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Why Afterschool?

In order to spark a passion for knowledge and discovery, young people need real-world, hands-on, cognitive learning, that engages and motivates them in a way that is meaningful to them. Through these experiences, interchangeably referred to as afterschool, out-of-school time (OST), enrichment, and expanded learning opportunities, young people not only achieve gains in school, but also develop skills like problem-solving, critical-thinking, and practice building positive relationships – exactly the skills they need to become successful as students, productive citizens, employees and human beings. Together, we can make meaningful, measurable change in the lives of young people!


What is Expanded Learning?

The time students spend out of school is just as important as the time they spend in school. We have the opportunity to ensure kids and young people continue to learn and grow, even outside the traditional classroom.

The term “afterschool” is often used interchangeably with “out-of-school time” (OST) to refer to all youth development programming that occurs beyond the traditional school day, including before school, after school, holiday breaks, weekends, summers and days off.


Expanded Learning encompasses before school, after school, summer, or intersession learning programs that focus on developing the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs and interests of young people through hands-on, engaging learning experiences.


Quality expanded learning opportunities (ELOs) are youth-centered, make intentional connections between communities and schools through programmatic linkages and real-world experiences, are results driven, include community partners, and complement, but do not replicate, learning activities in the regular school day and school year.

You may already be familiar with pioneer programs in the youth development field that are supported by national organizations such as the YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, 4-H, Camp Fire, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. However, ELO programs also include licensed school-age child care centers, federally funded 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC), school-based and faith-based programs. 


Why is expanded learning needed?

Young people in today’s world face many challenges. ELO programs help address some of the critical issues. The Afterschool Alliance estimates that 15% of Oklahoma’s children (approximately 98,324 children) are left alone and unsupervised between 3-6pm for an average of 6.3 hours per week in, which creates greater potential for children to be at risk.

Afterschool program participation has decreased in Oklahoma, from 11% in 2014 to only 9% (about 61,908) in 2020. The latest America After 3PM report shows that the unmet demand for afterschool and summer programs is high. For every child in afterschool, 4 are waiting for an available program (276,280). 

In 2019, 125,010 (18%) would have been enrolled in a summer program if one were available to them. 

Click here to watch a video that explains the exciting opportunity we have creating optimal learning environments for young people outside the traditional school day. 


What are the benefits of Expanded Learning?

Research and studies show that high quality ELO programs benefit communities in a variety of ways:

- Prevents job disruption

- Help prevent juvenile crime

- Reduce high school dropout rates and chronic absenteeism 

- Reduce drug use and substance abuse

- Reduce teen pregnancy rates

- Decreases suicide and depression rates by fostering a sense

Young people who participate in these programs also experience other important benefits:

- Increased excitement about learning and engagement during school

- Increased positive behaviors such as healthy lifestyle choices and responsible decision-making

- Decreases summer learning loss and opportunity gaps

- Prepared for success after graduation.

- Develop vital workforce skills such as teamwork, leadership and critical thinking.

Young people are not the only ones to see a benefit from ELO programs. In Oklahoma, 78% of the state’s working parents agree that these programs help give them peace of mind about their children while they are at work. Moreover, 88% of parents support public funding for afterschool. 

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