What happens when teams from 57 U.S. cities building afterschool systems gather to discuss two key system responsibilities—improving afterschool programs and using data for informed decision-making? Lots of rich discussion. This report covers a national afterschool conference held in February 2013. It details what mayors, program providers, system leaders, researchers and others had to say on a range of topics, including:
- The value of committed mayoral leadership;
- Warning signs that indicate students are struggling in school or at risk of dropping out—and what afterschool programs can do to help them;
- The purpose of afterschool programs: academic, enrichment, or both;
- The importance of strong financial planning and management;
- How to design successful programs for teens;
- How to train a skilled staff, using YouTube, “peer coaches” and other methods;
- How to measure the performance of afterschool programs and boost program quality;
- Deciding on the right “carrots” and “sticks” to encourage programs to accept evaluation;
- The many uses of data, including improving program quality, pinpointing problems, filling programming gaps and advocating for afterschool; and
- Data systems: Buy off the shelf or build yourself?
The report is accompanied by a series of videos featuring discussion from the conference’s opening session that highlight the importance of afterschool systems for children’s well-being as well as videos in which experts from around the U.S. discuss a range of afterschool issues.