Philadelphia will unveil an initiative to improve the city's out-of-school-time programs Thursday.
Sounds dry, perhaps, but lurking below the surface is an intriguing idea: What if Philly treated extracurricular programming with the sort of intentionality and seriousness typically applied to in-school programming?
"If we can build the quality and have a set of outcomes that we think are important — that we know are important for kids' success in school and success in their future life — we will be knitting together a system that can perform at a level that it never performed before," said Mike DiBerardinis, the city's managing director.
Systematically tracking quality and outcomes is second nature to those in the K-12 realm, but it would be new territory for the out-of-school time, or OST, sector. The city spends about $40 million every year for out-of-school time programs, but DiBerardinis said relatively little is known about how well each one works.
Another goal of this new initiative? Better coordination among programs in the city's sprawling network of afterschool and summer options. Even within city government, the main channels for providing out-of-school programming — Parks and Recreation, the Free Library, and the Department of Human Services — tend to stay in their own silos.
"I think the system has been running without enough intention," said DiBerardinis. "So what we're trying to do is raise the intentionality of what we do with children after school."