Across the nation, middle and high-income families far outspend lower-income families on enriching activities, experiences, and other out-of-school supports that help their children succeed in school and beyond.
In Philadelphia, years of underfunding the public school system has left the City’s youth with fewer extracurricular opportunities than their peers in wealthier, suburban, and private schools. This disparity is reflected nationwide and is known as the Activity Gap.
Additionally, in recent years, an unprecedented rise in gun violence has underscored the urgent need to create more safe spaces for young people when the school day ends.
The Activity Gap
By 6th grade, middle-class children have spent an average of 6,000 more hours learning than children born into poverty.
- 3,060 more hours of after school and extra-curricular programming
- 1,080 more hours of summer learning
- 245 more hours of field trips
Researchers have found that this “activity gap” accounts for as much as two-thirds of the achievement gap between youth from low-income households and their more affluent peers.
In Philadelphia, the poorest of the nation’s ten largest cities, the youth ASAP serves experience significant challenges that threaten their well-being and future success.
According to the School District of Philadelphia:
- 73% of students in the city’s public schools come from circumstances of poverty
- 31% of students are chronically absent from school
- Less than 40% of 3rd graders read on grade level
- Only 70% of students graduate high school in four years
*Based on open public data from the 2020-2021 school year: https://www.philasd.org/performance/programsservices/open-data/
Gun Violence Epidemic
Like in many other big cities, dramatic increases in gun violence have highlighted the urgent need to provide safe, enriching opportunities for students outside of the school day where they can connect with like-minded peers under the supervision of caring adults.
According to the Philadelphia Police Department:
- In 2022 there were 516 homicides and 2,263 shooting victims in the city
- More than 200 of these shooting victims were under the age of 18.
- Police report that 3-6pm is the most dangerous time of day for young people
Addressing the Need
Over the last several years, ASAP has worked closely with school and community leaders to make out-of-school time programs a central part of their strategy for addressing the losses and challenges students and families faced amidst the twin crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the gun violence epidemic.
ASAP believes that to address students’ learning losses, we need to give them extracurricular opportunities that speak to their interests, that can reignite their love for learning and reconnect them to their school communities. To support working families, we need to give them adequate options for after school care so they do not have decide between their job or their children. To keep our children safe amidst an unprecedented spike in violence, we need to give them safe spaces to go when the school day ends.
In this work, ASAP has placed special emphasis on supporting schools and communities with the greatest needs – specifically neighborhood public schools and zip codes with the highest rates of gun violence. During the 2022-23 school year:
- 189 of ASAP’s 339 clubs (55%) took place at neighborhood public schools
- 165 of ASAP’s 339 clubs (48%) were established in the 15 zip codes with the highest rates of gun violence, according to the City of Philadelphia’s Office of the Controller
|To learn more about how you can help ASAP provide more safe, enriching opportunities for youth in Philadelphia, click here.|