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After-School Programs Provide Pathway to Success Beyond High School

More than 11 million children nationwide are alone or unsupervised after class ends, according to the Afterschool Alliance. (School's Out Washington)
More than 11 million children nationwide are alone or unsupervised after class ends, according to the Afterschool Alliance. (School's Out Washington)
October 25, 2018

SEATTLE – Communities across the country on Thursday mark Lights on Afterschool Day – a celebration of the expanded learning opportunities available to school children once the final bell rings.

In Washington state, more than 200,000 children are unsupervised after class and more than 330,000 would participate if a program were available, according to a survey by the Afterschool Alliance.

Meg Lindsay, director of education and talent for Greater Spokane, Inc. heads the Spokane STEM network. She says students are finding career paths through Greater Spokane's Business AfterSchool workshop, which brings children to workplaces to give them hands-on experiences.

"The lights just go on when students are able to participate inside a business in that way and truly understand the value of their educational opportunities," she states.

The Business AfterSchool workshop brings students to companies with a wide range of specialties, including engineering, health care and manufacturing.

The Afterschool Alliance survey found 57 percent of Washington parents believe after-school programs help children gain science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM-related interests and skills.

Chris Rossman is director of the YMCA program Y-Scholars at Garfield High School in Seattle. The program provides college readiness for about 120 African-American students after school.

Rossman says students get help applying for scholarships and preparing for tests such as the SAT, and also forge bonds with each other.

"We're African-American students, and a lot of them are in these honors and advanced classes, and usually they're one of the few kids of color in those classes,” he explains. “So when they come together after school, they can kind of build that community and support each other."

Rossman says after working in this realm for more than 10 years, he's realized the importance of the time between when classes end and the parents of children get home from work.

He adds that the program doesn't turn away any student looking for academic help in the afternoon.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA