Hours of Opportunity

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 Hours of Opportunity

High-quality out-of-school-time (OST) programs, which for the purposes here include after-school and summer programs, have the potential to help children and youth succeed and develop to their fullest potential. However, the OST systems that provide such programs in U.S. cities still suffer from fragmentation and lack of coordination. The result is often poor access and poor quality for those most in need of these services. In an effort to spur the creation of citywide systems of high-quality OST programs, The Wallace Foundation established an out-of-school learning initiative to fund OST system-building efforts in five cities: Boston, Chicago, New York City, Providence, and Washington, D.C. All the sites were established with the following goals:

  • Increase access to and participation in OST programs.
  • Improve the quality of OST programs.
  • Build an information, technology, and communication infrastructure to facilitate better management and support for OST programs.
  • Work toward sustaining OST programs and the systems designed to support them.

In January 2008, The Wallace Foundation asked the RAND Corporation to document the progress of these cities toward their goals and to examine the development and use of management information systems to track participation. This monograph outlines the data and methods used in the analysis, the cities’ early planning efforts, and each site’s progress toward improved access and quality, use of information systems, and greater sustainment. It concludes with a discussion of the factors that enabled coordinated system-building efforts and lessons for other cities. Two companion publications, Hours of Opportunity, Volume 2: The Power of Data to Improve After-School Programs Citywide (McCombs, Orr, et al., 2010) and Hours of Opportunity, Volume 3: Profiles of Five Cities Improving After-School Programs Through a Systems Approach (McCombs, Bodilly, et al., 2010), focus on Wallace-funded cities’ use of management information systems and present detailed case studies, respectively. The findings of the study should be of interest to policymakers and practitioners involved in improving OST services, especially at the city level.

This research was conducted by RAND Education, a unit of the RAND Corporation.

The research sponsor, The Wallace Foundation, seeks to support and share effective ideas and practices to improve learning and enrichment opportunities for children. Its current objectives are to improve the quality of schools, primarily by developing and placing effective principals in high-need schools; improve the quality of and access to out-of-school-time programs through coordinated city systems and by strengthening the financial management skills of providers; integrate in- and out-of-school learning by supporting efforts to reimagine and expand learning time during the traditional school day and year as well as during the summer months, helping expand access to arts learning, and using technology as a tool for teaching and promoting creativity and imagination. For more information and research on these and related topics, please visit The Wallace Foundation Knowledge Center at

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