Metro launches new initiative to strengthen out-of-school programs

Posted at 4:43 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-08 20:04:31-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Through efforts of the Nashville mayor's office, families can now use a new initiative in the city to find after-school care.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper's office will partner with FUSE — a national nonprofit dedicated to helping local communities improve education and advance racial equity — to create a database of out-of-school local services, which will be available for families across every neighborhood.

"We really are using those the phrase out of school time so that we can capture everything that young people are doing after school. So if there's an AAU basketball team, a soccer team, if it's a dance, karate, we would love to get their information and put them on the out-of-school locator," said La'Kishia Harris, FUSE Fellow.

In Tennessee, 17% of kindergarten through 12th grade children are responsible for taking care of themselves after school.

Of all Tennessee children not currently enrolled in after-school programs, 31% would be likely to participate if an after-school program were it available in their community. according to data from the Tennessee Afterschool Network.

Harris said there will also be collaborating with Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA) to keep Metro students safe and productive after school by launching the out-of-school program database and locator service.

"A lot of providers felt as though they were working in silos, and some providers even said, you know, we have a wait list, but the organization down the street doesn't, but we can't necessarily say anything or speak to the work that that organization does," Harris said.

After-school programs help students do better in school, improve their work habits, and graduate. The Tennessee Afterschool Network said these programs engage students in enriching experiences that foster leadership, collaboration and responsibility.

In Tennessee, nearly 180,000 children and teens are enrolled in after-school programs.

Mayor Cooper is calling on all nonprofit and community organizations to fill out a survey that will assist in building out the database.

Harris said they hope to have the database available for families by this summer.