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New research brief: The evidence base for afterschool and summer

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New research brief: The evidence base for afterschool and summer

A recent survey of program providers found that 3 out of 4 providers report being physically open in at least some capacity, providing critical supports including a safe and supervised space during virtual school days, distributing or delivering meals, and connecting families with community resources. Throughout the pandemic, afterschool programs have been an instrumental partner for schools and families—programs remained connected to their students, complemented school-day lessons, and provided essential supports for families.

As the country now looks to reopening and recovery, afterschool and summer programs, which decades of research have shown are able to help meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of students, will continue to be a valuable resource. This brief, “The evidence base for afterschool and summer,” synthesizes findings from nearly two dozen evaluations—including randomized and quasi-experimental studies—that demonstrate the evidence base behind afterschool and summer programs. Below are a few illustrative examples of programs’ ability to:

  • Support academic growth and engagement in learning: A longitudinal study conducted by RAND of summer learning programs that followed 3rd-7th grade students found positive academic gains among randomly assigned program participants compared to the control group. After the first and second summer of program participation, program attendees outperformed control-group students. Statistically significant differences were found in math achievement after the first summer, and math, language arts, and social and emotional skills after the second summer. In a 2020 evaluation of the Girls Inc. program indicate that girls who participated in the program reported more positive attitudes and behaviors than a comparison group of girls. All 14 outcomes related to academics were statistically significant in year two, including school engagement; finding school fun in areas like reading, math, and science; getting excited about science; and postsecondary readiness.
  • Foster key foundational skills and boost students’ well-being: The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), conducted a meta-analysis reviewing close to six dozen studies of afterschool programs and found that students who participated in afterschool programs exhibited significant improvement in their feelings, attitudes, and indicators of behavioral adjustment. Students in programs also saw reductions in drug use and problem behavior, such as aggression, noncompliance, and conduct problems.
  • Set young people up to thrive post high school: More than 7 in 10 students who regularly participated in Virginia’s 21st CCLC programs agreed that the program helped them learn the knowledge and skills needed to be ready for a job or career (76 percent) or helped them learn what is necessary to be ready for trade school or college (71 percent) in a 2020 evaluation of the state’s 21st CCLC programs. Another study examining 158 STEM-focused afterschool programs that received support from one of 11 state afterschool networks found that students made significant gains in positive STEM attitudes, where the majority of students made significant gains in STEM engagement, career interest, career knowledge, activity participation, and identity. Latinx/Hispanic youth reported the greatest gains.

This is a small sampling of evaluations that highlighting the range of ways in which afterschool and summer programs are essential to help students re-engage in learning and emerge from the pandemic strong, resilient, and hopeful. To learn more, you can find the full brief on the Afterschool Alliance’s research page.

Staffing takes top spot as primary challenge for afterschool program providers in new survey

“COVID-19 has put stress on an already stressed programming system. I feel like this has put a spotlight on the need for our programs and the staffing issue” one survey respondent reports in Afterschool Alliance’s most recent survey of afterschool program providers. Another says,...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      01/27/22

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BY: Erin Hegarty      07/15/21

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“The most meaningful part of my afterschool program is the sense of community and family that I feel inside the program. Sometimes a child doesn’t have that example at home of a family and feels alone and isolated. I can relate to that. When I went to my afterschool program, it was this...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/02/21

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By Terry K. Peterson, Ph.D. and Kenneth A. Anthony II, Ed.D. Not since the release of the Expanding Minds and Opportunities Compendium in 2013 has there been a singular resource that illustrates the holistic impact summer and afterschool programs have on children. In this newly released...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/24/21

Staffing takes top spot as primary challenge for afterschool program providers in new survey

“COVID-19 has put stress on an already stressed programming system. I feel like this has put a spotlight on the need for our programs and the staffing issue” one survey respondent reports in Afterschool Alliance’s most recent survey of afterschool program providers. Another says,...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      01/27/22

Report finds 1.5M children receive meals in Afterschool Nutrition Programs — but we can do more!

By Clarissa Hayes, Interim Deputy Director, School and Out-of-School Time Programs at Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). The Afterschool Nutrition Programs offered an important opportunity to combat hunger during the 2020–2021 school year as communities and families...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/29/21

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BY: Tierra Easter      08/06/21

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/02/21

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In 2014, there were 3.1 million rural children not in an afterschool program who would have participated in a program if one were available to them—roughly three times the population of Rhode Island. New data from the report, “Spiking demand, growing barriers: The trends shaping...

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BY: Guest Blogger      10/25/21

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      09/14/21

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      06/11/21

America After 3PM 2020 Summer Report in images

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      11/23/21

Out-of-school time programs helping children find their passion, purpose, and voice

The mental, emotional, and physical well-being of children has been top of mind throughout the pandemic—for parents, for educators, and for youth development professionals. In a prescient research endeavor, conducted by Edge Research and with the support of The Wallace Foundation, Learning...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      11/04/21

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By Neil Naftzger, principal researcher, and Jessica Newman, senior researcher at the American Institutes for Research. Fall is here, with it, a return for many to in-person learning after more than a year of disruption and uncertainty. Over the past six months, the current administration has...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/27/21

Latest highlights from Impacts Database point to summer learning's efficacy

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BY: Bella DiMarco      08/24/21

New report reveals state of afterschool STEM learning opportunities

Afterschool and summer programs offer hands-on learning opportunities that spark students’ interest in STEM subjects and help them gain critical STEM skills. The just-released America After 3PM special report, “STEM Learning in Afterschool on the Rise, But Barriers and Inequities...

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We all know that this summer and fall are critical as we try to reconnect and re-engage young people around the country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that summer – and summer learning programs – are in full swing, we figured it was a good time to revisit some of the crucial...

BY: Dan Gilbert      08/05/21

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The National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment (NCASE) recently released a practice brief, “Supporting and Promoting Mental Health in Out-of-School Time,” that explores some of the current mental health needs of youth, their families, and the out-of-school time (OST)...

BY: Bella DiMarco      07/20/21

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In March, the National Institute for Work and Learning, FHI 360, published a report sponsored by The Wallace Foundation focusing on the coordination of afterschool programming among out-of-school-time providers, government agencies, private funders, and others. Following up on a 2012-2013 survey,...

BY: Erin Hegarty      07/15/21

Evidence Base for Summer Enrichment and Comprehensive Afterschool Opportunities

By Terry K. Peterson, Ph.D. and Kenneth A. Anthony II, Ed.D. Not since the release of the Expanding Minds and Opportunities Compendium in 2013 has there been a singular resource that illustrates the holistic impact summer and afterschool programs have on children. In this newly released...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/24/21

How four cities expanded summer learning

Summer learning programs provide enrichment opportunities for youth, allowing them to increase math and reading comprehension skills, connecting them with mentors and peers, providing nutritious meals and helping them gain workforce experience. Unfortunately, more work needs to be done to ensure...

BY: Tierra Easter      12/13/21

Spiking demand, growing barriers: The trends shaping afterschool and summer learning in rural communities

In 2014, there were 3.1 million rural children not in an afterschool program who would have participated in a program if one were available to them—roughly three times the population of Rhode Island. New data from the report, “Spiking demand, growing barriers: The trends shaping...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      12/08/21

Out-of-school time programs helping children find their passion, purpose, and voice

The mental, emotional, and physical well-being of children has been top of mind throughout the pandemic—for parents, for educators, and for youth development professionals. In a prescient research endeavor, conducted by Edge Research and with the support of The Wallace Foundation, Learning...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      11/04/21

Afterschool and summer programs may hold the key to post-pandemic recovery for young people

By Neil Naftzger, principal researcher, and Jessica Newman, senior researcher at the American Institutes for Research. Fall is here, with it, a return for many to in-person learning after more than a year of disruption and uncertainty. Over the past six months, the current administration has...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/27/21

Latest highlights from Impacts Database point to summer learning's efficacy

As summer comes to a close and the school year starts back up, we wanted to recognize the importance of summer learning programs and the impact that they have on youth by highlighting some new summer evaluations in our Afterschool Impacts Database.   Our Impacts Database offers a searchable...

BY: Bella DiMarco      08/24/21

New report: Stability and Change in Afterschool Systems

In March, the National Institute for Work and Learning, FHI 360, published a report sponsored by The Wallace Foundation focusing on the coordination of afterschool programming among out-of-school-time providers, government agencies, private funders, and others. Following up on a 2012-2013 survey,...

BY: Erin Hegarty      07/15/21

Evidence Base for Summer Enrichment and Comprehensive Afterschool Opportunities

By Terry K. Peterson, Ph.D. and Kenneth A. Anthony II, Ed.D. Not since the release of the Expanding Minds and Opportunities Compendium in 2013 has there been a singular resource that illustrates the holistic impact summer and afterschool programs have on children. In this newly released...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/24/21

New survey: Parents want their children’s summer back

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash By Adam Peshek, senior fellow at the Charles Koch Institute. This article was originally published on the Charles Koch Institute's Newsroom on June 3, 2021. It has been republished in full with their permission. With millions of Americans receiving vaccines...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/17/21

Survey reveals the importance of summer for Black and Latinx families

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      06/11/21

America After 3PM 2020 Summer Report in images

As part of our release of "Time for a Game-Changing Summer, With Opportunity and Growth for All of America's Youth," we created an infographic that highlights some of the top findings from our America After 3PM Summer Report. Take a look at how summer stacks up across the country, and...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/25/21

Staffing takes top spot as primary challenge for afterschool program providers in new survey

“COVID-19 has put stress on an already stressed programming system. I feel like this has put a spotlight on the need for our programs and the staffing issue” one survey respondent reports in Afterschool Alliance’s most recent survey of afterschool program providers. Another says,...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      01/27/22

Spiking demand, growing barriers: The trends shaping afterschool and summer learning in rural communities

In 2014, there were 3.1 million rural children not in an afterschool program who would have participated in a program if one were available to them—roughly three times the population of Rhode Island. New data from the report, “Spiking demand, growing barriers: The trends shaping...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      12/08/21

The good, the bad & what’s to come: Findings from the Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 Wave 5 survey

In the second summer under the pandemic, prior to the rise of the Delta variant, we found more summer programs opening their doors and providing vital supports to students who have contended with remote learning, social isolation, and the stressors of a continuing pandemic. Thanks to the response...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      08/12/21

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BY: Bella DiMarco      06/15/21

Your voice matters: Share your COVID experience in our survey

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      06/07/21

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BY: Bella DiMarco      04/08/21

A chance to help the afterschool field AND a chance at a $50 gift card!

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      03/04/21

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      11/20/20

4 key takeaways from program providers' summer planning

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BY: Bella DiMarco      08/27/20

Survey: 70% of programs are still serving kids during COVID

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      08/04/20

Out-of-school time programs helping children find their passion, purpose, and voice

The mental, emotional, and physical well-being of children has been top of mind throughout the pandemic—for parents, for educators, and for youth development professionals. In a prescient research endeavor, conducted by Edge Research and with the support of The Wallace Foundation, Learning...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      11/04/21

Top 3 findings from America’s Promise Alliance most recent report

The past year has been particularly challenging for many Americans. From the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to the outcry for social justice, students are experiencing many challenges in and out of the classroom. In an effort to better understand the impact the 2020-21 school year has had...

BY: Tierra Easter      08/06/21

Parents prioritize SEL in afterschool and summer learning programs

We all know that this summer and fall are critical as we try to reconnect and re-engage young people around the country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that summer – and summer learning programs – are in full swing, we figured it was a good time to revisit some of the crucial...

BY: Dan Gilbert      08/05/21

Supporting and promoting mental health in out-of-school time

The National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment (NCASE) recently released a practice brief, “Supporting and Promoting Mental Health in Out-of-School Time,” that explores some of the current mental health needs of youth, their families, and the out-of-school time (OST)...

BY: Bella DiMarco      07/20/21

Promoting healthy futures for young people

“The most meaningful part of my afterschool program is the sense of community and family that I feel inside the program. Sometimes a child doesn’t have that example at home of a family and feels alone and isolated. I can relate to that. When I went to my afterschool program, it was this...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/02/21

Top 5 findings from the America After 3PM special summer report

Summer programs provide critical positive experiences that youth carry with them as they grow. Structured programs offer the chance to foster friendships and connections, develop life skills, be active, and explore different subjects through intellectually engaging projects. For families, summer...

BY: Maria Rizo      05/19/21

Research brief: Academic, social & emotional benefits of 21st Century Community Learning Centers

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BY: Bella DiMarco      03/29/21

New report: SEL+OST=Perfect Together

In October 2019, The Wallace Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance brought together youth development leaders, researchers, and educators to discuss social and emotional learning (SEL), identify obstacles to teaching SEL, and begin to brainstorm ways to address those challenges. While...

BY: Erin Hegarty      08/28/20

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New issue brief: Afterschool and the juvenile justice system

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BY: Erin Hegarty      05/26/20