Our ultimate vision at Dallas Afterschool is for every family to have access to the quality afterschool and summer programs they want for their children. We were formed in 2007 in response to the study “Today’s Children: Tomorrow’s Communities, 2006 After-School Program Assessment,” which found that there was no unifying agency to facilitate communication, learning or information exchange between afterschool care agencies in Dallas County.
We know that on average, low income students experience up to 6,000 fewer hours learning than their middle class peers, creating an overwhelming achievement gap that is difficult to close during traditional school hours alone. In a city where 30% of our children live in poverty, we need quality afterschool programs to address this achievement and opportunity gap between the hours of 3-6pm. Working with afterschool staff members at over 180 sites throughout Dallas County, we assess, inform, support and improve programs serving K-12 grade students through our Program Quality Initiative, Research and Evaluation, and most recently, the After the Bell Alliance.
The Program Quality Initiative
Research indicates that quality afterschool programs can increase academic scores, social-emotional skills, and attendance in school, as well as reducing negative behaviors. Dallas Afterschool works with 35 different nonprofits and over 180 afterschool and summer program sites annually to provide coaching, training and resources through our Program Quality Initiative to ensure that programs are more likely to observe positive outcomes for students.
Quality education sets a crucial foundation for students and communities to flourish. Partner sites are given access to a library of innovative hands-on program resources designed to engage students in social, emotional and academic development, helping to bridge the opportunity gap of approximately 14,000 K-12th grade students at our free or low-cost partner sites.
Research and Evaluation
We conduct research through our partnership with SMU’s Center on Research and Evaluation on the impact of quality out of school time programs on student academic success. Additionally, through a data sharing agreement with Dallas ISD and assistance from program providers, SMU is simultaneously conducting an analysis on the impact of afterschool programming on students’ social and emotional health. We continuously evaluate our processes and interventions to determine which are most effective and how to scale positive impact.
After the Bell Alliance
Thirty percent of children grow up in poverty in Dallas County. Currently, there is only enough free out of school time capacity to serve 4% of ALL children - so the vast majority of kids with the greatest need for academic and social/emotional support do not have access to quality afterschool care. Further, parents who desire to work and create a better life for their children are left to make a choice between full-time employment and the guarantee of safety for their children between the hours of 3-6pm. The After the Bell Alliance addresses this systemic issue by advocating for systems change at the city, state, and federal levels to increase available capacity for children in under-resourced communities.
It is our hope that through a commitment to continued improvement that we will become a city with scalable solutions to the difficult challenges facing our education system, and become advocates for public support that will be both efficient and effective in the afterschool and summer program spaces.