Citywide Systems Building

About Citywide Systems Building

As more families have both parents working full-time jobs, the demand for afterschool and expanded learning programming for children and youth has increased. An estimated 14.3 million children and youth return each day to an empty home, unsupervised and with no opportunities for constructive engagement. Building strong citywide afterschool systems helps develop robust infrastructure connecting youth to high-quality afterschool programming that equips them with 21st century skills necessary to compete in today’s global economy.

Coordinated citywide afterschool systems require organizations in multiple sectors to collaborate. When successful, citywide systems can minimize service duplication, streamline efforts and leverage community resources while increasing access to programming.

Key Information

  • There is no single best approach to citywide systems building. Focus and strategy depend on city circumstances and need.
  • A management information system is a key tool to support citywide afterschool infrastructure as it provides data to drive decisionmaking and advocacy.
  • Mayoral, district and school support are critical components of successful citywide afterschool systems.
  • Coordinating funder requirements helps programs streamline resources.

Strategies to Support Citywide Systems Building

  • Engage city leaders to champion building citywide afterschool systems.
  • Coordinate and streamline data systems into one data management system.
  • Understand the needs in your particular city, whether it’s increasing access, streamlining resources or increasing the number of programs.
  • Identify barriers to systems building and work with varied stakeholders to address these barriers.
  • Engage the school community as valuable stakeholders in the systems building process.

General Publications

A panel discussion featuring Mayors Bloomberg, Emmanual and Villaraigosa and moderated by Andrea Mitchell about the importance of cities in education reform.
This strategy guide highlights six strategies for collecting and using data to assess and improve local afterschool programs.
The executive summary of the report highlighting a growing trend in communities nationwide: the emergence of comprehensive, citywide afterschool systems for children and youth.

Network Publications

Illinois legislation that will help the state plan for comprehensive, quality afterschool programming and generate recommendations on system wide goals for policymakers.
This policy brief outlines the Guiding Principles developed by NYSAN for the goals and operation of a statewide afterschool system.
A video profiling the citywide systems building work, supported by Minnesota's Statewide Afterschool Alliance, that has been happening in cities across Minnesota.


A comprehensive directory that identifies over 50 organizations offering resources and tools on afterschool system building