History & Mission

The Mayor’s Office of Children, Youth and Learning (OCYL) offers year-round educational opportunities for children and youth to learn and achieve in Cumberland, Rhode Island. Our mission is to help foster a comprehensive learning environment for the first two decades of their lives.

The Department was founded in 2007 by Ordinance as a municipal department. A unique model, the department is supported by the Town and the programs are supported by sponsorships, grants, donations and fee for service programs.

Programming at OCYL in basic education, afterschool enrichment and summer learning grew steadily each offering over 1,000 individual opportunities for engaging educational experiences each year through dozens of programs. Early Childhood classes were housed at off-site locations until 2012 when the 2nd floor was fitted for classrooms. In 2013, OCYL, a long-time supporter of full day Kindergarten and advocate for more affordable preschool expanded the Literacy and Number Sense program (ages 4-6) to include children beginning at age 3. The program now is centered primarily on ages 3-5 as the district implemented full day K and has also expanded to include students during the summer who are entering Grades 1 and 2.

In 2015, as a result of OCYL's strategic planning process with a grant from the RI Foundation for capacily building, OCYL implemented a newly structured strategy through 3 major initiatives:  Early Childhood Education, The STEAM shop and Backpack to Briefcase. These initiatives demonstate the values and leading educational trends in Early Childhood Education and Out of School learning time. 


The conversation about education in Cumberland came together in May of 2011. Former Mayor (now Lt. Governor) Dan McKee and Former Superintendent Phil Thornton hosted a meeting that included Town Council and School Committee discussing a vision for the future of education in Cumberland.

As a result of that meeting and an advocate for expanded learning and collective impact on education,  OCYL was instrumental in drafting the Cumberland "Declaration of Education" in the fall of 2011 along with the Mayor and Superintendent. On January 31, 2012, a "Declaration of Education" was signed by Mayor McKee, Superintendent Thornton, Town Council President Jim Higgins, and School Committee Chair Jeff Mutter. Please see the attachement at the bottom of this page for the full text of the Education Declaration. 

Below is a brief summary of OCYL's Projects and Initiatives based on the values of the Declaration: 

Summer Learning:

  • The first major project in the spirit of the Declaration began in 2013 when OCYL partnered with the Boys and Girls Club, B.F. Norton Elementary School and the Cumberland Public Library to offer "L'IL PALS PLUS" an enhanced 6 week summer camp at the Cumberland/Lincoln Boys & Girls Club. This collaborative effort was made possible with $25,000 in funding from the Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative (HSLI) of United Way RI to the Boys & Girls Club. OCYL and BF Norton teachers designed and implemented the curriculum and middle-school interns were recruited by OCYL who worked alongside Club staff to stem summer learning loss and exceed summer learning goals for over 30 children.
  • In the summer of 2014, OCYL was granted $22,500 from the United Way of Rhode Island. The funding was provided again by the Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative, in which OCYL partnered with Blackstone Valley Prep Middle School (RIMA) and the Cumberland School Depatment's McCourt Middle School to offer the "Cumberland Leadership Academy", an expansion of the Summer Leadership Academy that was founded in 2008. A 6 week, full day program was offered for Middle School Students to "LEAD NOW- LEAD FOR LIFE" at McCourt Middle School due to the generous support of all those involved. A service learning project included clearing and clean up of the riverbank and paths behind McCourt.
  • In the summer of 2015, the Cumberland Leadership Academy doubled the number of attendees and also partnered with North Cumberland Middle School. The funding was increased to $30,000 from United Way of Rhode Island and the Hasbro Summer Learning Initative.
  • The summer of 2016 brought $50,000 for 60 students to attend the Academy, with a grant pre-approved for 2 more summers anticipated in 2017 and 2018. The partnership grew to include a teacher from the Cumberland High School. 

Community Engagement

  • OCYL is launching a Family Engagement Group in the Winter of 2016. Surveys have been shared with Early Childhood Families, and outreach to all will begin in the New Year.
  • OCYL is currently involved as the lead in an application to Nellie Mae for a $10,000 Community Engagement initiative. The application has moved through 3 phases and is being considered for 2017-2018 implementation. 
  • The Director has been asked to participate in the District's Strategic Planning process in the Fall of 2016.
  • The Director was a community member involved in the Student Policy on Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Students for the Cumberland Public Schools. The policy passed unanimously making Cumberland the first in the State with such an inclusive policy. (Policy J-23)
  • Countdown to Common Core/The Kindergarten Project: In the Winter of 2014, OCYL was invited by Blackstone Valley Prep Elementary (a RI Mayoral Academy) to develop and create online videos and resources for parents of children heading to kindergarten. The project also included partners from the Central Falls School District, Progresso Latino and the YMCA. Please see our video on the media page!


  • Beginning in the Fall of 2013 through Spring of 2016, OCYL pilioted a tutoring program.
  • In June 2013, a $1,000 legislative grant was received from Rhode Island State Representative James McLaughlin for students who qualify for financial aid and are in need of tutoring.
  • By June 2016, over 40 students enrolled in the Cumberland Schools had received private tutoring sessions from OCYL teachers.

Youth Voice:

  •  At a "New Year's Brunch" in January of 2012, the Cumberland Youth Commission, a civic engagement program of the OCYL introduced a formal Youth Center Concept with the goal of bringing stakeholders together, each sharing a "piece of the pie". Over the course of the next year, the Youth Commission continued the work of researching the Youth Center needs, conducting a survey of over 500 youth in Cumberland, the majority of whom expressed interest in participating at a youth center. The project was put on hold by 2014 while the Commissioners continues to share the voice of youth and serve the community. Note: The Cumberland Public Library opened a teen center in the Fall of 2016!




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