November 16, 2023 (INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – Today, five Indiana education and youth-serving nonprofit organizations released The Expanded Classroom, a new report that explores the need for out-of-school time learning, details current programs around the state, and provides recommendations for how existing and future programs can have an even greater impact on Hoosier students, especially those who lack access to high-quality programs. The report was jointly released by five nonprofit organizations that have created, supported, and managed programs for thousands of Indiana students outside of the regular school day: the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis, Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County, Indiana Afterschool Network, The Mind Trust, and United Way of Central Indiana.
“If we’re going to ensure all students have the opportunity to thrive, we have to expand learning beyond the classroom to include the time students spend outside of school,” said Lakshmi Hasanadka, CEO of the Indiana Afterschool Network. “This is especially true as we recover from the impact of school closures during COVID-19, which set back academic progress and social development, strained students’ wellbeing, and exacerbated existing gaps in academic outcomes based on race and income.”
“With the state and federal investments in high-quality out-of-school time programs following the pandemic, Indiana has supported the growth of out-of-school time programs that are delivering meaningful results for students,” said Jacqueline Kronk, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County. “We must continue that momentum to expand the reach of these programs and help more students prepare for success in life and work.”
Effective out-of-school time learning programs impact student learning
Out-of-school time learning includes instruction, tutoring, or other academic-focused activities that occur outside of a student’s regular school day. For students from affluent households, this supplemental learning time occurs regularly and has few barriers to access. However, according to data from the Afterschool Alliance, for every Indiana student enrolled in out-of-school time programs, there are three K-12 students without access to any program.
“The Expanded Classroom” details national and statewide data that shows stalled learning recovery for Hoosier students following the COVID-19 pandemic. While this problem is widespread, a focus should be on serving students from historically disadvantaged groups, like those from low-income families, English Language Learners, and other groups that face challenges that limit access to high-quality support.
“All Hoosier students deserve access to out-of-school time opportunities that accelerate their learning and give them a well-rounded educational experience. The Mind Trust is proud to work with partners around the state to grow two programs, Indy Summer Learning Labs and Indiana Learns, that give Hoosier students high-quality learning and enrichment opportunities outside of the classroom,” said Brandon Brown, CEO of The Mind Trust. “The Mind Trust and our partners believe this report sheds light on the urgent need to fund these programs and work collaboratively across sectors to ensure a bright future for all Hoosier students.”
Students see an academic benefit when they can participate in high-quality out-of-school time programming. For example, students participating in Indy Summer Learning Labs (ISLL), a Marion County program from The Mind Trust and United Way of Central Indiana, see math and reading gains each year. The Indiana Department of Education commissioned an external study that found ISLL students achieved statistically significant gains above their pre-pandemic rates of learning and outperformed their peers who did not participate in the program.
“Year after year, the data show that programs like Indy Summer Labs work for kids who need that extra boost of learning to stay ahead,” said Fred Payne, president and CEO of United Way of Central Indiana.” An investment in these programs is critical – it’s an investment in our children’s futures.”
“When the school bell rings, there’s got to be a safe place for kids to go,” said Maggie A. Lewis, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis. “Often, kids go home to an empty house, where they may face a variety of temptations that could lead them to make a bad decision. Why not create that safe space where kids can go after school and find a caring adult to provide them with mentorship, help with their homework, and serve a meal?”
Additionally, out-of-school time programs give students more opportunities for college and career readiness. In South Bend, the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County reimagined its teen center to serve as a “workforce development hub,” where students can explore career interests and build hard and soft skills. The club also launched a mobile RV maker space to help students see themselves in a high-demand field with a strong presence in the St. Joseph County region.
Other programmatic examples from the Boys & Girls Club of White County, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, Indiana Learns, and YMCA leadership are included in the report.
Continued federal and state investment is key to sustaining impact on students
In the wake of the pandemic, federal and state funding for out-of-school time programs increased, allowing communities across the state to launch and expand initiatives. However, this infusion of funding will end by June 2025. To sustain an impact on Hoosier students, the report recommends stronger integration of out-of-school time learning into the K-12 system and the allocation of state funding to support and grow high-quality programs.
To read the full report and executive summary, visit themindtrust.org/