Gwynn Hughes, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer, Pathways Out of Poverty

FUNDING AREAS: K-12 education, afterschool and summer programs

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Gwynn Hughes is a program officer at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, where she focuses on K-12 education program support, including afterschool and summer programs. Upon her hiring in October 2010, the foundation shared Hughes' background information:

Hughes comes to the Foundation after serving six years as executive director of the Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership in Boston. Previously, she was chief of project management and policy support for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and chief operating officer of the state’s Office of Child Care Services.

Hughes is a graduate of Northeastern University’s School of Law. She also holds a master’s degree in music history from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass.

In a 2011 interview on Mott's own website, Hughes articulated her vision and goals for in-school and afterschool education. Though the organizational structure of Mott's support has since changed (and seems to be fluid), Hughes' areas of focus remain the same, and therefore her insight is still useful and relevant:

Classroom time is very important. But what happens during the regular school day is just one piece of the educational puzzle. Most students—including those from wealthier districts—need more than one kind of support, one kind of learning experience. A rich afterschool program—not necessarily one that is well-funded, but one that brings in community organizations and leverages their expertise in different areas—not only can support what’s learned in the classroom but can serve as an incubator for developing some really effective ways to educate.

Engaging afterschool programming and learning opportunities for kids—that are project-based and use the larger community as a classroom—help students make connections. They provide practical experiences that help students apply what they learn. The opportunity to help solve a problem in a real-life setting—it builds confidence.

I hope that eventually, the school day will have more characteristics of high quality afterschool. Infusing different kinds of learning experiences into the regular academic curriculum and using the community as part of the process not only helps build better, more connected citizens, but ultimately I think it’s a key to meaningful education reform.