• According to the Afterschool Alliance, one in five children do not have someone to care for them after school.
  • The Afterschool Alliance also reports for every child in an afterschool program, approximately two more children would be enrolled if a program were available to them.
  • By 2017 Minneapolis high school seniors who participated in Beacons programming were more likely to graduate high school than their similar peers. Of the 152 seniors who attended Beacons at least 30 days during the 2016-2017 school year, 91 percent graduated. 
  • At the University YMCA, programs are offered where students become cause-driven leaders in their community. Students who did community engagement through the University YMCA earn higher GPAs, have a higher graduation rate and complete more credits than their peers.
  • A University of Minnesota study found the University YMCA serves a higher proportion of students who are the first in their family to attend college and/or are from an underrepresented racial/ethnic or socioeconomic group on campus.

The YMCA of the North, a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, provides out-of-school time programs and activities that nurture the potential of every child and teen, supporting their social-emotional, cognitive and physical development in order for them to thrive. 

In Minnesota, 25 percent of school-age children are alone unsupervised during the hours after school. As families and youth transition into fall and winter, the YMCA offers programs to youth from school-aged to college to keep them active, busy and engaged during out-of-school time. Through a well-rounded approach to youth development, the Y’s programs, such as Beacons, School Success and the University YMCA, nurture the potential of youth throughout the school year.

“The YMCA is committed to expanding outside its four walls to reach young people where they are,” said Glen Gunderson, president and CEO of the YMCA of the North. “Out-of-school time at the Y is an opportunity for families to ensure their kids are receiving additional support, continued learning and opportunities to participate in meaningful activities that can inspire their future goals and help them reach their potential.”

Gunderson added that the Y team designs programs that are flexible and can meet the needs of specific communities. YMCA out-of-school education and enrichment programs are found in Y facilities, schools, apartment complexes, mobile home communities and more, and include the following opportunities:

  • Educational support, including homework help and targeted reading, math or science activities to increase achievement and confidence
  • Enrichment activities like art, dance, music and more
  • Career pathways and leadership development opportunities through YMCA Teen Thrive programming
  • Programs like Beacons in Minneapolis or School Success in St. Paul that bring before and after school programs directly to students’ schools, free of charge
  • The Y provides college programming through its branch at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities. University YMCA students become uniquely prepared to lead in a global world and be socially responsible leaders at home and in the workforce. Through immersive experiences and intentional reflection, students take on the most pressing challenges facing communities and deepen their sense of themselves in the process.

Tips for parents and guardians when selecting before/after care and extra-curricular activities for children and youth:

  1. Consider a child’s unique needs and interests
    Select a program that provides an enriching place to explore a spark or passion, and that can be flexible in accommodating any unique needs a child may have. If a child needs academic support for example, seek a program that intentionally builds this into the programming.
  2. Consider the family’s needs
    Of course considerations such as cost, location, time and convenience matter for today’s busy families. The Y and other nonprofits provide scholarships to help keep costs down for families that need it. Remember to leave time in the week for activities everyone can do together as a family!
  3. Choose high quality programs
    Be informed by using data and resources that can inform choices. Childcare programs have the Parent Aware rating system and afterschool programs can use as a resource for understanding more about high quality afterschool programs. Always visit the program site if possible and watch for positive relationships and interactions. Ask about safety procedures and training of staff.
  4. Keep kids healthy
    Engage a child in programs and places where healthy activity and nourishing foods are encouraged, and where a child’s social-emotional wellbeing is promoted as well.
  5. Don’t forget the teens and young adults!
    Oftentimes people think of care for the youngest Minnesotans, but opportunities outside of school are critical for youth and young adults to stay connected to positive peers and adults, build leadership skills, and contribute to their communities. The Y has Youth In Government, Beacons, Teen Thrive, a Campus Y, and so much more to explore.
  6. Make a donation so ALL kids can thrive
    Consider making a donation to a nonprofit such as the Y that closes gaps in access to quality out-of-school activities for young people. Over 219,000 youth are alone and unsupervised afterschool. In many cases this is due to lack of access to a safe, quality program. Support youth in the neighborhood by making philanthropic donations to close this gap.

Learn about the Anne Sullivan/Anishinabe Beacons Center in South Minneapolis and how the program ensures kids are receiving additional support to help them reach their potential and thrive in all stages of life– Beacons Engages Kids as Leaders, Learners  

Discover how four students at the University YMCA develop skills to become socially responsible, workforce ready leaders and changemakers in their community – Creating Cause-Driven Leaders 

Because the YMCA is a leading nonprofit committed to helping youth thrive, financial assistance is available to those in need. To learn more about the Y’s programs, please visit