How the Arts Enhance Afterschool Programs

Concern for children's safety and need for extended learning time in the afterschool hours has created an explosion in high quality afterschool programming. The U.S. Department of Education's 21st Century Community Learning Centers program has grown to a billion dollar program in a few short years. Arts-based proposals have successfully competed for some of these funds and are resulting in powerful partnerships between schools and community cultural organizations.

The short publication, How the Arts Can Enhance After-School Programs provides a brief introduction to the role of the arts in afterschool programs. This booklet consists of a brief summary of recent research findings about both arts and afterschool programs, a description of the key elements of successful programs and examples that showcase partnerships between schools and community-based organizations. For the purposes of this report, arts activities include instrumental and vocal music, dance, theater, creative writing, and the visual arts such as paint, sculpture, digital art, and photography.

Local arts-based programs featured in the report are:

  • Ogden Community Learning Center, Ogden, Kansas
  • Connections for Youth: 21st Century Community Learning Centers, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Learning Centers, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Project "Lights and Action," Dallas, Texas
  • Art Attack!, 21st Century Community Learning Center, Calhoun County, Florida
  • Court Youth Center, Las Cruces, New Mexico

The U.S. Department of Education also offers a few suggestions online about integrating the arts into afterschool programs.

The home page for the 21st Community Learning Centers Program offers examples of successful afterschool program proposals and information on how to apply for the next round of grants.