The Pittsburgh Foundation

Themes from Out-of-school Time Providers

Below is what the Foundation's Program and Policy department staff heard after reaching out to nonprofit out-of-school time providers to better understand their concerns, challenges and needs to inform our most immediate grantmaking, convening and public policy activities.

Providers communicated varied degrees of confidence regarding the availability of accurate, reliable information on which to base current and future organizational decisions, and the timing of important announcements.

“I try not to share out just anything because I don’t know what’s real. I don’t know who knows the truth, so it is hard to know what to trust.” 

“[It’s] difficult to share information with partners because there is too short a time between announcements from PPS and the implementation of those announcements.”

The mental, social and emotional impacts of the crisis on staff and the students they serve is of great concern. 

“What is difficult is as a leader is being the person to keep my team together while navigating my own anxiety around everything.” 

“We don’t know how this will impact people we know – I don’t intend to share this with staff, but I do worry about how this may impact our staff and the families we know. It would be nice to be able to collaborate with a group like the Caring Place if need be or [learn more] ways to restructure our time.” 

The longer the closures go on, the greater the potential for financial hardship, housing and food insecurity increases for staff and the families they serve. School-based providers are unable to bill the school district while the schools are closed. Some after-school programs are now unable to provide dinner to youth, which the families now must take on.

“I anticipate that this [school closure] is not going to be just two weeks. I was told initially that there would be a way to get paid, but no new invoicing can occur now. So, if we come back May 1, that’s six weeks without pay.” 

Organizations are struggling with the uncertainty of the situation, and how that impacts their planning and finances, including  the financial consequences of not having summer programming.

“What does it mean to pivot and be innovative, while also wanting to be gentle and responsive and not waste time?”

“We’re getting inquiries about summer program from parents – when will we know if/when we have to cancel? … Will school districts have summer programs or summer school?”

“We are planning for something we are not even sure will happen – (including) trying to hire for summer without knowing if programs will actually occur.”

Recommendations for Providing Support to Out-of-school Time Providers

  • Convene organizations to explain emergency supports that are available during this time. 
  • Assist organizations and families with access to technology. 
  • Create a space for leaders to be together and process with their peers as they make decisions for themselves and their organizations. 
  • Continue to check-in with nonprofits as the situation changes as their answers may be different as the situation evolves. 
  • Support smaller organizations. They tend to have smaller, fee-for-service programs that depend on running programming.
  • Advocate for clear communication from districts regarding how students will be equitably supported in remote learning activities.
  • Amplify the need for OST programming – especially how it can help with math and reading remediation.
  • Advocate for equitable learning processes across the county, such as similar schedules and properly allocated supports.
  • Use this pandemic to shift the culture of philanthropy to be open to a more holistic approach to OST. Create more equitable experiences for students, by continuing to raise awareness of equity issues and building collective power to change systems.