Monday, October 9, 2023

High School Afterschool Programs: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Source: FAB Youth Philly

By Guest Blogger: Rebecca Fabiano, MSED, Executive Director of FAB Youth Philly 
(previously published on FAB Youth Philly)
For seven years I ran a high school out-of-school time (OST) program that I started from scratch. It was by far one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. I did a LOT of on the job learning from, and with my students. Here’s what I came to know that helped me to design activities and programs for participants.  

High school students come to our programs for various reasons and they utilize our program in accordance to their developmental needs. This means that we need to develop activities, supports, etc. that intentionally meet those needs, and making sure that staff is adequately trained and supported to meet those needs. 

Here are a few tips that I’m excited to share with you, which you can use to design your high school OST programs: 

Ways OST programs can support 9th graders making the transition to high school. This includes: 
  • Developing new friendships (have a buddy or big bro/sister program with older/experienced youth in the OST; workshops on peer pressure, bullying etc.) 
  • Developing study & time management skills (offer workshops, games like Minute to Win It, Jeopardy, etc.) 
  • Understanding how to ‘be’ a high school student (what classes to take, how to read transcripts through workshops, etc.) 
  • Lots of exposure activities (that also involve making new friends- trips, movies, guest speakers, etc.) 
Source: Beyond Expectations- The Power of High School Afterschool

Ways OST programs can support 10th graders by helping them to build their friendships, explore their identity and other life skills and start to expand their networks towards post-high school goals-college/career. This includes: 
  • Health & wellness & sexuality activities (Sept-Dec) 
  • Identity exploration through guest speakers (Sept-Dec) 
  • Prep for 1st summer job (Jan-June) (bring a nurse on campus to expedite work papers, etc.) 
  • Help them develop skills and experiences that will prep them for work including civic engagement/ project based learning activities. 
  • Offer PSAT classes 

Ways OST programs can support 11th graders by focusing on college and career exploration via work-readiness clubs, leadership opportunities (this could be the big bro/sister program) and internships; continue with civic engagement activities: 
  • Career panels (fall) 
  • Career days (fall) 
  • Develop a workshop on a fave topic for younger youth (spring) 
  • Developing career related documents (cover letter, resume, etc) (spring) 
  • Start college tours/hold college spirit days, etc. (spring) 
  • College essay writing workshops/games/contests, etc. (spring) 
  • Offer SAT classes (fall & spring) 

Ways OST programs can support 12th graders by zooming in on the college prep and post high school process: 
  • College tours (fall) 
  • College panelists (fall) 
  • Essay writing workshops/games/contests, etc. (fall) 
  • “Now that you’ve been accepted to college” workshops also: getting along with roommates, developing resistance skills (avoiding peer pressure for drinking, sex, etc.), how to avoid using all your meal plan points in one week, etc. (spring) 

Let us know: How do YOU design programs to intentionally meet the developmental needs of young people? Email your ideas to:

[For more information on high school afterschool, check out Temescal Associates High School Afterschool Resources.]


For nearly 25 years, Rebecca Fabiano has worked in various capacities across nonprofit and youth-serving organizations, served on boards and helped to build solid youth programs that engage, encourage, and create spaces for positive development. As a program leader, she has successfully raised funds and managed program budgets; hired and supervised staff; developed and sustained strong community partnerships and designed award-winning programming.
Fab Youth Philly (FYP) has a unique, holistic model for youth development. Their three-pronged approach to youth development is aimed at creating relevant, engaging, and empowering learning opportunities at the individual, professional, and community level. First, they provide innovative, award-winning summer and afterschool programs for teens with a focus on workforce development programming. Second, they connect with youth development professionals working with or on behalf of youth through their Center for Youth Development Professionals (CYDP), which offers competency-based professional development and networking opportunities. Third, they consult with other youth-serving organizations to provide a range of consulting services, ranging from curriculum development to retreats and small


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