The National After-school Summit on Wednesday focused on how after-school activities play an essential role in preparing students for college and entering the 21st-century workforce.
Hosted by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute in partnership with the After-school Alliance and After-School All-Stars, this summit aimed to spread awareness among public and private-sector leaders about the value of supporting after-school programs and their importance to the future success of students.
The summit was hosted by American Ninja Warrior’s Matt Iseman, who emphasized how important it was for children to receive opportunities. He also said that this program not only helps children to better prepare for college, but it also increases their parents’ productivity by freeing their mindspace at work.
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger emphasized that after-school programs help keep children off the streets and out of danger’s way.
“For every dollar you spend on an after-school program, you save $3 to $6 down the line,” Schwarzenegger said. “We know that 70 percent of the kids come from homes where both parents are working. They are not there in the afternoon after 3 p.m. These kids need help.”
Opening remarks were followed by a discussion between Schwarzenegger and Van Jones, host of The Messy Truth on CNN. Jones asked Schwarzenegger about the importance of after-school programs, and Schwarzenegger said that the trend of both parents working is relatively new, which contributes to the need for these programs.
“I felt sorry for those kids, that they don’t have someone there helping them with homework … or whatever it is they need to do,” Schwarzenegger said. “If I want to give anything back to this country, that’s one of the things that I can do: To give back to my community, my state and my country by starting after-school programs and the whole movement.”
Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Monica Garcia remarked on how these after-school programs have affected education overall. Along with Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges, Gerard Robinson, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and Heidi Sipe, superintendent of Umatilla School District in Oregon, Garcia discussed the role of after-school programs in keeping kids in school.
“After-school is about enhancing the services to young people,” Garcia said. “It’s about somebody caring, somebody being there but also really somebody investing in you.”
Sipe spoke about the positives of after-school programs focuses on and how they supplement the school programs to achieve federal educational goals.
“After-school helps students dream new dreams,” Sipe said. “It’s very difficult for kids, especially in rural areas, to dream about careers that they have never seen, they have not been exposed to. We support that with the classes to build the skills, build the confidence so they can move forward.”
The panel then discussed how these programs enhance creativity among students.
“Students don’t need anyone to incorporate creativity for them because students are creative,” Sipe said. “What we have to do is remove the barriers that stop them from being able to explore. They have natural curiosity. What after-school allows them to do is to play with it.”
USC Schwarzenegger Institute Global Director Bonnie Reiss said that the summit achieved its expectations.
“It inspired the education and after-school network leaders from all 50 states who are here today to go back and continue this important work,” Reiss said. “We continue to work with the remarkable coalition of people involved in providing after-school programs to the children of working, middle-class and low-income families, to learn from each other so the programs get better and better.”