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Cities Rally to Support After-School Programs

Cities are playing an increasing role in supporting after-school opportunities for students, even with strained resources, says an opinion piece written by local officials, featured on edweek.org today.

Authors Christopher Coleman (mayor of St. Paul, Minn.), Karl Dean (mayor of Nashville, Tenn.), James Mitchell Jr. (city councilmember in Charlotte, N.C.), Betsy Price (mayor of Fort Worth, Texas), and Ronnie Steine (city councilmember in Nashville), write that city governments and community partners play an essential role in providing safe, enriching environments for students when they aren't in school.

"As mayors and city council members, we have a unique bully pulpit from which to promote the after-school hours as a time of enrichment and learning," they write. "In collaboration with other local partners, we can work collectively to provide all young people in our communities with access to high-quality after-school and expanded learning opportunities."

But after-school programs not only benefit students, they say; the opportunities provided can help in lowering city crime rates and improving career pathways for students, whereby stimulating the local economy.

The piece profiles efforts in their respective cities to promote after-school programs:
- The Nashville, Tenn.: Nashville After-Zone Alliance
- Charlotte, N.C.: city spends $590,000 funding six after-school providers
- St. Paul, Minn.: Sprockets program
- Fort Worth, Texas: city spends $1.4 million annually supporting 94 after-school initiatives for four school districts

The authors also offer recommendations for how cities can strengthen after-school opportunities, namely: improving the data and information for parents and the community about what options are available, combining funding sources and developing creative sources of revenue to support programs, and bolstering the collaboration between city agencies, schools, and community organizations.

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