"Working for Detroit's Youth" -  "Believing, Achieving, and Succeeding"


21st Century After School Programs


For the past eight years ACTS has been actively involved as a major service provider delivering programs to students in Detroit, Oak Park and Inkster public school districts through the 21st Century Learning Initiative. Throughout this process ACTS has provided enrichment instruction in over 52 Detroit Public Schools alone. The 21st Century Learning Initiative is a Federally funded program designed to bring academic assistance and enrichment support activities to students in the lowest performing schools base upon the No Child Left Behind initiative.

 The various programs facilitated over the years through this program are: Life Skills, Chess for Success, Modern Dance, Video Production, Character Development, Public Speaking, Drama, ReCharge Health & Nutrition and Sports Flexibility Training (Baseball, Basketball, Flag Football, and Soccer).

Why are afterschool programs good for school-age children and youth?

Families across the country are beginning to recognize the tremendous benefits a quality afterschool program can provide. Because they offer an array of activities not always available during the traditional school day, these programs give students many opportunities for growth and learning they might not find elsewhere. For example, at a time when many schools have had to cut or reduce spending on art and music programs, after school programs can offer kids the opportunity to paint, draw, perform in a dramatic production, play music, participate in a dance performance, visit museums, etc. Or students can go into further depth with research that they may have begun in class time, which is often limited. While most in the after school field would agree that supporting academic skills is an important goal for after school programs, they stress the importance of integrating academic supports into a larger program that also promotes the social, emotional, and physical development of the children they serve. In her regular column, Sandra Feldman, President of the American Federation of Teachers, recently wrote a "holiday wish list" in which she asked for "more learning time for children who need it. There is accumulating research that after school programs, summer school, and extended days and years enable children who are behind to catch up. And added academics are not enough. At-risk children need the kind of extras that advantaged children take for granted but that too many urban children don't get: sports and cultural activities -- like art, dancing, visiting museums -- and going on organized excursions." [A Holiday Wish List by AFT President Sandra Feldman December 2000]

There is growing evidence from around the country that this approach is paying off. Children and youth who attend after school programs do better in school, and are safer and less likely to get into trouble in the hours after the end of the school day. Below is a quick look at what the available data on after school programs have shown us.

trophy.1.  Afterschool programs can enhance children's academic achievement. Participants in afterschool programs:

  • show increased interest and ability in reading
  • develop new skills and interests
  • show improved school attendance, increased engagement in school, and reduced dropout rate
  • turn in more and better quality homework and can spend more time on task
  • are held back or placed in special education classes less frequently
  • are less likely to experience childhood obesity
  • show shorter times in television and video game usage
  • show higher aspirations for the future, including intention to complete high school and go to college. (See the NIOST fact sheet [] and Safe and Smart: [])