Lessons Learned for Improving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from Y-USA’s Out-of-School Time Programs

Publication Date:

July 21, 2020

Youth development program practitioners, policymakers, and funders are increasingly interested in how out-of-school time (OST) programs can effectively reach and engage diverse populations of young people. Indeed, research indicates that participation in high-quality OST activities and programs is associated with improved social, academic, and physical outcomes (Moore et al., 2014; Redd et al., 2012), so it is critical that they assure equitable access and inclusive engagement. While a small but growing body of literature has focused on efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in OST programs (Hill & Vance, 2009; Summer, Turner, & Burrow, 2018; Smith, Witherspoon, & Osgood, 2017), few systematic OST research and evaluation projects have included DEI as an area of focus. From 2017 to 2020, Child Trends served as the evaluation partner for the YMCA of the USA’s (Y-USA) Character Development Learning Institute (CDLI); through that work, we learned about efforts to improve DEI in afterschool, summer learning, camps, and other OST programs during site visits to more than 100 YMCAs around the country. In this brief, we summarize lessons learned from that research for OST programs seeking ways to be more intentional in their efforts to strengthen DEI.


1 YMCA of the USA. (2017). All together better: The many dimensions of diversity. Chicago, IL: YMCA of the USA. Available at: https://ymca-snoco.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Diversity-Wheel.pdf