Afterschool programs play a critical role in keeping kids healthy and active.



The Mott Foundation’s Education program supports initiatives around the U.S. that promote learning beyond the classroom especially for traditionally underserved children and youth — as a strategy for improving public education.

This grantmaking includes strengthening afterschool through technical assistance, research, evaluation and policy development, and by building public support. We also fund community schools internationally under our Civil Society program, as well as afterschool-related projects in Mott’s hometown of Flint, Michigan, via our Flint Area program.


Education plan puts youth and education first

Kyle Caldwell joined the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation as program director for its Education program in January 2013, in the midst of a major effort to refocus the Foundation’s national grantmaking to reduce the impacts of persistent poverty. During the next 18 months, Caldwell led his team in creating the Education plan, which was approved by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees in late 2014. Below, he explains the new plan, its grantmaking strategies and factors that influenced its development.

 Kyle Caldwell at Brownell STEM Academy in Flint, Michigan

Kyle Caldwell, Pathways to Opportunity program director, visiting with Brownell STEM Academy students.

Photo by Rick Smith

The Foundation last updated its anti-poverty grantmaking program 15 years ago. What prompted the decision to develop a new plan that focuses on opportunity?

The Great Recession really influenced the way we looked at poverty. Over the past several years, the Foundation has been taking a hard look at the research on poverty, and one glaringly obvious fact that influenced our thinking was the profound and persistent negative effect it has on families, and especially children.

Prior to my arrival, the Foundation had discussions with many experts in the field about these trends — the most alarming being that too many children in poverty lack access to quality education and career opportunities. As a result, we became more and more concerned with the widening gaps in opportunity that children and young people from low- and moderate-income families are facing today. This helped us identify the “north star” for our planning process and defined the way we think about pathways to opportunity.

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Afterschool in Indiana: How Michigan City is using STEM to train the next generation workforce


Safe Harbor STEM afterschool programWhen Herb Higgin, coordinator of the Safe Harbor afterschool program in Michigan City, Indiana, asked Al Walus to mentor a newly organized high school robotics team, Walus not only signed on as a volunteer, but eventually recruited 16 engineers from other area companies.

Walus is a longtime member of Michigan City’s Economic Development Corporation and on the staff of Christopher Burke Engineering. He was concerned with preparing the area’s next-generation workforce — one capable of filling the increasingly high-tech, high-skill demands of local industry and businesses.

“Afterschool was our foot in the door,” he said. “It was an opportunity to pique kids’ interest in science, technology and engineering.”

Increasingly, Walus is convinced that afterschool is a space where curriculum innovation can take place — innovations that eventually could impact the regular school day.

“Our local branch of Purdue University had expanded their engineering program — that’s what ultimately sold me on the value of Safe Harbor,” he said. “If our kids are going to take advantage of that opportunity, we have to start engaging them with the sciences before high school. That’s just too late.”

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Additional Resources


Afterschool Alliance   Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project   The Finance Project’s Out-of-School Time Clearinghouse   Harvard Family Research Project's Out-of-School Time Program Research and Evaluation Database   National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks