Afterschool Research: Funding and Sustainability

The state of investment in afterschool

A look at the investment in afterschool at the federal, state and local levels, and how programs are faring. 

Afterschool programs rely on a variety of financial sources to meet the needs of the children and families in their community and provide enriching activities, caring and supportive mentors, opportunities for physical activity, and nutritious food. To help ensure that all children are able to access quality, affordable afterschool programs, investment is needed from the federal, state and local governments; foundations and businesses; and parents. This section includes research on the state of funding for afterschool programs, as well as a look at how programs are doing in the face of the growing demand for afterschool. 

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Investments in Student Recovery: A Review of School Districts' Use of American Rescue Plan Funding to Support Afterschool and Summer Opportunities (October 2023)

Federal funds distributed to school districts across the nation to aid in pandemic-related recovery represent a unique opportunity to support students through afterschool and summer programs. This brief illustrates how school districts allocated their American Rescue Plan Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funds toward afterschool and summer learning opportunities and the strategies districts used to support students’ learning recovery. It also provides recommendations to maximize future investments in afterschool and summer programs to help young people learn, be healthy, and thrive.

Federal Funding COVID-19


Uncertain Times 2012: Afterschool Programs Still Struggling in Today's Economy

This is the third installment of the Uncertain Times series, which assesses the impacts of economic conditions on afterschool programs. Based on 1,012 survey responses, this report finds that afterschool programs are struggling to meet the needs of children and families in their communities as they face shrinking resources and dismal prospects for new support. Hardest hit are programs serving disadvantaged communities—the very population that has the most to gain from afterschool and summer programs.

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Roadmap to Afterschool for All (2009)

With the Harvard School of Public Health and through support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Afterschool Alliance initiated the Roadmap to Afterschool for All, a scientific study assessing current investment in afterschool programs from the public sector, parents, foundations and businesses. The study also estimated the additional investment required to provide quality afterschool programs for all children. This study shows that funding of all types is insufficient, and the cost burden is falling heavily on parents, even among programs serving high-poverty children.

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Year In Review 2008

The year 2008 presented the afterschool community with many obstacles, most notably the economic crises, but also important opportunities for growth. Notable events in 2008 include: celebrating ten years of 21st CCLC, one of the largest Lights On Afterschool Rallies to date, and the Afterschool Alliance's publication of America's Afterschool Storybook—a compilation of stories of those whose lives have been transformed by afterschool.


Year in Review 2007

Despite facing many challenges the past year, 2007 marked a year of growth for the afterschool community. Along with a significant increase in 21st CCLC funding, for the first time since 2002, this year provided new research underscoring the benefits of afterschool, increased funding at the state and local level, increased support from policy makers and community leaders, and other new resources to support high quality afterschool opportunities.


Impossible Choices: How States are Addressing the Federal Failure to Fully Fund Afterschool Programs (2005)

Despite authorization to increase federal funding for 21st CCLC by a total of $1.5 billion from 2002 to 2007, appropriations remained stagnant at roughly $1 billion through 2005. With most funding promised to existing programs, this has reduced many states’ ability to create new afterschool programs and stunted the growth of afterschool. This report evaluates the impacts of budgetary restrictions on 21st CCLC in each state and calls for increased federal funding moving forward.


Afterschool Programs: A Wise Public Investment (2005)

As budgets have grown tighter at all levels of government, afterschool advocates and practitioners have faced increased difficulty securing adequate funding. This brief discusses the social cost associated with not providing afterschool programs and outlines the many benefits of investing in afterschool, including the high returns on investments for governments and businesses alike.