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Denver initiative helps schools and parents find afterschool programs

Students’ academic achievement isn’t just shaped inside the walls of a classroom, according to the latest initiative from the Denver Afterschool Alliance.

The alliance, which includes representatives from Denver Public Schools and Denver-area non-profits, and the Denver Office of Children’s Affairs are looking for outside-of-school-time programs that can to improve students’ performance, engagement and attendance in school. They have found that regular attendance at an afterschool program can improve both school attendance and academic growth.

A central piece to their project, an online after school program locator for parents and schools, launched to little fanfare earlier this month. Staff at the Office of Children’s Affairs hope it will make it easier for parents and schools to find the programs their children need.

“You could get on and say, ‘I want an arts program for sixth graders in northwest Denver,” said Lindsay Neil, director of the Office of Children’s Affairs. “For schools, you can use it as a filtering system if you need to supplement your programs.”

As of Tuesday, the afterschool locator includes 100 program providers. Some organizations, like the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver, have many programs throughout the city, which are all listed in the system. In total, the Office of Children’s Affairs reports 700 individual program locations.

The Denver Afterschool Alliance plans to use the data from the locator to determine if the city’s afterschool programs are serving the children that need them.

“With all these programs in the system, we’ll be able to do some mapping,” said Neil. “Are there geographic gaps? Are there subject gaps and if yes, how do we engage to close them?”

They will present the first round of findings next month.

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