Beginning in 2014, with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, NCSL began to invite statewide afterschool networks to apply for a competitive grant opportunity. Statewide afterschool networks refer to a diverse group of organizations and stakeholders that work together to share best practices and advocate for afterschool and summer learning programs in their state. Through this initiative, states could collect and compile relevant afterschool and summer learning data and effectively share with state legislators, legislative staff, other key state policymakers and stakeholders to better inform policy.
Statewide afterschool networks applying for these grants, were encouraged to connect data from afterschool and summer learning programs to broader state priorities. To ensure data projects were aligned with state education priorities, priority was given to applications that include letters or support from at least one state legislator. With technical assistance from NCSL, almost all 50 states have collected new and compiled existing state-specific afterschool and summer learning data and shared it widely with state legislators through reports and/ or data release events.
Data Project Themes
When applying for the grant, states were required to look at their state context and see what type of data would be useful when considering their state context. This led to many different projects including data mapping and return on investment (ROI) studies that looked at afterschool, summer learning, rural, and urban contexts.
Geographic Information System (GIS) Mapping
GIS mapping is a tool used for gathering, managing, and analyzing data. Organizations use GIS mapping to make maps that share information visually through geography that integrate a variety of data. As states look to re-engage students and focus on learning recovery or solve state education policy priorities such as work force challenges, this information has been useful and timely for informing policy.
Policymakers and other stakeholders can use these maps to visualize where the need for afterschool and/or summer programming is high. These overlays have shown aspects such as concentrations of poverty, demographic information, educational attainment, and juvenile justice referrals. For example, the California Afterschool Network (CAN) developed an application that maps variables describing student and community health and need. While looking at where expanded learning programs are located variables such as legislative districts or public safety resources (local law enforcement, local fire stations, hospitals, etc.). Alongside most states, like California, have published one-pagers to highlight their map and to help legislators and legislative staff use them the most effectively.
Other states have looked at mapping program locations and have noted that many of their programming locations are centered around urban areas. These types of maps have been used by states as a tool for rural legislators. Illinois used its data projects to map exactly that and highlight where there are program deserts. These types of projects are often combined with national data, such as the America After 3PM report, to depict what a state is experiencing and how it compares to national data.
NCSL has had the ability to work with some of the states more than once. With New Mexico, for example, NCSL has awarded them two data grants. During the first data grant, New Mexico created its story map with indicators related to the wellbeing of New Mexico youth. During their second grant, New Mexico focused on mapping programs that received Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) funding to help with recovery impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
States have also specifically focused on afterschool or summer learning programs specifically. Vermont focused on summer programs specifically at the request of their Governor’s office. Their interactive map added social determinants of health overlays. This included health disparities, doctor offices, farmers markets, mental health resources, and more.
Return on Investment Projects
Other states have utilized these grants to produce return-on-investment (ROI) reports. These reports can measure the benefit versus the cost of providing afterschool and summer programs to students. Such reports detail short- and long-term benefits to the youth participating in programming and the type of financial benefit to society these can bring. According to Georgia’s ROI report, “every $1 invested in Georgia’s afterschool and summer learning programs generates a return of $2.64 in benefits of taxpayers”.
Recent NCSL Publications
NCSL recently wrapped up its 2021 and 2022 data grant cohorts. The rounds included new states and previous data grantees. To learn more about the 2021 cohort, read NCSL's Work To Bolster Afterschool Mapping and Data Collection To Inform Policy. To learn more about how data mapping can inform out-of-school time policy with state examples check out this State Legislatures News article.