Afterschool in my community

We've collected resources for parents, grandparents, and other community members interested in the afterschool field to learn about it on a local level. Look for local programs in your community, learn what to do if there are no programs available, and find out what to look for to identify high-quality programs. Be sure to arm yourself with knowledge by diving into afterschool data for your state and finding the leading afterschool experts and contacts in your state.


Afterschool Programs from Lights On 2022

Based on the 2022 Lights On Afterschool, this map provides a starting place for parents, guardians, and school staff to find afterschool programs in their area. We will be updating this map with new data as it becomes available. As always, the Afterschool Alliance does not endorse any specific afterschool program found on this map; we encourage anyone seeking an afterschool program to review the indicators of a high-quality afterschool program.

Here are more places to start looking for an afterschool program:

  1. Ask a teacher or principal at your school if they have an afterschool program. If not, ask why. Tell them about the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program; for more information, visit the website.
  2. Contact your state afterschool network, which works to advance afterschool and summer in your state. Some networks keep listings of programs in the state.
  3. Contact community organizations, such as:
  4. Talk to other parents, guardians, and grandparents about what their children and grandchildren do after school. They might be able to tell you about good programs in the area.
  5. Call or email your local child care resource and referral office. They will know a number of afterschool programs in your area. Also visit
  6. Afterschool is often part of larger programs. They can be found at community centers, settlement houses, community learning centers, full-service schools, museums, and libraries. Look for programs called Lighted Schools, Beacons, Extended Learning Centers, and Supplemental Educational Services. Community arts councils and youth employment programs also might be offering programs after school.

Are you an afterschool provider?  No matter how stellar your program is, no one will know if they can't find it. Be sure to register or list your program with your local child care resource and referral service, and with the social services information and referral service. Brainstorm other places people might look for afterschool programs, such as city, school district, and state education agency websites, and see if you can list your program there.

Looking for a STEM program? The Connectory is the most comprehensive online portal for STEM offerings. Use the widget below to explore programs in your area to connect to a STEM learning opportunity for your child. 


What If There Is No Afterschool Program in My Community?

Don’t give up. Many afterschool programs have been created by residents and parents in partnership with schools, organizations and other concerned individuals. Just think: if you are interested in a high quality afterschool program for children, there must be many others who are also interested. There are people near you—at places such as the library, police stations, community centers and foundations — that can help. 9 out of 10 Americans, whether they have children or not, agree that all kids should have access to afterschool programs. 

Here are some steps you can take to get one started in your community:

Talk to parents, guardians, grandparents, and concerned neighbors. Find out if others in your community are interested in having afterschool programs. Working in larger numbers gives you greater strength and influence.

  1. Check out our tools on starting an afterschool program.
  2. Ask your neighbors and friends.
  3. Place a notice in your school’s parent bulletin, send an email to a parents' listserv, or ask teachers to place flyers in each child’s backpack. The notice can ask parents if they are interested in afterschool programs for their children and whether they are willing to help organize such programs.
  4. Attend a PTA meeting and ask participants if they are concerned about the after school hours.
  5. Build a list of the individuals who are interested in having afterschool programs.
  6. Document your need.

Talk to your school principal and/or teachers. Principals often control the use of school facilities and equipment after school. School teachers and the principal can also be a great help in getting people together to start an afterschool program. Ask for ideas and help on starting a program, and tell them about the 21st Century Community Learning Centersprogram.

Contact other people in your community who might help. Call any or all of the people listed here for guidance on finding or starting an afterschool program. Start with: local police, the mayor, city councillors, local YMCAs, the parks & recreation director, Boys & Girls Clubs, 4-H staff, Urban League, Cooperative Extension Service, labor organizations, arts organizations and museums, PTAs, the local chapter of NAACP and La Raza, local businesses, libraries, community centers, and local churches, synagogues, and mosques. Ask each person if they could contribute ideas, time, or money to help start an afterschool program in your community.

Call a meeting of the parents and other individuals who are interested in starting an afterschool program. Your list might include educators, local police, organizations that work with children, local businesses, and elected officials. Use the information on this website as a basis of discussion. Talk about the benefits to the community and to families of a high-quality afterschool program. Assign people at the meeting to complete tasks such as:

  • assessing the community’s afterschool needs and the resources that may be available to create afterschool programs that help meet those needs;
  • talking to elected officials about obtaining financial support for the program;
  • finding out how other communities got afterschool programs started;
  • talking with teachers about activities that might be offered in the program;
  • copying and distributing the Afterschool Resource Booklet to everyone interested; and
  • developing a fundraising plan.


Learn to identify high-quality programs

Quality programs understand that children and youth in different age groups have different academic, psychological, and physical activity needs. Learn what to look for to make sure you pick the right program for your kids.

Elementary: Ages 5-10

Characteristics of Age Group (5-10):

  • High energy and need lots of activity
  • Practicing large muscle and fine motor skills
  • Developing physical flexibility
  • Growing attention span
  • Respond to simple rules and limits
  • Eager to learn
  • Creative
  • Beginning to reason
  • Feel their ideas count
  • Easily hurt and insulted
  • Identify with the family
  • Eager to please
  • Enjoy small groups
  • Emphasize fairness

Wide variety of activities and choices, but offered under a set routine. Examples of opportunities to look for:

  • Frequent individual interaction with adults
  • Games with simple rules
  • Quiet areas as well as noisy areas
  • Outside experiences
  • Imaginative play opportunities
  • Some clear responsibilities like clean-up
  • Projects that apply school day lessons about the family and community
  • Opportunities to read aloud, silently, and to talk about books and ideas
  • Matching, ordering and sorting activities
  • Opportunities to apply arithmetic problems in real-world ways
  • Opportunities to ask questions about science and technology and think about how they can find the answer
  • Exposure to professionals and experts from various fields, such as scientists and engineers
  • Small experiments with everyday products
  • Nature walks and talks
  • Opportunities to work with a variety of materials for projects
  • Physical activities that do not emphasize competition
  • Music, dance and drama opportunities
  • Opportunities to try experiences from diverse cultures

Preadolescents & Teens: Ages 10-14

Characteristics of Age Group (10-14):

  • High energy and need lots of activity

  • Like to achieve and be seen as competent

  • Seem inconsistent in ideas and moods

  • Use logic and reasoning

  • Think beyond the immediate experience

  • Can exchange ideas

  • Seek independence

  • Want voice in decisions

  • Feel awkward and embarrassed in some situations

  • Need praise and approval Identify strongly with peers

  • Begin experimentation

Wide variety of options. Examples of opportunities to look for:

  • Connections to real-world experience

  • Opportunities to interact in large and small groups as well as individual recognition

  • Experiences that explore ethics and values with respected adults

  • Opportunities to serve others

  • Physical activity

  • Opportunities for decision-making and leadership

  • Opportunities to apply school day lessons through performances and projects

  • Experiences emphasizing reasoning and problem-solving in subjects such as art, science and mathematics

  • Opportunities to explore subjects in-depth

  • Opportunities to meet a diverse group of professionals and exposure to college and career paths

  • Project based learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, applying concepts learned during the school day

  • Quiet times for homework with adult help and peer help when needed

  • Games that provide opportunities to practice basic skills, such as chess, checkers, puzzles and word games

  • Wide range of reading activities with discussion of the ideas found in the books

  • Experiences built on a wide diversity of cultures and ethnic groups

Teens: Ages 14-18

Characteristics of Age Group (14-18):

  • Concerned about body and appearance

  • Highly developed motor skills

  • Worry about clumsiness, illness and diet

  • Think abstractly

  • Learn by doing

  • Less influenced by parents, more influenced by peers

  • Need and demand more freedom and privacy

  • Mask true feelings

  • Need praise and adult recognition

  • Admire heroes that demonstrate characteristics of friendship and romance

  • Recognize diversity of ideas

  • Earning money/working may be important

Substantial choice. Examples of opportunities for look for:

  • Opportunities to explore a variety of career paths and college firsthand, and to meet a diverse group of professionals

  • Real world work experience, ideally with academic credit or tie

  • Opportunities to serve others, contribute to community or mentor or tutor younger students

  • Opportunities to earn or recover credit, or catch up or move ahead with academic interests

  • Opportunities to interact in large and small groups as well as individual recognition

  • Physical activity

  • Opportunities for decision-making and leadership

  • Experiences emphasizing reasoning and problem-solving in subjects such as art, science, mathematics

  • Opportunities to explore subjects in-depth

  • Opportunities to participate in research experiences and internships with mentors in industry or universities

  • Presentations and projects that involve appearance

  • Opportunities to discuss and address physical risk, including smoking, drugs, drinking and sexual activity

  • Opportunities to show competence in a public setting

  • Opportunities to express feelings through projects and activities

  • One-on-one opportunities to talk with adults

  • Discussions of diverse ideas and opinions with adults and peers, and exploration of ethics and values

  • Specific help with skill areas that are causing problems

  • Opportunities to work on school day projects and papers with library and Internet support