Youth who participate in after-school programs using evidence-based approaches to enhance personal and social skills show significant improvement compared to their peers, a new report from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning in Chicago finds.
Funded by the New York City-based William T. Grant Foundation, the report, The Impact of After-School Programs That Promote Personal and Social Skills (50 pages, PDF), is the result of meta-analysis of seventy-three evaluations of after-school programs by researchers Joseph Durlak and Roger Weissberg. They found that youth programs were most successful at improving outcomes when their activities were sequenced, active, focused, and explicit (SAFE). When compared to programs that did not have these characteristics, SAFE programs showed improved feelings of self-confidence among participating youth as well as positive feelings toward school, grades, and achievement test scores.
"This review is enormously important for after-school policymakers and practitioners," said Robert C. Granger, president of the Grant Foundation. "It shows it is possible for after-school programs to affect a range of outcomes that are important to school and non-school audiences alike. It also underscores the importance of program design."