3: Creating city-wide opportunities for work-based learning – After School Matters, Chicago
After School Matters (ASM) provides over 22,000 internships and apprenticeships to school pupils in Chicago and works with over 15,000 young people in the city, making it the largest programme of its kind.111 ASM evolved from Gallery 37, which offered young people apprenticeships in the arts, and has expanded to include technical and employability training in science, sports, tech and communications.
There are three different tiers within the apprenticeship model: pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships and advanced apprenticeships. The internships allow young people to apply the skills they have learnt (through attending at least three programmes) in corporate environments. All programmes seek to replicate real jobs in a number of ways, for example by interviewing potential participants, maintaining professional standards and paying stipends. The average student-to-instructor ratio is 15 to 1.
ASM works with over 300 CBOs across the city, the Chicago Parks Authority, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and other city agencies, as well as corporate partners to deliver programmes. Four different regional managers and their teams are responsible for building relationships with partners in different parts of the city and assessing the suitability of different sites. ASM also pays existing school staff to act as liaisons within schools to recruit young people, provide real-time information on what is happening in different schools and assist with tracking programme participants. ASM collaborates with the city government (who part fund ASM’s work) to establish the ‘One Summer Chicago’ portal which connects young people with summer job opportunities available across the city. Overall, 65 per cent of funding comes from government grants and support, and the rest from private sources – the team raised over $4.5 million at their last annual event.
ASM has expanded its research and evaluation team to track the performance of its programmes, and partners with universities to evaluate their impact. ASM programmes have high attendance rates (87.6 per cent compared to the national average of 75 per cent).112 The programme has also been found to lead to higher high school attendance and graduation rates.113