An unprecedented expansion of after school opportunities in NYC

On June 17, Mayor de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, and Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) Commissioner Bill Chong announced the selection of 271 providers that will expand after-school for middle school students beginning this September.  

As a result of a Request for Proposals (RFP) released by DYCD in March, middle school students will have access to after-school programs in 562 schools (including 60 in District 75) beginning this fall, a 142% increase over the current 231.  84% of the middle schools in NYC will now have school-based after school programming.  The number of seats citywide will jump to 76%, serving more than 79,300 students.  108 eligible community-based organizations will oversee these programs, nearly half of which currently do not operate a DYCD-funded after-school program (complete list can be found here).  

In addition to expanding the number of students served and programs involved, the RFP calls for programs to be open five days per week for 36 weeks during the school year and to offer 540 hours of after-school programming during the school year--a very significant increase for almost all after-school providers.  Per-student funding has been increased as well.  This marks a HUGE opportunity to reconceptualize how time is used, what kinds of experiences are offered, and what kinds of skills and knowledge are built during the vital middle grades years.

An expansion of this scale at this speed will face lots of challenges in ensuring that all participating students are engaged in ways that are meaningful and that truly expand upon the learning of the academic day.  I'm hopeful that mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that programs can learn from and with one another as they expand their programming and serve a broader population of students than many previously have, which will entail working with kids in new ways.  I'm also hopeful that there will be the capacity to rethink systemwide challenges like SAC licenses and other compliance aspects that too often distract from focus on high-quality programming.

As a new entity, CityPathways wasn't eligible to apply for the RFP (applicants had to have a 3-5 year track record), but we plan to formally subcontract with at least one of the new programs and hope to be a resource on a broader scale, in enabling school-based programs to identify off-site opportunities that can complement what they can offer onsite.  We think that using a framework like the CPath CPlan, which identifies core competencies that can integrate across in- and out-of-school learning, and around which kids can participate evidence of learning regardless of what setting they're in, will be extremely valuable in creating a more holistic experience for students.

Here's raising a keyboard to the DeBlasio administration for its commitment to expanding and enhancing afterschool programming.  We hope to help this investment reap its deserved dividends, for students and for the city itself, through capitalizing on the catalytic experiences offered and propelling youth on trajectories towards better outcomes.