Afterschool programs in high-poverty communities are often tasked with meeting the social and academic needs of a diverse group of learners. Through evaluation, these programs can identify what’s working, what’s not, and how to provide high-quality services for all children.
Illinois’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative is an ambitious program that has supported the creation of over 400 centers that provide academic and social enrichment opportunities during non-school hours. The initiative reaches more than 40,000 students across the state each year, with a focus on serving students from high-poverty communities. EDC is conducting an evaluation of the statewide 21st CCLC program and working with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to determine how well ISBE is meeting its programmatic goals.
EDC’s evaluation of 21st CCLC includes the following activities:
- Collect and analyze 21st CCLC grantee data (including surveys, site visits, and local reports) and program documents to address questions related to students and families served, student outcomes and community engagement, program development and sustainability, and other issues of interest to ISBE
- Provide technical assistance, including workshops and training sessions, to build 21st CCLC grantees’ capacity to conduct internal evaluations, as well as to deepen grantees’ understanding of the statewide evaluation and data collection efforts
- EDC’s annual reports provide recommendations to help ISBE and local sub-grantees improve the program. Both Spanish and English versions of the final report and executive summary are posted on the ISBE website so that families and other community stakeholders can learn more about the program.
- Developing the capacity of grantees to use evaluation for continuous improvement and accountability will helps them to be better situated for long-term sustainability.