Vol. 2, The Power of Data to Improve After-school Programs Citywide
High-quality out-of-school-time (OST) programs have a positive effect on youth development, but many cities have found it difficult to address the challenges of expanding and improving the quality of programs offered to underserved and high-need students. In response, The Wallace Foundation sponsored an initiative to help five cities increase collaboration, access, quality, information sharing, and sustainability in their OST systems. In many cities that provide financial support for OST, funding is funneled through a variety of youth-serving agencies that lack basic information about the programs they fund. The second in this three-volume series describes how the grantees and three other cities used management information systems to collect and use data on OST programs, including enrollment, attendance, and student outcomes. Cities' use of management information systems to collect and report data on OST programs is relatively new, so the experiences of the case-study cities offer valuable lessons for the field. For example, management information systems are capable of supporting OST system improvement but require careful planning, the use of data from these systems can lead to additional funding and support, the customization of web-based systems encourages their use, providing high-quality training to providers increases the use of the systems, and many providers are overburdened by requirements to use multiple management information systems, so eliminating redundancies and coordinating data requirements can ensure more efficient program provision and reporting.