Public Funding for Out-of-School Time: Priorities and Trends

by Jan Gallagher, Editor

On May 18, the Robert Bowne Foundation hosted a panel discussion, Public Funding for Out-of-School Time: A Conversation with Funders. The funders represented were:

  • Bill Chong, Deputy Commissioner for Youth Services, NYC Department of Youth & Community Development
  • Digna Sanchez, Assistant Commissioner, NY State Office of Children Family Services
  • John Soja, NY State Education Department Supervisor of 21st Century Community Learning Centers

The discussion was moderated by Kathleen Murnion of the Nonprofit Connection.

Recognizing that many OST programs either fail to get funding or lose previous funding because of changes in public agencies’ funding priorities, we asked the panelists to talk about their current priorities and future trends.


John Soja, from the NYS Education Department office in charge of 21st Century Community Learning Centers, outlined NYSED’s priorities in awarding 21 CCLC money. Community-based organizations that hope to receive 21 CCLC funding should submit proposals for programs that:

  • Provide comprehensive services, including academic support, a range of youth development activities, and support for families
  • Show evidence of meaningful partnership with the local education agency
  • Address needs of students in high-poverty schools
  • Serve in Schools in Need of Improvement
  • Place priority on the needs of middle and high school students

When asked to identify trends that will affect 21 CCLC funding in New York, Soja said, “New faces”: the Democratic majority in Congress, which may over time bring 21 CCLC funding closer to the levels originally envisioned in the legislation; a new governor who supported OST programming in his campaign; and a new deputy education secretary who also supports OST programming, among others.

Questions from the audience clustered around the first round of 21 CCLC funding that is now “sunsetting” after five years. The federal legislation makes no provision for continuing support. New York State, however, took the unprecedented step of setting aside approximately $7 million for continuing effective programs. Soja said that this funding went to the Office for Children’s and Family Services and therefore was not earmarked for 21 CCLC programs, but that NYSED is working to get that money dedicated to 21 CCLC.

(A few weeks after the panel presentation, we learned that the state is apparently unable to keep the first-round 21 CCLC programs from closing. Read the press release from New York Nonprofit Press.)


Digna Sanchez, the NYC coordinator for the NYS Office of Children & Family Services, also emphasized transitions in her remarks. Besides Governor Spitzer, Sanchez is herself new to her post, and OCFS has a new director, Gladys Carrión, who is from NYC. Sanchez outlined several OCFS programs that OST programs can tap for funding:

Sanchez noted that Gov. Spitzer’s emphasis on interagency cooperation, along with his formation of the Children’s Cabinet, is likely to result in a new level of importance for OST programming in many state agencies.


Bill Chong of the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) emphasized the scope of the city’s OST program, the largest city-funded program in the country. Since September, the program has served over 74,000 children and youth, with a budget of $76 million for the current fiscal year and a commitment to provide $121 million in 2008.

Chong cited several trends in DYCD’s funding emphasis on out-of-school-time programming:

  • A data-driven process to determine how to allocate funding. DYCD uses demographic data, such as the percentages of English language learners and of low-income students, to target priority zip codes. Whereas previously most funding tended to be centered in Manhattan, now neighborhoods with greater need are being funded at higher levels.
  • Cooperative efforts to maximize city resources. Partnerships with other city agencies enable OST programs to obtain such resources as free space. Of approximately 550 DYCD-funded programs, 350 are located in schools, 31 in NYC Housing Authority facilities, and 12 in Parks facilities.
  • Standardized service levels. Levels of service are mandated by age groupings. Programs for elementary-age children must meet more rigorous standards by, for instance, providing three to six hours of instruction daily; whereas programs for high school students can provide services on a drop-in or seasonal basis.
  • Online data management. OST Online will provide data on programs, students, and activities not only to improve accountability but also to inform program management.
  • Evaluation. DYCD recently completed its first-ever evaluation of the entire OST system, not just of given programs. This is a major investment in building capacity and improving quality.

Chong urged programs to sign up for notification of requests for proposals, noting that the RFP for OST funding will be out soon. He also urged participants to watch for new opportunities from the Center for Economic Opportunity, administered by DYCD: one on young adult internships and another on service learning.

After the panel discussion, small groups discussed ways OST programs can get together to advocate for increased public funding. Some of the suggestions that emerged are included in Michelle Yanche's article in this issue.

Back to top

In this Issue


Lena Townsend
Michelle Yanche


Jan Gallagher

Web Design & Programming

David W. Hill

Contact Us

We’d love your feedback on this issue. Complaints, kudos, suggestions for future topics? Please email the editor, Jan Gallagher