What Are Some Ways You Can Engage the Community in Your Out-of-School Time Efforts?
- Collaborate with partners to convene community conversations focused on out-of-school time. Use planning tools and templates developed by the Harwood Institute for United Way Worldwide (see resource section below).
- Develop an action plan for out-of-school time; give individuals and representatives from organizations that you have engaged in community conversations the opportunity to participate in the planning process.
- Use your workplace and Campaign for the Common Good campaigns as opportunities to educate and inform employees at local businesses about the importance and impact of out-of-school time; urge donors to also volunteer as tutors and mentors in local OST programs. Mentoring and tutoring programs often need “higher” skilled volunteers to fill these roles; literacy-focused OST programs could benefit from volunteer readers. Your United Way can also help with the recruitment and placement of these volunteers. Click here to see United Way Worldwide’s guide for engaging volunteers to support early grade reading.
- Hold a Lights On Afterschool event every year in October — visit the Afterschool Alliance’s website for tools, tips, and resources to make the most of your planned event.
- Urge community residents/United Way supporters to write editorials for the local paper touting the benefits and importance of providing OST opportunities for the community’s young people.
- Ask community residents/United Way supporters to write their congressional representatives in support of continued federal funding for out-of-school time through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program. Develop template letters that can be easily customized for this purpose. To see United Way’s policy agenda for the 113th Congress, click here.
- Provide a venue for community residents to share their personal stories about how an out-of-school time opportunity helped fuel their own growth and development — and share these stories widely.
- Survey and/or convene focus groups of youth and their families — ask them about their educational goals, what opportunities and supports they need to be successful, the kinds of out-of-school opportunities they would like to have access to, and why they do or do not participate.