Afterschool Tools & Best Practices Resources

Explore this collection of websites for resources and information to help inform and support your afterschool initiatives.
Getting Started

Principal Magazine Afterschool Learning Supplement
The special supplement to NAESP’s Principal Magazine is an essential resource guide to principals who want to make the most of summer and afterschool programs to support academic and social and emotional needs of students.

10 Ways to Build School-Community Partnerships: Every Hour Counts
Best practices from experts on how schools partner with community organizations to expand the time and ways that students learn.

Afterschool Program Start-up Guides: Afterschool Alliance
You want to create an afterschool program, but where do you start? These resources will help you get going by walking you through the basic steps of planning and establishing your afterschool program.

Afterschool Toolkit: U.S. Department of Education
This site provides an After-School Toolkit with tools, models and expertise to help you in professional development settings, for activities and ideas, and a research base in effective after-school programming. Get ideas for Arts, Literacy, Math, Science, Technology, and Health & Wellness.

Core Competencies for Afterschool and Youth Development Professionals: National Afterschool Association
The NAA Core Knowledge and Competencies details what it takes to work with and on behalf of children and youth. This resource will help principals understand the knowledge and skills needed by afterschool professionals.

National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST)
This site provides evaluations, consultation, and training to create innovative and effective solutions to out-of-school time needs on a local, state, regional and national basis.

You for Youth
This online community of afterschool professionals provides professional learning and technical assistance to support the important work that happens in an out-of-school time setting.

Funding Information

21st Century Community Learning Centers- U.S. Department of Education Grant
The only federal program devoted to afterschool. Connecticut, Washington D.C., Hawaii – This program supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. The program helps students meet state and local student standards in core academic subjects, such as reading and math; offers students a broad array of enrichment activities that can complement their regular academic programs; and offers literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children.

Afterschool Funding and Sustainability: The Afterschool Alliance
Getting funding and long-term sustainability can feel daunting, but with the right tools, you can get set for success. You’ll find all the tools and resources you need to get started and plan for the future here.

Funding Opportunities
Afterschool programs can access many of the Federal funding sources that support youth. This site explains the largest federal funding sources that support afterschool.

Out-of-School Time Cost Calculator: The Wallace Foundation
This online calculator works like a student loan or mortgage calculator. It lets you determine the costs of a variety of options for high-quality afterschool programs and the summer portions of year-round programs.



Ensuring Quality

Afterschool Program Quality and Effectiveness: 25 Year of Results
Policy Studies Associates has evaluated afterschool programs and policies for more than 25 years. Their evaluations examine the implementation and impact of programs located in schools and in community centers, and the effectiveness of initiatives to enhance the quality of programs and the capacity of educators and volunteers.

Measurement Framework: How To Measure Success In Expanded Learning Systems: Every Hour Counts
Understand the common outcomes at the youth, program and system levels. This Framework provides a blueprint for coordinated accountability and improvement, so quality practices lead to measurable, improved outcomes for youth.

National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment
The National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment (NCASE) provides training and technical assistance to the state, territory, and tribal CCDF lead agencies and their designated networks, which include the statewide afterschool networks, State and Local Education Agencies (SEAs/LEAs), provider associations, and Child Care Resource and Referral agencies. The goal of NCASE is to ensure that school-age children in families of low income have increased access to high-quality afterschool and summer learning experiences that contribute to their overall development and academic achievement.

Spotlight on Quality: What is Quality and Why Does it Matter?
Research indicates that high-quality afterschool programs are showing important gains for children in terms of academic achievement, safety, discipline, attendance, and avoidance of risky behaviors (Afterschool Alliance, 2013). This brief from the National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment summarizes program quality and its impact.

The State of Afterschool Quality: National AfterSchool Association (NAA)
The NAA undertook an initial study of the status of quality improvement efforts nationwide in the summer of 2014. This survey informed a this whitepaper that that discuss the elements of an afterschool quality improvement system, how these systems work across the country and make recommendations regarding next steps.

What Does the Research Say About Afterschool
Find out what the research tell us about the effectiveness of afterschool programs. The following is a small sampling of research findings—from meta-analyses to program-level evaluations—that show that there is demonstrable evidence of the positive impact programs have on students’ academics, school-day attendance, engagement in learning, and behavior.


Policy Information

Afterschool Snack: The Afterschool Alliance Blog
A blog on the latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth.

Wallace Foundation Knowledge Center: Afterschool
Browse the reports and other research resources on these pages for insights into making high-quality afterschool programming more readily available to children in your school.


Arts in Afterschool

Big Thought in Dallas – Creative Solutions: Video
Big Thought partners with the Dallas County Juvenile Department and Southern Methodist University to re-ignite the imaginations of juveniles convicted of a crime through performing and visual arts, including a culminating theater event and art exhibit. The seven-week program instills skills associated with job and college readiness such as teamwork, decision-making, problem-solving, critical thinking and communication. Watch this video to hear participants of the program share their experiences.

When Arts Education Takes Center Stage: Video
Over the past 5 years as executive director for the arts for Boston’s public schools, classically trained mezzo-soprano Myran Parker-Brass has worked to bring top-notch arts instruction to every child in the district

Ed Week's Leaders to Learn From Video Series

Career and Technical Education That Helps Students Succeed
Clyde McBride, the director of career and technical education in the Kayenta Unified School District in Kayenta, Ariz., has built a powerhouse pre-veterinary-sciences program that gives Navajo students hands-on experience that propels them to college and prepares them for jobs. Students gain deep knowledge and meaningful opportunities to support their community where many Navajo families depend on livestock as their livelihood. “I don’t want to train kids to leave the reservation,” McBride says. “I want to prepare them for careers they can bring back home.”

Fostering a Love of Reading
César Morales, the superintendent in California’s Oxnard Elementary district, has leveraged a 1-to1 tablet program for a massive bilingual-literacy effort that is developing a love of reading for students and families.

Preparing All Students for College
As chief program officer for Texas’ IDEA Public Schools, Dolores Gonzalez designed an academic program to put the charter network’s 30,000 students-many of them English-language learners-on a firm path to college.

Bringing Play Back to the Kindergarten Classroom
Steve Oates has been leading an initiative to bring play back to kindergarten classrooms in the North Carolina’s Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school district.

Other Resources and Information

Afterschool Webinar — Healthy #AfterschoolWorks: Free Tools, Resources, & Strategies
With so many competing priorities in afterschool, it’s easy for healthy eating and physical activity (HEPA) to become less of a focus, but a quality afterschool experience is a healthy afterschool experience. The great news is that thousands of afterschool and recreation professionals, guided by the National Afterschool Association HEPA Standards, are finding innovative ways to blend healthy eating and physical activity best practices with STEM, literacy, creative arts, and outdoor education.

Watch this webinar, that includes experts from the National AfterSchool Association, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and Gwinnett County, Ga., for free resources and tools to engage students and families and tell the story that Healthy #AfterschoolWorks.

America After 3 PM
This site highlights the trends of afterschool program participation, documents the benefits associated with participation in afterschool programs, and measures public support for afterschool programs. Dive into the data!

Georgia: Engaging Family in Afterschool Webinar
Learn how the Georgia state network encourages the development of families in afterschool activities.

Get Active: Be Healthy Afterschool Toolkit!
The Afterschool Alliance has teamed up with Quaker® Oats to create the “Get Active: Be Healthy Afterschool Toolkit”. The guide provides creative, easy-to-implement ideas for incorporating health and wellness into your afterschool program, including lesson plans, activities and games. Created as part of the Quaker Chewy Afterschool Rocks campaign. Whether you want to start an entire afterschool program devoted to promoting healthy-living or instill fun physical activities to keep the children in your afterschool program fit, the “Get Active: Be Healthy Afterschool Toolkit” can help you introduce activities to kids that will encourage them to eat right, get physically active, and stay healthy.

Global Learning Self Assessment Tool
The Asia Society provides this free tool to serve as a guide for programs that wish to bolster their afterschool program design, environment, activities, and policies to build global competence in youth. It can be used for guiding preliminary discussions on global learning in afterschool as much as it can be used as a measurement on progress to date.

Lights On Afterschool
This site features thousands of events across the country. Gives directions for hosting your own Lights On Afterschool Event.

STEAM Innovation in the Mt. Vernon Pyramid: Video
Imagine coming to class and applying your knowledge of angles of reflection and properties of light and sound to build a model of a music hall, or using what you know about the depth of the ocean and marine mammals to create an imaginary animal and consider how it could affect other species.  In the Mount Vernon Pyramid, this type of project-based learning is taking center stage, thanks to the Integrated STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) Innovation initiative.

USDA – Afterschool Snack Program
Best practice resources for afterschool nutrition.