The Problem

Research shows high-quality out-of-school-time programs can make important contributions to young people’s intellectual, social, emotional and physical well-being, especially for youth who do not thrive in school. Studies have also shown that cross-sector partnerships, which include public and private organizations working in such areas as education, youth development and community health services, can help expand learning and enrichment opportunities for young people who most need them.

How We Are Tackling It

We have selected 30 cross-sector, system-level partnerships for a one-time, one-year funding opportunity, called Advancing Opportunities for Adolescents. The effort is intended to help strengthen the work of the partnerships in addressing the needs of adolescents who face barriers to participation in afterschool and summer programs to and build understanding about what partnerships like these are doing and how – insights that can help inform both the sector and potential future Wallace initiatives.

Following an open call for submissions last fall that prompted more than 1,700 expressions of interest, Wallace invited 81 partnerships to submit proposals. The 30 partnerships selected reflect urban, suburban, and rural communities across a broad geographic range. Each partnership includes a number of individual entities working together, such as community-based organizations, school districts, out-of-school-time intermediaries, neighborhood development corporations, higher education institutions, businesses, healthcare providers, and city/county offices.

With funding of $175,000 or $225,000 each, partnerships are pursuing goals like supporting youth who are involved in the justice system, facing immigration issues, experiencing generational poverty, learning English as a second language, dealing with mental health issues, and more. Some of the approaches they are using include increasing access to expanded learning programs and/or social services, building youth leadership/advocacy, focusing on college/career readiness, fostering intergenerational engagement, and strengthening public health efforts. A full list of the partnerships, along with the activities they will undertake during this period, can be found here.

Participants will use Wallace funding to implement or strengthen their work, reflect on their progress, and identify the resources they need to meet their objectives. In addition to implementing the proposed activities, partnerships will be asked to share with other grantees and researchers documents and other materials that describe the terms of the partnership, the work being done over the course of the year and observed results.

“We know from the research that high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs can help young people find purpose and passion as well as support academic success, but not enough opportunities are available, especially for youth who face barriers that may limit their ability to grow and thrive,” said Gigi Antoni, vice president, youth development at The Wallace Foundation. “We are looking forward to learning more with these 30 partnerships about how they are making a difference and serving young people in their communities, and what factors assist or impede their efforts.”

A research team from American Institutes for Research (AIR) will follow and document the work of the partnerships. This research is intended to be useful both to each partnership and to the larger cohort, as well as to Wallace.
In addition to funding, each partnership will have access to peer learning, technical assistance and other supports provided by Community Wealth Partners and Dax-Dev Consulting.

Defining this work:

By cross-sector, we mean organizations from multiple sectors of a community come together to collectively focus their expertise and resources on a complex issue of importance to a community they serve.
By system-level, we mean the multiple partners focus on sharing resources to provide coordinated services and supports in different locations, while embracing varied approaches to youth development.
By adolescents facing barriers, we are referring to youth roughly between the ages of 11 and 19 who, due to their identities or circumstances, are not well-served and who face structural or systemic barriers that could limit their ability to grow and thrive. Examples of identities include race, ethnicity and/or sexual orientation; examples of circumstances include poverty, homelessness and/or immigration status.
By intermediary, we mean an entity or collective that acts as a connector to resources and/or as coordinator between partners.