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It is important to include a diversity of perspectives when developing and implementing Out-of-School Time programs. The key community stakeholders to engage fall primarily into four main categories:


    Many organizations and institutions—  from cultural institutions (libraries, museums) to community-based organizations and agencies to businesses and funders, or even local/state government or schools and school districts—  have unique perspectives to share that are relevant and are based on how they connect to the issues around Out-of-School Time. For example, local businesses desire a qualified future workforce and an increase in or retainment of the productivity of workers they already employ; therefore, their input will likely reflect their interest in supporting OST initiatives that prepare the workers of tomorrow by cultivating career-ready skills and programs that address the childcare concerns of their current employees. Local school district leaders, on the other hand, might desire to improve student academic achievement and increase high school graduation rates; thus, their perspective will be informed by their desire for programs that complement the regular school day and opportunities for students at risk of academic failure to receive targeted supports and interventions.


    Although institutions and organizations are an essential part of any Out-of-School Time coalition, your United Way must go beyond this segment and engage individuals in your community, especially those that are likely to directly benefit from high-quality OST initiatives. Because OST initiatives are targeted towards children, it is important to engage parents and families. Those who have younger children may focus on safety concerns, while parents of older youth may place greater emphasis on programs that contribute to their children’s academic success and/or career goals — this diversity of interests can strengthen your United Way's perspective and inform your actions.


    In addition to parents and families, the input and perspective of older youth is especially critical, since they are old enough to “vote with their feet” and simply decline to participate in programs that do not interest them. Youth should be engaged in broader conversations about establishing community-wide goals for children/youth as well as in discussions specifically focused on what they want from Out-of-School Time programs (click here to see how United Way of Greater Twin Cities used a grant from United Way Worldwide to engage young people throughout their state).


    Those who are a part of the local community are also key actors to engage, primarily because of their diverse knowledge, connections, and abilities. They can serve serve as a natural point from which to build and/or strengthen a volunteer base, and community members can also be tapped to add to existing program capacity. Seniors— especially retired teachers— are a good example of the types of individuals that might raise their hands to volunteer in OST programs.

To learn more about recruiting and equipping volunteers, head to the Engaging Volunteers page here.


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