Measuring Up: After-School Activities Are Put To The Rest

No more of this milk-and-cookies stuff. Detroit wants hard numbers on what kids are doing after school and how that affects their grades, their likelihood to use drugs or engage in sexual activity and other outcomes.

No more of this milk-and-cookies stuff. Detroit wants hard numbers on what kids are doing after school and how that affects their grades, their likelihood to use drugs or engage in sexual activity and other outcomes.

Mayor's Time, an initiative of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, is a comprehensive citywide effort to expand the quality and quantity of after-school programs for all kids in Detroit. It received a $592,000 federal grant, effective this month, for a one-year pilot project involving 100 after-school providers. The mayor's goal is to increase the number of children participating in after-school programs to 50 percent.

Together, Mayor's Time and Michigan's 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, a federally funded initiative to help school districts improve their after-school programming, are working to develop an online data system that will document and track youth participation in after-school activities and help analyze the relationship between participation and outcomes such as youth violence and substance abuse. "We're going to look across the city to determine whether there are improvements," says Grenae Dudley, executive director of Mayor's Time. "Are juvenile crime statistics going down? Is there a decrease in pregnancy and evidence of premature sexual behavior?"

Schools are required to gather data, and information from community and faith-based programs will also be put into the database. The system, hopefully, will be able to analyze "dosage" of after-school programs and type of programs and how it correlates with improvement in test scores and other outcomes.