This project sought to improve the availability and preservation of out-of-school time programming and to disseminate information on recruiting, training, development, and finance.
CityWorks was an initiative of the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) working in collaboration with existing communities that provide high quality out-of-school time programming to youth and children. CityWorks aimed to build on the successful foundation of the "Cross-Cities Network for Leaders of Citywide After-School Initiatives" (CCN), which brings together leaders of after-school initiatives from 21 major cities across the United States.
Through CityWorks, NIOST investigated the development of infrastructures that supported sustainable quality program outcomes, and through dissemination of Promising Practices improved the availability and preservation of out-of-school time programming. Cityworks also collaborated with the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families to provide technical assistance to more cities and to provide Network members with technical assistance on working with city officials to further their initiatives.
In bringing the experiences of stakeholders, service providers, schools, and community organizations together, NIOST learned and shared strategies for strengthening the infrastructure for out-of-school time activity including improving methods for recruiting and training providers, program development, establishing accountability/evaluation systems, and developing and sustaining financial support. By sharing best practices of the CCN, CityWorks sought to strengthen and enhance citywide after-school initiatives and the communities they serve.
The five major activities that CityWorks undertook were:
- Identify Promising Practices related to systems-building and infrastructure development,
- Collaborate with Institute for Youth, Education and Families (IYEF) of the National League of Cities,
- Host a meeting the second year of the grant period for network members,
- Facilitate a continuous communication stream through an active e-mail discussion group,
- Provide published and web-based information to support the dissemination of Promising Practices including four topical briefs that spotlight new ideas and trends.
There were four projected products from this collaborative: (1) a report describing the process of identifying, collecting, and evaluating and documenting Promising Practices related to systems-building and infrastructure development; (2) four issues of "After School Issues" researched, written, designed, and published by NIOST; (3) a "Meeting Notebook" which contains meeting logistics, supporting readings and documentation, and other technical assistance materials; and (4) technical assistance such as presentations, coaching, and facilitating a community vision or goal development process. The audience for these products will be members of CCN, policy makers, intermediary organizations, and practitioners.
There are multiple benefits from this project. CityWorks will allow communities to have a full range of practices to learn from — relating to program, community and systems-building, and infrastructure development. Increases in the capacity of key leaders, including increased knowledge, access to information, and shared development of new approaches to implementing large after-school initiatives will result in increased effectiveness of the citywide initiatives. The influence of the leaders, the new strategies, and exploration of Promising Practices will lead to changes in the field, including new models, paradigms, and integrated visions.
Through the collaboration with IYEF, the expertise and experience gained will be extended to a broader network of municipal leaders who will gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing large scale citywide after-school initiatives. Ultimately, CityWorks will create a more knowledgeable and effective national community of leaders, enabling communities to create and sustain responsive and effective out-of-school time systems that positively impact children and families.
The project was funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.