Peace of Mind for Working Parents
Afterschool programs improve employee productivity, reduce absenteeism and support working parents. Pennsylvania is home to nearly 1.3 million school-age children and youth (5-18) who have working parents. (Pennsylvania KIDS COUNT, 2004) A study of the Extended-Service Schools Initiative found that “afterschool programs were having beneficial outcomes: 80 percent of parents said they were less worried about their child’s safety after school; 57 percent said their child’s participation helped them manage their own work schedule; 47 percent said it let them attend classes or job training more easily; 45 percent said it helped them get a better job or do a better job.” (Public Private Ventures, 2002)
Communities need citizens that are connected to their community in order to thrive. In multiple ways, afterschool and out-of-school (OST) time help children and youth, in urban, rural and suburban areas, build positive connections with adults and their peers. These supportive relationships with staff, counselors, volunteers, older youth serving as leaders, etc., solidify a young person’s bonds the community. Older youth especially desire hands-on, project based learning and entrepreneurial opportunities that helps them build self esteem and leadership skills, stay in school, and explore college or careers while learning from positive role models. As a result, their OST experiences (or the unfortunate lack thereof) greatly influence the goals they set for themselves as happy and productive citizens in your community.
Supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Skills and Careers
Regardless of industry type, employers in the U.S. are finding it increasingly challenging to find employees with advanced skill in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The Case for Being Bold: A New Agenda for Business in Improving STEM Education, a report from the Institute for a Competitive Workforce says now more than ever is the time for OST programs and local business and industry to build strong partnerships to advocate for the importance of OST and support STEM learning and career education. Despite new core standards and a renewed excitement in STEM, this report asserts it is not enough to fundamentally change the way STEM is taught and learned. Today’s STEM momentum needs to continue but American students and graduates will continue to lag behind if business does not step in to help schools and OST providers create innovative, hands-on, real world learning experiences to inspire STEM learning and graduate students that industry wants to hire. In today’s global economy, it is not enough for students to be proficient in STEM, students must become passionate about a STEM of their choice if America is to close the education gap with its competitors. Filled with data on STEM learning, the report outlines how businesses should advocate, lend expertise and partner with educational institutions in their community and make a fierce commitment to remake education in this country.
Preparing Youth for Employment in the Current Economy
Our current economy is forcing all sectors – business, education and government – to produce more with less. In the workplace, employers are expecting increased productivity and innovation from employees, while still trying to accommodate employee needs such as professional development, job training and flexible schedules. The Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool: Opening Doors to Work and Careers outlines how participation in quality OST time better prepares students for the practices required to succeed in the 21st Century:
Partnering with OST and the Community – How to Get Started
PSAYDN encourages Pennsylvania business to be open to proposals and opportunities presented by OST providers wanting to establish hands-on, real world learning experiences in business and industry for children and youth. Even young children benefit from exposure to career education.
The Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, which serves to improve the health, education and well-being of children and youth in the Commonwealth, created the Promising Pathways to Careers Toolkit: A How-to Guide for Creating Quality Work-based Learning Opportunities for Young People to help business partner with OST and their local community to support OST and strengthen their local economy.
Businesses wanting to start a dialogue or partnership now can visit Corporate Voices for Working Families (CVWF). CVWF supports improving the lives of working families, strengthening the nation’s economy and enhancing the vitality of our communities. CVWF offers a suite of two toolkits to help facilitate the connection between business and afterschool, whether an afterschool program is looking to partner with a business, a business is looking to support an afterschool program, or a business wants to expand their work with afterschool to include advocacy and public awareness.
The Afterschool Business-to-Community Toolkit highlights policies and community outreach strategies that businesses can institute to increase public support for afterschool. It gives examples of how businesses can become involved in afterschool programs in their community through partnering with programs, providing volunteers, and making in-kind contributions and donations. In addition, the toolkit includes case studies on how businesses can engage in advocacy for afterschool through outreach to media and policymakers, by joining a larger afterschool movement, and through participating in events to raise public awareness.