The Extracurricular Crisis and The Future of Afterschool Programs in the USA

The  “Entertainment and Sports Lawyer” recently published an article on the future of afterschool activities that was written by Evan Fieldman, our CEO and Co-Founder. The article, A Temporary Band-Aid: Pay-to-Play Fees and The Extracurricular Crisis, analyzes the implications of charging students fees to participate in sports and arts programs at public schools. Highlights include:

  • School districts in 33 states charge students pay-to-play fees.
  • Pay-to-play fees for a single student may be more than $700 per activity in one season.
  • States across the country are eliminating public funding for school sponsored extracurricular activities.

You can read the article here: ABA – Entertainment and Sports Lawyer.


Fun, Safety and Achievement: The Benefits of Afterschool Activities in 3 Words (Sort of…)

Children, parents and educators recognize the importance of afterschool activities. However, when asked why extracurricular programs are essential to a student’s development, many advocates are not familiar with the research and statistics to support their intuitions. Below are a few buzz words, studies and facts to illustrate the benefits of afterschool programs:

1) Fun: Afterschool programs are a catalyst for a student’s happiness, health and confidence. Yet, as schools face budget crises, municipalities are eliminating sports and arts programs. Without these athletic and creative outlets within schools, the opportunities for students to make friends, stay fit and interact with classmates are vanishing. As a result, activities offered by non-profit organizations, cultural institutions and recreational leagues are becoming even more significant.

2) Safety: The hours between 3pm to 6pm are a tipping point for a student. The peak time for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs is after the school bell rings. When the school day ends, communities (which includes families!) should do their best to ensure kids remain supervised. Simply said, afterschool programs keep kids out of trouble.

3) Achievement: What is the one characteristic 95% of the Fortune 500 CEO’s have in common? Participation in extracurricular activities while in high school. Studies indicate that involvement in afterschool programs results in improved grades, higher graduation rates and increased rate of acceptance to college.  If afterschool activities are correlated to a high school student’s success, why do only 8% of teenagers participate?

In the near future, you will find the best youth opportunities in sports, entertainment and innovation at For afterschool programs (non-profits, small businesses and franchises) who want to be featured on, please register at: 

Generation Z: Our Greatest Natural Resource

When describing America’s education crisis, Walt Disney declared more than 50 years ago: “Crowded classrooms and half-day sessions are a tragic waste of our greatest national resource – the minds of our children.” If standardized tests now dictate curriculums across the country, budget cuts threaten the job security of our brightest new teachers and increased homework becomes an alternative to school sponsored extracurricular activities, where will the potential of the next generation be cultivated?  Our answer: Outside of School.

Due to trends inside the classroom, we believe a child’s activities outside of school are more important than ever.  While parents recognize the positive impact of athletic instruction and arts education for a child (e.g. graduation rates, likelihood of success in the workplace, and physical and mental health), after-school activities are becoming even more essential in the development of a child’s character, creativity and community.

In the upcoming school year, how will your children spend their free time? Sitting in front of an XBox 360 or participating in a dynamic robotics program? Watching sitcoms on a 3D flat screen or creating 3D video platforms at an innovative computer camp? Texting on the IPhone 4 at a shopping mall or learning a new sport at a park? If Generation Z is our greatest natural resource, then we should encourage the next generation to stop sitting, stop watching and stop texting, and start participating, start creating and start learning.

The Future of After-School Programs

The decrease in funding to school districts by state governments and the federal budget crisis present significant challenges to publicly funded sports and arts programs. What is the future of extracurricular activities for students in the USA?

A synopsis of potential scenarios is provided below:

Renewal: Funding is restored for extracurricular activities, and sports and arts programs remain at public schools.

Likelihood: Doubtful. Education budgets are shrinking across the country.  Extracurricular activities are often the first line items to be eliminated. There are no indicators this disheartening trend will be reversed. Without an increase in public funding, sports and arts programs at public schools are in grave danger.

Pay to Play: After-school programs remain at public schools, but students pay a fee to enroll in a club or extracurricular activity.

Likelihood: Doubtful.  In reality, these pay to play fees are a temporary band-aid to the looming budget crises across the country. Courts are likely to view these pay to play fees as unconstitutional because they deny students an equal opportunity for public education, and state legislatures are proposing (and passing) legislation to end pay to play fees.

Non-Profit Management: Non-profit organizations administer after-school sports and arts programs.

Likelihood: Doubtful. The recession impaired non-profit organizations as supporters and charitable trusts reduced donations. Non-profit organizations also share public schools’ challenges; 501(c)3’s often rely on state and federal grants to operate. While non-profits will likely continue to administer existing after-school programs, the potential for growth is not promising.

Privatization: Small businesses, individual coaches and franchises offer unique, personalized and branded after-school opportunities.

Likelihood: Probable.  With schools cutting programs, non-profits shrinking and pay to play fees being barred, parents will be looking for alternatives for their children’s after-school activities.  While increased costs to parents may be associated with the privatization of after-school programs, opportunities will develop to provide students with more creative, customized and effective programs.

What is your prediction for the future of extracurricular activities?

Seven Staggering Statistics

In the month of May, Kansas eliminated its state agency for the arts and the Texas House of Representatives approved a $4 billion reduction in educational funding that includes music and gym classes.  What does this mean for the future of extracurricular activities? Below is a quick snapshot of seven staggering statistics facing Generation Z:

1. Parents of 18.5 million students (K-12) who are not currently participating in after-school programs say they would enroll their children if a program were available to them.

2. 25% of students (more than 15 million students) are responsible for taking care of themselves when the school day ends.

3. Only 15% of students participate in after-school programs.

4. After-school hours are the peak time for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs and alcohol.

5. Teens who are unsupervised during after-school hours are 37% more likely to become teen parents.

6. Fewer than 1 in 3 teens get an adequate amount of regular physical activity.

7. Within the past three decades, the number of overweight children between the ages of 6 and 12 has doubled.

For more information about the impact of eliminating extracurricular activities, check out After-School All-Stars, Afterschool Alliance, and Children Now.

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