NYC Forges Ahead on After-school Programs for All Middle-School Kids

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Kevin Case / Flickr

Mayor Bill de Blasio

Kevin Case / Flickr

Mayor Bill de Blasio

What if free after-school programs existed for all middle-school kids? What if the kids had a mix of tutoring, homework help, recreation and cultural activities at their own school every afternoon?

This scenario will become a reality in New York City in September. Mayor Bill de Blasio last week reiterated his commitment to providing the $190 million needed to expand into the approximately 500 middle schools in the city. Almost half of them already have out-of-school-time programs serving more than 56,000 students. Spots for an additional 62,791 students will be added, according to the Department of Youth and Community Development.

The department will award a new Apple iPad Air and keyboard/cover to the student who comes up with the best name for the expanded after-school program. “By renaming and re-branding the city’s OST program, we want to make after-school more attractive and meaningful to older youth," said department Commissioner Bill Chong in a statement in mid-April.

A month ago, hope for a major after-school expansion throughout the entire state of New York was dashed when the legislature failed to approve funding that had been proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

However, New York City will be able to fund its middle-school expansion, said Department of Youth and Community Development spokesman Mark Zustovich. The mayor is also moving ahead with his promise to institute universal pre-kindergarten.

DYCD has been seeking qualified nonprofit organizations to operate the new after-school programs. Proposals are due May 2.

Providers will work with schools to align activities with school-day learning. Principals will be required to make in-kind contributions representing 10 to 15 percent of the after-school budget, according to a DYCD description of the program. For example, principals may choose to donate teacher time by shifting teacher schedules to make them available after 3 p.m. Schools will encourage teachers – including drama, dance and art instructors – to lead after-school activities. They will also make an effort to enroll struggling students.

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