Black Boys in Crisis: Do After-School Programs Work?

In this series, appropriately titled “Black Boys in Crisis,” I highlight the problems facing black boys in education today, as well as provide clear steps that will lead us out of the crisis.

After-school programs are also effective at reducing the impact poverty, and race have on academic achievement. The Afterschool Alliance, an organization aimed at educating the public on the importance of high-quality after-school programs, has compiled numerous statistics and examples of programs that work. Here are a few examples of successful programs from around the United States:

When compared to students not participating in the program, students enrolled in Los Angeles’ BEST after-school program are 20 percent less likely to drop out of high school. Sixty-five percent of eighth graders who took part in Citizen Schools Eighth Grade Academy enrolled in a high-quality, college-preparatory high school, compared with 26 percent of peers who did not participate.

After a statewide study of a variety of programs in New Hampshire, researchers concluded that students that took part in after-school programs that focused on academics improved their behavior and academic performance by more than 50 percent.

Low-income students who enroll in after-school programs have increased attendance during the school day, higher graduation rates, greater gains in reading and math proficiency, better engagement in school, fewer behavioral issues, and a greater likelihood of taking college preparatory courses. Students who are engaged in consistent after-school programs are less likely to experiment with drugs, alcohol, or criminal behavior, and may even reap health benefits like lower rates of obesity.

Finally, parents who have children enrolled in after-school programs are more productive at work; in fact, they are able to work approximately eight additional days per year. Because they don’t have to worry if their children are in safe environments, they are better able to stay on the job. For parents who often have low-wage jobs, lack job security, or do not have job benefits like vacation time or sick leave, eight days can make an enormous difference.

The federal government recognizes the positive impact of these after-school programs for low-income youth. There are several funding sources available to organizations and states to support the efforts of after-school programs. One of the largest sources is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program. This funding is awarded by the Department of Education to states who can then distribute the money to different after-school programs. Federal Food and Nutrition programs also add funding to after-school programs by providing aid for food to these organizations so their funding can be spent on other resources. Some of the aid trickles directly down into the hands of low-income families. For example, the Child Care and Development Fund, in addition to funding child-care programs in the states, provides child-care vouchers to low-income families.

What do you think; are after school programs a viable solution for dealing with the crisis amongst black boys?


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