Out-of-school-time (OST) programs offer opportunities for young people to develop interests, skills, and social connections beyond the classroom. Despite years of research on the benefits of OST programs, studies have shown that many young people from lower-income families do not have the same access to programs as young people from higher-income families.  

To explore barriers to participation in programs and the experi​ences of young people who participate in them, The Wallace Foundation commissioned a student-designed study consisting of focus groups and a survey to help surface young people’s insights into how to improve the sector. The research team was made up of 12 high school and college students from New York, Colorado and Kentucky and was advised by four university researchers.  

This podcast series brings together members of the research team and OST practitioners to discuss the findings of the study and offer solutions. Listen for thoughts on making OST programs more accessible, improving staff recruitment and retention, and building spaces where young people want to spend time.


Bianca Baldridge, Associate Professor of Education, Harvard University 

Vanessa Roberts, Executive Director, Project VOYCE 

Deepa Vasudevan, Researcher, Human Services: Youth, Family, & Community Development, American Institutes for Research, AIR 

Sarai Hertz-Velázquez, Student, Wellesley College 

Shelby Drayton, Senior Manager, UP Partnership 

Syeda Tabassum, Student, Macaulay Honors College, New York 

Daniela DiGiacomo, Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky School of Information Science 

Sam Mejias, Associate Professor of Social Justice and Community Engagement, Parsons School of Design - The New School 


Connor Flick, Student, Gatton Academy High School, Kentucky

Ben Kirshner, Professor and Program Chair of Learning Sciences and Human Development, University of Colorado Boulder

Spandana Pavuluri, Student, duPont Manual High School, Kentucky​​