After-School Programs & Activities – Wallace Foundation

“I’d walk a mile for a quality program. But I wouldn’t walk across the street for a bad one.”

- Ben-Oni Jean-Pierre, student, Providence RI


A commitment to quality has to begin with an understanding of program characteristics likely to benefit children. Drawing on research on youth development, education and related areas, a 2005 study by the RAND Corporation entitled, Making Out-of-School-Time Matter listed some of those conditions, including:

  • a clear mission;
  • high expectations;
  • a safe environment;
  • supportive emotional climate;
  • small total enrollment;
  • stable, trained personnel;
  • appropriate content and pedagogy;
  • and frequent program assessment.

A range of resources are available to help communities, schools and community-based organizations improve the quality of their out-of-school time (OST) programs. The list of resources in this section was updated in January, 2009.

Index to This Section

General Quality Strategies

Title:  Helping Youth Succeed Through Out-Of-School-Time Programs

Author:  American Youth Policy Forum

Description:  Presents research on the effectiveness of out-of-school-time  programs and how they contribute to positive skill development for youth; what some of the more advanced communities around the United States are doing to integrate Out-of-School-Time programs into their vision for the healthy development of their youth; and recommendations on what policymakers and practitioners can do to institutionalize high quality out-of-school time programs for youth.


Title:  The Leverage of After-school Value

Author:  Terry K. Peterson

Description:  Makes the case with school administrators for more of their time, money and involvement in expanding quality afterschool programs.


Title:  Promoting Quality in Afterschool Programs through State Child Care Regulations

Author:  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Child Care Bureau

Description:  This strategy brief describes child care licensing regulations and the challenges that states face in applying them to afterschool programs.


Title:   After-School Advantage Powerful New Learning Opportunities (Link opens in a new window.) 

Author:  Lucy N. Friedman and Sylvia M. James

Description:  This compilation of strategies is a guide for building quality afterschool programs, covering a range of issues including arts, technology and entrepreneurship.


Title:  Exploring Quality in After-School Programs for Middle School-Age Youth

Author:  Harvard Family Research Project

Description:  This brief describes some of the key issues and challenges in providing quality programs for middle school-age youth and discusses how program quality standards can be used to improve them.


Title:  The Quality of School-Age Child Care in After-school Settings

Author:  Priscilla M. Little: Harvard Family Research Project

Description:  An overview of the features of high-quality after school settings, including an examination of key research on links between program quality and developmental outcomes, a review of current practice in program quality assessment, and a set of quality-related considerations for policymakers.


Title:  Massachusetts Afterschool Research Study (MARS)

Author:  National Institute on Out-of School Time and Intercultural Center for Research in Education

Description:  This executive summary of the Massachusetts After-School Research Study explores the relationship between youth experiences and youth outcomes, and identifies those program characteristerics that are most closely related to high-quality implementation.


Title:  The Impact of After-School Programs That Promote Personal  and Social Skills

Author:  Joseph Durlak and Roger Weissberg: Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning

Description:  This report evaluates systematically the impact of after-school programs that attempt to enhance youths’ personal and social skills, identifies the nature and magnitude of the outcomes of such programs, and describes the features that characterize effective programs.


Title:  A 10-Step Guide to Adopting and Sustaining Evidence-Based Practices in Out-of-School Time Programs

Author:  Allison J. R. Metz: Child Trends

Description:  In this brief, ten concrete steps are outlined that practitioners can take to help their programs adopt or adapt evidence-based practices.


Title:  Putting It All Together: Guiding Principles for Quality After-School Programs Serving Preteens

Author:  Rachel A. Metz, Julie Goldsmith and Amy J.A. Arbreton: Public/Private Ventures

Description:  This practical guide reports on the characteristics for developing a quality afterschool program for preteens based on the latest research.


Title:  Getting It Right: Strategies for After-School Success

Author:  Rebecca Raley, Jean Grossman and  Karen E. Walker: Public/Private Ventures

Description:  This report focuses on how to run effective programs that are funded to produce specific policy-relevant outcomes.


Title:  Supporting Success: Why and How to Improve Quality in After-School Programs

Author:  Jessica Sheldon and Leigh Hopkins: Public/Private Ventures

Description:  This report examines the program improvement strategies, step-by-step, that allowed The James Irvine Foundation's CORAL initiative to achieve the levels of quality needed to boost the academic success of participating students.


Title:  After-School Toolkit: Tips, Techniques and Templates for Improving Program Quality

Author:  Nora Gutierrez, Molly Bradshaw and Kathryn Furano: Public/Private Ventures

Description:  A practical toolkit designed to help afterschool providers create and sustain quality afterschool programs. 


Title:  Administrative Management Capacity in Out-of-School Time Organizations: An Exploratory Study

Author:  John Summers and Lana Price: The Wallace Foundation

Description:  This study examines 16 high-quality OST providers in New York and Chicago. It describes in detail the administrative and managerial challenges confronting OST organizations and recommends possible solutions for OST leaders, public and private funders, and other interested parties.


Title:  Making Out-of-School-Time Matter: Evidence for an Action Agenda

Author:  Susan Bodilly, Megan K. Beckett: RAND Corporation

Description:  This RAND report, commissioned by The Wallace Foundation, summarizes current knowledge in quality programs and building capacity to help providers, policymakers and others move ahead to improve OST programs and identifies areas in significant need of further evidence-based research.


Title:  The Importance of Professional Development for Youth Workers

Author:  Lillian Bowie and Jacinta Bronte-Tinkew: Child Trends

Description:  This brief summarizes the importance of professional development, identifies core competencies for youth workers, highlights professional development training delivery models and sets forth next steps for professional development that can benefit youth programs.


Title:  Improving After-School Program Quality

Author:  Robert C. Granger, William T. Grant Foundation; Joseph Durlak, Loyola University Chicago;  Nicole Yohalem, The Forum for Youth Investment; Elizabeth Reisner, Policy Studies Associates, Inc.

Description:  As a summary of two recent reports on policy and practice, this report aims to help the field understand how aferschool can support important youth outcomes. In addition, it explains an emerging consensus on effective practice and stresses the need for improving program quality.


Assessment and Evaluation

 Title:  Building Quality, Scale, and Effectiveness In After-School Programs

Authors:  Elizabeth R. Reisner, Richard N. White, Christina A. Russell, Jennifer Birmingham, Policy Studies Associates, Inc. prepared for The After-School Corporation (TASC)

Description:  To assess TASC’s effectiveness, four foundations including the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the William T. Grant Foundation, and the Atlantic Philanthropies supported an external evaluation that answered questions about: quality and scale in program implementation, program effects on participating students, and program practices linked to student success. The evaluation collected data over four school years from 96 TASC after-school projects and their host schools in New York City.


Title:  Measuring Youth Program Quality: A Guide to Assessment Tools

Authors:  Nicole Yohalem and Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom, the Forum for Youth Investment with Sean Fischer and Marybeth Shinn, New York University

Description:  This guide was designed to compare the purpose, structure, content and technical properties of several youth program quality assessment tools.ograms and desired academic and behavioral outcomes for low-income students.


Title:  Promoting Quality Through Professional Development: A Framework for Evaluation (Link opens in a new window.)

Author:  Harvard Family Research Project

Description:  A preliminary framework for understanding and implementing evaluations of OST professional development initiatives. In so doing, it draws on research from early childhood and elementary education and highlights the evaluation methods and results of recent OST professional development initiatives at both local and national levels.


Title:  How Can I Assess the Quality of My Program? Tools for Out-of-School Time Program Practitioners

Author: Jordan Kahn, Jacinta Bronte-Tinkew and Christina Theokas: Child Trends

Description:  This brief identifies quality assessment tools and explains the advantages of using them for self-assessment and program improvement.


Title:  Advancing Achievement: Findings from an Independent Evaluation of a Major After-School Initiative

Author:  Amy Arbreton, Jessica Sheldon, Molly Bradshaw and Julie Goldsmith with Linda Jucovy and Sarah Pepper: Public/Private Ventures

Description:  Findings described in the report demonstrate the relationship between high-quality literacy programming and academic gains and underscore the potential role that quality programs may play in the ongoing drive to improve academic achievement.

Lessons Learned

Title:  Program Implementation: What Do We Know?

Author:  Lillian Bowie, Sarah B. Garrett, Akemi Kinukawa, Krystal McKinney, Kristin A. Moore, Zakia Redd,  Christina Theokas and Brooke Wilson: Child Trends

Description:  By examining afterschool program implementation, this report identifies and synthesizes what is known about specific program features for children and youth aged 6-17 that might be manipulated or regulated components such as staff wages, group size, activities and theoretical approach.


Title:  Implementing Evidence-Based Practices: Six 'Drivers' of Success

Author:  Allison J. R. Metz, Karen Blase, and Lillian Bowie: Child Trends

Description:  As the third part to a series on evidence-based practices, this brief defines implementation, highlights why the effective implementation of evidence-based practices is critical to achieving outcomes and outlines six core components that drive successful program implementation.


Title:  Multiple Choices After School: Findings from the Extended-Service Schools Initiative

Author: Jean Baldwin Grossman, Marilyn L. Price, Veronica Fellerath, Linda Z. Juvocy, Lauren J. Kotloff, Rebecca Raley, Karen E. Walker: Public/Private Ventures

Description:  This report examines school-based, afterschool programs run by community-based organizations in collaboration with schools. Results showed that when well planned and implemented, such programs can be a substantial option within a potentially larger network
of diverse programming that provides a range of opportunities for all children and youth.


Title: Quality Time After School In Brief

Author:  Jean Grossman, Margo Campbell and Becca Raley: Public/Private Ventures

Description: This brief focuses on key findings—and their implications for policymakers and funders—from Quality Time After School: What Instructors Can Do to Enhance Learning.


Title:  A Place to Grow and Learn: A Citywide Approach to Building and Sustaining Out-of-School Time Learning Opportunities

Author:  The Wallace Foundation

Description:  Drawing on early lessons from a Wallace initiative in five cities, this report describes a novel, coordinated approach to achieve widespread, sustained improvements in the quality and reach of OST programs so that many more children can benefit.


Title:  Strengthening Out-of-School Time Nonprofits: The Role of Foundations in Building Organizational Capacity

Author:  Heather B. Weiss, Priscilla M. D. Little: The Wallace Foundation

Description:  In this white paper, seven possible approaches to strengthening OST organizations are highlighted, including methods to ensure that OST providers become stronger partners with other groups and more adept advocates for their field.


Title:  A New Day for Youth: Creating Sustainable Quality in Out of School Time

Author:  Gil G. Noam: The Wallace Foundation

Description:  This white paper advocates more leadership and management training for OST executive leaders; training for OST staffers in establishing strong relationships with young people; and assistance in establishing clear learning goals for students.


Title:  A View from the Field: Helping Community Organizations Meet Capacity Challenges

Author:  Lucy N. Friedman: The Wallace Foundation

Description:  In this white paper, investments in four areas are highlighted that could strengthen OST providers: training for staffers and executives; educating principals and other education leaders about the role of OST; improving the content of programming; and strengthening the financial management and governance of OST provider groups.


Title:  Gaining Ground: Supporting English Learners Through After-School Literacy Programming

Author:  Julie Goldsmith, Linda Jucovy and Amy Arbreton: Public/Private Ventures

Description:  This brief presents findings that demonstrate a relationship between key approaches in CORAL, an eight-year, $58 million after-school initiative of The James Irvine Foundation, and the academic progress of English learners.


Title: Beyond Safe Havens: A Synthesis of 20 Years of Research on the Boys & Girls Clubs

Author:  Amy J.A. Arbreton, Jessica Sheldon and Carla Herrera: Public/Private Ventures

Description:  This report reviews the range of evaluations that have been conducted on Boys & Girls Clubs over the past 20 years.  Specifically, it identifies the potential benefits of the many discrete programs provided by Clubs and discusses three additional studies that examined the broader club experience.


Title:  After-School Pursuits: An Examination of Outcomes in the San Francisco Beacon Initiative

Author:  Karen E. Walker and Amy J.A. Arbreton: Public/Private Ventures

Description: P/PV's 36-month evaluation examined key developmental and academic outcomes in The Beacon Initiative which established after-school programs in eight public schools in low-income San Francisco neighborhoods.


Title:  Challenges and Opportunities in After-School Programs: Lessons for Policymakers and Funders

Author:  Jean Baldwin Grossman, Karen Walker and Rebecca Raley: Public/Private Ventures

Description:  As this report describes, locating programs in schools brings many benefits, but as the experience of at least one broad-based initiative is demonstrating, it also brings challenges that should be taken into consideration as programs are planned and funded.