ASAP was founded in 2002 by noted educator Marciene Mattleman to raise awareness of the dangers of the after school hours for unsupervised youth.
With reports indicating that as many as 40,000 youths in Philadelphia were unsupervised every day from 3-6 pm, ASAP mounted an ambitious public service campaign to help schools and communities keep their children safe and engaged after school.
The Early Years
Through a partnership with the Philadelphia Daily News, ASAP began publishing the city’s first directory of after school programs in 2003 to help families find activities in their neighborhood.
ASAP also began recruiting volunteers who were eager to share their favorite hobbies with children in need of after school enrichment. With the help of these caring adults, ASAP was soon helping schools offer their students a wide variety of activities, including skateboarding, gardening, baking, crocheting, jump rope, and hip hop dance.
Fostering Citywide After School Communities
Beginning in 2004, ASAP made the decision to focus on recruiting volunteers to lead specific activities that best addressed the academic, social, and emotional needs of children in Philadelphia and which presented the greatest opportunity to be scaled citywide through strategic partnerships or different affinity networks. This work led ASAP to rallying around the four citywide initiatives it has today – ASAP Chess, ASAP Debate, ASAP Drama, and ASAP Scrabble.
The impact of this shift in focus was profound. By 2007, ASAP’s four citywide initiatives were serving more than 4,000 youth. During this time, ASAP also assumed leadership of the Philadelphia Scholastic Chess League and the Philadelphia Scholastic Debate League. Both leagues flourished under ASAP’s direction, quickly rivaling the District’s athletic leagues in size.
A Legacy of Impact
Over the last two decades, ASAP has emerged as a leader and trusted collaborator in Philadelphia’s out-of-school time sector. Supported by strategic partnerships with city agencies, community organizations and a broad network of stakeholders, ASAP has served more than 85,000 school-aged youth since its inception.
Along the way, ASAP has received much recognition for its work, including the following:
- The 2019 GSK IMPACT Award for exceptional achievements in contributing to a healthier Philadelphia.
- 2019 Barrymore Award Finalist for outstanding theatre education program, selected by Theatre Philadelphia.
- 2019 Wawa Hero Award Finalist, selected for ASAP’s commitment to serving the greater Philadelphia area by assisting others and building stronger communities.
- The 2016 Citizens Bank Champions in Action award given for strengthening communities through collective impact.
- The 2014 GSK IMPACT Award for exceptional achievements in contributing to a healthier Philadelphia. ASAP was awarded for its work to coordinate 75 after school programs serving more than 1,100 students affected by the closing of 23 public schools in fall 2013.
- The 2014 21st Century Solutions Award, sponsored by NBCUniversal Foundation, which recognizes and supports innovative, high-impact initiatives. ASAP was selected for its use of mobile and online technologies to create a searchable database of after school programs for families in Philadelphia.
- The 2012 Impact100 Award to support expansion of its chess and debate initiatives in under-resourced schools.
- The 2010 Afterschool Champion Award from the Pennsylvania Afterschool Youth Development Network for “demonstrating over and above dedication and inspiration to the Out-of-School Time (OST) community.”
History in the making
Despite ASAP’s many accomplishments, much remains to be done to give children in Philadelphia the after school and summer enrichment opportunities they deserve. In this work, ASAP’s greatest strength remains all of the caring individuals and organizations who share our commitment to empowering youth and strengthening communities.
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ASAP Through the Years:
ASAP’s first Directory of After School Programs is published in the Philadelphia Daily News featuring hundreds of safe and stimulating options for youth. The final printed edition of the ASAP Directory of After School Programs contains more than 1,300 listings and is published in September 2018 in both Daily News and Inquirer, reaching an estimated 600,000 readers
ASAP establishes a formal partnership with Penn For Youth Debate (PFYD) to place undergraduate students from the University of Pennsylvania as assistant coaches at ASAP Debate clubs in West Philadelphia schools and hosts two annual tournaments for Philadelphia youth. PFYD leadership are given perennial seats on ASAP’s Board of Directors
With changes to state funding, the School District of Philadelphia encounters a massive, annually recurring deficit. As a result, the District is forced to lay off hundreds of staff, including nurses and school counselors, slash funds for extra-curricular programs, and, eventually, close 23 public schools in 2013. Also in 2011, ASAP’s board decides to refine the scope of organization’s mission to expanding citywide initiatives in chess, debate, drama, and Scrabble
To make finding the right after school activity easier for families, ASAP’s Directory of after school programs is made available as a search engine on ASAP’s website and on the City’s Philly311 mobile platform. For its innovative use of technology, ASAP receives the NBCUniversal 21st Century Solutions Award
ASAP launches a campaign to support students and families affected by the closing of 24 public schools. To connect transitioning youth with like-minded peers in their new schools, ASAP coordinates 76 clubs in 44 “receiving” schools serving more than 1,100 youth. For this effort ASAP receives the 2014 GSK Impact Award
ASAP Debate hosts its first Summer Debate Academy, a free two-week camp modeled on Ivy League debate camps. Later that year, ASAP Debate students qualify for the Catholic Forensics League Grand Nationals for the first time. In the ensuing years, ASAP Debate students have qualified to represent Philadelphia at a variety of state and national tournaments
ASAP hosts a tribute to its founder Marciene Mattleman at City Hall as she prepared to step down as ASAP’s Board Chair. The event, which featured guest speakers including Governor Ed Rendell, Mayor Michal Nutter, and Mayor Wilson Goode, celebrated Marciene’s storied career in service and announced the creation of the Marciene Mattleman Founder’s Fund
2019: Awards, Awards
ASAP selected as a recipient of 2019 GSK Impact Award for its work contributing to healthier communities and Philadelphia and later named Chess City of the Year by the United States Chess Federation. In the same year, ASAP is named as finalists for the Wawa Hero Award in recognition of its network of dedicated volunteers as well as the Barrymore Award for “Outstanding Theater Education” program, in recognition of ASAP Drama’s growing community of clubs and teaching artists.
2020: In accordance with health and safety guidelines, ASAP cancelled all of its in–person clubs and
events at the onset of the COVID–19 pandemic in March 2020. Within a week of this, ASAP staff
launched an ambitious After School at Home campaign featuring free daily after school activities, games
and resources for families to ease the transition to at–home learning. Over the next year–and–a–half,
ASAP modified all of its programming to virtual formats to allow students to continue to do the things
they love from the safety of their own homes.
As schools planned for a full reopening in fall 2021, ASAP worked closely with school and community leaders to make extracurricular programs a central part of their strategy for addressing the losses and challenges students and families faced during the COVID–19 pandemic. In this work, special emphasis was placed on reengaging students and communities with the greatest needs resulting in 51% programs taking place in neighborhood public schools and 45% serving youth in the 14 zip codes most impacted by the epidemic of gun violence.
On Thursday, September 22, 2022, ASAP hosted a special 20th anniversary event & fundraiser to celebrate 20 years of making the after school hours count. The theme of the event was After School: We Build Futures and coincided with the start of ASAP’s new Adaptive Plan – an ambitious roadmap to guide the organization toward serving an additional 1,000-2,000 youth in the School District of Philadelphia by 2025