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Drawing Minority Boys to After-School Programs

Easily accessible, interesting after-school programs that are relevant to teens and adolescents are most likely to attract older minority youths and keep them coming back, a new study finds.

In a brief titled "Recruiting and Retaining Older African American and Hispanic Boys in After-School Programs: What We Know and What We Still Need to Learn," Public/Private Ventures, or P/PV, explores successful strategies that groups use to attract and retain middle- and high school-age minority youths in after-school programs.

The report recommends that, in creating new after-school programs, organizations conduct a needs assessment to identify "what older minority boys" want. Find out, for example, whether participants would need transportation, what they can afford to pay, and what other activities and responsibilities compete for their time.

Among other factors, the report says that successful programs:


  • Encouraged enrollment via peer networks, meaning word of mouth among teens was the best way of selling a program;

  • Were easily accessible and often located in the schools their participants attend; if not, the programs could be reached via public transportation or were located within the communities they targeted;

  • Were affordable and, in some cases, actually paid youths a stipend to attend;and

  • Were actually "fun"—in other words, they offered kids "activities that interested them."

P/PV also recommends that groups make their programs show "cultural competence" and that they hire staff members whose backgrounds are similar to the backgrounds of the young people they will be working with.

The researchers are careful to note that they based their findings on a small sample. P/PV worked with the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (CBASS) to prepare the brief, which is the third in P/PV's GroundWork series on social policy topics.

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