New Study and Online Tool Address Critical Knowledge Gap in Out-Of-School Time: The Cost Of Quality Programs

January 27, 2009

Contact: Erin Brownfield
Senior Communications Officer
The Wallace Foundation
(212) 251-9861


The Study, Commissioned by The Wallace Foundation from The Finance Project and Public/Private Ventures, Offers New Knowledge and Tools for Policymakers to Use in Planning for Quality Out-of-School Time Programs

New York, N.Y., January 27, 2009 –To assist policymakers, providers and funders, The Wallace Foundation releases today one of the most comprehensive studies to date analyzing the costs, funding streams, and expenditures of a wide range of high-quality out-of-school time (OST) programs, accompanied by a companion online calculator that generates cost estimates for specific programs.

“We commissioned this research to fill a critical knowledge gap – accurate data about the full cost of providing high-quality out-of-school time programs,” said M. Christine DeVita, president of The Wallace Foundation. “This study provides the field, for the first time, with comparable cost data on a wide variety of high-quality program types. Especially at a time of great fiscal challenges, we hope it will allow state and city policymakers, funders, providers and their partners to make more informed decisions about how to sustain and support the kinds of high-quality programs that we know produce the greatest benefit for children.”

Wallace funded the study, The Cost of Quality Out-of-School-Time Programs, as part of an initiative that aims to help develop citywide approaches to provide more children access to high-quality out-of-school time programs. The study and online cost calculator, along with many other research reports, is available without charge at The Wallace Foundation.

The Cost of Quality Out-of-School-Time Programs, one of the largest and most rigorous studies on the subject, analyzed data from 111 high-quality OST programs in six cities (Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, New York and Seattle). All of the programs in the study had key characteristics associated with quality OST services, including high attendance rates and high staff/youth ratios. The study presents detailed quantitative analysis of:

  • program costs by program characteristics, including the ages served (elementary school, middle school, teenagers), program content (academic, enrichment, or multi-focused), location (school-based and community-based), operator (school or community-based organization), and schedule of operation (school year or full year);
  • program expenditures, including salaries and benefits; material, administrative and transportation costs; and space costs and utilities; and
  • program funding portfolios of diversified funding streams, including public funds, in-kind contributions, foundation grants, corporate and individual donations, and parent fees.

“Our most interesting finding is that there isn’t one ‘right cost’ for quality OST programs,” said Jean Grossman, senior vice president for research at Public/Private Ventures. “Costs vary depending on the type of program provided and who it serves. So this study provides a benchmark for policymakers – to help them understand the cost implications of the OST decisions they make, and to determine the different levels of funding that are appropriate to support the different types of quality OST programs they need.”

The Out-of-School Time Cost Calculator is designed to provide decision makers with an online, user-friendly tool to better understand the costs involved in funding an OST effort, and how similar communities have addressed those challenges. Modeled on calculators used in other fields, users input their unique characteristics of the OST program they desire information on, such as age groups served, location of program, times of operation, and program focus, and the calculator generates cost estimates to guide their financial planning and operation. The Cost Calculator also provides brief descriptions of other OST programs with their funding strategies, examples of OST program and systems financing strategies, and an examination of quality factors related to program costs. Because all of the formulas in the calculator are derived from real data from quality OST programs, not all possible program configurations are covered.

The Wallace Foundation has invested in the out-of-school time field with two beliefs in mind: that children and youth gain learning and developmental benefits by frequent participation in high-quality programs, and that the best route to providing such high-quality services to more children is to adopt a citywide, coordinated approach that is sustainable. Since 2004, it has been working with Boston, Chicago, New York, Providence, and Washington, DC, providing more than $40 million in grants to develop and implement sustainable, systemic, coordinated approaches to increase access to high-quality OST programs. Their strategies have included: allocating funding to areas based on need; establishing management information systems to track participation; creating quality standards; and building online program locators so parents and youth can find programs in their neighborhoods.

Studies show that 80 percent of children’s waking hours are spent outside of school, and 6.5 million school-age children participate in OST programs that are intended to protect their safety, help develop and nurture their talents, improve their academic performance and provide opportunities for them to form bonds with adults and older youth who are positive role models. 

Investment in OST programs has increased in recent years, including $1 billion from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers each year and nearly $137 million from corporations in 2006. A November 2008 survey conducted by Lake Research Partners for the Afterschool Alliance revealed that 76 percent agree that afterschool programs are "an absolute necessity" for their community, and the same percentage wants the new Congress and their newly elected state and local officials to increase funding for afterschool programs. (

About The Wallace Foundation
The Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people. Its three current objectives are: strengthening education leadership to improve student achievement; enhancing out-of-school learning opportunities; and building appreciation and demand for the arts. More information and research on these and other related topics can be found at The Wallace Foundation.

Public/Private Ventures
Public/Private Ventures is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the effectiveness of social policies, programs and community initiatives, especially as they affect youth and young adults. In carrying out this mission, P/PV works with philanthropies, the public and business sectors, and nonprofit organizations.

The Finance Project
The Finance Project is an independent nonprofit research, consulting, technical assistance, and training firm for public and private sector leaders nationwide.  The organization specialize in helping leaders plan and implement financing and sustainability strategies for initiatives that benefit children, families and communities. Through a broad array of products, tools and services, staff help leaders make smart investment decisions, develop sound financing strategies, and build solid partnerships.