Three New Briefs Show City Afterschool, Summer Investments Improve Workforce Development, College and Career Readiness

In three just-released briefs, NLC outlines how city leaders can leverage afterschool and summer learning programs as strategies to improve public safety, workforce development, and college and career readiness in their communities.

Municipal leaders can use these briefs as valuable messaging tools to make the case to their state and local policymaker peers for afterschool and summer learning as strategies to address city priorities.  They include powerful data points describing the challenges communities face regarding the demands of the changing workforce; low graduation rates and lack of exposure to college or careers; and public safety juxtaposed against impact data on how afterschool and summer programs can serve as solutions.

The NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute)released the three briefs at the national meeting of the 50 Statewide Afterschool Networks held in Washington, D.C., last week. NLC developed these resources with generous support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Workforce Development

NLC President and Little Rock, Arkansas Mayor Mark Stodola’s focus this year is to help city leaders prepare for the future of work. Not only are jobs of the future changing, but even jobs available today are very different than they were five or ten years ago.

In a recent note to NLC members Mayor Stodola said “We need to think about and plan for this next generation of workers.”

He’s right, and it isn’t that far off. Young people currently in elementary school are the “next generation” of workers who will enter the workforce in as little as seven years.  As parents and businesses know, that’s a blink of the eye. How prepared will they be?

Developing a prepared, skilled, and homegrown workforce attracts business and supports a vibrant and sustainable local economy. Providing young people with high-quality afterschool and summer programs exposes them to career options while also building the social and emotional skills to help them succeed in work and life. This brief outlines evidence-based programs in Asheville, North Carolina, Saint Paul, Minnesota, Orlando, Florida, and Chicago, as well as detailing the economic benefits of afterschool investment for cities.

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College and Career Readiness

Similarly, if young people are not attending school regularly, their achievement levels are impacted. Low-achievement then impacts graduation rates. Increasing access to high quality afterschool and summer programs for all youth, especially low-income or disadvantaged youth, increases their likelihood of success.

Program participation is correlated with benchmarks such as increased attendance and engagement in school, higher achievement levels, and graduating with the skills, knowledge and exposure to pursue postsecondary options or careers. This brief includes city examples from Bridgeport, Connecticut; Providence, Rhode Island; Nashville, Tennessee; Denver; Michigan City,  Indiana; and Chicago, as well as data driven solutions.

Public Safety

Municipal leaders have long known that afterschool is a prevention and youth development strategy that complements intervention and law enforcement work in cities. Research shows that afterschool programs can keep children safe, reduce negative behaviors that impact public safety, and keep young people on track for a successful adulthood.

This brief draws from exemplary programs in Los Angeles; Grand Rapids, Michigan; New York;  Fort Worth, Texas; and South Salt Lake, Utah, as well as crunches the numbers on this cost-effective prevention strategy.

Regardless of your city or strategy, every state has an organization dedicated to broadening afterschool and summer learning opportunities for youth and making efforts to improve programs, policies, as well as expand local, state, and federal funding. NLC can help you connect with your statewide afterschool network if you are interested in increasing policy and funding efforts to expand afterschool opportunities in your city.

The briefs are a result of the partnership and generous support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Let us know if you would like a batch of these briefs to use at upcoming meetings. For more information and to receive future announcements about NLC’s afterschool and summer learning resources, contact Bela Shah Spooner, Manager for Expanded Learning in NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families at

About the Authors: Bela Shah Spooner is the Manager of Expanded Learning at the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.

Lydia Lawrence is an intern in NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.