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.
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.
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.
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.
For example, an evaluation of after-school programs that were part of the Extended-Service Schools Initiative found the average attendance rate for youth in grades 6 through 8 was 1.6 days per week compared with 1.9 days per week for youth in grades 4 and 5 and 2.2 days per week for youth in grades 1 through 3.
Yet, during the middle school years, youth face many new challenges and need the support that high-quality OST programs can provide.