What benefits do afterschool programs offer to the schools and the community?
Afterschool programs strengthen schools, families, and communities.
As you will see in the Exploration section of this workshop, a key part of developing an afterschool program is soliciting participation from many segments of the community. When this process succeeds and communities come together to address the need for afterschool programs, new family-school-community partnerships can form, benefiting all involved. Research has shown that the when families become more involved with schools, the students in those schools do better. The creation of afterschool programs has spurred such changes in communities across the country. [Coalition for Community Schools]
In addition, communities that use a community-based, collaborative approach to improving afterschool programs, such as NIOST's MOST initiative, develop their own local leadership and the infrastructure needed to sustain these programs. Once members of a community see that they have the ability to work together to make positive changes, they can apply this skill to other pressing community concerns. A community where various members support and care for each other is a healthier community for everyone.
Afterschool programs can help create true "community schools" that serve the entire community, not just school kids.
Once communities come together to address the need for afterschool programs for children and youth, they are more likely and able to address the needs of other members of the community as well. Instead of just serving children and youth, schools can become a center for adult services as well, providing an array of services in response to community needs. For example, a school might host an adult sports league, offer E.S.L classes, or provide classes in parenting.
As neighborhood centers, the Beacon Schools in New York City provide services for parents and other adults as well as activities for children and youth. Activities for adults include education, sports, recreation, culturally specific programming, support for parental employment, opportunities to volunteer, intergenerational activities, support for families, and immigrant services. In focus-group discussions with more than 225 parents and other community members, participants described the positive effect of the Beacon schools on their lives and that of their children, as well as on their communities and schools. [Constancia Warren with Prudence Brown and Nicholas Freudenberg. Evaluation of the New York City Beacons. Academy for Educational Development with Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago and Hunter College Center on Aids, Drugs, and Community Health. Academy for Educational Development, New York, NY: 1999]