Although the middle school years are a particularly challenging period for many youths, it’s also a time when their participation in afterschool activities dramatically falls. To address that problem, Providence, R.I., developed a citywide afterschool initiative for middle school youngsters called the AfterZone initiative, according to this first of two reports on the effort. Services were offered at multiple sites, integrating as many as 100 of the city’s afterschool providers into a network with a coordinated schedule and centralized registration process. The effort emphasized continuous quality improvement and worked closely with the mayor and leaders of the city’s public and private youth-serving agencies.

According to the report, the program has made “enormous progress,” enrolling nearly half the students targeted. However, long-term financing remains a challenge.

The report is the first of two studies looking at the AfterZone effort.

 Points of Interest

  • An evaluation of afterschool programs found the average attendance rate for youth in grades 6 through 8 was 1.6 days per week compared with 1.9 days per week for grades 4 and 5 and 2.2 days per week for grades 1 through 3.
    Avg weekly attendance rate in #afterschool programs for grades 1-3: 2.2 days. For grades 6-8: just 1.6 days
  • The afterschool initiative in Providence, R.I., uses consistent collection of data on enrollment and attendance and a web-based data tracking tool to inform planning and decision-making.
    Providence’s afterschool initiative analyzes data on enrollment/attendance, uses it in planning, decision-making.
  • In Providence, R.I., afterschool programming, recruitment and retention strategies were tailored to qualities critical to participation by middle-schoolers, like autonomy and choice.
    Providence, RI tailored its #afterschool program/recruitment/retention work to qualities key to tween participation.