The need of children living in DC’s low-income, high risk neighborhoods for productive and healthy ways to spend out-of-school time is significant:
- Thirty percent of DC children live below the poverty level compared to the national average of 21%, and 49% of DC children are considered low-income compared to the national average of 42%.
- In 2014, National Assessment of Education Progress scores revealed that 81% of DC fourth graders read below grade level and 78% perform below level in math, while 84% of eighth graders read below level and 83% are below math level.
- Children in the District have among the nation’s worst public health indicators; 43% of all DC school children are overweight or obese and barely half exercise regularly.
- At the same time, the Afterschool Alliance reports that 66% of DC children are not currently in an afterschool program who would be if one were available to them.
Evidence-based afterschool programs that combine academic and fitness can counteract these trends. For example, a 2013 USTA study reports that young people who participate in tennis get better grades, devote more hours to studying, and think more about their future than non-athletes and participants in many other sports. It also showed that high school tennis players reported lower rates of unhealthy behavior such as drinking and smoking and were less likely to be overweight or become obese.
WTEF has a strong track record of success, with more than 20 years of delivering quality programs to 1,200 children each year. For example,
- For 16 consecutive years, 100% of CFE graduating seniors gained admission to college with financial aid that included academic or athletic scholarships.
- In 2013, Richard Tagle, a nationally recognized expert in afterschool programming, found WTEF’s programs scored high on all six quality indicators of MARS (the Massachusetts After-School Research Study), one of only four organizations in the entire metropolitan area to do so.
- Year-to-year, WTEF maintains average daily attendance and retention rates of approximately 65% -- nearly 20 points higher than the national average for high-quality afterschool programs. These metrics confirm that WTEF participants are off city streets and engaged in productive activities.