A new research report published by the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families and commissioned by The Wallace Foundation highlights a growing trend in communities nationwide: the emergence of comprehensive, citywide afterschool systems for children and youth.
"Municipal Leadership for Afterschool: Citywide Approaches Spreading Across the Country" identifies 27 cities that are among the most advanced in their efforts to coordinate afterschool opportunities for children and youth.
These cities have made a fundamental shift in their approach to afterschool programming, moving from management and funding of isolated programs toward in-depth coordination among city, school and nonprofit providers. Their efforts are yielding concrete gains in academic outcomes and public safety. Featured cities include:
With strong mayoral leadership, these advanced cities are using sophisticated management information systems to produce data-driven analyses of community needs, taking steps to measure and improve program quality and deepening local partnerships to sustain their momentum. Despite the severe economic crisis of the past several years, a surprising number of leading cities continue to invest significant funding in their afterschool systems.
The report features detailed profiles of local progress in each of the 27 cities developed through an extensive set of surveys and interviews. It builds upon knowledge gained from other research funded by The Wallace Foundation, including a RAND Education study of five cities that improved afterschool participation and program quality and a Public/Private Ventures evaluation of the Providence, R.I., AfterZones initiative, which linked participation with higher school attendance.
For over a decade, in partnership with The Wallace Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, NLC has worked with hundreds of cities to build knowledge, promote cross-city learning and assist local leaders in developing coordinated approaches to afterschool.
NLC selected cities to be included in this report based on this work, focusing on those with populations above 100,000, school districts with a high proportion of students qualifying for free and reduced price meals, significant mayoral leadership, and a coordinating entity to manage the afterschool system.
In addition to five cities (Boston, Chicago, New York, Providence and Washington, D.C.) that received large Wallace Foundation investments in afterschool system-building, NLC considers these 27 cities to represent the most advanced municipal efforts based on six critical elements identified by The Wallace Foundation as essential for building sustainable, coordinated afterschool systems: committed leadership, a public or private coordinating entity, multi-year planning, reliable information, expanding participation, and a commitment to quality.