With roots going back to the late 1990s, the Partnership for Children & Youth has earned a national reputation for its effectiveness in promoting efforts to improve, and expand access to, afterschool, summer and other beyond-the-school-day programs in California. This Wallace Story From the Field was spurred in part by a milestone for the Partnership, the decision by its founding executive director, Jennifer Peck, to step down from the post. The piece documents key moments in the group’s history and provides lessons for intermediary and other organizations that seek to advance out-of-school-time programming in their states.
Peck says the Partnership is positioned at the intersection of policy, practice and public awareness, and the piece details how work in those three areas emerged and progressed over the years. The report chronicles the Partnership’s early days, when, among other things, the group assisted under-resourced afterschool programs in applying for funding from the then-new federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. It moves over the years to mid-2022, shortly after the California legislature, with a spur from the Partnership, approved unprecedented financing for out-of-school-time programs as they sought to help children cope with the instructional and emotional toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlights along the way include the Partnership’s work to shape model high-quality summer learning programs and the organization’s influence on state legislation covering intricacies such as per-child funding rates and program accountability metrics. The signature afterschool measure championed by former Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger—along with the Partnership’s role in implementing what’s informally known as Prop. 49—makes an appearance in the piece, too.
Lessons from Peck and others who have worked with the Partnership over the years include that benefits accrue when the out-of-school-time sector builds bridges to every other sector that has a bearing on afterschool and summer programming. Other insights are that collaborations between program providers and intermediaries pay off—and that a thick skin helps those in the thick of the politics of policymaking.
All the lessons are in service to what Peck discovered about out-of-school-time programs when she herself participated in them as a youngster. “The exposure to people and places, the opportunities to build social capital, build skills and develop relationships, that's what it’s all about,” she says.