After School Programs

AfterSchool Program Management Advice

Wolfsons, Inc.        Planners         Grantwriters         Consultants
Serving the After-School Education and Non-Profit Entrepreneurship Sectors
(717) 263-0531    Fax: (717) 709-1143    Email:
Wolfsons , Inc. Background Site   Wolfsons, Inc. After-School Brochure   Grantwriting Samples

So you want to start an after school program? 

Before your vision of happy children clustered around a craft table or little ones curled up with a good book becomes a reality, there are several basic questions that must be answered:

What is the need?

Just as companies establish themselves by determining target markets and product demand, after school program planners must answer specific questions to help shape their vision of what is needed (See Category link “Annual Giving”). Many times people have misguided perceptions thinking because they feel a service is needed in the community that the community will step up and support it. There are not enough resources to fund every good idea, so most donors look for a carefully thought-out plan that has a good chance of success and longevity. Some questions to ask:

  • Is there an existing after school program that serves the area?
  • Was there a previous after school program that failed? If so, why?
  • What is the target area? (District-wide? One school? One neighborhood?)
  • How many children are involved?
  • Where will it be located

Who is going to pay for it?

Attach a price tag to each item in your after school program picture, and develop a detailed budget. Staff and space are obvious costs, but watch out for the hidden costs that add up! Consumable items like snacks, craft materials, and office supplies are often under-budgeted.

  • Parents
    • People are willing to take on varying levels of personal responsibility for themselves and their children. Some parents may see after school care as a form of child care while others will see the potential for the child to have fun while learning valuable life skills, such as critical thinking and working together. They do not want to lose their child to the blank stare of a video game and hope their child will learn simple tasks, such as making change, or more complex ones, such as talking with adults. Parents will vary in the level of money they can contribute, but all parents should contribute money (within their means) and time. When you start collecting payments, using a tuition billing program, like our sponsor’s EZCare, will streamline (or even fully automated!) the process.
  • Grants
    • Grants at federal and state level can shift their focus and are not dependable long term sources of support. Partnering in grant applications with other youth-serving organizations may be a possibility, including: parks and recreation, schools, libraries, and law enforcement.
  • Foundations
    • Local foundations dedicated to serving youth, healthy communities, the arts, and other related topics may be a source of funds.
  • Local business and civic groups
    • Local businesses and civic groups receive repeated requests for support, so it’s important to research the giving history, make contact with community representatives, and “put your best foot forward” in advancing your idea.

Who will help support it?

An established base of supporters is the solid foundation upon which to build an after school program. Just as individual giving is important for board members (see Category Link “Board Guide”), it’s essential that supporters give money and time and actively fund raise for the program. (Remember the joke about the barnyard animals sitting around the breakfast table where the chicken was generous by giving an egg while the pig was fully committed by giving the bacon?)

Supporters can be parents of children who use the after school program, representatives from local businesses, civic groups, and faith-based organizations who understand the benefits that an after school program provides, or other interested community members.

Establishing a long term relationship with supporters and donors is crucial to the success of the project. Regular contact, timely updates, and sincere appreciation go a long way in retaining the supporters who are the lifeblood of the organization (See Category link “Annual Giving”).

A successful and meaningful after school program will be able and willing to train children versus just entertain them! This does not mean that after school programs can’t be fun. Just as adults unwind after a long day of work, children need a place to unwind after the challenges of the school day. Structure, not chaos, is the key.

The FindYouthInfo Program Directory features evidence-based programs whose purpose is to prevent and/or reduce delinquency or other problem behaviors in young people.

You can search for programs by risk factor, protective factor, or keyword.

Search the Directory


Nominate a Program

Through the Youth Topics series, the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs provides information, strategies, tools, and resources for youth, families, schools and community organizations related to a variety of cross-cutting topics that affect youth.

Choose a topic:


Afterschool Programs

Preventing Youth Violence

Positive Youth Development


Map My Community is a tool designed specifically to assist you in locating resources in your community to help you build and strengthen your youth program. Get ideas for new partnerships, identify gaps in your community, and learn about resources to avoid duplication of effort.  Start Mapping


Having too many Volunteers is a good problem to have but a problem nevertheless. Does having a crowd of volunteers waiting at the entrance to your office around holidays sound like a familiar sight that makes your employees secretly cringe? Being unable to manage volunteers can disrupt operations, reduce overall output of the group, and leave volunteers even with the best intentions feeling unneeded, risking that they would not volunteer again.

Managing your Afterschool Program

Whether you utilize volunteers or hire staff, you will need to manage your student enrollment, instructors, permission slips, emergency contact information and a whole heap of other records depending on the type of program you are running and what state you are operating in.  Bookkeeping in and of itself is quite an endeavor, particularly if you are operating on a combination of grants, tuition and other types of subsidies or donations.  There are a wide variety of childcare program management software packages out there.  We like EZCare, a fully online system which is made and supported by our sponsor, SofterWare, which has been helping childcare programs run more efficiently for 30 years.

Finding Funding Sources

The Funding Information Center provides tools to help you build and sustain your programs and activities. You’ll find funding ideas as well as strategies on how to apply for federal grants.

Federal Grants
Youth Funding Agencies

U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration Online Tool for Grant Applicants

Office of Justice Programs Grants 101

The following is an example of a success after school program you may want to contact:

Kids Learning After School (K.L.A.S.) is a program in Pennsylvania that serves Chambersburg Borough children and their families. It is a licensed school-age child care facility and is part of the Chambersburg Area School District. It serves children in grades 1-5 at the Chambersburg Recreation Center. The program operates on all school days, Monday through Friday from when the afternoon school bell rings until 6:00 PM during the school year. Program content includes academic assistance (tutoring, homework help, and mentoring), personal and cultural enrichment, service-learning, recreation and a nutritious snack every day.

Additional Resources:

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program is a key component of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. It is an opportunity for students and their families to continue to learn new skills and discover new abilities after the school day has ended.

The focus of this program, re-authorized under Title IV, Part B, of the No Child Left Behind Act, is to provide expanded academic enrichment opportunities for children attending low performing schools. Tutorial services and academic enrichment activities are designed to help students meet local and state academic standards in subjects such as reading and math. In addition 21st Century Community Learning Centers Programs provide youth development activities, drug and violence prevention programs, technology education programs, art, music and recreation programs, counseling and character education to enhance the academic component of the program.

About 6,800 rural and inner-city public schools in 1,420 communities–in collaboration with other public and non-profit agencies, organizations, local businesses, post-secondary institutions, scientific/cultural and other community entities–are now participating as 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

The National Community Education Association host free regional workshops to assist schools with their grant applications for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program and the National Institute on Out-of-School Time provides research and materials to assist applicants for 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants.

Federal Resources for Educational Excellence
More than 30 Federal agencies formed a working group in 1997 to make hundreds of Federally supported teaching and learning resources easier to find. The result of that work is the FREE web site. For an overview of what’s available here at FREE, please visit the site map.

Each month new teaching and learning resources are added.

  • FREE brochure, which you can use to help others learn about the FREE website.

Also, the U.S. Department of Education (ED), on behalf of the FREE Working Group, was selected in 1997 by the Government Information Technology Services Board to support federal agencies that would partner with teachers to develop online learning materials and learning communities around agency resources. The project, known as the “Consortium for Education,” would also document the lessons learned from these partnerships. Here are descriptions of the work by 10 teams supported under the Consortium for Education project.

The Department of Health and Human Services offers multiple means of assistance for out-of-school time care for children. Agencies like the Administration for Children and Families provide federal programs that promote the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals, and communities.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services funds a number of Nutrition Programs that provide after-school snacks such as the National School Lunch Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the Summer Food Service Program.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention supplies resources, funding opportunities, and publications to assist people working with adolescents and youth.

The following is a soup-to-nuts collection of after-school resources points parents and providers to funding assistance and useful information to help expand programs, enhance learning and create sustainable high-quality programs.

Afterschool Alliance is working to ensure that all children have access to affordable, quality afterschool programs. Afterschool programs are critical to children and families today, yet the need for programs is far from being met. is a website connecting classrooms in need with individuals who want to help.


Ask Kids: A children’s version of Ask Jeeves in which the answers have been pre-approved for kids.

Kids Click: A web search guide for kids designed by librarians with 600+ subjects.

Yahooligans: A Yahoo search tool vetted for kids ages 7-12.

Awesome Library: Includes 37,000 specifically reviewed academic resources for students. The official children’s web resource for the United States government which includes educational resources specific to age groups.

HowStuffWorks: A resource that explains a multitude of subjects in an easy to understand manner with lots of illustrations.

Go Gooligans: An educational and academic search engine geared towards kids and teens.

Quintura Kids: A kid-friendly search engine geared more towards casual browsing and entertainment more than academic research.

Education World: This site searches 500,000+ suitable websites for students and teachers.

KOL: An AOL version for kids complete with weather, news, games, and search options.


Pics4Learning: A copyright-friendly library of images great for finding images and charts for student projects.

American Memory: A comprehensive search of the Library of Congress’s historical resources.

The Why Files: This website promotes itself as “the science behind the news” and offers simple to understand, scientific explanations of current media stories.

Homework Hub: A useful compilation of tips on organization, test preparation, research techniques, and the like.

IPL Kidspace: A searchable database of academic information for kids including Health and Nutrition, Science and Math, and Computers and Internet sections.

Refdesk Homework Helper: A comprehensive list of homework help sites divided by elementary school, junior high, senior high, and even college.

Homework Tips: A listing of tips for motivating kids to do their homework including tips on concentration, proofreading, time management, and research.


Internet Safety: A set of safety tips from the FBI for young Internet users.

Kid Safety on the Internet: A slideshow of safety tips from the Police Notebook.

Tips on Protecting a Child on the Web: Tips for parents and teachers on steps to take in keeping children safe online.

Internet Safety Guide: An in-depth guide to keeping kids safe on the web including open communication with the child, use of blocking or monitoring software, and warning signs to look for.

Tools for Families: A listing of tools to prevent online dangers including filters, monitors, and special browsers.

Parent’s Guide to Hate on the Internet: A tool for teaching parents how to deal with hate speech online.