An Emerging Field

Celebrating the fact that Out-of-School Time (OST) education was an emerging field in its own right, distinct from K-12 education, the Robert Bowne Foundation (RBF) provided research grants and fellowships to OST education providers and scholars. We also disseminated their work and that of others in our publications. The RBF believed that all young people were entitled to quality programs that support their development -- intellectual, artistic, physical, emotional, and spiritual -- to its fullest potential. Through our research and advocacy efforts, we joined the growing OST community in helping to make that dream a reality.

RBF provided grants to youth-centered programs related to youth literacy for direct service programs, technical assistance to Out-of-School Time (OST) programs, evaluation, advocacy, and research. Awards generally ranged from $20,000 to $30,000 and were granted for specific projects or general operating support to the youth literacy program. Research grants were also awarded to support both original empirical research in or about community-based youth programs during the out-of-school hours and research syntheses or policy analyses of community-based youth programs.

We believed that, by studying and disseminating the practices of quality programs educators, funders, and policy-makers could develop practices and policies to support the development of quality programs for young people. It was a priority of the Foundation to identify, develop, support, and disseminate research and practices that would have a significant impact on OST education policy.

In 2003, the RBF launched several initiatives to accomplish this goal. Our publication, Afterschool Matters, was one of the initiatives, the goals of which were to:

  • Generate and disseminate research about community-based organizations serving youth during the out-of-school hours;
  • Build a network of scholars studying community based-organizations serving youth; and
  • Contribute to basic knowledge, and the improvement of practice and policy in the area of quality community-based youth programs.

Quality youth-centered programs have a clear mission and encourage participants to express their emerging identities. Learning and development require ongoing feedback in varied forms. Therefore, assessment and program evaluation are integrated throughout the programs. Youth-centered programs have cycles of planning, practice, performance and assessment. The programs tailor their activities, techniques and material to the interests, strengths and needs of the youth with whom they work. Youth provide leadership and direction, taking a central role in designing activities, as well as enforcing formal and informal rules for program participants. High quality content and instruction propel youth to accomplishments beyond those they imagined, and programs celebrate young people's achievements.