Issue Briefs

Drawing connections between pressing issues and afterschool

Name almost any topic and the Afterschool Alliance can tell you how it intersects with afterschool in these briefs that are chock-full of information. 

Afterschool programs are a key partner in strengthening communities across the country, whether it's keeping kids active and healthy in the hours after school or meeting the needs of underserved populations to promoting parent engagement and beyond. These briefs demonstrate the connections between afterschool and a wide range of hot topics, presenting contextual data on the topic, providing examples of promising afterschool programs, and making the case for greater investment in afterschool.

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Promoting Civic Engagement Through Afterschool Programs (Nov 2018)

Civic engagement, which has been linked to positive short-term and long-term outcomes including a stronger connection to the community and improved wellbeing, starts with young people. This issue brief, created in partnership with the Center for Global Education at Asia Society, details the way in which afterschool and summer learning programs are promoting students’ civic dispositions, bringing lessons of democracy to life, and empowering youth to enact change. Accompanying this brief are five in-depth afterschool program profiles that highlight the different roles programs play to inspire youth to be knowledgeable, engaged, and civically minded individuals:

Youth Development

Featured Summary

A Big-Picture Approach to Wellness: Afterschool Supporting Strong Bodies and Minds (September 2018)

A comprehensive approach to wellness—which includes healthy eating and physical activity and extends to additional aspects of health, such as social and emotional skills and competencies—can provide the necessary supports for healthy children grow into healthy adults. This issue brief details the national public health issues children are facing today and discusses the afterschool field’s ability to provide a place where children feel safe, are surrounded by supportive mentors, have access to nutritious foods, are able to be active, can form relationships with their peers, learn how to set positive goals for themselves, and feel empowered to take charge of their lives. Accompanying this brief are five in-depth afterschool program profiles that highlight the different roles programs play to support their students’ physical and social and emotional health:

Health and Wellness

Featured Summary

The Life-Enhancing Benefits of Reading in Out-of-School Programs (2013)

Scholastic Family and Community Engagement (FACE) and the Afterschool Alliance have partnered to spotlight the role of reading in a child's life and the unique ways afterschool programs can incorporate reading into their curricula, promoting students' academic success, boosting self-confidence and improving their overall well-being. This issue brief points to research that demonstrate the number of positive outcomes associated with avid reading, such as academic gains, increased drive to do well in school and improved self-esteem. The brief also highlights the important role afterschool programs play in helping students access reading materials, as well as become engaged and critical readers.


The Importance of Afterschool and Summer Learning Programs in African-American and Latino Communities (2013)

The national economy is slowly recovering from the Great Recession, yet a deeper examination of its effect on African-American and Latino households reveals that these communities are facing higher rates of unemployment, poverty, homelessness and food insecurity. This issue brief looks closely at the current economic state of African-American and Latino communities, the far-reaching impact of poverty on academic achievement and highlights the important role afterschool and summer programs play in supporting youth and families in these communities. Afterschool and summer learning programs provide youth who are most in need of support with a safe and supervised space, healthy snacks and meals, and an academically enriching environment. However, this issue brief outlines the challenges these programs confront to keep pace with demand for their services, as well as ensure their doors stay open to continue to provide essential resources that are highly valued in African-American and Latino communities.


Taking a Year-Round Approach to Literacy (March 2016)

The Afterschool Alliance, in partnership with Dollar General Literacy Foundation, is proud to present this issue brief focusing on the year-round support needed to help students with their reading, writing and critical thinking skills. This issue brief will also delve into the variety of ways afterschool and summer learning programs are taking a year-round approach to literacy, helping students catch up and keep up.

Issue Briefs Literacy


Summer: A Season When Learning is Essential (2010)

For some children, summer vacations include a variety of enriching activities. But other children find that when schools close for summer, healthy meals, medical care, and learning activities become out of reach. In fact, each summer an estimated 43 million children in the U.S. miss out on expanded learning opportunities. This brief discusses how summer programs can support children by reducing the summer learning gap, keeping kids healthy, and providing them a safe place during the work day.


Student-Centered Learning in Afterschool: Putting Students' Needs and Interests First (2011)

Now more than ever, creativity and imagination are an important part of helping children learn to think critically, solve problems and express themselves - all necessary to compete in today's global community. Wherever children are - in school or out - [student-centered learning opportunities] work to surround them with opportunities to develop skills and nurture talents that lead to success.


Service-Learning in Afterschool: Helping Students Grow and Communities Prosper (2011)

The Afterschool Alliance, in partnership with MetLife Foundation, is proud to present the third of four issue briefs in our fourth series examining critical issues facing middle school youth and the vital role afterschool programs play in addressing these issues. This brief addresses the difference between community service and service-learning, discusses the benefits of service learning and outlines how afterschool programs are already promoting service learning.


Recruiting and Retaining Older Youth in Afterschool (2009)

The Afterschool Alliance, in partnership with MetLife Foundation, is proud to present the second of four issue briefs in this series examining critical issues facing older youth and the vital role afterschool programs play in addressing these issues. This brief highlights the importance of afterschool for older youth, the challenges providers face in recruiting and retaining older youth and the innovative strategies that programs have used to better serve older youth in afterschool.


Quality Afterschool: Helping Programs Achieve It and Policies Support It (2011)

For years, policy makers, program directors and parents have attested to the widespread benefits of afterschool, backing their claims with extensive research. Promoting quality in afterschool is one way to ensure researchers continue to find positive outcomes that encourage increased investments in programming. This brief highlights the positive impacts of high-quality afterschool programs and shares program characteristics, available tools, current support systems, and federal policies that can better boost quality in afterschool programs.