Feature Article - June 2010
Find a printable version here


A Look at Trends in YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys & Girls Clubs

An Extra Boost for Education

The YMCA recently testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Appropriations, calling for funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which is currently the only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to afterschool programs. Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, these funds allow sites like YMCAs and others to establish and expand centers that offer significant extended learning opportunities, such as before- and afterschool programs, for children and youth.

"Afterschool programs provide a safe and enriching environment that builds upon the work of the school day," said Chris Francis, CEO of the YMCA of the Northwoods in Rhinelander, Wis. "They are fun places where children can develop strong character values. As the largest provider of afterschool childcare in the nation, engaging kids in out-of-school time is a significant part of the YMCA mission. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program has been vital to helping us and other community organizations provide this programming."

YMCAs serve nearly half a million youth in school-age care programs, and millions more in afterschool programs. These programs focus on the abilities of youth and include elements that promote artistry, social skill development, emotional development, nutrition and physical activity, character development, sports, service learning, as well as literacy, math and science hands-on activities.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program funds can be used for art and music education, recreational activities, telecommunications and technology education, expanded library school hours, parental involvement and family literacy programs, and drug and violence prevention. The current funding level provides just over 1 million children the opportunity to participate in safe, supervised programs after school.