Initiative & Program Impacts
The main purpose of the Initiative evaluation was to assess and support the Initiative’s effectiveness. We also wanted to learn how programs were benefiting from Initiative participation and how students were benefiting from participating in those programs. We hoped to find that programs were supporting students in school and beyond and to confirm that narrowing the out-of-school time opportunity gap was mitigating educational disparities.
To understand the impacts of the Initiative, we collected qualitative and quantitative data from multiple perspectives—including students, program staff and families—and examined educational data for participating students. This section includes all our findings and connects what we’ve learned to existing research on out-of-school time impacts, particularly for students.
Each of these impacts is interconnected and ultimately benefits participating students.
learn more about our evaluation design & methodology IN about the evaluation.
Our evaluation demonstrates that:
The Initiative is increasing access to high-quality out-of-school time programming for middle school students most likely to experience the opportunity gap.
By supporting more than 50 programs that provide a wide range of out-of-school time opportunities—serving over 15,000 middle school students of color, students from under-resourced rural communities and students from low-income families across Oregon since 2013—the Initiative is narrowing the opportunity gap these students typically face.
Due to underinvestment in out-of-school time programs and disparities in community resources and educational funding, many of these students have limited opportunities to participate in out-of-school time or similar enrichment programs. While the Initiative doesn’t require program expansion, many participants provide programming that was not previously available or serve larger numbers of middle school students than they did previously. All programs have made strides in improving program quality through the Initiative.
Read more about this in educational disparities & out-of-school time IN OREGON.
Out-of-school time programs benefit students in interrelated ways that are fundamental to their success in school and beyond.
- Students benefit academically through greater school attendance and engagement, as well as by developing academic mindsets like future orientation. Early evidence indicates that participating students may also be more likely to complete high school than are similar students. Students of color—particularly Latino/x students in culturally specific programming—are also more likely to report that their programs support them academically.
Programs promote a sense of belonging for students, which is particularly important for middle schoolers who are forging their identities through learning opportunities and social interactions. Our evaluation found that culturally specific programs build a sense of cultural identity and belonging in tandem, especially for Latino/x students.
- Programs help students build many social and emotional learning skills including confidence, leadership, self-reliance, critical thinking, empathy, social awareness, communication and collaboration. Confidence-building is a particularly prevalent theme across data sources and program types.
Families also benefit from student participation in out-of-school time programs.
Programs build a supportive community by collaborating with caregivers and connecting families to one another, decrease family stress and improve interactions at home, and help parents and caregivers navigate the educational system.
Programs and their staff benefit from the Initiative’s learning community.
By providing a safe and supportive environment for community-building, peer learning and professional development opportunities not easily found elsewhere, the learning community is a valuable resource for staff, who are critical to facilitating high-quality programs. Staff development through the learning community strengthens programs and builds broader organizational capacity.
The Initiative is contributing to development of the out-of-school time field in Oregon.
By reaching and bringing together a large, diverse group of programs from across the state, providing leadership regarding program quality improvement, and coordinating with other funders and networks, the Initiative is strengthening the broader out-of-school time field statewide.