The first edition of the journal, Afterschool Matters: Dialogues in Philosophy, Practice, and Evaluation, was funded in part by The Robert Bowne Foundation (RBF). It was published in Spring 2000 by Susan Ingalls, at that time executive director of Foundation for Children and the Classics. Elaine Lyons, who was then the executive director of Interfaith Neighbors, was the editor.
The mission of the journal, which was peer reviewed and the first of its kind, was to:
- Promote professionalism, scholarship and consciousness in the field of afterschool education.
- Provide a forum for scholarship concerning the educational and developmental needs of youth during the afterschool hours and in the community-based setting.
- Increase academic public awareness of the field of afterschool education and to define the parameters which distinguish this educational arena from others.
The original aim of the journal was to provide opportunities for grassroots educators to write about their experiences and ideas with a platform for publication. Authors in the journal have expanded to include researchers, policy makers and other professionals. The audience for the journal includes social workers, education professionals, developmental psychologists, researchers, youth workers, arts educators, funders and nonprofits. There is an intentional goal to bring together a wide range of disciplines and perspectives on the field. Another major thrust of the journal was, and is, to maintain a balance of writing by practitioners as well as researchers, tied to the Foundation's philosophy of building bridges between research and practice.
The second edition of the journal came out in 2003. At that time RBF assumed the publishing role with Jan Gallagher as the editor, and Sara Hill, the research officer at RBF, became the managing editor. The Foundation continued publishing the journal until 2007. In addition to the journal, the Foundation published The Afterschool Matters Occasional Papers, which included research studies from another Foundation project, the Edmund A. Stanley Jr. Research Grants.
In 2007, the journal, along with other projects in the National Afterschool Matters Initiative which had been incubated by the Foundation, became a project of the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST). The Foundation continued to fund the journal. Georgia Hall became the managing director and Jan Gallagher continued as the editor. NIOST continues to publish the journal today.