Mapping afterschool in New Mexico

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Mapping afterschool in New Mexico

By May Sagbakken, executive director of the New Mexico Out-of-School Time Network

All children and youth deserve access to high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs that prepare them for school, college, careers, and life. While many students across the country are receiving valuable support from these programs, we know that the need for this type of programming far exceeds its availability. Our mission at the New Mexico Out-of-School Time Network is to expand access to the afterschool and summer learning programs that are critical in supporting students and families across New Mexico.

Our new story map, New Mexico Out-of-School Time Programs and Indicators, helps us move closer to our goal of afterschool and summer learning opportunities for all students by showing us the communities in New Mexico where federal and state funded afterschool programs are and are not available. These maps explore the relationships between at-risk communities in New Mexico and opportunities for afterschool and summer learning programming. The interactive map overlays the locations of 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Community Schools, and state-funded After School and Summer Enrichment (ASSE) program sites onto state maps where you are able to see a community’s educational attainment, poverty, child abuse and juvenile justice referrals; areas in which afterschool programs can provide critical supports to students and families.

What these maps show us is that in our state there are populations of students and families, in particular high-need students and families, without access to programming. Across the state, many areas with high juvenile justice referral rates also have low educational attainment and high rates of poverty. In a number of these high need areas, such as Roswell, Alamogordo, and Las Vegas, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Community Schools, and ASSE programs are absent.

What this mapping project has begun to reveal is where additional supports for communities across New Mexico are needed. Out-of-school time programs provide safe places for students to go when they are not in school, giving parents peace of mind and helping students avoid risky behaviors. Research has shown that participation in afterschool and summer learning programs helps improve in-school attendance and overall achievement. For communities in concentrated poverty, the need for these programs exceeds the national average where more than half of children not in an afterschool program would participate if a program were available to them. In New Mexico, we know that more than 90,000 children would participate in an afterschool program if one were available to them. These types of mapping projects shed light on the lack of opportunities for many students. The reality that there is a tremendous need for increased investment in afterschool and summer learning programs to meet the needs of students, families, and communities across our state. 

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