How to Start an Afterschool Program

Afterschool programs can help meet your community’s needs.[1] Some are academically-focused on building skills like reading, math, and language. Others may highlight outdoor play, art, sports, or music. To set up an afterschool program, consider where you will run it, what staff you’ll need, and where you’ll find funding for supplies and food. Any program that cares for young children may also have to comply with national and local government guidelines.


[Edit]Researching and Planning

  1. Define who your program will serve. Determine what age group you will work with and what kind of programming you want to offer. Will you serve K-5th graders that attend the same school? Or, will your program enroll 7-8th graders who all share a similar interest?[2]
    Start an Afterschool Program Step 1 Version 3.jpg
    • If you’re a teacher, consider whether your students could benefit from an extended-day program.
    • If you’re a parent or community leader, think about a childcare solution close to home where the kids in your neighborhood can safely spend a few hours.
    • If you’re a student yourself, consider proposing a program that provides a unique opportunity for yourself and your peers.
  2. Ask parent, teachers, and kids what they want. Talk to the people in your community about what they are looking for in an afterschool program. Hold a community conversation at a school, church, or community center to discuss your ideas and to get feedback. Send out a request for input online using email, social media, or a free online survey platform.[3]
    Start an Afterschool Program Step 2 Version 3.jpg
    • Involve the people who will use the program from the beginning so you can build it to meet their needs.
  3. Set goals for your program. Determine what the ultimate purpose of your program will be. Are you mainly interested in providing a safe place for kids to hang out after school? Do you want to help kids do their homework? Are you interested in providing art or music enrichment? You can do a combination things, but it’s important to make sure that you can state your goals clearly.
    Start an Afterschool Program Step 3 Version 3.jpg
    • For example, some afterschool programs simply provide an environment that is safe and comfortable, where kids can play and hang out with adult supervision while their parents work.
    • Other programs set educational goals to improve reading skills or math scores for students who are struggling academically.
  4. Plan the organizational set-up and staff requirements. At minimum you’ll need a director who will oversee the program as well as someone who will actually run the programming on a day to day basis. These roles could be filled by the same person for a small program.[4]
    Start an Afterschool Program Step 4 Version 3.jpg
    • If you’re setting up a program at a school that already has other afterschool programs in place, model your organization around these.
    • Ask for volunteers from the community to help you meet your staffing needs.
  5. Locate a designated space for your program. Check with local schools, churches, and community centers to see if there is space you can use that is free or low-cost. Make sure the space you choose includes access to necessities like bathrooms, food, and water.[5]
    Start an Afterschool Program Step 5 Version 3.jpg
    • It is possible to run a program outdoors, but you will also need to make sure students have access to restrooms, shade, and adequate protection from weather extremes (like heat, cold, rain, etc.)
    • Try to choose a space that is accessible and inclusive for students regardless of their ability.
  6. Research and obtain proper licensing for your program. Depending on where you live, afterschool programs may be regulated by national, state, or local agencies. Learn more about the specific requirements for afterschool in your area by visiting the websites of a national group, like Afterschool Alliance in the U.S. (
    Start an Afterschool Program Step 6 Version 3.jpg
    • In other countries with more centralized educational programming, check your government’s website for a section on childcare and education. For example, in the UK, visit
    • Reach out to the contacts listed for your state or local agencies by email and phone to discuss the specific requirements for your program.

[Edit]Funding Your Program

  1. Charge tuition fees to cover your expenses. The cost of a high-quality, out-of-school-time program can range from $1,500 per child to more than double that, depending on where it is and what it includes.[6] To cover costs, many afterschool programs charge fees for enrollment.[7]
    Start an Afterschool Program Step 7 Version 3.jpg
    • When setting your tuition cost, consider the needs of the community your program serves. If the fees are too high, you may not be able to reach to the population you want to help.[8]
  2. Apply for government funding to supplement your income. Seeking funding from government sources is a great way to subsidize your program’s funding base. Check agency websites in your country, like: in the U.S. or, in Canada check out the page for the Ministry of Education in your province.[9] When searching for funding programs, look for those that are targeted to specific activities or subject areas.
    Start an Afterschool Program Step 8 Version 3.jpg
    • For example, if you need funds to purchase arts and crafts supplies, you can look into the Arts Learning Program of the National Endowment for the Arts ([10]
    • There are also numerous Federal and state funding programs in the U.S. that specifically fund programming in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.[11]
  3. Ask local community foundations and businesses for help. If you need craft supplies, reach out to the local arts and craft supply store to see if they can make a donation of materials. If you need snacks, contact local grocery stores near you and ask for help. Local community funding agencies are also a great resource. Search for them online and contact their grant officers for more help.[12]
    Start an Afterschool Program Step 9 Version 3.jpg
    • Material donations like crafts and food from local businesses can help reduce your financial burden.
    • Community funding agencies are often helpful in providing much-needed money for overhead costs like rent and maintenance.
  4. Maintain a diverse funding stream. Keep your afterschool program going by obtaining funds and supplies from several different sources. This way, if one source of funding dwindles or disappears, your program will remain afloat.[13]
    Start an Afterschool Program Step 10 Version 3.jpg

[Edit]Implementing the Program

  1. Provide structure but be flexible in your programming. Afterschool programs should supplement and enrich, not simply extend the school day. After attending school all day, students deserve a change of pace. You may require certain activities, like completing homework or rehearsing a piece of music, but students also need time to relax and have some fun.[14]
    Start an Afterschool Program Step 11 Version 3.jpg
    • Set-up stations for students like an arts and crafts station, a building station, a games station, and a reading station. This allows students to choose between a variety of different options within an organized structure.[15]
  2. Offer nutritious snacks. An aftercare program extends a student’s day to as many as 10-12 hours, or more. It’s important to provide healthy nourishment so that your students have the energy and focus they need to make the most of your programming.[16]
    Start an Afterschool Program Step 12 Version 3.jpg
    • Ask parents and students about any food allergies your students may have before offering snacks.
    • Fruits, like apples, whole grains crackers, and protein, like cheese, nuts, or hummus, are great options.
    • Avoid foods that are high in sugar as these cause an initial spike in energy levels, followed by a steep decline.
  3. Include students in decision-making. To help your students get the most out of their afterschool experience, allow them to have some control over the programming. This can be as simple as letting them vote on a theme to explore as a group or letting them participate in decisions about what snack to eat.[17]
    Start an Afterschool Program Step 13 Version 3.jpg
    • By allowing them to participate in this way, you’ll help create a stronger sense of community and belonging in your students
  4. Use themes to connect different activities. Students are more likely to participate in activities if they understand why they are doing them. Moving through different not only keeps things interesting with variety, it also provides students with a sense of purpose for each individual activity.[18]
    Start an Afterschool Program Step 14 Version 3.jpg
    • For example, one theme you could explore might be “spring.” Your arts and crafts activities could revolve around making flower and gardening-themed projects. You might offer building activities that include making birdhouses or terrariums. You can learn songs, games, and dances related to the seasonal change, as well.


Previous Entries Motorola Edge 20 Pro India launch teased Next Entries Mozilla Says Chrome’s Latest Feature Enables Surveillance

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.