Out-of-School-Time (OST) Programs

November 30, 2023
Policy Snapshot

Out-of-school-time programs include a range of activities that provide enrichment opportunities for children and youth before school, after school, and during summer and other breaks.

Across DC, approximately 37,000 public school students participate in afterschool programs and around 32,000 participate in summer programs that are subsidized. However, 53,000 students are missing out on afterschool programs and 57,000 are missing out on summer programs that are subsidized. A poll of DC parents found that for every child enrolled in an afterschool program, one is waiting to get in.

Black youth, in particular, face barriers to accessing OST programs. Wards 7 and 8, where 82% and 92% of youth are Black, respectively, have the highest population of students who do not have access to OST activities, according to the DC Policy Center’s 2023 OST needs assessment.

The Impact of Out-of-School-Time Programs

Out-of-school-time programs play an important role in academic engagement, fostering social and emotional growth, and bridging the gap between schools and communities. In addition, they improve:

Youth development: Youth who participate in high-quality OST programs demonstrate better classroom participation and school attendance. District families also note the benefits to their child of learning new skills or topics, developing emotional maturity, and expanding creative or artistic skills from OST programming, according to the DC Policy Center’s 2023 OST needs assessment.

Public safety: More afterschool programs means more safe, constructive spaces for young people during critical hours. In DC, 2pm to 6pm is the peak time for youth-involved crime on school days–-47% of all youth-involved crimes occur during this window, and OST programs can help keep young people from being both victims and perpetrators of crimes.

Support for working families: In a survey of DC parents, 90% agreed that afterschool programs provide working parents with peace of mind knowing their children are safe and productively engaged while they work. 84% of parents agreed that afterschool program help them keep their jobs.


Funding and Participation

In the District, OST programs are funded through a variety of public and private sources, including local, federal, and foundation grants, corporate and individual donations, fundraising, and tuition and fees. Public funds help provide options for families that cannot afford private tuition. Public funding streams include:


Funding stream Government agency Description Fiscal year 2024 Amount Youth served
Learn24 (OST Office) Deputy Mayor for Education Provides grants to nonprofits and public charter schools to provide OST programs. Learn24 funds a scholarship program that enables up to 200 youth to participate in fee-based programs. $15,050,000 local, $6,300,000 federal pandemic recovery funds, $750,000 local funds for scholarships  15,200
Department of Parks and Recreation Department of Parks and Recreation Runs summer camps, seasonal camps and teen programs. Beginning in FY23, DPR provides modest OST grants to organizations for OST activities. $11,058,000 1,742 in afterschool; 2,727 in summer; and 8,096 seasonal sports or seasonal break (2021-22 school year). 
My Afterschool DC Grants (OST Office) Deputy Mayor for Education Launched in FY24 to provide afterschool programming at  29 elementary and middle schools designated “priority schools,” as determined by the OST Office. $3,100,000 580 (Expected)
Individual School Budgets DCPS and the DC Public Charter School Board Some public schools allocate part of their individual school budgets for in-house afterschool or contracts with OST programs. $4,122,200 for DCPS, data not available for charter schools Data not collected
Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Awarded through DC Office of State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) Only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to supporting OST. For FY24, OSSE awarded grants to 6 community-based organizations to provide OST programs over a 5-year period. Other grants were awarded to DCPS for school-based afterschool programs. $6,000,000 5,800 (2021-22 school year)
Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program Department of Employment Services Provides District youth ages 14 to 24 with summer work experiences (up to 6 weeks) through subsidized job placements.
8,354 (summer 2021)
Subsidies for Licensed Child Care Providers for School-Age Youth OSSE Licensed child care relies on private tuition, supplemented for some families by vouchers from the Child Care Subsidy Program.
Not available broken out by the age of the child
approximately 26,000 slots (as of Sept. 2023)


The District has built a robust OST infrastructure. Now we must expand on that foundation to:

Add capacity:

  • Increase grant-based funding and work with community providers to expand programmatic seat capacity, with a focus on eliminating racial and geographic disparities in OST access.
  • Grow and sustain the OST workforce to enable that expansion

Improve accessibility:

  • Ensure safe, reliable, and affordable transportation
  • Ensure inclusive programs for youth with disabilities and special needs
  • Meet needs of English language learners

Track data:

  • Streamline and standardize data collection and publication across OST-provider agencies