Out-of-School Time Programs

After School

Millions of city children and teens lack access to out-of-school time programs that provide rich opportunities for growth, learning and fun. One possible solution – coordinating the work of government agencies, private funders, programs and others involved in after-school programs – is being pioneered by a group of Wallace-supported city efforts.
All Research and Resources
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​After School Strategy Chart

The Problem

More than 15 million school-age children are left to their own devices after 3 p.m., yet millions of parents report they would enroll their kids in after-school and summer programs if only they were available. This is an enormous missed opportunity for learning and enrichment during “out-of-school time” (OST), especially for children most in need.

How We Are Tackling It

Typically OST programming is fragmented, with the many varied after school programs and government agencies and private groups that finance them operating in isolation from one another. In 2003, Wallace began working in Boston, Chicago, New York City, Providence, and Washington, D.C. to help coordinate the after-school workings of these groups – creating citywide “systems” of OST that could support better programs and increase access to them. In late 2010, a RAND evaluation said the cities’ work had provided “a proof of principle” that OST systems hold promise. Then, in early 2012, Wallace announced “next generation” grants in nine cities to further develop systems already begun in those communities:  Baltimore, Denver, Fort Worth, Grand Rapids, Jacksonville, Louisville, Nashville, Philadelphia and St. Paul.   

Our after school strategy is three-pronged:

  • Inform city decision-makers nationwide about the value of OST systems and how to build them.
  • Develop web materials to help city leaders act on what we’ve learned.
  • Help cities already building OST systems to put in place essential pieces, including computer systems to provide reliable citywide data on program participation and quality.

In a separate Chicago initiative, Wallace is trying to help out-of-school time providers overcome a little-recognized barrier to offering more and better OST programs – weakness in financial management. The effort provides financial management training and assistance to nonprofits and funds a forum for state, philanthropic and OST leaders to find ways to reduce common financial reporting and reimbursement burdens.

Some of the Research Informing Our Work

Hours of Opportunity, by the RAND Corporation, describes the promise and challenges in the Wallace-supported system-building efforts and examines the use of data for OST systems. A Place to Grow and Learn details Wallace’s OST system idea. The Cost of Quality Out-of-School-Time Programs is one of the most detailed studies to date of the range of costs of strong OST programs. An online cost calculator derived from that study is designed to help users figure out the costs of a variety of high-quality OST programs. Administrative Management Capacity in Out-of-School Time Organizations: An Exploratory Study describes why many organizations that run OST programs need to strengthen administration and management to improve programming.

Our Grantees

Launched in 2003, this initiative aims to improve after-school and out-of-school time programs in U.S. cities and make them available to more children and teens. Wallace funding of about $74 million has included support for: projects to develop citywide “systems” of after-school programming in five cities; some 25 research and other reports; a partnership with the National League of Cities to disseminate ideas and information about out-of-school time; and an online calculator to determine costs of various types of after-school programs.