Mayor David Cicilline's Providence After School Alliance has won national plaudits for its efforts to engage middle school students. This week, the program launches its high school initiative — The Hub.

Damian Ewens, director of The Hub, calls it a "radical, entrepreneurial vision for education and the community" — an effort driven not by an agency, or some maverick leader, but by kids.

Ewens came on board a year ago and hired a student team that has designed the program from top to bottom — logo included.

The main components: a gathering space — a converted garage just off the new Providence Career and Technical Academy; a web tool designed to connect students to job opportunities and activities of various kinds; and a political advocacy wing that will start with an issue students have identified as a major barrier to educational and professional success: a deficient public transportation system.

Early plans call for graphing weather patterns onto school attendance records in a bid to dramatize the effects of poor bus service and a youth forum with the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority.

"At the end of the day, it was the youth's ideas and questions and decisions" that drove the organization's priorities, says Heiry Borrell, 16, a HUB staffer and senior at Classical High School.

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