You want to build school culture. You want to extend guidance. You want to improve grades and attendance.

But you’re already working through lunch, balancing a razor-thin budget, and hacking through miles of red tape!

What if I told you there was a solution to all of those issues, hiding where you never thought to look?

The answer is your after school program.

It’s true! I’ve worked with countless after-school sites over the past 5 years. Many of them use our RISING UP: Coaching Program to extend SEL programming, and it has made all the difference.

Don’t believe me? Pull the data!

I’m a Texan, so I’m most familiar with the 21st Century ACE Centers across our state, but I imagine most centers are similar. My money says if you pull a roster of students that attend your after-school program for more than 50 days per year, it will reveal increased attendance, improved GPA’s, and higher test scores compared to their peers or even themselves in past years.

Go ahead. Do it.

I dare you!

Still not convinced? Let’s see what Policy Studies Associates (PSA) found after evaluating after school programs for more than 25 years.

In the Summer 2017 “AfterSchool Today” publication from the National AfterSchool Association, PSA reported that “students involved in after-school programs had greater gains in school attendance when compared to those who did not participate, they were two to three times more likely to show improvement on state ELA and math assessments when matched with schools that did not participate in after-school programming, and lastly, these after-school opportunities help students develop teamwork and interpersonal skills, as well as gain confidence in their ability to succeed.”

Here’s how you can use your after school program to accomplish amazing results without adding more strife to your own workload…



After-school professionals are the NAVY Seals of education. Highly specialized, extremely passionate, and often operating under the radar. When was the last time you talked to your after-school director? Are you including them in school culture planning?

The first thing you must do is reach out to them. If their program is strong, it will build an army of students that can rally families, community organizations, and other students to your school culture efforts!



School counselors are spread thinner than a tablespoon of peanut butter on a foot long loaf of bread, which is why after-school programs are essential. Such programs have fewer constraints compared to a typical school day. This makes them an ideal training ground for social-emotional issues.

Could a group of students benefit from a 20 minute guidance lesson on decision making? No problem!

How about a 2 hour leadership summit where a diverse group of student leaders can develop solutions to your school’s problems (without the worry of pulling them from class)? Absolutely; does next month work for you?

Get together. Plan it. The possibilities are endless! You just have to reach out and ask. 



As you read this, the current administration has after school’s 21st Century Grant on the chopping block. Having enjoyed long-standing bipartisan support, we will see how things play out, but from what I have seen working in these programs, they have huge opportunities for our students and even greater opportunities to help you build school culture.

So set up that meeting with your site director. See what he or she can bring to your efforts to build school culture from the inside out.

I double dog dare you.


President & CEO, TEEN TRUTH

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