Kids & Microscopes, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Carolina Biological Supply Company’s photostream

Providing leadership and guidance for children during the hours of 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. can have a hugely positive impact in their lives. The first few hours after the school day ends can put children at risk if they lack activities and are left on their own while their parents are still at work. Studies have shown that high quality after school programs improve grades, make kids less likely to get involved in drugs and crime, and increase graduation and college attendance rates. It is our responsibility to ensure that our kids have wholesome educational and social activities after school and we have a wealth of resources to draw on from partners in our neighborhoods and in both the private and nonprofit sectors. We can create world-class after school programs for all kids in Pittsburgh.

1. Support and Expand Existing Programs

Many great after school programs already exist in Pittsburgh through the YMCA, the Student Conservation Association and other organizations. Many of the programs, however, only take place in the summer or are only designed for high school students. We should work with partners at these organizations and with the Pittsburgh Public Schools to help support and expand the programs that have shown the most positive results to reach more kids in more neighborhoods throughout Pittsburgh.

2. Focus on Arts, Science, and Technology

We should focus on creating after school opportunities that will equip our children with the skills they need to enter some of the fastest growing jobs sectors in the country –- science, technology, and the arts. We have so many fantastic potential partners including our universities, hospitals, tech firms, and museums, and we can create fun, engaging after school opportunities that capitalize on their strong presence here.

3. Create After School Opportunities in Senior Centers

Pittsburgh has a network of senior centers spread throughout every region of the city. We should work with the centers to create after school opportunities such as tutoring, arts and music, and game play that will provide both children and seniors with enriching activities and create new community bonds across generations.