Afterschool works for America

A group of children finger paint on a large sheet of paper.
Art out-of-doors is a favorite team-building activity for the kids at Michigan’s Carmen-Ainsworth afterschool program. Photo: Rick Smith

The following is a statement by Ridgway White, president of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

At the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, we believe a good education is the best pathway to opportunity, and we support programs that engage children from cradle to college and career. For nearly two decades, we’ve had a major focus on supporting the development of quality afterschool programs for all children and youth.

We partnered with the federal government to test and expand the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, which provides afterschool programming to 1.6 million children across the country. We support afterschool networks in all 50 states and national organizations working to increase access to and enhance the quality of afterschool programs. In all, we’ve committed more than $250 million to these efforts.

Afterschool works
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are a major focus of Safe Harbor Afterschool Program in Michigan City, Indiana.
Photo: Rick Smith

Why? Because we know afterschool works.

It works for parents. It works for businesses. And — most important — it works for kids.

Research and data from hundreds of studies support the positive impact of afterschool programs on children’s success. Those who regularly participate in quality afterschool programs perform better in school, have better attendance and are less likely to get in trouble. Afterschool programs also help to close the achievement gap between children from lower-income families and their more affluent peers.

Afterschool works for America
Afterschool programs help build the social and emotional competencies kids need to flourish academically.
Photo: Rick Smith

At the same time, afterschool programs provide much-needed support for parents. Four out of five working parents with kids in afterschool programs say those programs help them keep their jobs.

And that helps business, too. It’s estimated that parents who don’t have access to afterschool programs for their kids cost companies up to $300 billion per year in health care and lost productivity. What’s more, many businesses value what their future workers learn in afterschool programs — from specialized knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math gained in STEM programs to broadly applicable skills, such as teamwork and problem-solving.

Afterschool works
Service-learning projects after school build self-esteem and help promote social connections with the greater community.
Photo: Rick Smith

I’ve seen — around the country and in the Mott Foundation’s hometown of Flint, Michigan — the many ways in which afterschool programs benefit children, families, companies and communities. Afterschool helps families to get ahead, businesses to hire the workforce they need and students to become productive, successful members of society.

Afterschool works for America.

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Mott Foundation Chairman and CEO Bill White shares an inspirational message with members of 50 Statewide Afterschool Networks as they gather for their annual conference.