Print

Building Membership of After School Programs

Did you know that every day, after school, approximately 15 million school aged kids do not have a place to go that has adult supervision? I bet your reaction is similar to ours. Wow, that is a lot of kids! If we flashback fifty years ago, this statistic may not be as frightening because we felt that times were different; a safer different. However, today it is more alarming to have kids roaming the streets after school. They are exposed to violence that has become prevalent at younger and younger ages. They have access to substances that lead to unhealthy habits with just a little persuasion from a “friend". So we can agree that times are different and we don’t want our kids, or other young people in the community for that matter, wandering into a life of dangerous habits. But, what do we do, as program leaders, to encourage young people that we care about to venture away from these risky behaviors?

Involve the kids who don’t have a place to go in our Clubs! I know, this is always the ultimate goal. Involve more kids! Year after year you try to get more kids to come to your after school programs but the same kids show up; which is great. You really should be proud that you have a core group of members that are there any time the doors open. However, we want to help more young people and encourage them to become members of the Club. Again, I bet your reaction in similar to ours. How can we even begin to recruit more members if we haven’t been able to reach them before?

Start by taking the time to reflect. Have you used the same marketing plan for the past two years or even the past ten years? We can all relate to the fact that times change and can do so quickly. What you used to recruit and retain members last school year may need minor changes for this school year. Make note of your strengths and weaknesses. This can give you a starting point of what changes need to be made. Include your staff in the process of brainstorming strategies to capitalize on your strengths and build your weaknesses. Sometimes two, or more, brains really are better than one!

Next, try making an after school program profile. The profile can be adapted to reach all generations! Having a 1-2 page informational hand out that can be tailored depending on the audience and how it is relayed to the audience can help show others what great things you are doing. The following details can be used to maximize the effect of your profile. 

  • Include the details of your organization. It isn’t safe to assume everyone already knows who your organization is, where you are located, and how you can be contacted.
  • A statement about the need in your community. This can be one or two sentences that include statistics about characteristics such as educational attainment, academic achievement, drug usage rates, obesity, et cetera.
  • Facts about your program. Include what areas you serve, the activities you offer, how long you have been in operation, and the best contact information to receive more information.
  • Accomplishments of your program! This can include awards of the organization or the youth, the partnerships you have recruited, or your participation in the community.
  • Put a face to your organization! Include statements from youth who have participated in your programs or their guardians. Also, don’t forget pictures! Connecting a story to a picture will make it more memorable to the audience.

Now you have your program profile and the strategies to make changes to your recruiting style. Now have fun getting more kids to the Club and helping them not be yet another statistic! If you would like to read more about creating a program profile, click here!