Cities hop on afterschool programs bus
After the final school bell rings, millions of youth are left without access to structured activities for the remainder of the day. To reduce juvenile crime and dropout rates, local governments are working with community partners to ensure that youth have afterschool and out-of-school time resources available to them.
Nearly one out of four youth are on their own after school, according to “Municipal Leadership for Afterschool,” released in October by the Washington-based National League of Cities (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education and Families. The report examines the trend of cities linking various afterschool programs — regardless of provider — and helping fill any gaps that are leaving children underserved.
Boise, Idaho, used its geographic information system to compile data about afterschool programs, attendance information, as well as juvenile crime statistics. As a result, the city worked with the Boise School District to build community centers in three schools in underserved areas, and the city runs the afterschool and other community programs at the centers.
Portland, Ore., Mayor Samuel Adams has made increasing the high school graduation rate one of his top priorities, says Kali Thorne Ladd, the city’s education strategies director. To help achieve that goal, the mayor’s office organizes the Summer Youth Connect program for high school students that includes career and college site visits, and paid internship opportunities. Portland hired 100 interns to work within city bureaus this past summer and offers a business license tax credit for employers that hire interns.
“We find that not a lot happens if the leadership is not in place to organize an entire city and bring different stakeholders to the table,” says Audrey Hutchinson, NLC program director of Education and Afterschool Initiatives.
Jennifer Grzeskowiak is a Laguna Beach, Calif.-based freelance writer.