YMCA Helps Celebrates 16 Years of Excellence with After School Zone Program

Community Invited to Special Celebration, Feb. 10, at the Orlando Museum of Art

Since its founding in 1999, the After School Zone Program, funded by Orange County and operated by the YMCA of Central Florida and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida, has kept more than 200,000 youth safe, active, and learning during after-school hours.

In tracking outcomes, data shows that the vast majority of participating students have been able to increase their GPAs and school attendance while avoiding involvement with the juvenile justice system.

In celebrating this success, Orange County is hosting a “Sweet 16 Celebration on Feb. 10, 2016, 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Orlando Museum of Art, 2416 N. Mills Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803. The program, which will highlight major achievements that have propelled youth on to high school, college and career success, is scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m.

The After School Zone was established 16 years ago in response to growing community need for quality, affordable after school programs as highlighted in a series of Orlando Sentinel articles, “The Critical Middle Years.” In meeting these needs, Orange County partnered with the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs to create a safe after-school haven where middle school youth could develop life skills and character, while benefiting from mentoring, educational support, enrichment, fitness, recreation and sports.

Initially, the After School Zone was established onsite in 17 school locations and has since expanded to 28 Orange County public middle schools. It is funded by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners through the Citizens’ Commission for Children.

The After School Zone is data-driven and its success has been shared with community leaders and stakeholders. Since its inception, the program has shown an increase in GPA by around 89% of participants, an increase in attendance by participating members, and a 99% success rate in decreasing recidivism. In addition, the program has been recognized by Promising Practices in the After School System (PPAS), a national organization that identifies and shares ideas from afterschool programs that have proven to be creative and of high quality.

“The Zone” has also received a $50,000 award from Walt Disney World, 8 NACo Awards, and 2 NACIO Awards. Its success has also served as a national model for other communities that have sought to create quality after-school programs for youth and working families.