This report evaluates the Beacon Community Centers Middle School initiative in New York City that was established in fall 2007 to offer youths structured out-of-school programs.
The report found that though most of the Beacon Centers were able to meet or exceed the 200-participant target for middle school youths, most middle-school youths that participated averaged 182 hours of structured programming which is lower than the goal of 216 hours. A center with an education specialist was reported to be more likely to have attending youths meet their 216-hour attendance objective goal.
In observing program quality, the researchers found that task-oriented activities with clear-cut organization and goals were most effectively implemented. However, activities in which youths were encouraged to apply skills through hands-on activities were infrequent in the program.
Overall, the report showed that with better support, whether from the program’s director or financially, centers were more successful in achieving the initiative’s goals.
PSA offered three recommendations following the evaluation of the report: to encourage maintaining strong partnerships with the program’s host schools, provide technical support to improve the program’s content, and develop more chances for youth leadership.
Free, 52 pages. http://www.wallacefoundation.org.