After School: Connecting Children at Risk with Responsible Adults to Help Reduce Youth Substance Abuse and Other Health-Compromising Behaviors

An RWJF National Program

The After School program helped develop intermediary organizations in Boston, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area in order to create citywide systems of after-school programs.

The intermediaries—Boston After School & Beyond, After School Matters in Chicago and Team-Up for Youth, headquartered in Oakland, Calif.—are neutral, independent organizations capable of dedicating the necessary resources and focus to bring key players from many sectors to the table and generate broad community support.

  • The three projects brought together key players from public and private organizations to strengthen and coordinate after-school activities and to provide programming.
  • The intermediary organizations helped link more than 90,000 at-risk young people in urban neighborhoods to quality, adult-led programs in Boston, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • After School contributed to the recognition and growth of after-school intermediaries nationwide through reports about the program, and through sponsored meetings.
  • After School contributed to an emphasis on the after-school needs of teenagers by showcasing After School Matters (Chicago)—which targeted teenagers—in reports and meetings, This led to an increase in after-school programs for teenagers, including the Teen Initiative in Boston.
  • After School brought the issue of childhood obesity—especially in low-income and minority communities—to the after-school field. Program staff brought representatives from the after-school and youth sports fields together to explore ways to increase after-school physical activities for urban youth.

Evaluators from the Conwal Division of Axiom Resource Management wrote a report, Scaling Up Services Through Public-Private Partnerships: Lessons for Communities From the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation After School Project (2006) that identified six characteristics for successful capacity-building and long-term sustainability. They are:

  • a clearly articulated core vision;
  • coordination through a central entity independent of existing government agencies;
  • an advisory body with members who are able and willing to influence resources;
  • early dedicated funding for infrastructure development;
  • evolutionary development, rather than rigid adherence to an initial plan;
  • incremental, rather than rapid, expansion.