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NCSL's Work To Bolster Afterschool Mapping and Data Collection To Inform Policy

By Autumn Rivera  |  May 18, 2022

Since 2014, NCSL, with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, has been helping statewide afterschool networks collect, analyze and package afterschool and summer program data through a competitive grant opportunity.

The goal of this initiative is to provide policymakers with the afterschool and summer-learning data needed to make informed policy decisions. NCSL provides technical assistance to the grantees by helping identify the most relevant data and succinctly share it with legislators. Grant applicants are encouraged to include letters of support from state legislators.

To date, NCSL has provided technical assistance to 40 states. Many states have chosen to create geographic information system (GIS) maps of programs with overlays. GIS software uses layered maps to visualize data. Policymakers can use these maps to envision where the need for afterschool and summer learning programs is high and where there is a lack of program access. Other state projects were return-on-investment studies. NCSL recently wrapped up the 2021 Data Grant cohort: Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Dakota and Vermont.

The Michigan Afterschool Partnership (MASP) completed a data landscape scan of out-of-school time (OST) programs. The Out-of-School Time Data Project report illuminates the state’s undersupply of OST programming is falling short of demand, disproportionately affecting minority and low-income youth. MASP also produced an interactive map to reveal where program gaps exist and where minority populations reside, as well as where poverty rates are dense

The Mississippi Statewide Afterschool Network (MSAN) launched a new, searchable out-of-school time mapping database. MSAN found that half of Mississippi afterschool programs provide transportation and at least 141 of the 242 identified programs offer STEM learning. Policymakers and other stakeholders can use this mapping database to view program density and community risk indicators.

The New Hampshire Afterschool Network (NHAN) is developing a state database of out-of-school time programming. It will use the database to develop a web-based mapping tool this spring. The network’s overlays are to include COVID-19 information, state scholarships, demographics, enrollment and more. NAHN will create one-pagers that highlight the variety of overlays and how they are to be used. Additionally, NHAN will host an event for state legislators to explain how they cause the map to inform policy.

The New Mexico Out-of-School Time Network (NMOST) updated and expanded its data collection and out-of-school time (OST) program story map. The revised maps explore relationships between at-risk communities in New Mexico and opportunities for afterschool and summer learning programs. The NMOST Story Map includes map overlays of children living in poverty, educational outcomes, juvenile justice referrals and child abuse. NMOST released two one-page briefs around OST programs: Afterschool Helps New Mexico Thrive! and Invest in New Mexico’s Afterschool Programs!

The New York State Network for Youth Success (NYS) used its data grant to add map overlays and newer funding streams to their existing map. The new overlays include concentrations of poverty, demographic information, educational attainment and juvenile justice referrals. The map highlights concentrations of poverty and demographic information to help identify areas most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The network hosted a virtual meeting for legislators to learn how to use the map. The NYS also released regional one-pagers that summarize the map findings.  

The Oregon Afterschool and Summer for Kids Network (OregonASK) created a comprehensive list of summer programs that operated in summer 2021. With the survey findings, OregonASK released a full reportexecutive report and infographic. In its full report, OregonASK’s recommendations for moving forward include committing summer funding in advance, directing summer funding to more community-based organizations, investing in resources to support school-community partnerships, and creating systems for accountability and reporting. OregonASK created a story map called “Exploring Income and Race in Relation to Summer Learning Sites”, which explores the relationship of income and race and access to summer programs in Oregon. 

The South Dakota Afterschool Network (SDAN) built upon its current maps and addressed COVID-19-related learning loss by providing more program details. The State of Afterschool map identifies that most of the afterschool and summer learning programs in South Dakota are available for elementary-age students with fewer options for middle and high school students.  The map overlays include education attainment per community and children living in poverty.

The Vermont Afterschool Network created an interactive map of summer learning programs, including map overlays of health disparities, mental health resources, learning interventions and supports, and support for students with disabilities and more. The Vermont Afterschool Network released five data briefs. The fifth brief aids legislators and other decision-makers in the use of the maps and website. At its statewide Universal Afterschool and Summer Summit, Gov. Phil Scott announced an executive order creating a task force on universal afterschool that will use the map in its work moving forward.

Congratulations to the 2022 Data Grant cohort: ConnecticutGeorgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia. These states will create policy overlay maps and expand interactive afterschool program maps and accompanying briefs and reports. Some examples of the overlays states plan to include in their maps are program demographics, the intersections between social determinants of health, juvenile justice and more. Stay tuned for the final reports from the 2022 cohort in the fall.

For more information on this project and previous grantee cohorts’ GIS maps, visit NCSL’s Data Grant Project webpage.

Autumn Rivera is a policy associate with NCSL’s Education Program.

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