Original Paper

American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 405-416

First online:

Building Opportunity: Developing City Systems to Expand and Improve After School Programs

  • Martha A. HollemanAffiliated withStrategic Thinking for Social ChangeBaltimore’s Safe and Sound Campaign Email author 
  • , M. Jane SundiusAffiliated withThe Open Society Institute
  • , Eric J. BrunsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


A growing body of research is examining the strengths and weaknesses of specific after school programs and their effect on youth outcomes. Few reviews, however, have sought to examine the components of citywide system-building—to understand intentional efforts to develop, support and sustain high quality after school programming across a community. Beginning in the mid-1990s and continuing through the present, private funders, public officials and program practitioners in cities across America have joined together to build systems to support the expansion and improvement of after school programs at the city-level. This paper presents the community context and underlying principles that drove the development of Baltimore’s After-School Strategy; articulates a set of system components derived from this experience and the available literature; and lays out future work to expand high quality after-school opportunities for youth in Baltimore and in other distressed urban environments.


After school programs Out-of-school time Human service systems Youth development Evaluation Community-based programs Community organizing