Experts argue that if properly utilized and made more accessible, afterschool programs have the potential to broaden the STEM reach.
Jodi Grant, the CEO of the Afterschool Alliance notes the sophistication of some of the programs. For example, “kids are designing paper airplanes, learning chemistry through cooking, [and] we have kids who are using computers to redesign their neighborhoods,” she says.
However, the funding for these programs is not always there. Linda Rosen, CEO of Change the Equation, says “corporate America has been willing to invest in afterschool programs, but is often unsure if the monetary contributions they are making influence STEM education in the right way. There’s a tension in the corporate world between patience and urgency. Corporate America wants to enact change immediately, but education doesn’t work that way.”
According to the Afterschool Alliance, there are 8.4 million students participating in afterschool programs across the nation. However, the Alliance says that the parents of 18 million students would enroll their students if they could.