With many cities expressing interest in afterschool system-building and more useful information becoming available, this Wallace Perspective offers a digest of the latest thinking on how to build and sustain an afterschool system, along with what challenges and opportunities lie ahead for this promising field. The report focuses on the four components of system-building that current evidence and experience suggest are essential:

  • Strong leadership from major players: There is no substitute for a committed mayor or superintendent, but city agencies, private funders, schools, program providers and families all need to “own” the effort to some degree to ensure long-term success.
  • Coordination that fits local context: A system’s coordinating entity can be a single public agency, multiple agencies working together, a nonprofit intermediary or a network of partners, depending on local needs.
  • Effective use of data: Large-scale data gathering and sharing takes both technology to track and organize information and a skilled staff to interpret and act upon it.
  • A comprehensive approach to quality: Cities must decide upon their definition of quality, how “high stakes” to make their assessments of the quality of individual programs and how to support continuous program improvement.

 Points of Interest

  • Building strong afterschool systems in cities requires coordination among institutions involved and rests on four key elements: leadership from all the major players, a coordinating entity, use of data and efforts to bolster program quality.
    Leadership, coordination, data, quality: the four elements that compose successful #afterschool systems
  • Coordination of afterschool systems varies city by city and can be the responsibility of entities ranging from a single government agency or a coordinating council to a nonprofit intermediary.
    There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to coordinating citywide #afterschool systems.
  • Data has many uses in afterschool systems. A few: assessing the supply of—and demand for—programming; recruiting and retaining students; and assessing program quality.
    How do data help #afterschool systems? Many ways, including recruiting students and assessing program quality.

 Supplementary Materials