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Better Together

Building Local Systems to Improve Afterschool (A Conference Report)

When teams from 57 U.S. cities discuss how to build local afterschool systems, ideas fly about improving access to high-quality afterschool, as documented in this conference report.
July 2013
A group of boys and girls playing in the sand with a toy construction truck
  • Author(s)
  • H.J. Cummins
  • Publisher(s)
  • The Wallace Foundation
Page Count 32 pages


What happens when teams from 57 U.S. cities building afterschool systems gather to discuss two key system responsibilities—improving afterschool programs and using data for informed decision-making? Lots of rich discussion. This report covers a national afterschool conference held in February 2013. It details what mayors, program providers, system leaders, researchers and others had to say on a range of topics, including:

  • The value of committed mayoral leadership;
  • Warning signs that indicate students are struggling in school or at risk of dropping out—and what afterschool programs can do to help them;
  • The purpose of afterschool programs: academic, enrichment, or both;
  • The importance of strong financial planning and management;
  • How to design successful programs for teens;
  • How to train a skilled staff, using YouTube, “peer coaches” and other methods;
  • How to measure the performance of afterschool programs and boost program quality;
  • Deciding on the right “carrots” and “sticks” to encourage programs to accept evaluation;
  • The many uses of data, including improving program quality, pinpointing problems, filling programming gaps and advocating for afterschool; and
  • Data systems: Buy off the shelf or build yourself?

The report is accompanied by a series of videos featuring discussion from the conference’s opening session that highlight the importance of afterschool systems for children’s well-being as well as videos in which experts from around the U.S. discuss a range of afterschool issues.

Hear from the Experts

Mayor and Philanthropist: Why We Support Afterschool Systems

​​​​​​​​In this opening session from the “Better Together” national conference, Wallace President Will Miller moderates a conversation with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and OSI-Baltimore Director Jane Sundius on the value of collaborating for high-quality afterschool.

Afterschool and Afterschool Systems

​​​High-quality afterschool programs, which provide rich opportunities for growth, learning and fun, reach only a small percentage of children and teens today. Hear national experts discuss what cities can do to close this gap and boost quality and participation in dynamic out-of-school-time programs.

Now Viewing: Overview Next: Ideas In Practice
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