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combat the systemic issues with a comprehensive approach— take these actions:

  • Get informed Click here to read up on elements of high-quality OST programs
  • Invest in quality programs at scale in communities This can help eliminate having islands of excellent programs. Click here to see how United Ways can strengthen OST program quality.
  • Focus on dosage and duration  Evaluations make clear that the greatest benefits occur when students participate in programs frequently and over an extended period of time. United Ways can fund and advocate for programs to offer programming 3-5 days per week and throughout the year.
  • Increase access Evaluation suggests that students who need OST programs the most also derive the greatest benefit from them. United Ways can use data (attendance, grades, behavior) to target students who could benefit most from participating in programs designed to support their academic and developmental needs.
  • Remove barriers to participation Students (particularly from low-income families) can only benefit from programs if they participate — program fees, location, and transportation costs are most frequently cited reasons why they do not. United Ways can partner with schools, city leaders, and other OST stakeholders to address these challenges to participation at a community or neighborhood level.
  • Strengthen program content Programs that are intentionally designed around specific goals and are well-implemented will have better results than those that are not. United Ways can work with the agencies they fund and with Out-of-School Time partners to ensure that programs are focused on meeting the needs of participants and providing engaging, enriching content that complements (but does not repeat) school day instruction.


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