Afterschool

Adventure Central

Adventure Central is a trusted, community-based, positive youth development partnership of 4-H, Ohio State University Extension, and Five Rivers MetroParks. The partnership has been serving at-risk children and their parents in urban Dayton, Ohio since 2000 by providing educational programs outside of school hours. Adventure Central places a priority on high-intensity programming (four days a week throughout the school year). The after-school program is the primary programmatic effort for this dynamic youth education center, serving an average of 85 youth per day.

Civic Engagement

Civic engagement involves “working to make a difference in the civic life of one’s community and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.”1 Civic engagement includes both paid and unpaid forms of political activism, environmentalism, and community and national service.2 Volunteering, national service, and service-learning are all forms of civic engagement.

According to the 2006 National Civic and Political Health Survey, seven percent of 15- to 25-year-old Americans participated in 10 or more community engagement or political activities within the previous year.3 When compared to their peers who report no civic engagement activities, this group was more likely to be African-American, urban, attend church regularly, from a family with parents who volunteer, a current student (in college or high school), and from college-educated home.4

AmeriCorps (formerly the Corporation for National and Community Service, or CNCS) is a federal agency that sends people power and funding to communities across the country for causes such as disaster response, opioid crisis, and education.

Participation in civic engagement activities can help youth become better informed about current events. For example, according to the 2006 National Civic and Political Health Survey, approximately a quarter of youth who had not participated in civic engagement activities within the last year did not answer any questions regarding current politics correctly.5

Definition and Constructs

Youth civic engagement is defined as working to make a difference in the civic life of one’s community. It also involves developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to make that difference.6 These activities enrich the lives of youths and are socially beneficial to the community. Four interrelated constructs have been identified in the research literature as necessary for civic engagement (see Figure 1).

FIGURE 1: FOUR CONSTRUCTS OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

Four Constructs of Civic Engagement: Civic Action, Civic Commitment or Duty, Civic Skills, Social Cohesion

Volunteering is only one form of civic engagement included, as defined above, in the construct of civic action and civic commitment or duty, but research has also shown a connection between youth who volunteer and other forms of youth civic engagement. Findings suggest that “among youth, volunteering plays a valuable role in shaping how youth learn to interact with their community and develop the skills, values, and sense of empowerment necessary to become active citizens.”7

While many youth volunteer, most young people do not see a connection between volunteering and political engagement or activism. In the 2006 National Civic and Political Health Survey, the majority of young people said that they volunteered in order to help others, not to address a social or political problem. Only six percent of youth believed that their volunteering was a means to address social or political problems.8

Another possible form of civic action and civic commitment and duty is service-learning. According to the American Psychological Association,9 service-learning and civic engagement can be related but are not the same thing. Service-learning does not have to include a civic dimension and all forms of civic engagement are not service-learning. Civic engagement is a broader concept that may encompass, but is not limited to, service-learning. Service-learning differs from community service or volunteerism in two distinct ways:

  • The service activity is integrated with academic curriculum and content.
  • Students engage in reflection activities after their service experience and apply their learning in real-life activities.10

Resources

Character and Civic Education
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools’ Character and Civic Education group administers various programs in character and civics education. These programs include providing financial assistance for character and citizenship education activities in elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education, and reporting on issues and programs, disseminating information, and providing technical assistance to state agencies and state and local correctional institutions.

AmeriCorps (Formerly the Corporation for National and Community Service, CNCS)
AmeriCorps was created (as CNCS) as an independent agency of the United States government by the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. AmeriCorps brings people together to tackle the country’s most pressing challenges, through national service and volunteering.

Helping Your Child Become a Responsible Citizen (PDF, 43 Pages)
This resource from the U.S. Department of Education provides information about the values and skills that contribute to character and good citizenship, including guidance on what parents can do to help their elementary-, middle-, and high school-aged children develop strong character.

References

1 Erlich, 2000
2 Michelsen, Zaff, & Hair, 2002
3 Lopez, Levine, Both, Kiesa, Kirby, & Marcelo, 2006
4 Dávila & Mora, 2007
5 Dávila & Mora, 2007
6 Erlich, 2000
7 AmeriCorps, 2005
8 Lopez, Levine, Both, Kiesa, Kirby, & Marcelo, 2006
9 American Psychological Association, 2010
10 College of Southern Maryland, 2010

Afterschool Programs

Afterschool programs (sometimes called OST or Out-of-School Time programs) serve children and youth of all ages. These programs encompass a broad range of focus areas including academic support, mentoring, positive youth development, arts, sports and recreation, apprenticeships, workforce development programs, and programs for opportunity youth (i.e., youth not in schools or the workforce) and homeless youth.

The activities children and youth engage in outside of school hours are critical to their overall development, highlighting the need for quality afterschool programs in all communities. The demand for afterschool programs is strong, with nearly 10.2 million children and youth who participate in afterschool programs annually,1 across 10 million in summer camps and 6 million in 4-H programs, alone.2

Federal agencies, state-level resources, community organizations, and local and national philanthropies can provide support and resources to build, sustain, and ensure access to high-quality afterschool programs that can help promote positive outcomes for youth. Explore the articles and links on this topic to learn more about afterschool programs. Resources are also provided to help navigate challenges in planning and implementing afterschool programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resources

Preparing K-12 School Administrators for a Safe Return to School in Fall 2020
This webpage from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides practical guidance intended to aid school administrators as they consider how to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of students, teachers, other school staff, their families, and communities in fall 2020.

Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps
This webpage from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides practical guidance and resources for camp staff to use while planning and implementing camps safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Afterschool & Summer in the Time of COVID-19
This webpage from the Afterschool Alliance provides information on how afterschool programs nationwide are responding to the impact of COVID-19 and offers a Statewide Afterschool Networks Resources map for each state.

Afterschool Alliance
This website from the Afterschool Alliance provides information, resources, and timely resources on planning for, implementing, and funding afterschool programs.

Afterschool Alliance Research
This webpage from the Afterschool Alliance provides reports, issue briefs, fact sheets and other resources that show how afterschool programs are keeping children and youth safe, inspiring learning, and helping working families across the country.

Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 (PDF, 4 pages)
This factsheet from the Afterschool Alliance presents findings from the first of a series of surveys meant to “take the pulse” of afterschool programs in the U.S.

National Afterschool Association
The National Afterschool Association website provides afterschool professionals a wide range of tools and resources designed to promote professional development and strengthen afterschool programs.

References

1 Afterschool Alliance, 2014
2 Yohalem, Pittman, & Edwards, 2010

Youth-produced Media in Community Change Efforts

Drawing on a larger evaluation of the Sierra Health Foundation's REACH youth program, this issue brief examines best practices for using youth-produced media as part of a community change effort.

Using Camp to Bolster Youth-driven Community Change

Drawing on a larger evaluation of the Sierra Health Foundation's REACH youth program, this issue brief describes how a summer camp experience can be used as a strategy to support a community change initiative.

Toward Making Good on All Youth

Drawing on a larger evaluation of the Sierra Health Foundation's REACH youth program, this issue brief examines ways to engage underrepresented youth populations in community youth development. A set of key principles is developed based on lessons from field research. 

Quality Rating Systems and the Impact on Quality in Early Care and Education Settings

A quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) is a systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early and school-age care and education programs. This site provides a sample of resources with research about the impact of QRIS on early and school-age care.

Municipal Leadership for Afterschool: Citywide Approaches Spreading across the Country

This report identifies cities that have worked to coordinate afterschool opportunities for children and youth.  These cities have made a shift in their approach to afterschool programming, moving from management and funding of isolated programs toward in-depth coordination among city, school and nonprofit providers.

Engaging Parents in a Community Youth Development Initiative

Drawing on a larger evaluation of the Sierra Health Foundation's REACH youth program, this issue brief describes lessons learned about how to best engage parents in a community youth development initiative. It emphasizes the benefits of engaging parents who are not typically well connected to schools or other community institutions, including those who do not speak English. 

Engaging Youth in Community Change

This report provides lessons learned from comparing how seven communities engaged youth in community change efforts in the greater Sacramento region. It provides an introduction to the goals of the Sierra Health Foundation's REACH youth development program, documents program outcomes for individual youth and adults, organizations, and communities, and draws lessons for coalition development, youth engagement practice, and foundation practices to support community youth development.