School’s Out New York City (SONYC)—a pathway to success for youth in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades—offers afterschool programming for New York City (NYC) middle schoolers in a variety of activity areas. SONYC programs provide middle school youth with the support of caring adults and offer engaging, fun activities during the afterschool hours. SONYC programs are designed to support five goals:
- Foster academic, social, and emotional competencies and physical well-being in a safe and nurturing environment.
- Provide opportunities for youth to explore their interests and creativity.
- Build skills that support academic achievement and raise participant expectations and confidence.
- Cultivate youth leadership and community engagement.
- Engage parents and other caretakers to support the above goals.
With NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s support in 2014, enrollment more than tripled, greatly increasing the reach of SONYC programs. In October 2014, AIR contracted with the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development to evaluate the SONYC initiative. The goals for the evaluation are to describe implementation of SONYC programs; explore the success of the expansion; relate stakeholder perceptions of SONYC programs; and explore the relationship between program participation and youth outcomes, specifically youth leadership development and academic-related attitudes and skills.