So You Started an After School Program - Now What?


Of the many unsung heroes of the COVID-19 disaster, owners and staff working tirelessly in after-school programs are at the top of the list. 

These out-of-school time (OST) programs provide youth with a safe place to go after school. During summer, they also help reduce learning loss, provide athletic opportunities, and a diverse range of social enrichment activities.

Pandemic pushed after-school programs to the edge

The significant impact of these programs on the academic and social development of young learners and the ability they afford parents and other caregivers to work and earn a living is essential for healthy communities -- particularly those in high poverty areas. 

Starting an after-school program is challenging enough. Imagine starting one recently as the pandemic swept across the planet, causing mass closings everywhere. Most schools closed their doors and classes were delivered remotely. Many after-school programs were forced to close entirely or pivot to providing virtual programming.

With the country gradually returning to a sense of normalcy, after-school programs have to change their direction again to reopen. “There’s going to be a greater need for services as people get back to their lives,” said Gina Warner of the National Afterschool Association, in an interview with Edweek. “Many of these [out-of-school] programs are going to have to figure things out even before schools do.”

The publication estimates that 10 million children were enrolled in after-school programs before COVID-19.

Focus on your program instead of paperwork

After-school and OST programs come in all sizes and models. Regardless of whether a program is being built from the ground up or it’s well-established, one of the common challenges is sustainable funding. For a program to keep its doors open, it needs financial support from either community partnerships, from fees charged to parents or grants from different levels of government. 

Programs that apply for federal funding through the federal government’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21CCLC) Act have reporting obligations tied to those funds. Many state legislatures have provided additional state funding for OST programs like the Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports (ELISS) grant program in North Carolina.

Unfortunately, many are overwhelmed by the laborious amount of administrative tasks and state/ federal reporting that is required to receive grants and track outcomes. After all, they are focused on serving the youth in our communities by providing top-quality programming and helping students and adults alike during the after-school hours.

After-school program directors utilize AfterSchool21 to collect data to sustain programs, ultimately eliminating the burden of complex reporting. AS21 is the first solution to provide a direct link to 21APR for electronic data verification and submission. 

Read our ebook for best practices and helpful resources 
for new and established programs

AS21 is the most customizable and advanced after-school program data management software available. Schedule a demonstration today to learn how we can help your team thrive in this ever-changing academic landscape.

Data simplification, automated foundation, and federal performance reports

Manage your program more efficiently and maximize your funding potential with AS21’s best-in-class data management tools that will help your program:

  • Simplify federal, state, and foundation reporting     
  • Align automated reporting to federal performance reports, like the 21APR  
  • Access hundreds of out-of-the-box reports on performance, outcomes, and more   
  • Streamline attendance records for in-person, hybrid, and virtual programs      
  • Invoicing and payment collection automation

Program administrators are helping to enrich lives and AS21 empowers them to focus on the mission instead of the paperwork and reporting.

Learn more about how AS21 will save you time and resources so that you can maximize student growth and achievement.    

Discover how TransACT has been providing K-12 and Higher Education with mission-critical solutions for more than 27 years.

About The Author

Alyssa Thornley has spent her career working to support schools and communities in providing opportunity to all students. In positions as a teacher, professional development coordinator, and as a volunteer, she has focused on the community’s role in education, and in designing efficient programs that work for diverse needs. Alyssa leads TransACT’s customer engagement and market strategy efforts, and works to ensure innovative programs, guidance, and thought leadership from across the country’s districts are being shared and spread.