City Strategies to Engage Older Youth in Afterschool Programs

Research shows that high-quality afterschool and summer programs help cities keep children and youth safe when they are not in school, discourage substance abuse and juvenile crime, and improve student attendance and academic achievement.  The benefits are especially large for youth ages 11-18 - those in middle and high school - who need learning supports to keep them on track toward graduation and are more prone to risky behavior.  Yet many cities struggle to provide sufficient afterschool opportunities for older youth that are accessible and relevant to their interests. 

To assist city leaders who are working to expand the number of high-quality programs for this population, the YEF Institute has published this new guide on City Strategies to Engage Older Youth in Afterschool Programs, with support from The Wallace Foundation.  The guide identifies four strategies that city leaders can use to increase afterschool program participation among older youth:

  1. Coordinate systems to support effective service delivery:  By building partnerships among city, school and community-based afterschool providers and other key stakeholders to take a systemic approach to afterschool, city officials can maximize local resources and reduce barriers to attendance. 
  2. Ensure programs are of high quality:  Older youth participate more frequently in afterschool programs when activities are well-run and relevant to their interests, staff are well-trained, and youth have a voice in program design. 
  3. Offer a wide variety of relevant program options: Among the most popular types of programs for this age group are those that focus on academic support; sports and recreation; visual and performing arts; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); and support for the transition from middle school to high school.
  4. Promote college attendance and workplace readiness:  Municipal leaders can promote afterschool opportunities that prepare young people for life after high school, helping achieve citywide goals for postsecondary educational attainment and workforce development.