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New report on building data-driven afterschool systems within cities

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New report on building data-driven afterschool systems within cities

A data-centric approach has potential to generate actionable information at the systematic and programmatic levels and ultimately to improve the quality and access to afterschool. The Wallace Foundation commissioned a study in partnership with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and the Gamse Partnership called Using Data to Strengthen Afterschool Planning, Management, and Strategy: Lessons from Eight Cities to evaluate how communities implement a data-tracking system within a city network.

The study evaluates the results of the Foundation’s Next Generation Afterschool System-Building Initiative (ASB2). ASB2, the Wallace Foundation’s second wave of funding for citywide afterschool networks, was formulated in response to interest from afterschool stakeholders in gathering data from their citywide networks to enhance their utility. Baltimore, Denver, Grand Rapids, Jacksonville, Louisville, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Saint Paul were awarded grants through ASB2 and technical guidance from the Wallace Foundation to establish citywide afterschool data systems.

Approaching the project, each city formed a coalition of stakeholders including mayoral offices, school districts, afterschool programs, local foundations, and community organizations. Designing the Management Information System (MIS) to collect data required the coalition to decide what indicators to prioritize based on the priorities of their constituency. Networks needed investment in people, processes, and technology to operate a data collection system of this magnitude. Dedicated staff capacity, capital to invest in the hardware and software, partnerships, ongoing training about appropriate data collection and use, and actionable communication of findings were all necessary to the effective operation of the system.

Most cities had a precedent of collecting data on accountability such as attendance rates and participant demographics, but the study found that the most successful systems expanded their priorities into the strategic, program management, and improvement realm and used a nuanced analysis to draw conclusions from across all areas of data collection. Cities had a multitude of uses for the information they found: allocating more resources for low-income youth, increasing equity, reprioritizing child retention versus attendance, filling gaps in program delivery, advocating, approaching funders, and troubleshooting management issues.

Key recommendations for developing a community afterschool data system

  • Recognize the importance of a system-level focus. Change is inevitable, so building a strong system with clear goals that can weather unpredictable events is crucial to long-term sustainability.
  • Coalition building and partnerships are vital. Having a variety of stakeholders involved in the project will contribute useful expertise and resources, especially regarding knowledge of data or connections with the community, increasing the scope.
  • Start small and consider context. In the early phases of the project, capacity for data collection may be limited. Prioritize a few indicators based on the needs of the city that can inform meaningful changes.
  • Agree on indicators of success with all stakeholders. Members of the city coalition likely have varying priorities on information gained from such a program. Acknowledging the different motivations early is important to agree on indicators that will be most useful and generate recognition for the program.
  • Provide ongoing training in data literacy. The study found that high rates of stakeholder turnover limited the participant’s ability to use data systems. Generating instruction manuals and providing ongoing training on reporting and understanding information relevant to the project.  
  • Communicate successes early to enhance visibility and utility. Communicating findings and improvements that arose from the data to the public, stakeholders, and funders demonstrates the usefulness of such a system and increases external interest. Identify key milestones that indicate progress to share as proof of efficacy.

Read the full report for an in-depth survey of the cities’ experiences in development, date use, and challenges encountered in implementation.

Data on child well-being: How does the nation measure up?

Understanding how our youth are faring is an important aspect of not only reinforcing, but also strengthening the supports that afterschool provides. Two separate reports released this summer delved into the state of child well-being across the country, measuring our nation’s progress over...

BY: Rina Moss      09/03/19

To elevate equity, diversity, and inclusion, go deeper into your quality standards

By Femi Vance, researcher at American Institutes for Research, Board President for the California School-Age Consortium, Field Consultant for the National Summer Learning Association, and editor of Changemakers! Equity and Access in Out-of-School Time Programs. Implementing high-quality...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/23/19

Evaluating afterschool: The evaluation basics, part III

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the tenth installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which answers some of the common questions asked about program evaluation and highlights program evaluation best practices. Be sure to take a look at earlier posts of the...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/19/19

Evaluating afterschool: The evaluation basics, part I

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the eighth installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which answers some of the common questions asked about program evaluation and highlights program evaluation best practices. Be sure to take a look at earlier posts of...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/01/19

New report on building data-driven afterschool systems within cities

A data-centric approach has potential to generate actionable information at the systematic and programmatic levels and ultimately to improve the quality and access to afterschool. The Wallace Foundation commissioned a study in partnership with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and the Gamse...

BY: Theresa Carr      06/03/19

Data sharing with afterschool leads to student success

With more than 10 million children participating in afterschool programming, the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. hold crucial potential for academic, social, and emotional development that extends well beyond the school day. So how can we ensure that more students have access to high quality afterschool...

BY: Rina Moss      11/13/18

New issue brief: Afterschool and the juvenile justice system

COVID-19 has created a number of challenges for millions of families and exacerbated existing inequities, leaving certain groups more vulnerable than others to the harmful effects of the pandemic. This week, we are turning our attention toward celebrating the ways that afterschool programs across...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/26/20

Recommendations from BellXcell to combat negative effects of prolonged school closures

BellXcell and the Sperling Center for Research and Innovation (SCRI) recently released a brief that discusses the impact of COVID-19 on learning gaps for students. Due to these unprecedented school closures, millions of students could be left without schooling for upwards of five to six months,...

BY: Bella DiMarco      05/20/20

What resources do staff need to support youth mental health and wellness?

By Selena Levy, director of Training at California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC).  May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the ways afterschool programs support children and young people as they face challenges including trauma, ACEs, substance use, and beyond....

BY: Guest Blogger      05/23/19

5 steps to effectively implement SEL initiatives in your community

Awareness of the importance of social and emotional learning is beginning to be reflected in policy measures. Practitioners and policymakers alike are continually recognizing that a whole-child approach is necessary for children to be well-positioned to succeed in their academic, personal, and...

BY: Erin Hegarty      02/08/19

Afterschool, community partners featured in Aspen Institute’s "Nation At Hope" report

Today’s youth must navigate a complex, economically competitive, and globally connected world. In efforts to help young people thrive, educators, parents, and leaders have historically focused on academic improvement as the key target for future success. But that’s not the whole...

BY: Dan Gilbert      01/15/19

New issue brief: A big-picture approach to wellness

From empowering students to take charge of their health to training staff to model healthy behaviors, afterschool and summer learning programs across the country are offering safe and supportive environments that promote young people’s healthy eating and physical activity, as well as build...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/07/18

Engaging the Arts Across the Juvenile Justice System: New report outlines opportunities for engagement

Arts education programs can play a significant role in preventing youth from getting involved with the juvenile justice system and supporting the mental wellbeing and successful transition out of the system for those already involved, according to a new report released by the Education Commission...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/22/20

Afterschool turns the peak time for crime into a time of opportunity for young people

For close to 20 years, we at the Afterschool Alliance have been dedicated to the cause of expanding afterschool opportunities because we know the life changing impact programs can have on children, on families, and on communities.  Today, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a new report that...

BY: Jodi Grant      10/16/19

New issue brief: Afterschool fostering protective factors

In Colorado, the Montrose Recreation District’s Summer Enrichment Program creates a welcoming environment to help students feel safe to share their feelings. At Jóvenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo, Inc. (JPRR), also known as Puerto Rico Youth at Risk (PRYR), one-on-one...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/24/19

Afterschool after 30 years: Q&A with Dr. Milbrey McLaughlin, part II

By Sam Piha, founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development who are serious about improving the lives of young people.  Milbrey McLaughlin has been a leading...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/26/18

Afterschool's lasting impact: Q&A with Dr. Milbrey McLaughlin

By Sam Piha, founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development who are serious about improving the lives of young people. Milbrey McLaughlin has been a leading...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/25/18

New issue brief: Afterschool and the juvenile justice system

COVID-19 has created a number of challenges for millions of families and exacerbated existing inequities, leaving certain groups more vulnerable than others to the harmful effects of the pandemic. This week, we are turning our attention toward celebrating the ways that afterschool programs across...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/26/20

Engaging the Arts Across the Juvenile Justice System: New report outlines opportunities for engagement

Arts education programs can play a significant role in preventing youth from getting involved with the juvenile justice system and supporting the mental wellbeing and successful transition out of the system for those already involved, according to a new report released by the Education Commission...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/22/20

The Power of Mentorship: Adult Friends for Youth makes a difference in redirecting youths’ lives

This blog post was adapted from a program highlight featured in Fight Crime, Invest in Kids’ report, “From Risk to Opportunity: Afterschool Programs Keep Kids Safe.” Read the full report here. This is the first in a series of blog posts that will highlight the different ways that...

BY: Erin Hegarty      12/19/19

Afterschool turns the peak time for crime into a time of opportunity for young people

For close to 20 years, we at the Afterschool Alliance have been dedicated to the cause of expanding afterschool opportunities because we know the life changing impact programs can have on children, on families, and on communities.  Today, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a new report that...

BY: Jodi Grant      10/16/19

New issue brief: Afterschool fostering protective factors

In Colorado, the Montrose Recreation District’s Summer Enrichment Program creates a welcoming environment to help students feel safe to share their feelings. At Jóvenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo, Inc. (JPRR), also known as Puerto Rico Youth at Risk (PRYR), one-on-one...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/24/19

More children are getting afterschool meals that boost their health and learning

By Clarissa Hayes. Originally published on October 25,2019 as a blog on FRAC Chat, the blog of the Food Research & Action Center.  National participation in the Afterschool Nutrition Programs — which are key to closing the hunger gap that exists afterschool for many children...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/01/19

New issue brief: Afterschool fostering protective factors

In Colorado, the Montrose Recreation District’s Summer Enrichment Program creates a welcoming environment to help students feel safe to share their feelings. At Jóvenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo, Inc. (JPRR), also known as Puerto Rico Youth at Risk (PRYR), one-on-one...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/24/19

New report: Community programs important in preventing childhood obesity

A recent article, published in the current issue of Pediatric Obesity, “The prevalence of community programmes and policies to prevent childhood obesity in a diverse sample of US communities: the Healthy Communities Study,” examines the influence of community programs and policies...

BY: Marisa Paipongna      11/26/18

Afterschool suppers and afterschool programs key to student success

By Clarissa Hayes, child nutrition policy analyst at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Research shows that afterschool programs provide measurable benefits to students academically, socially, and behaviorally, and serve as an important resource for families and communities. In addition...

BY: Guest Blogger      10/12/18

New issue brief: A big-picture approach to wellness

From empowering students to take charge of their health to training staff to model healthy behaviors, afterschool and summer learning programs across the country are offering safe and supportive environments that promote young people’s healthy eating and physical activity, as well as build...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/07/18

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...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/26/20

Recommendations from BellXcell to combat negative effects of prolonged school closures

BellXcell and the Sperling Center for Research and Innovation (SCRI) recently released a brief that discusses the impact of COVID-19 on learning gaps for students. Due to these unprecedented school closures, millions of students could be left without schooling for upwards of five to six months,...

BY: Bella DiMarco      05/20/20

Program spotlight: ourBRIDGE for KIDS working with immigrant and refugee families amidst COVID-19

Located in Charlotte, North Carolina, ourBRIDGE for KIDS (ourBRIDGE) is an afterschool program that works with immigrant and refugee students new to the United States. The program—whose three core pillars are academic support, trauma-informed care, and cultural pride—serves...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      05/15/20

While collaboration between youth-serving organizations continues, gaps in service still exist

In a Forum for Youth Investment webinar, Shaping Summertime Experiences: Aligning Practice to Recommendations Recap and Resources, panelists Dr. Deborah Moroney, managing director at American Institutes for Research, and Chris Smith, president and executive director of Boston After School &...

BY: Bella DiMarco      05/14/20

New poll: 3 in 4 programs have changed how they operate during COVID-19

The following survey results reflect the responses of afterschool programs in 49 states plus the District of Columbia during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Afterschool Alliance continues to gather information, stories, and perspectives from programs as they adjust to the new...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/20/20

Afterschool turns the peak time for crime into a time of opportunity for young people

For close to 20 years, we at the Afterschool Alliance have been dedicated to the cause of expanding afterschool opportunities because we know the life changing impact programs can have on children, on families, and on communities.  Today, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a new report that...

BY: Jodi Grant      10/16/19

Afterschool Spotlight: YWCA New Britain - House of Teens

Adapted from our November 2018 issue brief Promoting Civic Engagement Through Afterschool, developed in partnership with the Asia Society Center for Global Education. Civic engagement starts with our nation’s young people. The afterschool field is an essential partner in ensuring...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      08/16/19

New issue brief showcasing afterschool promoting civic engagement

Earlier this week on my way into work, a father and his daughter, who couldn’t have been older than an elementary schooler, were at the bottom of the metro escalator greeting metro riders with a huge sign that read “VOTE!” That sight brought a huge smile to my face; it was...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      11/01/18

Reaching 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020

A recent briefing from Grad Nation marked the release of the 2018 Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Raising High School Graduation Rates. The report provides an update on the Grad Nation mission of a 90 percent on-time high school graduation rate for the class of 2020. Examining the...

BY: Leah Silverberg      07/10/18

Afterschool's lasting impact: Q&A with Dr. Milbrey McLaughlin

By Sam Piha, founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development who are serious about improving the lives of young people. Milbrey McLaughlin has been a leading...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/25/18