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Low-income youth may be particularly vulnerable because their families and communities lack the resources needed to provide quality structured activities during the after-school hours.Within cities, the rapid growth in OST programs over the past two decades has often resulted in a fragmented landscape of independent efforts with precarious funding and uneven quality.
The After Zone model has two features that distinguish it from other citywide after-school initiatives.
First, in contrast to traditional after-school models in which programs are offered in a single school or center, the After Zone model is based on a neighborhood “campus” structure where services are offered at multiple sites in a geographically clustered area.
This provides youth with the opportunity to travel to programs located outside of the main facility—the “anchor” middle school—to local libraries, recreational and art centers, and other community facilities.
Second, while many citywide initiatives address program quality, the After Zone model places a particularly strong focus on continuous quality improvement.
Self-esteem tends to drop as youth enter middle school, and they begin to feel less confident in their ability to master academic subjects, at the very time when pressures to achieve are increasing.
School-day curricula become more rigorous and demanding, and many youth begin to experience academic failure.Click here to download the full report: After Zones: Creating a Citywide System Increasingly, research has shown that participation in out-of-school-time (OST) programs can lead to improvements in youth’s educational outcomes (e.g., academic achievement, school behavior, attitudes toward school, attendance and educational expectations); enhance social and emotional development (e.g., self-esteem, positive social behavior); and reduce the likelihood that they will engage in risk-taking behavior.There is compelling evidence that participation in structured organized activities dramatically falls when youth enter middle school.One of the cities, Providence, RI, developed a citywide after-school initiative for middle school youth called the After Zone initiative, to be led by the Providence After School Alliance (PASA), a local intermediary.The following pages summarize a report by Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) that documents After Zone’s implementation.PASA is also responsible for putting mechanisms in place for training and supporting local programs and providers citywide.To carry out this mission and to sustain broad-based support throughout the initiative, PASA has worked closely with the mayor and leaders of the city’s public and private youth-serving agencies.During the school year, the After Zones offer twoand- a-half hours of programming four days a week in three sessions that run from September through May.Programs offered in the fall and winter sessions are 11 weeks long; programs offered in the spring session last 6 weeks.The initiative was created to support citywide system-building efforts that could advance three interrelated goals for the OST field: improving program quality, making programs accessible to youth who need them most, and improving youth participation so more children can realize benefits.The Foundation granted funds to five cities to support their afterschool system-building initiatives: Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; New York, NY; Providence, RI; and Washington, DC.