The Results Are In: After-school and Summer Programs Work!

What’s the connection between health and education? Research shows that better-educated individuals live longer, healthier lives with reduced risk of illness and increased vitality – and their children are more likely to thrive and be successful in school. That’s why, as part of the Bold Goals Coalition’s work to improve health in Central Alabama, the Walker County Health Action Partnership often collaborates with Walker County Schools to improve both the health and education outcomes of students.

In September 2016, United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) and the Walker County School System were awarded a three-year $450,000 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) Grant ($150,000 annually) to enhance learning at Oakman Middle School. Under a joint application, Walker County Schools, UWCA and YMCA of Greater Birmingham provide after-school and summer program services to Oakman students. In addition to academic enrichment, participating students also receive health education, lots of physical activity and a healthy dinner during the after-school program, as well as breakfast and lunch during the summer program.

At the conclusion of Year 1, we are proud to share the following positive results.

  • Among participating students who were tested in both 2016 and 2017, there was a statistically significant increase in their average ACT Aspire scores in reading, math and science.
    • ACT Aspire Reading scores increased an average of 2.8 points.
    • ACT Aspire Math scores increased an average of 1.7 points.
    • ACT Aspire Science scores increased an average of 3.1 points.
  • Youth Survey findings indicate students enjoy staff.
  • 97% of youth generally feel included in program activities.
  • 97% of youth feel program activities are helping them do better in school.
  • 90% of parents/guardians strongly agree they are satisfied with the variety of activities.

As part of the 21st CCLC at the school, a five-week summer program called Power Scholars Academy was also offered to not only tackle summer learning loss in math and reading, but also to foster physical and social-emotional growth. The program was created to boost students’ academic achievements, self-confidence and social skills while encouraging healthy lifestyles and engaging parents in their children’s education. The Power Scholars Academy provided children with rigorous academic instruction and fun, camp-like enrichment activities and field trips.

Power Scholars Academy included summer field trips and other fun enrichment activities.

The Power Scholars summer program produced very positive results as well.

  • Participating scholars averaged a three-month gain in reading/literacy proficiency.
  • Participating scholars averaged a one-month gain in math proficiency.
  • Scholars participated in 150 total hours of summer learning.
  • According to Spectrum Red, the project’s external evaluator, “Based on Year-1 operations, surveys and academic data, the Oakman 21st CCLC project is on-target for making an impact on participating students.”

Many thanks to the fantastic Bold Goals partners working in Walker County to improve the academic and health outcomes of students! To learn more about the Oakman after-school or summer programs, please contact Elyse Peters, Health Action Partnership Coordinator at United Way of Central Alabama, at