A new report by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and After School Matters on teen and instructor experience during the COVID-19 pandemic:
The year 2020 was unlike any other. The COVID-19 pandemic, alongside increased activism and public attention on systemic racism, changed people’s daily lives. In response, After School Matters re-envisioned its 30-year-old in-person program delivery model to provide more than 500 remote learning programs to nearly 10,000 teens across Chicago in summer 2020.
Following that summer session, After School Matters partnered with AIR to better understand the teen experience during the pandemic. Nearly 4,000 After School Matters teens and 370 instructors from across the city participated to share their daily realities and program experiences.
The analysis found many Chicago teens are facing significant challenges during the pandemic: elevated food insecurity, stress, increased financial hardship, persistent technology and internet gaps, and more.
The good news discovered in the survey was that after participating in supportive out-of-school time programs, most teens reported feeling hopeful about their future, a sense of belonging in their program, and gains in content and 21st-century skills.
“We have all seen and heard about the extremely difficult challenges facing our young people due to the ongoing pandemic, and this new data confirms it: teens are dealing with serious, adult-like stressors and need our collective support.” – Dr. Mary Ellen Caron, CEO of After School Matters
Noticing these trends before this AIR data was available, After School Matters began providing meals to teens, families, and instructors, mental health supports and resources, technology to teens who needed it, and more. Based on these data and insights, After School Matters is expanding supports to: