What We're Learning

Through the Initiative, our understanding of what high-quality out-of-school time programming looks like, and how philanthropy can support it, has both deepened and expanded.

Our appreciation for the learning focus of the Initiative has also grown as we’ve seen how it allows for a responsive, adaptive Initiative that supports staff, program and field development. And we’ve learned a lot about the value of out-of-school time programs and their role in students’ lives, shifting our thinking about how to frame and measure the impact of these programs. 

While much of what we’ve learned aligns with existing research, some aspects of the evaluation and its findings reflect nascent or evolving trends, and some are relatively specific to the Initiative’s design. We hope that sharing what we’ve learned will help other funders, networks, programs and evaluators build and improve their own programs and initiatives.

read more about what we’ve learned in From Quantity to Quality: Lessons learned from an ongoing statewide initiative.
EXPLORE FURTHER considerations for applying what we’ve learned IN MOVING FORWARD.

About out-of-school time programs

Out-of-school time programs play a valuable if limited role in addressing opportunity and achievement gaps.
Many types of out-of-school time programs, approaches and contexts can be effective.
The Youth Program Quality (YPQ) framework provides a useful, detailed definition of high-quality out-of-school time.
Skilled, well-supported staff are critical to high-quality out-of-school time programs.
Out-of-school time programs face ongoing challenges, many of which are shared across varying types of programs.

About supporting out-of-school time program quality improvement

Supporting program quality improvement is a substantial but worthwhile undertaking.
Combining high expectations for engaging in program quality improvement and low-stakes use of assessment results supports authentic participation.
Culturally specific programs often need to adapt existing program quality and evaluation tools for relevance.
Peer learning can strengthen programs around the Initiative’s core components: family engagement, positive role models and academic support.

About implementing an out-of-school time initiative

Engaging a diverse set of out-of-school time programs is both beneficial and necessary.
Learning communities are powerful tools to support individual programs and build programmatic fields.
The Initiative team’s learning mindset supports responsiveness and trusting relationships.
Intermediaries play an important role in supporting initiatives and shifting power away from funders.

About the out-of-school time field in Oregon

Coordination and collaboration across funders and networks are valuable.
Funding for out-of-school time programs in Oregon is limited.
Social and emotional learning can provide a bridge between out-of-school time and in-school learning.

About evaluating out-of-school time initiatives

Evaluation needs to anticipate and support initiative adaptation and evolution.
Initiative evaluation should support improvement.
Program impact evaluation expectations need to focus on more proximal measures of student progress and support.
The evaluation contributes to research on out-of-school time benefits by providing Oregon-specific evidence and exploring culturally specific program impacts. 

About the achievement and opportunity gaps

We’ve come to understand the scope and nuances of the opportunity gap and its relationship to the achievement gap.

Voices from the OST Initiative


Carrie Furrer, Portland State University (1)


Corey Newhouse, Public Profit (1)