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Out-of-School Time in Elev8 Community Schools: A First Look at Participation and its Unique Contribution to Students’ Experiences in School

In 2007, The Atlantic Philanthropies (Atlantic) made an investment in its first five community schools in the State of New Mexico. Over the years that followed, Atlantic invested in developing community schools in three additional locations -Chicago, Baltimore, and Oakland-totaling about 20 schools across all four regions. For this initiative, now known as Elev8, Atlantic selected agencies with deep local roots to serve as regional leads. Each of these grantees has developed and implemented flexible, full-service community school models in up to five schools, focusing on middle-grade students in low-performing schools in their region. Elev8 schools employ a team of Out-of-School Time (OST) staff, family advocates, medical professionals, a site director, and others, as dictated by their model. As a significant investment is made in OST activities in Elev8 and other community school models, this report takes a preliminary look inside the ‘black box’ of community schools, thereby providing important information to the field about the relative value of OST within a community school model. Our findings suggest that: 1) increasing participation levels in OST programs in community school settings may promote OST participants’ success in high school; and 2) Elev8 students in our sample have positive attitudes toward school. OST activities may be a promising context to help inform students about their high school options and planning activities. More research is needed to understand the relationship between Elev8 OST and positive student outcomes.