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Afterschool Success: Small Cities Lead Local Innovation is an online publication that brings to life promising afterschool initiatives in small towns and rural communities across America. This publication provides information on innovative practices and examples of afterschool successes in small cities. An accompanying video highlights successful afterschool programming in four small and/or rural communities and shows how these communities are working to meet the needs of children and youth through afterschool.

Whether a city is interested in launching an afterschool program or strengthening an existing one, the robust resource section provides a variety of resources, templates and tools collected from a host of national organizations and cities that will provide municipal, school and community leaders with the information and knowledge they need to support and improve their afterschool efforts.

The Need for Afterschool

In communities across America, afterschool opportunities fall far short of the demand for these programs from young people and their families. According to the Afterschool Alliance, an additional 18.1 million children and youth would participate in afterschool programs if one were available to them.


Without these opportunities, young people miss out on educational offerings that can bolster academic achievement and, if unsupervised, end up at greater risk of engaging in unsafe and unlawful behaviors such as drug and alcohol use or juvenile crime.

In addition to keeping children and youth challenged, healthy and safe, afterschool programs offer critical support to working parents, many of whom work more than one job to make ends meet in this still struggling economy.

About the National League of Cities

The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC serves as a resource to more than 19,000 cities, villages and towns, representing more than 218 million Americans.

About the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families

NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) helps municipal leaders take action on behalf of the children, youth and families in their communities. NLC launched the YEF Institute in January 2000 in recognition of the unique and influential roles that mayors, city councilmembers and other local leaders play in strengthening families and improving outcomes for children and youth.


This resource is made possible with generous support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The National League of Cities would also like to recognize the following cities not only for their leadership and commitment to afterschool, but for their time and dedication in helping make this resource as applicable and useful as possible:

  • Juneau, Alaska
  • Kennesaw, Georgia
  • Donaldsonville, Hammond, and Ville Platte, Louisiana
  • Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, and Northfield, Minnesota
  • Chadron, Columbus, Hastings, and Kearney, Nebraska
  • Falls City, Mapleton, and Umatilla, Oregon

The Statewide Afterschool Networks also acted as valuable thought partners in the conceptualization and creation of this resource. Special thanks go to the Beyond School Bells (Nebraska), Ignite Afterschool (Minn.), Louisiana Center for Afterschool Learning, and OregonASK.

Kim Eisenreich served as the primary author of this publication.  Audrey M. Hutchinson and Emily J. Pickren provided guidance and oversight to the development of this resource. Joeleen Kennedy and Diana Rubin provided critical technical support. Clifford M. Johnson provided overall editorial direction.

We would also like to acknowledge written contributions from Janell Smith and Olivia Myskowski, interns with the YEF Institute during the summer of 2014. Their hard work and enthusiasm were essential to the completion of this project.

Finally, a special thanks to Kohler Productions for their vision for the Voices from the Field video. They brought to life the beauty of small and rural communities while highlighting the resourcefulness and commitment of these communities to their young people.