This Insurance Foundation Cares About After-School Programs. Just Ask the Group That Got $4 Million

It's been a busy fall for After-Schools All-Stars (ASAS), the national organization which received a windfall back in March in the form of a multi-year $4 million dollar grant from the New York Life Insurance Foundation. 

That grant instantly made the foundation ASAS's biggest funder and is enabling the organization to expand into the new cities. The foundation had made a smaller grant of $200,000 to the organization back in 2012.

The New York Insurance Foundation isn't one of the larger corporate funders around, but it's clearly a good one to know for organizations in the youth and education space. Children are the foundation's main funding focus, and in 2013 it gave $7.5 million to groups engaged in what it calls "educational enhancement"—with some serious money going to after-school programs. 

Beyond the first installment of the grant to ASAS, the foundation also gave money to the After-School Corporation in New York City, to the Bell Foundation for after-school and summer programs, and made a big grant to the Development Studies Center for its work on after-school math and reading programs. In addition, the foundation made various grants to groups engaged in other kinds of education work.

As for the details of that big grant to ASAS, it will pay for the group's expansion in six U.S. cities. The grant money will be targeted at middle school students. NYLife Foundation Vice President Maria Collins points out that middle school years are a "particularly vulnerable time for students," and "only a small percentage of programs target this age group."   

Newark and Philadelphia are the first two cities to see ASAS expansion in 2014. The grant will allow ASAS to expand its comprehensive after-school model, including academic, enrichment, health and fitness programming, along with its four signature initiatives.

Research suggests that after-school programs that are evidence based and support social and emotional learning are effective at boosting student achievement and delivering other benefits. 

For example, a 2010 study of programs that followed the SAFE model for after-school programming were "associated with significant improvements in self-perceptions, school bonding and positive social behaviors; significant reductions in conduct problems and drug use; and significant increases in achievement test scores, grades and school attendance."

ASAS was founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger and has been around for twenty years. It's other funders include the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Packard Foundation, the General Mills Foundation, and various corporations and individuals.