Children in rural communities need access to safe, supportive, and meaningful activities during out-of-school-time equal to their counterparts in urban communities. Yet, there is a dearth of afterschool assets and opportunities in many rural areas, as well as a high number of families struggling with devastating poverty rates that are often higher than those in urban communities.
In addition to bringing together services and resources to meet the basic needs of rural children, there is a simultaneous need to create collaborative partnerships that can effectively support children after school. As practitioners, researchers and policymakers work to expand and strengthen the growing afterschool field, there is a clear need to understand and address the challenges and opportunities inherent to supporting afterschool programming specific to rural communities.
Afterschool Alliance provides some links and issue briefs related specifically to challenges and opportunities in rural afterschool programs.
Annenberg Challenge (Annenberg Foundation, Annenberg Institute for School Reform)
The Annenberg Challenge is a public-private partnership focused on improving education for 1.5 million urban and rural public school students. Within the Annenberg site, there are updates on rural projects at http://www.ruraledu.org/. This link goes to The Rural School and Community Trust, a national nonprofit organization rooted in rural America. The Trust site allows users to search rural issues by state, policy issue, or learning topic. The organization works with a network of schools and community groups striving to improve the quality of education and community life, and to improve state policy on education. The Rural School and Community Trust is active across the nation, especially in rural areas demonstrating historic patterns of poverty and racism, or experiencing major changes in population composition and economic indicators. On this site, users can access place-based and community education, rural education research links and resources, and monthly published newsletters.
Finding Resources to Support Rural Out-of-School Time Initiatives: Tools for Out-of-School Time and Community School Initiatives
Author: Elisabeth Wright
Publisher: The Finance Project, Strategy Brief, Volume 4, Number 1, February, 2003
Program for Rural Services and Research at the University of Alabama
(After School Alabama)
Last year in Alabama, Governor Don Siegelman began an initiative to research existing after school programs and to create new models for implementation. His efforts have been focused on providing educational support programs to benefit Alabama's school-aged children. After School Alabama (ASA), Phase I, spearheaded by the Program for Rural Services at the University of Alabama, researched 600 after school programs across the state. Findings revealed that demands for after school programs far exceed supply, especially in rural areas.
Save The Children-Web of Support After School Programs
Save the Children's Web of Support is a national initiative to support children, and the community organizations that serve them, during non-school hours. Save the Children has developed a network of community-based partner organizations, which they provide with resources, financial support, technical assistance and leadership training. Through Save The Children, these program partners are able to deliver high quality after-school programs and support for children in 100 low-income rural and urban neighborhoods across the United States.
21st Century Community Learning Centers
A number of rural schools and communities have received support from 21st century Community Learning Center grants to provide extended services and programming after school. The website includes a searchable database that indicates rural schools and programs currently receiving funding.
Research and Articles on After School and Community Education Issues in Rural America
Campbell, S. (2001). Shouts in the Dark: Community Arts Organizations for Students in Rural Schools with "Urban" Problems. Education and Urban Society 33(4), 445-456.
Castillo, Y. & Winchester, M. (2001). After School in a Colonia.
Harvard Family Research Project. (2000). Strengthening Local evaluation Capacity in Rural Communities. The Evaluation Exchange: Emerging Strategies in Evaluating Child & Family Services VI(1).
Neufeld, J., Smith, M., Estes, H., Hill, G. (1995). Rural After-School Child Care: A Demonstration Project in a Remote Mining Community. Rural Special Education Quarterly 14(3). 12-16.
Rye, J. (1998). Teacher Professional Development Through an Academic Enrichment Program For Underrepresented Secondary Students in West Virginia.
Rural Challenge Research and Evaluation Program & Harvard Graduate School of Education. (1999). Living and Learning in Rural Schools and Communities-Lessons Learned from the Field. A Report to the Annenberg Rural Challenge, volumes 1 & 2. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Graduate School of Education.