Online Professional Learning and
Technical Assistance for
21st Century Community Learning Centers

Afterschool Timeline


Afterschool in the United States has played an active role in youth development since the latter half of the 19th century, when local clubs evolved to provide recreation and learning activities to children. While afterschool has evolved in the past century, the core passion for helping guide our children to healthy, safe and successful outcomes remains. The history of afterschool is the history of dedicated afterschool professionals like you, working to create the best environment possible for our children. Below are just a few of the milestones in that history.


On October 6, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gives the keynote address for the 10th anniversary of 21st Century Community Learning Centers' Lights On Afterschool event in Washington, D.C.



Reauthorization under the No Child Left Behind Act shifts the focus of 21st CCLC from using the school as a community resource to providing greater support for academic achievement for children in high-need schools. State administration of 21st CCLC grants begins; nonprofits, community and faith-based organizations, and private schools become eligible for awards.


About 1,500 21st CCLC programs are operating in 6,600 schools. They serve 1.2 million children and youth, and 400,000 adults.




The U.S. Department of Education provides the first 21st CCLC grants to local education agencies on a competitive basis. Many of these grants include community organizations, businesses and recreation departments as partners. The C.S. Mott Foundation provides training and technical assistance to grantees and would-be applicants. Funding increases from $40 million in 1998 to $846 million in 2001.


The Department refocuses 21st CCLC to keep public schools in urban and rural areas open longer to provide a broad range of community services, including academic support and enrichment programs.



Congress authorizes the 21st CCLC program to open schools up to broader use by their communities under Part I of Title X of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. However, early 21st CCLC grants focus on research projects about serving children with high needs or disabilities.


Despite renewed interest in afterschool, programs still struggle with issues of funding and staffing, as well as enabling youth to access programs in their communities. Most afterschool activities are provided through center-based programs.


Compulsory education and limits on child labor increase children's overall discretionary time. Communities perceive a need for supervised recreation time for children and youth, especially in immigrant neighborhoods and major cities.


Driven by changes in youth demographics, as well as the increased prevalence of formal schooling and decreased need for child labor, the first settlement-based afterschool clubs began in the United States, providing services to enrich the lives of children. These were staffed primarily by volunteers from the community.


For more information about the history of the afterschool movement in the US: