"The benefits of after-school programs are far-reaching and can have a significant impact on the safety and development of our children," says Mayor Richard M. Daley. "They let young people discover new interests or pursue activities such as art or music. They also support parents who are increasingly busy at work, particularly during the hours between 3 and 6 p.m., the peak period for teens to be victims of crime."
"The After-School Chicago Web site will make it easier for families to explore and access quality programs that best suit their child's needs and support their healthy development," he says.
Powered by Google Maps, the easy-to-use Web site, www.afterschoolchicago.org, allows users to simply input their address or ZIP Code and choose from eight program interest areas, including: academic, career, creative, health, life skills, religious, community and sports. Search results are plotted on an interactive map with a brief description of each offering, including information about dates and times, related fees if applicable and the age range for activities. The search results also include Chicago Transit Authority routes for reference.
Mary Ellen Caron, commissioner, of the Chicago Department of Children and Youth Services, says that the After-School Chicago Web site will not only make finding activities easier, but will also serve to provide agency partners with more information about the landscape of after-school programming in every community.
"Through the After-School Chicago Web site, our partners can examine the nature of programs they offer and how they compare to other programs available in the same area. It can also help us to identify gaps in service resulting from a neighborhood's changing demographics," says Caron. "This data will enable us to more efficiently and effectively coordinate our services to ensure Chicago's families are receiving the after-school programs they need."
The After-School Chicago Web site was coordinated through the Out-of-School Time Project -- an initiative developed to provide citywide supports for programs aiming to reach teens through out-of-school time programs that help maximize their opportunities for success.
Funded by a grant from The Wallace Foundation, Chicago's Out-of-School Time Project was launched in 2006 when Chicago was chosen as one of five cities to receive funding as part of a national effort to pioneer ways to build stronger, sustainable after-school systems and develop and share lessons based on that work.
"The hours when school is out should be a time of opportunity, rather than a time of risk. But research tells us that many families, especially low-income and minority ones, have trouble finding convenient, affordable, and interesting activities for young people in the out-of-school hours," said M. Christine DeVita, President of The Wallace Foundation. "The Chicago Out-of-School Time Project is building a citywide approach to help fill that need, and we hope the After-School Chicago Web site will be an important new tool for helping connect young people with all the programs and activities that Chicago has to offer."
The Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people. Its three current objectives are: strengthening education leadership to improve student achievement; enhancing out-of-school learning opportunities; and building appreciation and demand for the arts. The Foundation maintains an online library of research reports and other publications that may be downloaded free of charge at: www.wallacefoundation.org.
For more information visit www.afterschoolchicago.org or call 312-743-1511.