Now Crystal is proud to show off her midterm progress report: all A's and B's. The class, she says, "is teaching me what I can do to make myself happy and make my family proud."Even some After School Matters sites have struggled with attendance. "Even though we offer a stipend," says David Sinski, executive director of After School Matters, "we find that if it's not a strong program, it's not going to keep kids coming back.""It's a distraction from getting involved in gangs or drugs," says Javier Arriaga about the afterschool program he attends at Chicago Commons' Paulo Freir Family Center. Yet he and other teens who participate in such programs say their friends don't join them because they don't know much about them or don't like that younger children attend. They also say programs are sometimes boring or too much like school. To find out more about what teens say they want in after-school programs, go to www.catalyst-chicago.org.
Making after school cool From job apprenticeships to enrichment, after-school activities can provide valuable experiences for teenagers, but many stop attending By Rebecca Harris Erikson Institute believes that After Programs for teens need to offer ON THE WEB C School Matters is successful partly higher-level characteristics. “The rystal Lane, a 16-year-old “It’s a distraction from getting because its job-like structure—in- older you are, the more important it sophomore at Gage Park involved in gangs or drugs,” says cluding pay, required attendance is to go higher up on the pyramid,” High, failed a freshman math Javier Arriaga about the after- and high behavior expectations— Chesire says. course. This fall, she joined a school program he attends at leads adolescents to think about the To address the issue, the Out-of- Caribbean dance class through After Chicago Commons’ Paulo Freire process of becoming an adult. School Time Project launched a pi- Family Center. Yet he and other School Matters that helped her raise His 2008 book “The Means to lot project in which 38 after-school teens who participate in such her grades by boosting her self-con- Grow Up” details his research into sites volunteered to undergo a self- programs say their friends don’t fidence, providing her with a place join them because they don’t know programs that use apprenticeships evaluation and external evaluation where she felt respected and giving much about them or don’t like that that engage young people in mean- based on the assessment tool. After her incentive to study harder. younger children attend. They also ingful, adult tasks valued by society, the evaluation, the sites were of- Now Crystal is proud to show say programs are sometimes boring rather than providing emotional fered professional workshops and off her midterm progress report: all or too much like school. To find out support or life-skills instruction. coaching on improving quality to A’s and B’s. The class, she says, “is more about what teens say they By exposing teens to adults who better engage teens. An additional teaching me what I can do to make want in after-school programs, go are passionate about their work, 30 sites are now receiving similar myself happy and make my family to www.catalyst-chicago.org. and to high standards, such pro- support. proud.” grams help teens “begin to under- The project also sought help from After School Matters provides school Partnerships Improve Results stand what they need to do to be- a California-based firm, Rescue So- high school students with paid ap- in Education) Act would fund pro- come adults, and [that] gets them cial Change Group, which in 2007 prenticeships in the arts, fitness and grams specifically for high school to focus a little bit more on school and 2008 had hired teens in Chicago other fields. In terms of demand, it’s and middle school students. The Act tasks,” Halpern says. to interview their peers about after- one of Chicago’s more successful has been introduced in the U.S. Sen- school activities; the interviews programs, serving about 8,000 stu- ate and is slated to be introduced in the mikva Challenge, an organi- revealed a number of features that dents each semester at more than the U.S. House.
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