What does an OST Intermediary do? (Guest Post by Jessica Donner, CBASS)

Guest post by Jessica Donner, Director of the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems

Across the country, intermediary organizations are playing pivotal roles in expanding the availability of high-quality expanded learning opportunities to help kids succeed. A new report from the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (CBASS), draws on findings from the first national survey of non-profit Out-of-School Time (OST) intermediaries to highlight their leading characteristics, assess their impact on children and systems, and illuminate pressing issues for the field.

Intermediaries are nonprofit organizations that support whole community-wide or state-wide OST systems. An intermediary serves as the nucleus and guiding coordinator within each community’s multifaceted network of government, schools, front-line practitioners, foundations and others. From the more than 200 intermediaries that responded to the survey, CBASS learned that even in a recessionary economy, intermediary organizations helped increase the number of kids in their communities who were able to benefit from expanded learning opportunities.

We also found that:

  • Intermediaries needed private interests, such as foundations, to invest in building after-school systems before they were able to raise significant public funds.
  • Intermediaries play important roles in increasing funding and developing quality standards and tools.
  • They identify as their most pressing priority the need to expand access to more under-served kids.
  • Some are missing opportunities to do the hard, long-term work of changing policy and building data systems, but they seek ways to share knowledge and become more effective.

You can read more findings from the survey, learn about ways to spread the progress—and discover what intermediaries do to strengthen program quality and lead kids to better outcomes—in Making the Connections: A Report on the First National Survey of Out-of-School Time Intermediary Organizations, produced with support from The Wallace Foundation.  We plan to use these findings as a baseline for future comparisons, so please let us know what you think.

This report is part of CBASS’s efforts, through policy, practice, and communications, to help cities and regions better coordinate approaches to increase the scale, quality, and accountability of expanded learning opportunities, particularly by leveraging the combined power of community organizations and schools.