the community, and young people themselves indicate increasing endorsement for improving the supply, quality, and access to after-school programs:

  • In one survey of the voting public, 93 percent of respondents favored making safe daily enrichment programs available to all children; 86 percent thought that organized after-school activities were a necessity; only 11 percent thought they were not necessary (Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, 1998b);

  • In a second survey, 84 percent of elementary school principals responded that there was a need for supervision both before and after school in their communities. The teachers surveyed singled out the need for after-school programs as critical to helping students with difficulties (Metropolitan Life, 1994);

  • In a third survey, children and adolescents reported that they want constructive activities outside school, safe places to go where they can prepare for their future, learn and practice new skills, and spend quality time with caring adults and other children and adolescents (Quinn, 1999).


Perhaps more important than the increased interest in and funding of community youth organizations, however, has been the focus of community programs on goals related to positive youth development, as well as the prevention and reduction of problem behavior. In the early 1990s, a couple of seminal reports on adolescent development and the role of youth organizations attracted the attention of policy makers, youth service practitioners, researchers, educators, and families. The Forgotten Half, published by the William T.Grant Foundation, urged Americans to recognize that young people’s experiences at home, at school, in the community, and at work are strongly interconnected and argued that all young people need more constructive contact with adults; opportunities to participate in valued community activities; special help with difficult problems; and initial jobs that offer a path to accomplishment (William T.Grant Commission on Work, Family and Citizenship, 2000). This report also stressed the fact that poor children and children not headed for college were being severely underserved in terms of programs and opportunities that could support positive development and preparation for adulthood.

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