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Recognizing the role of afterschool and summer programs and systems in reopening and rebuilding

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Recognizing the role of afterschool and summer programs and systems in reopening and rebuilding

By Deb Moroney and Jessy Newman, American Institutes for Research (AIR).

As we look ahead to another month of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, education, afterschool, summer, and other community-based organizations are working to address the challenges created by unexpected school closures. Frameworks for school re-opening efforts are being released (see the resources from CCSSO, the Aspen Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the American Federation of Teachers, Chiefs for Change, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning – CASEL, or our summary of whole child terms used in reopening guidance) and we are seeing a few clear themes:

  1. A focus on conditions for learning;
  2. Calls to provide the social and emotional supports we all need to cope with the varying degrees of inequity and trauma we have experienced; and
  3. The directive to support learning while considering the variations in how children and youth have experienced learning since they were physically in school.

That is a hefty order, but it is one in which the afterschool field and community-based professionals are well-positioned to be a strong partner. Partnerships between schools and community partners are essential for promoting young people’s well-being, and this will be especially true as we persist in and recover from the pandemic. So, where do we begin? We start by encouraging all adults in all settings to ask a simple question: “How are you doing?” Then, we need to respond. This is where afterschool professionals and community partners play a key role because they are trusted by families and have experience in supporting the well-being of children and families.

Community-based programs will continue to attend to children and families’ basic human needs, such as food and safety. Many community-based afterschool programs have transformed into meal distribution sites, such as the Carole Robertson Center for Learning in Chicago. Other programs have remained open for children of essential workers, like the YMCA in Cleveland, Ohio that remained open with a “pandemic license.” But afterschool and community-based professionals are not just extra hands for childcare and food distribution (although we take no issue with being or getting an extra hand, because we all need one right now).

As a field, we:

This is what we do. Our school-day educators are going to have their hands full with re-opening efforts, rotating schedules, differentiated instruction – the list goes on. But learning cannot happen if we do not first understand and address the well-being of children and their families.  Afterschool programs can be a valued partner. Together, let’s ask, “How are you doing?” and take action.

For more information about how you can get involved and take action, check out this research brief with strategies.  

COVID-relief funds deep dive (part 2)

By Liana Shivers and Emily Murtaugh. In March 2021, local education agencies (LEAs) received approximately $22 billion from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to support COVID-related learning recovery, including afterschool and summer learning. This is the second blog...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/22/23

New dashboard presents a retrospective of the Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 survey series

Over the course of the last three years, thanks to the afterschool field’s generous nature and taking the time during an incredibly tumultuous period to respond to our surveys, the Afterschool Alliance has been able to track the changing landscape of the afterschool field. A recently released...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/19/23

Survey finds that programs open this summer will reach the highest levels in three years

Thanks to the more than 1,100 program providers who responded to Afterschool Alliance’s spring survey to better understand the current state of the field, we are able to share some insights into what providers anticipate for this summer. This summer, program providers are much more certain...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/14/23

Pandemic relief funds are supporting summer learning opportunities for youth

Photo courtesy of GENTS & GLAM As we look forward to National Summer Learning Week on July 10-14, we’re shining a light on the ways COVID-relief funds are supporting students while school is out for the summer. Thanks to these funds, kids have the opportunity to explore new activities,...

BY: Sophie Kidd      06/28/23

Kicking off a celebration of 25 years of 21st CCLC

Over the course of the past 25 years, millions of students have taken part in fun, academically enriching learning experiences in their 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, making friends while exploring new areas of interest and finding their passions, all in a safe...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      05/23/23

Pandemic relief funds are helping support youth and families' mental health

We continue to add examples to the American Rescue Plan map, illuminating how cities, states, and school districts use pandemic relief funds to support afterschool and summer learning. Today, we are focusing on mental health. Why? May is National Mental Health Awareness Month! In 2021,...

BY: Liana Shivers      05/12/23

Fall afterschool provider survey results: A child care provider perspective

The recent Afterschool Provider Survey, published February 2023, included a universe of over 1,000 programs across the country. Of the 1,016 programs surveyed, just under 10 percent (92) identified themselves as “afterschool programs run by child care centers.” The data allow for...

BY: Jillian Luchner      05/08/23

300 ways pandemic relief funds are supporting afterschool and summer

We’re thrilled to share a new and improved interactive map showing examples of afterschool and summer programming supported by pandemic relief funds. From experiential learning camps in Vermont where youth learned how to use a compass and identify wild edibles; to STEM offerings in...

BY: Ursula Helminski      04/17/23

Women voters say that they want increased access to afterschool

A new graphic released this week illustrates the strong support for afterschool and summer programs among women voters. Based on results from an online survey of registered voters conducted by Lake Research Partners between November 9-14, 2022, women across political affiliations, community types,...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      03/31/23

New study examines how districts approached summer learning in 2021

In December 2022, researchers at Westat released the first batch of findings from the National Summer Learning & Enrichment Study, an effort funded by the Wallace Foundation. The study will feature three reports that analyze summer learning in 2021 and 2022 across the country from the viewpoint...

BY: Sophie Kidd      03/14/23

COVID relief funds support 21st Century Community Learning Centers

This month, we're spotlighting entries in our map of pandemic relief funds that support 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) programs across the country. This initiative is the only federal funding source solely dedicated to before-school, afterschool, and summer learning...

BY: Sophie Kidd      10/16/23

Latino voters prioritize afterschool and summer programs

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which started on Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15, the following graphic was created to highlight responses from registered voters who identified as Latino, Latina, or Hispanic and how they feel when it comes to the issue of afterschool and summer...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      10/10/23

New dashboard presents a retrospective of the Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 survey series

Over the course of the last three years, thanks to the afterschool field’s generous nature and taking the time during an incredibly tumultuous period to respond to our surveys, the Afterschool Alliance has been able to track the changing landscape of the afterschool field. A recently released...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/19/23

Survey finds that programs open this summer will reach the highest levels in three years

Thanks to the more than 1,100 program providers who responded to Afterschool Alliance’s spring survey to better understand the current state of the field, we are able to share some insights into what providers anticipate for this summer. This summer, program providers are much more certain...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/14/23

Pandemic relief funds are supporting summer learning opportunities for youth

Photo courtesy of GENTS & GLAM As we look forward to National Summer Learning Week on July 10-14, we’re shining a light on the ways COVID-relief funds are supporting students while school is out for the summer. Thanks to these funds, kids have the opportunity to explore new activities,...

BY: Sophie Kidd      06/28/23

Afterschool a priority for Asian American and Pacific Islander voters

A brand new graphic draws attention to the high levels of support among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters for afterschool and summer learning programs. Based on a November 2022 survey of registered voters, the graphic maps out what AAPI voters are saying about afterschool programs,...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      05/30/23

Fall afterschool provider survey results: A child care provider perspective

The recent Afterschool Provider Survey, published February 2023, included a universe of over 1,000 programs across the country. Of the 1,016 programs surveyed, just under 10 percent (92) identified themselves as “afterschool programs run by child care centers.” The data allow for...

BY: Jillian Luchner      05/08/23

Women voters say that they want increased access to afterschool

A new graphic released this week illustrates the strong support for afterschool and summer programs among women voters. Based on results from an online survey of registered voters conducted by Lake Research Partners between November 9-14, 2022, women across political affiliations, community types,...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      03/31/23

Listening to Black voters: Afterschool is essential

Results are in! By overwhelming majorities, Black voters agree on the value of afterschool and summer learning programs. From inspiring children to learn to supporting young people’s well-being, polling affirms that Black voters are in favor of afterschool programs for our nation’s...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      03/13/23

Afterschool program provider survey reveals three key stressors preventing a return to normal

This past fall, more than 9 in 10 program providers responding to an Afterschool Alliance survey reported that they are open, with majorities providing their students with opportunities for academic enrichment, collaboration and connection with their peers, building foundational skills, and...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      02/28/23

New dashboard presents a retrospective of the Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 survey series

Over the course of the last three years, thanks to the afterschool field’s generous nature and taking the time during an incredibly tumultuous period to respond to our surveys, the Afterschool Alliance has been able to track the changing landscape of the afterschool field. A recently released...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/19/23

Survey finds that programs open this summer will reach the highest levels in three years

Thanks to the more than 1,100 program providers who responded to Afterschool Alliance’s spring survey to better understand the current state of the field, we are able to share some insights into what providers anticipate for this summer. This summer, program providers are much more certain...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/14/23

Pandemic relief funds are supporting summer learning opportunities for youth

Photo courtesy of GENTS & GLAM As we look forward to National Summer Learning Week on July 10-14, we’re shining a light on the ways COVID-relief funds are supporting students while school is out for the summer. Thanks to these funds, kids have the opportunity to explore new activities,...

BY: Sophie Kidd      06/28/23

Fall afterschool provider survey results: A child care provider perspective

The recent Afterschool Provider Survey, published February 2023, included a universe of over 1,000 programs across the country. Of the 1,016 programs surveyed, just under 10 percent (92) identified themselves as “afterschool programs run by child care centers.” The data allow for...

BY: Jillian Luchner      05/08/23

300 ways pandemic relief funds are supporting afterschool and summer

We’re thrilled to share a new and improved interactive map showing examples of afterschool and summer programming supported by pandemic relief funds. From experiential learning camps in Vermont where youth learned how to use a compass and identify wild edibles; to STEM offerings in...

BY: Ursula Helminski      04/17/23

COVID-relief funds deep dive (part 1)

By Emily Murtaugh and Liana Shivers. Two years have passed since states received their portion of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III or ARP ESSER) funds as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Funds, allocated at the state education agency (SEA) and local...

BY: Guest Blogger      04/14/23

ARP funds are helping young people stay active

As the weather warms up this spring, we are highlighting how American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding supports kids getting outside to play and move their bodies. Physical activity is essential to a young person’s development; from pre-pandemic levels to during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been...

BY: Emily Murtaugh      04/10/23

Using COVID-relief funds to support young people across the country

This month, we’re highlighting ways that COVID-relief funds are increasing ways for students to explore their artistic passions, as a part of our series highlighting the wide variety of examples available in our map of City, State, and School District Investments in Afterschool and Summer...

BY: Sophie Kidd      03/06/23

Afterschool program provider survey reveals three key stressors preventing a return to normal

This past fall, more than 9 in 10 program providers responding to an Afterschool Alliance survey reported that they are open, with majorities providing their students with opportunities for academic enrichment, collaboration and connection with their peers, building foundational skills, and...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      02/28/23

ARP funds used to help young people prepare for the jobs of tomorrow

We continue to improve our American Rescue Plan map, showcasing examples of how cities, states, and school districts use pandemic relief funds to support afterschool and summer learning. What started as a chart with 15+ examples has become an interactive map in collaboration with the National...

BY: Liana Shivers      02/02/23

Tracking American Rescue Plan funds: 8 in 10 school districts invest in afterschool and summer, focus on traditional academic support

By Emily Murtaugh and Liana Shivers. In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act allocated $109 billion in  Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funds to local school districts to support pandemic recovery, including addressing students’ learning loss and...

BY: Guest Blogger      10/23/23

COVID relief funds support 21st Century Community Learning Centers

This month, we're spotlighting entries in our map of pandemic relief funds that support 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) programs across the country. This initiative is the only federal funding source solely dedicated to before-school, afterschool, and summer learning...

BY: Sophie Kidd      10/16/23

COVID-relief funds deep dive (part 2)

By Liana Shivers and Emily Murtaugh. In March 2021, local education agencies (LEAs) received approximately $22 billion from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to support COVID-related learning recovery, including afterschool and summer learning. This is the second blog...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/22/23

American Rescue Plan funds support youth with special needs and disabilities

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash We have added more than 450 examples to the American Rescue Plan map, illuminating how cities, states, and school districts use pandemic relief funds to support afterschool and summer learning. Today, we are highlighting how funds are supporting youth with special...

BY: Liana Shivers      08/04/23

American Rescue Plan is making a difference

For more than a year, we’ve been touting the significance of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and the potential to support students’ well-being and academic growth with comprehensive afterschool and summer programs. Since the passage of ARP, it’s been up to state and local education...

BY: Jen Rinehart      07/06/23

Pandemic relief funds are helping support youth and families' mental health

We continue to add examples to the American Rescue Plan map, illuminating how cities, states, and school districts use pandemic relief funds to support afterschool and summer learning. Today, we are focusing on mental health. Why? May is National Mental Health Awareness Month! In 2021,...

BY: Liana Shivers      05/12/23

300 ways pandemic relief funds are supporting afterschool and summer

We’re thrilled to share a new and improved interactive map showing examples of afterschool and summer programming supported by pandemic relief funds. From experiential learning camps in Vermont where youth learned how to use a compass and identify wild edibles; to STEM offerings in...

BY: Ursula Helminski      04/17/23

COVID-relief funds deep dive (part 1)

By Emily Murtaugh and Liana Shivers. Two years have passed since states received their portion of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III or ARP ESSER) funds as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Funds, allocated at the state education agency (SEA) and local...

BY: Guest Blogger      04/14/23

ARP funds are helping young people stay active

As the weather warms up this spring, we are highlighting how American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding supports kids getting outside to play and move their bodies. Physical activity is essential to a young person’s development; from pre-pandemic levels to during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been...

BY: Emily Murtaugh      04/10/23

Using COVID-relief funds to support young people across the country

This month, we’re highlighting ways that COVID-relief funds are increasing ways for students to explore their artistic passions, as a part of our series highlighting the wide variety of examples available in our map of City, State, and School District Investments in Afterschool and Summer...

BY: Sophie Kidd      03/06/23

Survey finds that programs open this summer will reach the highest levels in three years

Thanks to the more than 1,100 program providers who responded to Afterschool Alliance’s spring survey to better understand the current state of the field, we are able to share some insights into what providers anticipate for this summer. This summer, program providers are much more certain...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/14/23

Best practices from school districts for advancing equity in expanded learning

How can we promote equity in out-of-school time (OST) programs? A new research brief commissioned by The Wallace Foundation, Expanding Equity in Afterschool and Summer Learning: Lessons From School Districts, explores this question. The brief summarizes work done by researchers at the University of...

BY: Sophie Kidd      07/03/23

Pandemic relief funds are supporting summer learning opportunities for youth

Photo courtesy of GENTS & GLAM As we look forward to National Summer Learning Week on July 10-14, we’re shining a light on the ways COVID-relief funds are supporting students while school is out for the summer. Thanks to these funds, kids have the opportunity to explore new activities,...

BY: Sophie Kidd      06/28/23

New study examines how districts approached summer learning in 2021

In December 2022, researchers at Westat released the first batch of findings from the National Summer Learning & Enrichment Study, an effort funded by the Wallace Foundation. The study will feature three reports that analyze summer learning in 2021 and 2022 across the country from the viewpoint...

BY: Sophie Kidd      03/14/23

More than half of public schools report offering afterschool programs for students who need academic assistance

At the beginning of November, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a part of the Institute of Education Services, the research branch of the Department of Education, released findings from the September 2022 data collection of their School Pulse Panel (SPP) study. This study is...

BY: Sophie Kidd      11/10/22

More than half of superintendents say summer learning/enrichment programs will decrease or end after ARP funding runs out, according to new survey

This summer, The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) released the third part of their series “School District Spending of American Rescue Plan Funding” which surveys district leaders on how they’re using ARP funds to respond to the pandemic and learning...

BY: Sophie Kidd      10/11/22

State summer learning findings: Partnerships, equity, and long-term funding solutions are top of mind

Organizations in Maryland and Minnesota have recently released reports around summer learning in 2021, as many districts and providers are in the midst of this year’s summer programming. Both reports highlight useful findings, best practices, and areas for future growth. Partnerships, equity,...

BY: Sophie Kidd      07/26/22

New Education Development Center report and webinar highlight ways to strengthen summer learning programs

On Tuesday, June 14, the Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) hosted a webinar, “Insights and Reflections on Planning and Implementing District-led Summer Programs,” to share findings from its new report: Supporting Quality in Summer Learning: How Districts Plan, Develop, and...

BY: Sophie Kidd      06/24/22

Five key takeaways from program providers about the 2022 summer

As summer is very much top of mind for many of us as temperatures rise and the unofficial start of summer now in the rearview mirror, a new Afterschool Alliance survey finds that program providers are gearing up for a busy summer. Throughout the pandemic, the Afterschool Alliance has been tracking...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      06/02/22

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

Afterschool a priority for Asian American and Pacific Islander voters

A brand new graphic draws attention to the high levels of support among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters for afterschool and summer learning programs. Based on a November 2022 survey of registered voters, the graphic maps out what AAPI voters are saying about afterschool programs,...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      05/30/23

Women voters say that they want increased access to afterschool

A new graphic released this week illustrates the strong support for afterschool and summer programs among women voters. Based on results from an online survey of registered voters conducted by Lake Research Partners between November 9-14, 2022, women across political affiliations, community types,...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      03/31/23

Listening to Black voters: Afterschool is essential

Results are in! By overwhelming majorities, Black voters agree on the value of afterschool and summer learning programs. From inspiring children to learn to supporting young people’s well-being, polling affirms that Black voters are in favor of afterschool programs for our nation’s...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      03/13/23

Oklahoma afterschool program supports Native American youth

Heather Taylor, an afterschool program director, and Native American Student Advocate for Tahlequah Public Schools spoke with Sophie Kidd from the Afterschool Alliance about the history of her program and how they support Native youth. How did your program start? Tahlequah Public Schools...

BY: Sophie Kidd      02/13/23

The importance of culturally driven Native American mental health interventions

By Sasha Neyra. Sasha, 16, is a Junior at Arcata High School and a Member of Big Lagoon Rancheria and wrote this piece as a part of her role as a Student Research Assistant at Two Feathers Native American Family Services. Two Feathers is excited to welcome our student research assistant. Part of...

BY: Guest Blogger      02/09/23

New America After 3PM brief focuses on Native American youth and families

For the first time, an analysis of the Afterschool Alliance’s America After 3PM survey provides an in-depth look at the afterschool experiences of Native American youth. The new brief, “America After 3PM for Native American Families,” presents data collected pre-pandemic and...

BY: Sophie Kidd      01/12/23

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

As Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month wraps up, the Afterschool Alliance is shining a light on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) children in afterschool programs and the experiences of AANHPI parents as it relates to afterschool. Our America After 3PM...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      05/31/22

New ALICE Brief: Nearly half of American children live below the ALICE threshold in the US

In early April, United for ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) officially launched their ALICE In Focus: Children data dashboard and research briefs. United for ALICE’s mission is to raise awareness around the group of families who are struggling financially but do not count...

BY: Sophie Kidd      05/05/22

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

Survey finds that programs open this summer will reach the highest levels in three years

Thanks to the more than 1,100 program providers who responded to Afterschool Alliance’s spring survey to better understand the current state of the field, we are able to share some insights into what providers anticipate for this summer. This summer, program providers are much more certain...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/14/23

Oklahoma afterschool program supports Native American youth

Heather Taylor, an afterschool program director, and Native American Student Advocate for Tahlequah Public Schools spoke with Sophie Kidd from the Afterschool Alliance about the history of her program and how they support Native youth. How did your program start? Tahlequah Public Schools...

BY: Sophie Kidd      02/13/23

New America After 3PM brief focuses on Native American youth and families

For the first time, an analysis of the Afterschool Alliance’s America After 3PM survey provides an in-depth look at the afterschool experiences of Native American youth. The new brief, “America After 3PM for Native American Families,” presents data collected pre-pandemic and...

BY: Sophie Kidd      01/12/23

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

As Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month wraps up, the Afterschool Alliance is shining a light on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) children in afterschool programs and the experiences of AANHPI parents as it relates to afterschool. Our America After 3PM...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      05/31/22

America After 3PM 2020 Health and Wellness Report in images

As part of our release of "Promoting Healthy Futures: Afterschool Provides the Supports Parents Want for Children's Well-Being," we created an infographic that highlights some of the top findings from our America After 3PM Health and Wellness Report. Take at how afterschool programs...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/25/22

New America After 3PM special report: Promoting healthy futures

From STEM learning opportunities afterschool and during the summer to young people’s summertime experiences, the America After 3PM survey has provided a wealth of data on what the after school and summer hours look like for children and youth and parents’ expectations of and opinions on...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      04/13/22

STEM learning is on the rise, but growth for boys outpaces girls

As part of our release of "STEM Learning in Afterschool on the Rise, But Barriers and Inequities Exist," we created an infographic that highlights the gender disparity findings from our America After 3PM STEM Report. Take a look at how access to STEM learning varies for boys and...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      02/10/22

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