Every 26 seconds, a student drops out of high school. In the United States, high school dropouts commit about 75% of crimes and, over the course of their lives, dropouts will earn $260,000 less than their counterparts who graduate from high school. Successfully confronting the dropout crisis in this country will take a multi-faceted approach that addresses the multiple risk factors common among high school dropouts. Studies show that after-school programs effectively address and help resolve many of the issues that lead to dropping out of high school (Afterschool Alliance, July 2008). Teens who do not participate in after-school programs are nearly three times more likely to skip classes at school than teens who do participate (YMCA of the USA, March 2001, After School for America’s Teens). After-school programs are especially crucial in reaching young people who are most at risk at turning points as they transition from middle school to high school and are searching for meaningful, academic, vocational and recreational activities that keep them invested in their own success (NYSAN, Spring 2009). Engaging programming can prevent students from falling through the cracks, ensuring that they receive the appropriate level of engagement and support to graduate from high school and to be prepared for work, college and beyond.
Previous and recent findings of After School Matters apprenticeship programs report that teens who participated in our programs had better school attendance, fewer course failures, and higher graduation rates than those who did not participate.
We target schools and communities where financial resources and youth programming options are scarce. Our programs reach many teens in these communities, including those among the 85 percent of high school teens who qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program. Offering our programs at no cost has allowed us to impact a wide variety of the city’s teen population, cutting across socioeconomic, geographic and cultural lines.
Our vision is to provide Chicago teens with opportunities to discover their potential and find their path to a meaningful life. By focusing on continuous quality improvement, data-driven and cost effective decision-making, partnerships with public and private entities and the retention of skilled instructors, we will continue to succeed in developing the talents and skills our teens need for work, college and beyond.
After School Matters programs enrich the communities where they take place by:
Our investment in after-school programs significantly reaches some of Chicago’s highest-need communities. We offer more than 900 paid opportunities every year for instructors willing to share their knowledge and expertise by providing meaningful, real-world activities for young people. In addition to engaging independent instructors to mentor our teens, After School Matters contracts with community organizations to develop and deliver programs, empowering these local agencies to expand and add programmatic capacity and support the expansion of high-quality programs for teens.
After School Matters leverages schools, parks and libraries to provide safe havens for youth programming. By anchoring out-of-school opportunities at and around these locations, After School Matters invigorates Chicago neighborhoods and maximizes the use of existing public infrastructure.
Teens participate in programs, such as mural painting, sculpting and gardening, where program activities result in a final product – such as a mural or public garden – that can be shared with the community.
The findings below compare After School Matters teens to non-participating Chicago public high school teens across key areas including: attendance, positive youth development and graduation rates.
Northwestern University School of Education and Public Policy
Dr. Bart Hirsch led a randomized study from 2006-2009, which followed 535 Chicago public high school students divided into two groups: a variable group of After School Matters apprentices and a control group of Chicago public high school teens. Teens who participated in After School Matters:
University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall Center for Children
A group of Chicago public high school students were followed for four years for this 2007 study. The impact of several semesters of participation in After School Matters apprenticeship programs was researched. Teens who participated for three or more program cycles:
Dr. Robert Halpern, a nationally recognized authority on youth development, documented the activities of teens and instructors in After School Matters apprenticeship programs in a 2006 study, showing that our apprenticeship model: