Wallace Foundation Awards $7.8 Million to Bolster Afterschool Programs in Nine Cities

The Wallace Foundation has announced grants totaling $7.8 million to organizations working to create high-quality citywide afterschool programs for low-income children.

Nine cities — Baltimore, Denver, Fort Worth, Grand Rapids, Jacksonville, Louisville, Nashville, Philadelphia, and St. Paul — will each receive up to $765,000 over four years to formally integrate the efforts of municipal agencies, schools, nonprofit youth programs, and other institutions working to expand access to high-quality afterschool programs. In addition, the National League of Cities will receive $1 million to help coordinate the initiative and serve as a resource.

Chosen based on their progress in building citywide systems and ability to sustain those systems, the nine cities will use the funds to collect and analyze data and work to improve program quality. Planned activities include linking afterschool program data with school data to better understand how program participation affects learning and development, adopting citywide quality standards, and providing citywide training for employees.

The grants are the second phase of an initiative launched by the foundation in 2003 to help cities better coordinate afterschool programs and improve opportunities for poor children and teens. The first phase found that the six building blocks essential to strong afterschool systems were mayoral leadership and commitment to afterschool programming; multiyear planning; a coordinating entity to lead the work; access to reliable data; efforts to improve the quality of programs; and efforts to increase participation of youngsters in them.

"Research tells us that more children and teens can get access to high-quality afterschool experiences when communities coordinate the work of the many different groups involved," said Wallace Foundation director of communities Nancy Devine. "We want to encourage more cities to adopt this system-building approach, and one of the things we can expect to see is more cooperation between schools and afterschool programs as they collaborate to better the education of our neediest urban kids."

For a complete list of recipient organizations and local agencies, visit the Wallace Foundation Web site.