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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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This issue's Promising Practices section illustrates the diverse approaches that OST programs use to link with other institutions, including universities, social and health services, families, schools, and museums. They demonstrate that initiatives vary in the number and scope of their linkages, from one strong partnership to multicomponent supports, as well as in their methods for building and evaluating linkages.

Lucy Friedman describes how a collaborative after school initiative links with universities and families to promote college and career preparation among middle school youth.

In 2005, The After-School Corporation (TASC), the College Board, and the Partnership for Afterschool Education (PASE), with support from Time Warner Inc., introduced After-School CollegeEd as a pilot program in 16 school-based after school programs. CollegeEd is a research-based curriculum designed by the College Board to encourage middle and high school students and their families to actively plan for college, careers, and life after high school. Originally designed as an in-school program, the curriculum is associated with high educational aspirations and improved knowledge about the importance of planning early for college, particularly for less educated and immigrant populations.

Through our collaborative efforts, we are adapting this successful program to the after school hours and implementing it in TASC sites in New York State, with Time Warner Inc. resources targeted for programs in New York City. Founded in 1998, TASC currently supports more than 250 high-quality after school programs, which expose more than 40,000 students to activities that promote their social, emotional, intellectual, physical, and creative development. TASC programs complement school curricula and provide supplementary activities that may not be available during the school day.

Through this pilot project, we aim to demonstrate that after school is an untapped but effective venue for supporting and encouraging youth on the path to college. We focus on youth and families who are not familiar with the college planning process—particularly middle school students from low-income minority communities. One way the program accomplishes this goal is by connecting colleges and universities with after school programs in communities that normally have little access to higher education. For example, in the Bronx College Town program, six middle school TASC programs work with institutions of higher education in the Bronx to introduce students to the benefits of attending college through campus tours, lectures, and mentoring partnerships. We have also developed relationships with Brooklyn College, Medgar Evers College, New York University, and Teachers College at Columbia University, which now manage after school programs.

The addition of After-School CollegeEd to TASC programs formalizes a continuum of services for youth to become and stay college bound. These services include PSAT and SAT prep, college visits, and application assistance. After-School CollegeEd emphasizes that college is affordable and accessible for everyone, that planning for college starts in middle school and continues in high school, and that family involvement is key.

Introducing middle and high school students to the college planning process through after school programs has unique benefits. After school's more informal, interactive setting can get youth more engaged and motivated—for example, through creative and diverse staffing. Staff include well-trained college students who use their own college experiences to serve as mentors and encourage youth to plan for college. Our small student–teacher ratios ensure that participants also develop strong relationships with adult instructors. The after school environment can also be more inviting and accessible to parents, which helps to connect families to the college planning process.

College prep activities can also lead to stronger relationships between the after school program and school administrators and teachers because they demonstrate that the after school and day school programs share at least one common goal: students' college enrollment and attendance. By working together, after school programs and schools can also leverage resources from multiple nonprofits and educational institutions and serve youth more cost-effectively.

TASC uses three systems to assess sites participating in After-School CollegeEd: routine site visits and annual assessments by program officers to assure quality and program improvements; TASC's data management system, which collects enrollment and attendance figures; and the New York State Afterschool Network Program Quality Self-Assessment Tool, which TASC trains programs to use, to help sites reflect on progress and plan program improvements. Now in the pilot phase of the After-School CollegeEd program, we are conducting a formative evaluation focused on recruitment and attendance.

So far, results have been positive. After the first year of the program, After-School CollegeEd participants and staff expressed enthusiasm about their experiences, and most planned to continue in the fall, while at least 12 additional after school programs expressed interest in participating. In the future, we hope to conduct longitudinal evaluation studies, following young people through college enrollment. To date, our experiences suggest that the bridges that quality after school programs form between schools and communities and between families and schools have great potential to help put youth on the path to college.

Lucy N. Friedman
The After-School Corporation (TASC)
925 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10019
Tel: 212-547-6951

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© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project