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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Where Did All the Afterschool Staff Go? – Wave 6 (January 2022)

Finding staff to hire or staffing shortages, and maintaining staff levels through health concerns and safety protocols are the top two concerns among afterschool providers based on the Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 Wave 6 survey, conducted by Edge Research between Nov. 1 and Dec. 13, 2021. While staffing challenges are not a new issue for the afterschool field, this survey of 1,048 afterschool program providers confirms that now, more than ever, staffing is impacting the ability of providers to meet the needs of the children and families they serve.

Issue Briefs Surveys


Voters Agree: Afterschool Programs are a Priority (January 2023) 

A new poll of voters, conducted November 9-14, 2022, finds united support for afterschool programs. This brief highlights voter trend data regarding attitudes toward afterschool programs and illustrates the strong approval rating afterschool programs have from voters across political affiliations, races, ethnicities, and ages.


Featured Topline

Two Decades of 21st Century Community Learning Centers: Providing afterschool and summer opportunities to millions of young people and families (February 2021)

The 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) initiative supports local afterschool, before-school, and summer learning programs serving students attending high-poverty, low-performing schools. Since the start of the initiative in 1994, 21st CCLC programs have grown and evolved—funding, demand, and the number of students served has increased, as well as what programs offer. Today, programs support whole-child development by providing a safe and supervised space for youth to take part in various enrichment activities ranging from service learning to physical fitness and health, explore their interests, build key life skills, and connect with positive adult mentors. This issue brief explores the history of the initiative and the program’s evolution over its 25 years, while highlighting the importance of 21st CCLC programs and the breadth of work that they do.

21st CCLC Federal Policy


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.


The Evidence Base for Afterschool and Summer (April 2021)

This research brief synthesizes findings from nearly two dozen evaluations of afterschool and summer programs that demonstrate the evidence of the positive impact programs have on academics, social and emotional skills and competencies, and overall well-being to help students re-engage in learning and emerge from the pandemic strong, resilient, and hopeful.



The academic and social and emotional benefits of participation in 21st Century Community Learning Centers (March 2021)

This short brief includes findings from state evaluations of 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) programs—locally designed school and community afterschool, before-school, and summer learning programs—that demonstrate the academic and social and emotional benefits that programs provide to support the whole child.

21st CCLC Federal Policy


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.