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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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Inside this Research Update:  The benefits, challenges, and successful strategies of OST programs for older youth.

Out-of-school time (OST) programs focused on older youth—specifically, youth in middle and high school—can help participants successfully navigate their adolescence and learn new skills well into their teens. OST programs can also help prepare older youth for a variety of new roles that they will assume as they enter college and the workforce. However, some programs struggle to implement high-quality services, recruit and retain older youth, and reach optimal outcomes. This Research Update addresses the benefits, challenges, and successful strategies of OST programs for older youth, based on data from eight recent evaluations and research studies profiled in our OST Research and Evaluation Database.

Most of the programs discussed in this Research Update target academic assistance, enrichment, or developmental goals, either in a relatively unstructured way (such as the drop-in approach of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America) or in more structured manner (such as the apprenticeship and hands-on learning model of Citizen Schools). Five of the program evaluations discussed used a quasi-experimental design to understand issues around implementation and program quality, while another evaluation (for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America), used an experimental design to understand the impacts of its school-based mentoring program. Finally, the two research studies highlighted in this brief both used non-experimental methods, selecting groups of high-performing or high-retention programs to examine what factors appeared common to programs that had the most success with older youth.

About this Series
The Research Update series provides insight from the evaluations and research studies profiled in Harvard Family Research Project’s Out-of-School Time (OST) Program Research and Evaluation Database. Research Updates highlight new and innovative topics, methods, and findings in the increasingly sophisticated, growing field of OST research and evaluation.

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Published by Harvard Family Research Project