I would like to measure the impact of having meaningful and accessible after school education programs (especially during the summer months) for children in the urban environment. It has been shown through a variety of studies that a lack of stimulating after school activities (especially over summer break) is a factor which contributes to the ever-growing education gap between children with means and those without. This is a long standing issue in all of the U.S., and one that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. The enormous discrepancy of educational potential and documented progress in education of children is inexcusable. Through the implementation of meaningful after school activities on a regular basis, and throughout summer, children are encouraged to value education, receive the help they need to excel, learn to approach problems in their world (not solely academic issues, but social, emotional, psychological ones as well) in an appropriate manner, and gain a self-confidence in their own abilities. All of these factors contribute to better academic performance, self-esteem, graduation rates, and the overall improvement of quality of life.
As this is a large issue, and not a narrowly focused think-impact project, it would be best to gather existing research on successful after school educational practices and compare these findings against standardized testing scores in the urban environment. In addition, working with existing institutions geared towards the creation of universal and quality after school opportunities for children would be helpful. It might be useful to focus on a few key locations (such as a few cities across the U.S.) which have experienced success in order to generalize these larger goals.
To make this project work, I hope to work with the Partnership for After School Education and the Afterschool Alliance.