The best route to providing high-quality services to more children is to adopt a citywide, coordinated approach that is sustainable.
- A Place to Grow and Learn, The Wallace Foundation (2008)
Since 2003, The Wallace Foundation has supported a range of initiatives in five cities to develop and test new, coordinated approaches to making high-quality out-of-school time (OST) learning opportunities available to more children. While much remains to be learned, the coordinated citywide approach holds considerable promise for building and sustaining improvements in OST opportunities on a wide scale.
The six action elements for achieving a coordinated approach to improving OST include:
- Committed leadership – including top political, school, community and OST leaders, to secure funding and other resources and shape policies;
- A public or private coordinating entity – to manage the development of plans, link disparate OST players, build citywide attention and support for OST, and ensure that plans and performance stay on track;
- Multi-year planning – to set goals and priorities, develop ways to hold key players accountable for results and identify necessary resources;
- Reliable information – to document the needs and wishes of parents and children, track participation and identify underserved neighborhoods and families;
- Expanding participation – to reach more children and ensure that they attend often enough to benefit; and
- A commitment to quality – because quality programs are likeliest to benefit children and therefore scarce OST funding should be directed to delivering high-quality programming.
A Place to Grow and Learn: A Citywide Approach to Building and Sustaining Out-of-School Time Learning Opportunities
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Summary: The need for learning to continue beyond the school day has gained increased attention and funding in recent years, but millions of children still lack access to high-quality out-of-school time learning opportunities. Drawing on early lessons from a Wallace initiative in five cities, this report describes a novel, coordinated approach to achieve widespread, sustained improvements in the quality and reach of "OST" programs so that many more children can benefit. While many questions remain about the effectiveness of this new approach, the report discusses six "action elements" that can help other cities get started, including: committed leadership, multi-year planning, reliable information, and commitments to expanding both participation and program quality.