How to Implement Afterschool and Summer Learning Programs in Your City

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City leaders are increasingly embracing the strategy of afterschool and summer learning to help expand enrichment opportunities for youth and address a broad range of issues such as academic success, public safety, workforce preparedness, economic development, and health and wellness. Here’s how to jump on the bandwagon.

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“Effective education goes far beyond the traditional classroom experience. Afterschool and summer learning programs inspire learning and development outside of the classroom, and keep youth safe and engaged in positive experiences. As leaders in our communities, our support of these programs is critical for our youth’s educational success.”
-Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James (Martin Dimitrov/Getty Images)

Statewide summits organized by afterschool networks offer an effective way to educate municipal leaders on the importance of afterschool learning opportunities, NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) finds. These summits promote city leadership in afterschool programs by showcasing best practices and detailing active roles that mayors and city councilmembers can play. Kansas City Mayor Sly James recently hosted a joint statewide municipal summit on afterschool and expanded learning with funding from NLC – and your city can do the same.

Statewide afterschool networks in all 50 states influence state policy on issues such as afterschool funding, program quality improvements, partnerships and sustainability of programming. Through these municipal summits, the statewide afterschool networks share data that clearly depict the need and demand for afterschool programs across the state, demonstrate cities’ best practices, and inspire local leaders to take action to establish new partnerships, increase access, and consider additional local investment. With 15 years of experience working on the issue, the YEF Institute documented prime examples of city leadership building coordinated citywide systems of afterschool programs in its Municipal Leadership for Afterschool guide.

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So how can city leaders take advantage of the information, networking opportunities, and funding solutions that these summits provide? Put simply, you can use the aforementioned links to get in touch with your respective afterschool networks, and use the networks to find out about, attend, and become more involved with these afterschool summits.

Convening local leaders to discuss cities’ afterschool programs is of particular importance this year. As voters head to the polls for the 2016 elections, it is important to ensure broad and diverse support from local leaders of all political parties for afterschool programs moving forward, as they can be an important facet of solutions to many critical concerns that communities face. The summits enable mayors and councilmembers to hear from their peers about how and why they have made afterschool programs a priority, how they have funded new programs, or about new partnerships they have created.

The municipal summits can also provide local leaders a forum to discuss their afterschool program needs and priorities with governors’ offices, state legislators, and state education department heads who will make budgetary decisions and set education policy. In addition, state leaders can use the summits as an opportunity to inform participants of legislative priorities and constraints, as well as and gather insights from mayors on how to target resources effectively.

Since 2009, the YEF institute has received funding support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and The Wallace Foundation to work with 23 state networks to host statewide municipal summits on afterschool and expanded learning. Collectively, more than 2,000 local elected officials – joined by school district, county, nonprofit, business, faith and philanthropic leaders – attended the events. Upcoming 2016 summits include Indiana, Ohio and Florida.

Click here for more information about the YEF Institute’s afterschool and expanded learning programs.

About the Author: Erika Pierson is the Associate for Expanded Learning at NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.