After-School Programs


In this study, we review research on after-school programs, activities, and arrangements that support Black youth's positive academic, social, and emotional development. We then analyze data collected from 28 after-school programs funded  under the W. K. Kellogg African American Men and Boys Initiative. Numerous community­ based programs assist African American men and boys lead meaningful lives. Despite depressing statistics, most Black males lead productive, positive lives. This paper confirms that the massive failure and incarceration of Black males in American society is not inevitable. We present systematic evidence of alternative outcomes. We also show  examples, models and procedures that can effectively stem the tide of failure among African American men and boys. Nevertheless, far too many African American men and boys continue to "crash and burn" in the negative activities of drugs, violence, incarceration, and wasted lives. Concerning public policy, tunding must be maintained and expanded for existing and new school and community-based after-school centers. These programs should provide structured activities focused on academic enhancement, reading, mathematics, and verbal skills. Black males who "go wrong" receive disproportionate attention in the media compared to the greater majority of Black males who lead upstanding, decent, productive lives. Also neglected are the individuals, groups, organizations, and institutions that produce admirable, high achieving African American men and boys. The fact that this is true is a sobering commentary on race, stereotypes, and inequality in American society.

The challenge facing scholars and practitioners today is how to learn from the experiences of Black males who somehow manage to negotiate the treacherous terrain between their goals and hopes for a better life and environments strewn with negative pitfalls. Once we more clearly understand this "Black Box" of resources, opportunities, socialization and support that leads Black males off pathways of destruction and puts them on pathways of success, we will then be better able to intervene effectively in the lives of African American men and boys. The sad fact remains that we continue to lose far too many Black males with devastating consequences for their families, communities, and the larger society. Denied opportunities to realize their potential and to become productive, contributing members of our society, these individuals represent lost, wasted resources.

The goal of the present article is twofold. The first aim is to provide a literature review of research that explores after-school programs, activities, and arrangements that enable Black youth to develop academically, socially, and emotionally. The second goal is to report results from survey data on 28 after-school programs working with African American men and boys. This second step demonstrates how youth involvement in structured activities with positive adult guidance and one-on-one mentorship appears to produce   positive  outcomes.  These  outcomes  include reduced delinquency, school performance/outcomes improvement, future job and educational goal setting, and increased self-awareness. We also hope to identify important strudural and treatment delivery aspects that enable these programs to achieve positive results in youths' lives.

This paper assumes that when young people work towards maintaining a balanced healthy lifestyle, their social, personal, and academic lives will be positively influenced. As the first step in a larger research project, this paper does not present multivariate analyses or controls. Nonetheless, we suggest that community-based after-school programs can help to affect youths' total lifestyles in a positive and healthy manner. Our review of the survey data and our review of the research literature combine to demonstrate that community- and school-based after-school programs can help to improve the social, academic, and emotional development of young people through mentorship, structured activities, and remedial curricula.



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