Strengthening Partnerships for Out-of-School Time

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 Strengthening Partnerships for Out-of-School Time

Municipal leaders can play a pivotal role in bringing like-minded partners together to work toward shared goals for children and youth. Mayors, councilmembers and other municipal officials are in a unique position to engage a diverse group of stakeholders inside and outside of government to bring a broad range of perspectives and a wide variety of resources to the table. When a broad and diverse sector of the community “owns” the out-of-school time issue, this priority will have greater staying power on the community agenda.

Within local government, municipal leaders can ensure that city assets are coordinated in ways that maximize opportunities for young people and are appropriately targeted throughout the city. Cross-agency partnerships provide a vehicle for using a broad set of resources in a more strategic way. Municipal leaders can also look outside of city government to schools, businesses, parent groups, youth-serving agencies and universities to coordinate a larger pool of resources and activities for children and youth.


Interagency Collaboration

Coordination across city agencies can help municipal officials take full advantage of the expertise, resources and capacity that exist in multiple departments, from parks and recreation to local libraries. Depending upon a city’s unique history, multiple agencies may have some responsibility for programs and resources that serve youth. For example, a local department of health may oversee programs to prevent substance abuse, the housing authority may operate or provide funding or space for programs that serve public housing residents, and the police department may operate athletic programs for youth. Municipal leaders can foster a culture that supports innovation and creative thinking around how to realign resources at all levels of city government.

Detroit, Mich.: Multi-Agency Collaboration to Provide Internships in Public Safety, Skilled Trades and Health Care

In 2005, the Youth Connection — a public-private, city-led effort to improve afterschool opportunities that was formerly known as Mayor’s Time — forged a partnership with the Detroit Fire Department as one of the lead city agencies supporting a summer internship program. The Youth Connection received two grants for approximately $500,000 from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to fund summer internships for youth. A memorandum of understanding among the city’s fire, police, water and homeland security and emergency management departments, Detroit Public Schools and Wayne County Community College District formalized the partnerships that support the internship program, with each department head playing an instrumental role in making the program a success. All departments participate in the program’s advisory committee and provide staff and facilities for the internships. In 2009, the program expanded to include new internship opportunities in health care with Henry Ford Health Systems and other partners.

Participating youth can pick internship placements within any of the four city departments, and receive introductory professional training to be police, fire and EMS workers. They also have the opportunity to receive 12 college credits upon completion of the program. By focusing greater attention on providing relevant training for youth, the program led to modifications in the Detroit Public Schools Career and Technical Centers’ public safety curriculum to reflect the skills that youth are expected to know in the field. An additional benefit to the community is that participating youth increase the pool of qualified workers prepared to enter positions within city departments.


In addition to cross-agency coordination, municipal leaders play a vital role in convening partners outside of government. Municipal leaders can help identify opportunities and provide incentives for local organizations to collaborate. Sometimes the city is itself a critical partner, and sometimes the city’s role is to connect potential partners and broker relationships. In addition, as a funder or operator of programs, city agencies can encourage partnerships through their provision of grants and contracts to community organizations.

City-School Partnerships

A partnership between the city and the public school system is critical in advancing almost any agenda focused on youth. Cities where the mayor, city council, superintendent and school board have committed to a shared vision for out-of-school time have made significant progress on a youth-focused agenda. In a number of cities, municipal leaders who have strengthened relationships and actively sought opportunities to partner with schools have developed joint funding and resource-sharing opportunities where both partners stand to benefit.

Many cities take advantage of the complementary needs and resources of city parks and recreation departments and schools. For example, in St. Paul, Minn., Mayor Christopher Coleman opened all the city recreation centers to provide programming on school holidays and worked with school district leaders to figure out how the centers could offer snacks and lunches on those days. In Boise, Idaho, the city partnered with the school district to build city-run community recreation centers located within three new elementary schools. The following examples show how city agencies have much to offer and gain by collaborating with the school district around out-of-school time.

National City, Calif.: Libraries and Schools Collaborate to Administer Out-of-School Time Programs

Since May 2003, the National School District and the National City Public Library have had a memorandum of agreement to collaboratively administer the WINGS (WINners Growing Strong) After School Program. National City’s public library agreed to provide a comprehensive afterschool program at the school district’s 10 elementary schools. This unique partnership allows for the maximization of both city and school resources that help each entity accomplish their shared mission of improving literacy. Through this collaboration, the city and school district are better able to meet the needs of low-income children by engaging the entire family in high-quality out-of-school time activities.

WINGS staff, who are city employees, receive training to teach literacy, math, science and nutrition curricula as part of the program’s academic component. Ten other community agency partners have contracts with the city and school district to provide additional enrichment activities at all 10 locations, including organized sports clubs, ballroom dancing, basic music instruction, mariachi instruction, karate, golf lessons, Pasacat Filipino dance, ballet folklorico, musical theater and visual arts.

Charlotte, N.C.: Police Departments and Schools Support Middle School Students

The City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, Partners in Out-of-School Time (POST) and other public and private organizations have joined together to increase the quality of out-of-school time activities for middle school youth. Key city leaders involved in this effort include Police Chief Rodney Monroe, Councilmember James Mitchell and City Manager Curt Walton, who have collaborated with numerous municipal, school and community stakeholders to create Middle School Matters (MSM). As a public-private partnership managed by POST, MSM is designed to ensure that Charlotte youth are successful in school and prepared with “21st century” work and life skills.

MSM began operations during the 2007-08 school year at three Charlotte-Mecklenburg middle school sites, with each serving 100 young people. For the 2008-09 school year, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department provided approximately $500,000 in funding to support MSM as it expanded to include a fourth school. An experienced community-based youth development organization operates each individual MSM program. After two years of successful programming, POST is working on a strategic plan that will expand MSM and serve 100 students at each of the 34 middle schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County.

Business Partnerships

Community leaders and youth-serving organizations often look to the business community as a potential source of funding for various aspects of the out-of-school time system. While this is a vital role that businesses can and should play, there are other important ways in which municipal leaders can engage the business community to have a farreaching impact. Business leaders can serve as champions of a citywide system, conduits of information on local programs, employers of older youth and sources of mentors and volunteers.

Many business leaders recognize the value of out-of-school time programs in developing a future workforce and supporting current employees who need to know their children are safe and engaged during the out-of-school hours. Municipal officials can garner support from other segments of the business community by emphasizing how out-ofschool time programs meet their priorities and overall citywide goals. For example, the Chicago Out-of-School Time Project, housed in the city’s Department of Family and Support Services, has partnered with Chicago Metropolis 2020, a nonprofit civic organization created in 1999 by the Commercial Club of Chicago, a membership organization of area business and civic leaders. In 2009, a strategy team convened by Chicago Metropolis 2020 initiated the Afterschool for Children and Teens Now (ACT Now) campaign to increase public support for out-of-school time and, ultimately, new or restructured financing for afterschool programs in Illinois.

Another role that municipal leaders can play is to help identify and target businesses with a potential interest in supporting out-of-school time programs and discussing specific ways a particular business could be engaged depending upon its level of interest. The business community may be able to assist out-of-school time program leaders with program management and administration, and can even help with program content on workforce readiness, entrepreneurship or financial literacy. Businesses also have a great deal to offer in the form of in-kind support, including volunteers, printing, media, transportation, materials and supplies. All of these roles meet critical system needs. When municipal leaders are well-armed with clear information on the needs of individual programs and the OST system as a whole, they are in a better position to engage businesses with the ability to help.

Baltimore, Md.: YouthWorks Summer Jobs Program

In Baltimore, the city partners with businesses and community organizations to provide enriching summer jobs to thousands of youth through the annual YouthWorks summer jobs program. Business support for this program helps participating youth develop skills and improves the productivity of the future workforce.

In 2008, Mayor Sheila Dixon exceeded her goal of placing 6,500 youth in summer jobs. More than 6,800 teens had the opportunity to work in six-week summer jobs, a 20 percent increase from 2007. The YouthWorks Leadership Team responded to Mayor Dixon’s 2008 outreach strategy, Summer Jobs are Everyone’s Business, by raising the equivalent of more than $7.5 million. This lofty goal was accomplished by engaging leaders from business, education, community-based organizations, faith-based institutions, philanthropic organizations and government in supporting the campaign. The number of businesses supporting YouthWorks more than doubled in 2008 as small and large companies agreed to hire older teens directly, as well as donate funds so youth could work for nonprofits, schools and other community groups. Many of the participating employers challenged their peers to do the same.

In 2009, in spite of resource constraints impacting communities nationwide, the city again met its goal of placing more than 6,500 teens in summer jobs, in part due to stronger private and federal support. Numerous businesses and private donations supported YouthWorks at a cost of $1,400 per youth for each six-week job. For instance, Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System funded wages for 250 summer jobs at both facilities, the largest donation ever from the private sector. The City of Baltimore’s financial commitment to YouthWorks for 2008 and 2009 was $2.4 million each year. Baltimore also received $3.4 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which helped support the summer internship program.

The Economic Downturn: A Catalyst for Improving Youth Services

Due to the current economic downturn, family finances are stretched thin and cities have tightened their belts. Yet children continue to need positive out-of-school time opportunities. Experience shows that tough economic times can usher in new opportunities and often bring potential partners together in ways that were not foreseeable when local agencies’ coffers were fuller. Taking the time to revisit a city’s youth agenda and review progress toward outcomes can put the city in a stronger position to expand services for youth as the economy begins to improve. In addition, municipal leaders have taken advantage of the multiple opportunities to use 2009 federal economic stimulus dollars, many of which give priority to or require strong community partnerships.

The following federal funding streams received increased funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 and can be used to support out-of-school time programs:

  • $2 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG);
  • $10 billion for Title I to help disadvantaged students reach high academic standards;
  • $3 billion for School Improvement, which can be used to improve facilities for out-of-school time programs operating in schools;
  • $1.2 billion through the Workforce Investment Act that is designated for creating summer jobs for youth;
  • $50 million for YouthBuild, which offers education and occupational training to at-risk youth for building affordable housing; and
  • $160 million for AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA programs, a key staffing component for many out-of-school time programs.

For more information on the ARRA legislation and how it may be used to support out-of-school time programs, as well as information on the 2010 federal budget, visit the Afterschool Alliance website at


Community- and Faith-Based Partnerships

In many cities, the community and faith-based sectors are responsible for a large segment of out-of-school time programming. This includes large national nonprofits like the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs, as well as a multitude of grassroots organizations, churches, synagogues and other religiously-affiliated entities. Some of these organizations, particularly faith-based groups, are not always well-represented in public discussions, and their participation may require more targeted outreach efforts. Municipal leaders have the ability to bring organizations large and small to the table to form strategic partnerships for improving out-of-school time programs. In particular, cities can work with these organizations to improve the skills and qualifications of program staff, develop and implement program quality standards and establish community-wide outcome measures.

Florence, S.C.: Faith-Based Mentors Support Afterschool

In 2004, former Florence Mayor Frank Willis created the Mayor’s Coalition to Prevent Juvenile Crime to address a spike in violence against young people. This coalition focused its efforts on creating a citywide afterschool system to increase the quality and availability of afterschool programs in high-need areas. The coalition engaged top leaders from the city, law enforcement, school district, faith-based community, community-based organizations, hospitals and private entities. Their efforts included a new mentoring program at schools in Florence School District One, in which mentors are recruited from the faith-based community and trained through the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. Currently, more than 160 trained mentors are working in the schools with students. Because local leaders and residents recognize the impact that these efforts have on students and the community, it is estimated that the number of faith-based mentors will grow to more than 300 by 2010.

Bridgeport, Conn.: The City Collaborates with the Local United Way

The City of Bridgeport, with the help of the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County, was the driving force in bringing together approximately 35 afterschool service providers and funders to create the Bridgeport After School Network. The network seeks to improve the quality and number of afterschool programs available to Bridgeport’s youth. In 2009, the city acted as the fiscal agent for the network, receiving start-up funds that were provided, in large part, by the United Way. This partnership between the city and United Way led to the creation of an out-of-school time network website, regular newsletters and bi-monthly meetings. The network also helps the city capture out-of-school time data from providers through questionnaires, develop long- and shortterm goals and build consensus on the use of quality assessment tools, fundraising and communication plans to strengthen the out-of-school time system.

United Way as a Key Partner

In many communities, local United Ways have long supported out-of-school time programs, and have promoted early childhood education through the well-known Success by 6 initiative. In 2008, the United Way of America adopted the ambitious goal of helping cut the national dropout rate in half within 10 years. Across the country, local United Ways are now organizing their education and youth programs around this goal, starting with the youngest children and working up through high school and beyond. Because of United Ways’ fundraising campaigns and their increasing focus on producing a community-wide impact, they can be important partners in building an out-of-school time system. United Ways are also in a unique position in their communities. They are at the intersection of the business community and nonprofit service agencies and understand the needs and concerns of both.


Parents and Students

As the “users” of the out-of-school time system, parents and students can provide on-the-ground insights into what is working and what is not. However, developing strategies to involve and receive input from students and parents in meaningful ways can be challenging. Many cities have used periodic surveys as one method to learn more about what parents and students need and want. Others have established slots for parents and students on community-wide advisory or planning bodies. Identifying a few key parents or students as emissaries can help municipal leaders gain a deeper understanding of the needs of segments of the community that may feel marginalized or be hard to reach because of language barriers or other challenges. Municipal leaders can advocate for authentic youth voice and parent engagement in decision-making, which can in turn lead to increased participation and more effective programs that meet specific community needs.

Omaha, Neb.: Parents Identify Gaps in Out-of-School Time Opportunities for Middle School Students

In 2006, former Mayor Mike Fahey’s After School Initiative and the Center for Organizational Research and Evaluation (CORE) at the University of Nebraska-Omaha conducted an assessment of out-of-school time needs in Omaha. The assessment consisted of an inventory of afterschool providers’ services and capacity; a parent survey to identify their use of afterschool programs; an effort to geographically map young people’s afterschool needs and gaps in services; and a comprehensive review of afterschool best practices.

The needs assessment identified critical gaps indicating that middle school youth ages 10-14 were underserved. Parents reported that 40 percent of children in late elementary and middle school grades were home without adult supervision at times during the week, that they experienced difficulty in locating programs that provide transportation, affordable fees and healthy snacks, and that they most trust their child’s school to run an afterschool program. In addition to showing that parents were looking for programs that would serve older youth, the survey highlighted a demand among parents for programs that offer a balance of academic, cultural and athletic activities, which was not always available in existing afterschool programs.

The needs assessment also identified four underserved geographic areas in Omaha that had a high concentration of children and a low number of afterschool programs. These areas were used to determine the four middle schools for the pilot Middle School Learning Center Initiative (MSLCI) — a collaborative effort of the mayor’s office, Omaha Public Schools, the Sherwood Foundation, Building Bright Futures and other community-based organizations and foundations. In 2008, MSLCI added two additional sites to serve more students within the underserved areas.

University Partnerships

Postsecondary institutions can offer numerous resources to support out-of-school time initiatives, from assistance in data collection, research and program evaluation to providing facilities for programs. Schools of education can also provide assistance in staff training and development, help programs identify curricula and link programs to statewide standards. Moreover, colleges and universities can be a great source of mentors and volunteers, and can even provide staff to youth-serving organizations. Municipal leaders may consider reaching out to university leadership to match their schools’ expertise and available resources with local out-of-school time needs.

Morgantown, W.Va.: University Students Lead and Support Local Out-of-School Time Programs

The City of Morgantown, Monongalia County Schools and West Virginia University (WVU) have partnered on a number of initiatives that improve the quality of and increase access to out-of-school time activities. WVU seniors in multidisciplinary and psychology studies have completed capstone projects, which included leading six-week out-ofschool time programs in their areas of study. WVU psychology interns have also assisted with behavioral issues and teaching in the school district’s Second Step violence prevention program. Additionally, WVU education students serve as part-time staff for out-of-school time programs or as volunteers to satisfy the service requirement for their undergraduate degree.

There are several other ways in which university students have helped improve program quality and public will: a research and evaluation graduate class assisted in finding relevant information on a data management system for the county school system’s Kaleidoscope afterschool program, which was included in a federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grant application; students developed an online parent survey; and marketing students created flyers and public service announcements to increase public support.

St. Paul, Minn.: University Research on Transportation and Out-of-School Time

The City of St. Paul has collaborated with the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute in studying the return on investment of the Second Shift Circulator, a transportation system linking youth with programs in targeted areas of the city. A capstone class of graduate students conducted surveys and interviews to gather data and take a comprehensive look at the use of the Circulator on the East Side and West Side neighborhoods compared with two neighborhoods currently without a Circulator system. The students identified “5 Points of Public Value” of the Circulator: it increases access, improves safety, fosters innovation, builds community and promotes collaboration.

Although the city plans to conduct further analysis on the Circulator, preliminary interviews indicated that 100 percent of parents in neighborhoods without a Circulator bus noted that transportation was one of the barriers to their children’s participation in afterschool programs. In interviews in neighborhoods with a Circulator Bus, not one person mentioned transportation as a reason for lack of access. The data collected and analyzed by the Humphrey Institute provided the city with information to inform discussions around the possible expansion of the Circulator. The data also showed municipal leaders how the Circulator strengthens neighborhood collaborations, and helped demonstrate the value and impact of the public investment.

Unlikely Partners

Many of the potential partners described above fall into the category of “usual suspects.” In many cities, municipal leaders have also brokered partnerships with organizations that do not have an obvious connection to out-of-school time programs. Among the reasons these stakeholders get involved in out-of-school time are a unique interest or need, a personal connection with a mayor or councilmember or simply opportune timing. For example, in quite a few cities, the local food bank has partnered with out-of-school time programs to help provide a nutritious afterschool snack. Municipal leaders can also form partnerships with civic organizations, hospitals, museums, theaters, restaurants, banks and a variety of other organizations. These unlikely partners can provide resources as varied as curricula or lessons, mentors, funding, assistance with a specific event or administrative support.

Tampa, Fla.: A Credit Union and Public Television Station Promote Financial Literacy during Out-of-School Time

The City of Tampa recently worked with Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union (FCU) and WEDU, the local public television station, to add a financial literacy component to local out-of-school time programs. This collaboration trains all Partnership for Out-of-School Time (POST) partners to deliver a five-lesson financial literacy program for youth ages eight and older, as well as their parents. A grant that WEDU received from the television program, BizKid$, pays for the materials and training. Following the initial five classes, youth have the opportunity to design what they believe should be the next lesson, and WEDU tapes and airs the top youth-created lessons. Suncoast Schools FCU hosts the financial literacy training and provides incentives for the youth to participate.


Each of the partners mentioned above can bring valuable resources to the table and help move the community’s outof- school time agenda forward. However, the most powerful citywide out-of-school time systems bring together a wide range of stakeholders within and outside of government.

San Francisco: Involving Diverse Stakeholders to Provide Afterschool for All

In San Francisco, the city’s Department of Children, Youth and Their Families (DCYF) and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) lead the city’s Afterschool for All initiative. The cornerstone of this effort is the Afterschool for All Advisory Council. Diverse groups participate in the Advisory Council, which provides a means for joint planning and accountability to develop and expand a comprehensive, citywide afterschool system.

A memorandum of understanding between the two lead entities defines the composition of the Advisory Council, which includes representatives from SFUSD, city agencies, community-based afterschool service providers, parents, foundations and other private sector funders, the faith-based community, the San Francisco Child Care Planning Council and a representative of afterschool programs operated by private schools. In the future, the Advisory Council aims to add representatives from the business community, the juvenile justice and/or law enforcement system, the public housing system and youth members.

The Advisory Council created three voluntary work groups to identify systemic needs and related solutions, such as strengthening public financing strategies, enhancing program quality and addressing workforce concerns. The Advisory Council also developed a cost estimate for a high-quality afterschool program based on local and national research, which will inform the city’s strategy to use its funds as leverage for securing state and federal afterschool grants. In addition, the council drafted a set of site visit tools to complement a program quality assessment tool for school-based afterschool programs created by the state department of education, and began to identify a set of core competencies for frontline afterschool workers.

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