Out-of-School Time Toolkit

Posted by United Way Worldwide on June 16, 2014

United Way launches OST toolkit

Students spend only 20 percent of their waking hours in school, so afterschool, weekend and summer programs can make a difference in boosting academic outcomes, especially for students at risk of academic failure. United Ways, as key investors in summer and afterschool learning programs, seek to leverage their role as funders to strengthen program access, quality, sustainability, and student outcomes.

With support from a grant from JCPenney and informed by many United Ways across the country, United Way Worldwide has launched an online out-of-school time toolkit. The toolkit was developed to provide resources to United Ways and their community partners who seek to deepen their out-of-school time efforts so that more young people have access to quality programs.

United Way believes that an educated citizenry that has the skills needed for the evolving workforce is the foundation of a strong, globally competitive economy. Yet, too many students still fail to graduate high school on time. To address this challenge, United Way has set an ambitious national education goal of cutting the dropout rate in half by the year 2018 and is mobilizing individuals, communities, and organizations across America to work collectively so that more students graduate high school prepared for college and career.

Out-of-School Time and Student Success
United Way views high-quality out-of-school programs as one important support — as part of a broad array of wrap-around supports— to achieve our national goal of cutting the high school drop-out rate in half and preparing every young person for success in life. Participation in high-quality out-of-school time programs helps to improve student work-study habits, homework completion rates, and course grades. Participation in quality programs also helps to increase student engagement and school connectedness, increases in self-esteem, improved relationships with peers and adults, and declines in negative, risk-taking behavior. Increased student engagement and performance in school can help to improve overall educational attainment. United Way believes that increasing access to engaging, relevant, and high-quality out-of-school time activities, especially for at-risk middle and high school students, will ultimately help to increase high school graduation rates.

Strengthening Out-of-School Time
The potential of out-of-school can only be realized when children and youth who need them have access to quality programs that reflect their needs and interests. United Ways and their partners can strengthen the out-of-school time field by adopting a systemic approach to improving out-of-school time quality, access, sustainability, data collection and evaluation, and alignment and coordination rather than piecemeal approaches focused on individual programs or funding streams.

The toolkit and learning modules build on and leverage the work of previous United Way out-of-school time grantees – particularly their lessons learned, tools, and resources developed as part of the work in their communities:
— Use the learning modules to assess your community’s progress in developing an out-of-school system, and to learn how to develop and deepen your work in key areas like engaging stakeholders, strengthening quality, using data, etc.
— Use the basic toolkit to connect with general guidance, tools, templates, and additional resources related to developing and deepening an out-of-school time system.

Go here for a description of toolkit contents.


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