New Compendium Highlights Value of Afterschool Programs

St. Paul, Minn., Mayor Chris Coleman discusses the benefits of afterschool programs at the National Press Club.
February 6, 2013

By Tim Mudd

NLC First Vice President Chris Coleman, mayor of St. Paul, MN, addressed more than 500 researchers, educators, elected officials and other national and community leaders who gathered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., yesterday for the release of a groundbreaking new compendium of studies and commentaries on the impact of quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

"Supporting afterschool programming is part of our education improvement strategy, economic development strategy, neighborhood development strategy, and crime prevention strategy," said Mayor Coleman at the book release event.  "It's all connected."

Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success, edited by Terry K. Peterson, Ph.D., offers specific examples by more than 100 thought leaders of how communities are turning the "non-school hours" into "learning hours" to support children and youth.  The publication was made possible by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, in conjunction with the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project.

"Afterschool and summer learning programs expand minds and opportunities for America's kids," said Dr. Peterson.  "This book presents strong evidence that quality afterschool and expanded learning opportunities contribute to student success and should be moved from the margins of the education reform agenda to being one of the important tools and strategies leveraged to help more young people catch up, keep up, and get ahead."

Among the book's nearly 70 articles is a commentary co-authored by Mayor Coleman, Mayor Karl Dean and Councilmember-at-Large Ronnie Steine of Nashville, TN, Mayor Betsy Price of Fort Worth, TX, and Councilmember James Mitchell, Jr., of Charlotte, NC, that underscores the essential role municipal leaders play in building citywide systems of high-quality out-of-school time (OST) programs.

Municipal Champions for Afterschool Movement

City officials have increasingly heeded the solid base of research and best practices showing the benefits of quality afterschool and summer learning programs by serving as champions for the afterschool movement.  Recognizing that education extends beyond the school day, city leaders are bringing together other policymakers, funders, educators, business leaders, nonprofits and parents to improve the quality of programs, target programs and investments toward youth most in need,  provide training to afterschool providers and work collectively to increase participation rates.

In St. Paul, Mayor Coleman has made significant progress in facilitating coordination of local afterschool opportunities for children and youth through "Sprockets," a citywide OST network that is developing "learning campuses" across the city to link youth development opportunities and services in each neighborhood.  The network includes the City of St. Paul, St. Paul Public Schools and many community-based nonprofit organizations.

The citywide effort grew out of Mayor Coleman's Second Shift Initiative, which was launched in 2006 to increase access to effective OST learning opportunities while creating a bridge to in-school learning. The Sprockets network uses a citywide data system to inform decisions about expanding or starting new programs, better link in-school and out-of-school learning outcomes, and show the impact of OST participation in the community.

In addition to St. Paul, many other cities have made significant shifts toward greater coordination of afterschool programming.  NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families documented the emergence of comprehensive citywide afterschool systems in 27 cities in a 2011 report.

Support for City Leadership

For more than a decade, with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and The Wallace Foundation, NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families has worked with hundreds of cities to build knowledge, promote cross-city learning and assist local leaders in developing coordinated approaches to afterschool.

NLC is a supporter of the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project, a 50-state initiative harnessing the power of networks and leaders to help schools and communities leverage the time beyond school to accelerate student achievement.  A partnership of funders led by the Mott Foundation provides generous financial support for the project.

Details: More information about the compendium and the project, as well as additional resources, can be found at http://www.expandinglearning.org.  To learn more about NLC afterschool resources and initiatives, visit www.nlc.org/iyef or contact Bela Shah Spooner at (202) 626-3057 or spooner@nlc.org or Kim Eisenreich at (202) 626-3035 or eisenreich@nlc.org.