Research of Note for June 2006

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What Are Kids Getting Into These Days? Demographic Differences in Youth Out-of-School Time Participation
Harvard Family Research Project
Available at 

When it comes to benefiting from structured out-of-school time (OST) programs and activities like recreation, lessons and clubs, the haves still have it.

Using two nationally representative sets of data – the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the Urban Institute’s National Survey of American Families – researchers at the Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) explored current demographic differences among OST participants and demographic trends over time. Combined, the two data sets included information on more than 37,000 families.

“Across virtually all OST contexts,” the report found “youth [ages 6 to 17] from higher income families were more likely to participate than youth from lower income families.”

“While we’d like to say that we were surprised by this finding, it confirms what practitioners and researchers have suspected,” said Christopher Wimer, an HFRP research assistant and one of seven study co-authors. “Many OST programs and activities are costly to families, due to activity fees, transportation costs and other expenses.”

The exception was tutoring programs, in which youth from lower income families were more likely to participate than were higher income youth.

The study measured income (as reported by families in the two surveys) by dividing total family income by the number of family members, and dividing the resulting sample into five groups, with families with the highest incomes assigned to the top group.

Participation – the frequency and intensity with which youth attended OST programs and activities – was determined using the responses of caregivers and youth to questions in the two surveys about youth membership and attendance in groups or programs over the previous year.

Among youth ages 6 to 11, only 31 percent from the lowest income group participated in an OST club activity, compared with 58 percent from the highest income group. For youth ages 12 to 17, participation was 43 percent among the lowest income youth and 72 percent among the highest income youth.

Similar income differences were discovered for participation in organized recreation programs, sports, community programs, lessons and summer camps. For tutoring programs, however, 26 percent of the lowest income youth participated, versus 17 percent of the highest income youth.

“There is consistent evidence that low-income youth have more academic problems than their higher income peers, so it makes sense that they are more likely to need the services of tutoring programs,” Wimer said. “What is worrisome is the possibility that their higher levels of participation in tutoring programs are keeping them from reaping the benefits of other enriching programming.”

The study also examined the participation rates by some races. It found that “across most types of program and activities, Latino youth are consistently underrepresented, and White youth are consistently overrepresented, with Black youth somewhere in between.”

“This study adds to the growing evidence that many youth who are most in need of OST opportunities – and who may reap the greatest benefits – are participating less than their peers,” said Suzanne Bouffard, an HFRP research analyst and another co-author of the study.


Daring to Lead 2006: A National Study of Nonprofit Executive Leadership
CompassPoint Nonprofit Services/The Meyer Foundation
Available at  

If you’re the executive director of a nonprofit organization, chances are you won’t be there when you read the June 2011 issue of Youth Today.

According to this survey of nearly 2,000 nonprofit organizations in eight major U.S. cities, three-quarters of nonprofit executive directors (EDs) plan to leave their jobs within the next five years. Nearly one in 10 is in the process of leaving already.

Among those considering leaving, fewer than one-third had discussed their transition plans or replacements with their boards of directors.

The survey follows up on the original “Daring to Lead” survey, conducted in 2001. Both were joint projects of CompassPoint, a consulting, research and management training organization for nonprofits, and The Meyer Foundation, which works to find leaders for community-based nonprofits in the Greater Washington area.

“This time … we had more depth in terms of what we were trying to find out about the executive experience,” said Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint, who co-authored the report with colleague Timothy Wolfred.

Among their findings:
• Despite the large number of EDs planning a move in the next five years, 70 percent of respondents said they would stay in the nonprofit sector. They preferred another nonprofit ED position or a job as a foundation executive or consultant.
The researchers also asked about conditions under which respondents’ predecessors had left the organization. They were surprised to find that one in three previous EDs had been fired or forced out of their jobs.
“That doesn’t mean that they didn’t have long and successful tenures,” Bell said. “Sometimes people stay about two or three years too long, or at least in their board’s estimation.”
• Negative perceptions of the board of directors were strongly associated with ED turnover. While nearly two-thirds of executives felt supported by their boards, most said they did not have a strong strategic partnership. Fewer than one-third of EDs strongly agreed that their boards were challenging them to be more effective.
• Executive directors believe they make significant financial sacrifices to lead nonprofits. About one in three said they were dissatisfied with their compensation. Only 26 percent had ever asked for a raise.
• Concerns about organizational sustainability have led EDs to learn new skills and strategies. Respondents cited fundraising and finance as the least favorite aspects of their jobs, and the areas in which they most needed help in building skills.
One-fourth said they had retained the services of an executive coach, and 8 percent were using a paid coach.
“We’re talking about fairly small organizations here,” Bell said. “The fact that almost one in 10 is paying an executive coach is pretty interesting. It shows that this whole for-profit leadership focus has completely come into [the nonprofit] sector.”
• Only half of the respondents said they were actively training a future executive director. Eighty-two percent of the EDs were white. Younger EDs were just as likely to be white as were their older counterparts.

Finally, Bell said, “A lot of current executives believe that new executives won’t make the sacrifices they’ve made; that they’ll expect at least nonprofit market pay, some work/life balance and some benefits, and that the boards are going to have to be ready to give them that.”

“What we’re trying to focus on is making the job doable,” she said, “so it’s attractive to emerging leaders.”