Our Mission is to improve the lives of all children and youth by supporting and expanding high quality and enriching afterschool and summer learning. We strive for equity and inclusion so that every child has the opportunity for a full and fair education, in and out of school.
The past decade has seen much progress in the number of children who are able to take advantage of the opportunities and activities afterschool programs have to offer, transforming the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. from a time of concern for working parents to a time of learning and advancement for students. The 2014 America After 3PM edition—which spans a decade of data chronicling how children spend the hours between 3 and 6 p.m.—has found that overall participation in afterschool programs has increased by nearly 60 percent from 2004 to 2014, with nearly 4 million more children in afterschool programs today. In addition to more children participating in afterschool programs, parents’ satisfaction with specific aspects of afterschool programs—such as the quality of care, staff and program activities— has significantly increased over the last five years.
Despite the growing need in Massachusetts for high quality afterschool programs, access is still a pressing issue for low-income populations, people of color, and English language learners. MAP seeks to increase access to these vital programs for communities across Massachusetts in order to better prepare our young people for life beyond school. In 2014, roughly 200,000 children attended afterschool programs. At the same time, nearly 50% of families reported that they had no access to afterschool programs, even though they wanted to enroll their child.
MAP seeks to connect the many threads of the afterschool system and weave a comprehensive support network that ensures all children have access to programming. This network includes local and state funding streams, private providers, and public schools.
There is broad agreement that afterschool programs can play a significant role in supporting the development of young people. But to do so it is critical that the program be of high quality. A high quality afterschool program can have strong positive effects on children’s academic, social, and emotional lives and this can be especially true for at-risk youth. Some research suggests that what students do during the out-of-school time hours has as much bearing on their success as what they do during the school day.
Child and adolescent development unfolds in dramatic and predictable ways. Development is influenced by family, community, and the support and guidance available. In order for children and youth to succeed and sustain a positive and healthy trajectory through adolescence and young adulthood, they need support across a range of developmental outcomes. These five domains can be summarized as cognitive/academic; vocational; physical; social/emotional; and civic/cultural development.2 Afterschool programs can be one of the important contributing settings to providing the critical experiences and relationships in these domains that keep children and youth on a positive and healthy path to adulthood.
In order to provide children and youth with the experiences they require to become productive citizens, a rich variety of high quality programs are needed to effectively meet the range of consumer preferences and provide expected child and youth outcomes. Today not all children and youth have access to high quality programs, and existing programs need better resources and incentives to reach and maintain quality. Polling data by Public Agenda found that parents in poorer families and those from minority backgrounds are far more dissatisfied than others with the quality of afterschool program options. It is essential that current efforts to support children and youth during the out-of-school time hours emphasize program quality.
Student success is greatest when schools, nonprofits, and communities work together and share responsibility for their full range of academic, social, emotional, and physical development. MAP seeks to help connect schools and community organizations and build understanding that by combining resources and targeting expanded learning time where it is needed most, we can collectively increase student performance and have a far greater impact on narrowing opportunity and achievement gaps than any single organization can attain acting alone.
Partnerships are essential in the current economic climate. Funding from states, cities, and districts for summer and afterschool opportunities has been drastically reduced, and fewer students are receiving afterschool academic reinforcement and enrichment, as well as summer supports that are essential in improving student outcomes. With budgets under continued threat and challenging economic prospects, schools must build deep and intentional relationships with community partners to expand learning opportunities. In addition, these circumstances make it even more important to maintain strong support for programs such as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative and to encourage greater state investment over the coming years.