PHILADELPHIA – Today, Philadelphia’s Out-of-School (OST) Time Initiative was formally launched by Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia School District Superintendent Dr. Hite, City Managing Director Mike DiBerardinis, DHS Commissioner Cynthia Figueroa, OST providers and other stakeholders. The event took place at the Franklin Institute. Following remarks by the Mayor, Dr. Hite, the Managing Director and the Executive Director of Sunrise Philadelphia, an OST provider, numerous stakeholders provided input on a draft operational plan during a three-hour moderated discussion. The draft plan was compiled by the City with support from the Wallace Foundation. Moving forward, the City will incorporate the feedback from this meeting into the operational plan and create working groups to put various aspects of the plan into action.
“We must harness the power of all OST stakeholders – citizens, nonprofits, schools, governments, and the philanthropic and businesses communities – in order to develop an OST system that realizes its full potential on behalf of our youngest citizens,” said Mayor Kenney. “While the City has been collecting data on this issue thanks to a Wallace Foundation grant since 2012, it doesn’t tell the whole story. We want input from community-based providers, neighborhood residents and other partners on what they think Philadelphia children need.”
The Out-of-School Time (OST) Initiative seeks to create a shared and coordinated approach to OST programming among the City, schools, providers, philanthropy and the community. This effort will be focused on ensuring that before school, afterschool, weekend programming and summer programs are quality and that they effectively address our at-risk children’s most pressing needs, namely early literacy, asthma, obesity, and food insecurity.
“As a District we see quality partnerships as a crucial component of creating great schools close to where our children live,” said School Superintendent Dr. Hite. “By investing in out-of-school time program quality and measuring the impact of these programs on our students, we will be able to better understand the value of these initiatives and the role that they can play in helping our students to succeed. We look forward to working with organizations around the city as part of this exciting, collaborative effort.”
Research confirms that quality youth programs can make a positive difference in young people’s academic achievement, social skills and risk reduction. Children who participate in quality OST programs are far more likely to be engaged in learning and to have better school attendance, are less likely to be involved in or become victims of violence, and to have increased levels of physical activity.
DHS Commissioner Cynthia Figueroa added, “DHS is excited to support the administration’s mission and our sister departments in expanding and enhancing our OST efforts. We are committed to community based supports and solutions to increase opportunities for youth to engage in quality programming.”
The three City departments that provide the most out-of-school time programming, Department of Human Services, Parks & Recreation and the Free Library, spend more than $41M annually in supporting 187,000 youth. By aligning and coordinating citywide OST programming, the City can ensure the greatest impact for the young people we serve and align our spending with existing initiatives, such as PHLpreK, Rebuild, community schools, the Read by 4th campaign and Dr. Hite’s Action Plan 3.0.
“Philadelphia’s Out-of-School Time Initiative begins with what we know, today, to be true: young people succeed when they have access to high-quality educational programming; support from engaged adults and communities; and strong commitment of civic leadership,” said the Managing Director. “We are harnessing the power of Philadelphia’s greatest assets—our citizens, our nonprofits, our schools, our government, and our philanthropic and business communities—to build a system of OST that realizes its full potential on behalf of our youngest citizens.