, an interactive website designed by educators for educators to help them navigate and understand the ACT Skills Framework. The Insight Center compiles various resources designed to help out-of-school time educators better support the development of students’ ACT skills. BASB commissioned our video series to accompany written case studies conducted over the course of Spring 2018, highlighting one program’s excellence in every ACT skill across elementary, middle, and high school levels.

The videos showcase a wide diversity of youth programs across Greater Boston. For instance, the Youth Unscripted program run by Urban Improv, demonstrates how to activate self-efficacy in high school students through activities exploring self and identity over the course of a semester. Another featured program was Urban Scholars, a pre-collegiate program for academically striving students hosted on UMass Boston’s campus. Departing from Boston city proper as a whole, the Summer Connections program at the Thompson Island Outward Bound works with middle school students to develop perseverance on one of Boston’s Harbor Islands. Students in this program take a boat every day from the Seaport District across the harbor to get to the island, and have the opportunity to explore various types of questions in biology, oceanography, botany, and other scientific pursuits. These three programs represent a sample of those highlighted in the 9-part video series and only a fraction of the programs serving students in Boston that adhere to the ACT Skills Framework.

For us at Opalite Media, it was an extremely rewarding experience to document the often unseen work happening across the city of Boston, outside of the traditional school day, to support students and their development. We used interviews with program staff, as well as student participants, to anchor the narrative for each of these videos. We’re grateful to all of the programs that welcomed us, shared insights about their work, and allowed us to document student experiences. We believe that this kind of media can serve as a powerful tool for connecting key stakeholders, such as policymakers, funders, and the general public, to important work that is happening every day.