Wallace Report on Citywide Afterschool Systems Released

Published on July 20, 2015 | Written by

On July 13, the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) and Youthprise, with support from the Wallace Foundation, teamed up to host a half-day event in Saint Paul to learn more about building and sustaining strong afterschool systems. The event examined what different cities are doing to boost afterschool program quality, collect and understand data, expand access to high-quality programs, and sustain their efforts. Using the recent Wallace Foundation report, Growing Together, Learning Together, as the framework for the convening, the event helped participants share lessons learned, interact with national experts in afterschool coordination, and generate ideas for local action.

Close to 100 people participated in the event, representing citywide teams from Sprockets (Saint Paul), YCB Minneapolis Afterschool Network, Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth (Brooklyn Park/Brooklyn Center), Northfield Healthy Community Initiative and Burnsville Youth Collaborative. Kicking off with a welcome from afterschool champion and Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, the event demonstrated the “Minnesota Model” with youth front and center. Members of the Minneapolis Youth Congress facilitated team discussions on the report themes and then a panel with Eyenga Bokamba of Sprockets, Fatima Mohammed from YCB Minneapolis Afterschool Network, Wokie Weah from Youthprise and Bela Shah Spooner from the National League of Cities (NLC) added their perspective. Then, national experts, including Jessica Donner from Every Hour Counts and our own Dr. Dale Blyth, along with representatives from NLC and the Wallace Foundation, worked with city teams to strategize about their next steps in systems building.

Fatima echoed the sentiment of many when she commented, “Our systems need to ensure that all youth receive high quality afterschool and that means we need to address racial disparities.” Wokie added, “What we’re doing to advance afterschool systems is truly important, and we need to have the courage to work across systems – like employment and juvenile justice – to help youth thrive.”

The event highlighted the work that’s happening in Minnesota to build effective citywide systems and it planted the seeds for future action. Betsy Brand, AYPF executive director, closed the event by offering advice on how Minnesota’s afterschool systems can continue to grow and learn together. We definitely will!

AYPF is a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization that provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels.

The Wallace Foundation is a national philanthropy that seeks to improve learning and enrichment for disadvantaged children and foster the vitality of the arts for everyone. Through investment over the past decade, The Wallace Foundation has helped cities build effective afterschool systems including Saint Paul’s Sprockets.

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