In recent years, afterschool (and other out-of-school-time) programs have attracted renewed interest and funding. But with additional attention has also come the challenge of raising the quality of these programs and expanding their availability. This Wallace Perspective describes a novel approach: coordinating among government, schools and the afterschool provider community to increase access to, and improve the quality of, programs citywide. Unlike public education, though, there is no model for building an effective afterschool system. Indeed, defining a well-functioning, coordinated afterschool “system”—and how to plan, operate and sustain it—remains very much an early work in progress as of the writing of this report.
The Perspective draws on the experiences of Wallace-supported efforts in five cities—Boston, Chicago, New York City, Providence, R.I., and Washington, D.C.—to identify what appear to be key ingredients in this work, including firm mayoral backing, the use of reliable data for decision-making and a commitment to raising program quality. For Representative David Cicilline (D.–R.I., former Mayor of Providence), a leading national advocate for better afterschool programs, the ultimate benefit of an afterschool system is clear: “There’s no greater gift than that kids have a safe, enriching, high-quality place to grow and learn all day,” he said as mayor.
In 2015, Wallace released a new Perspective,
Growing Together, Learning Together, reflecting the research published and actual city experiences since A Place to Grow and Learn was issued in 2008.