Who Needs to Be Engaged to Inform Our Out-of-School Time Systems-Building Efforts?
The key community stakeholders to engage in out-of-school time fall primarily into two categories:
- Organizations and Institutions - including cultural institutions (libraries, museums, etc.); community-based organizations and agencies; businesses and funders; local/state government, schools and school districts. Each of these types of organizations/institutions has a perspective to share that is relevant and is based on how they connect to the issue. For example, local businesses desire a qualified future workforce and to increase or sustain the productivity of workers they already employ —their input will likely reflect their interest in supporting OST initiatives that prepare the workers of tomorrow by cultivating career ready skills and programs that address the childcare concerns of their current employees. Local school district leaders desire to improve student academic achievement and increase high school graduation rates — their perspective will be informed by their desire for programs that complement the regular school day, and offer opportunities for students at-risk of academic failure to receive targeted supports and interventions.
- Individuals - including youth, parents and families, volunteers, etc. Although institutions and organizations are an essential part of any OST coalition, your United Way must go beyond this outreach and engage individuals in your community, especially those that are likely to directly benefit from high-quality OST initiatives.
The input and perspective of older youth is especially critical, since they are old enough to “vote with their feet” and simply decline to participate in programs that do not interest them. Youth should be engaged in broader conversations that are about establishing community-wide goals for children/youth as well as in discussions specifically focused on what they want from out-of-school time programs (click here to see how United Way of Greater Twin Cities used a grant from United Way Worldwide to engage young people throughout their state).
- Parents and families are equally important to engage — those who have younger children may focus on safety concerns, while parents of older youth may place greater emphasis on programs that contribute to their children’s academic success and/or career goals — but all will want access to high-quality programs that are affordable, conveniently located, and staffed with caring and qualified adults.
Engaging a broad swath of community residents can also serve as a natural point from which to build and/or strengthen a volunteer base that can be tapped to add to existing program capacity. Seniors, especially retired teachers, are a good example of the types of individuals that might raise their hands to volunteer in OST programs.