… Work Fitness into After-School Programs

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Youths face off in ASAS-LA’s annual “March Madness” basketball tournament. Boys and girls teams scrimmage all year to qualify for the playoffs.

Photo: ASAS-LA

After-School All-Stars

Los Angeles
(323) 957-4426

The Strategy: Provide after-school activities for middle and high school youth that revolve around health, fitness and nutrition; the visual and performing arts; and youth leadership and community service-learning.

Getting Started: Founded in 2002, After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles (ASAS-LA) was designed to provide programs to educate, enlighten and inspire students each day through after-school activities. (For more on the history of the program, which was buoyed by the involvement of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, see “Arnold Learns Youth Work.”)

How It Works: The school-based programs offer activities for youth with different preferences, experiences and levels of physical fitness and skill. Participants at 21 Los Angeles County schools may choose from activities in the performing arts, culinary arts, team sports and nontraditional tournaments. More traditional offerings include basketball, football, baseball, soccer and cheerleading. Other activities include skateboarding, capoiera, track and field, yoga and fencing.

Youth Served: ASAS-LA serves 3,500 students per day and around 10,000 children throughout the school year; they hail from disadvantaged areas throughout Los Angeles County. All participating schools must be in “program improvement stage,” which means the schools have a high percentage of youth who qualify for free lunch and their students have low test scores. The vast majority of the youths’ families are at or below the federal poverty level. Eighty-five percent are Hispanic, 9 percent are African-American, 7 percent are Caucasian and 3 percent are Asian.

Staff: ASAS-LA has 200 employees who implement programs at the schools. That includes program leaders, who are the front-line staff members who work directly with youth; site assistants, who also work with youth; and site coordinators, who are full-timers who manage all levels of program logistics and serve as liaisons between the school administrations and ASAS-LA staff.

Money: Public grants and private contributions. The majority of the group’s fiscal 2009 overall revenue stream of nearly $4.5 million came from government contracts, in particular a five-year 21st Century Community Learning Center ASSETS grant.