The National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) is partnering with afterschool programs in Philadelphia, PA to improve the quality of programming, specifically to enable literacy-rich environments for kindergarten through 3rd-grade participants. These improvements are made by growing staff capacity around activity design, planning, and delivery using program quality assessment practices, coaching, and continuous program improvement approaches.
After an initial partnership with five afterschool programs during the first three years of the grant, the project is expanding to a new cohort of 10 programs that will receive literacy and quality supports. Each program identifies the literacy outcomes they aim to attain, and the NIOST team works with the programs to guide their efforts through training, individual site coaching, and providing resources. While strengthening literacy, NIOST also promotes social and emotional wellbeing.
Among other forms of support, NIOST conducts virtual community of practice meetings with participating programs to help them learn, plan, and support each other. It designs virtual literacy training to give providers tools and strategies for immediate implementation. It has also surveyed program staff about literacy skill development and hosted and curated an online platform for ongoing access to resources and recorded training sessions.
In a survey, program leaders said that access to virtual coaching supports, obtaining useful resources, and connecting with other providers were the most beneficial aspects of their participation in the project.