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Kenney, Hite announce after-school program for all Philly students

Aside from his parents, Mayor Kenney's most influential adult figures growing up were his rec center leaders, librarians, and coaches.

"I can tell you every PAL football coach I had from 1965 to 1975. Those are still around, and I know them and I see them," Kenney said during his announcement Thursday of the city's Out-of-School Time initiative. "We can have that interaction and that connection with all of our children."

That's the hope, at least.

Kenney, along with Managing Director Mike DiBerardinis and School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., described a plan that would place every student in Philadelphia into a quality after-school program.

The initiative is still in the planning stages, but officials hope to roll out a coordinated effort between various city agencies, the School District, and philanthropic foundations, starting in the fall for kindergarten-through-third-grade students. Those after-school programs will be focused on literacy and achieving reading level by fourth grade.

Grades four through eight would be launched in 2020 with a focus still to be determined. Ninth through 12th grades would be implemented in 2024 with a focus on workforce development, DiBerardinis said.

The city spends $41 million each year on after-school and summer programs, and officials plan to use that money for the Out-of-School Time initiative. In addition, the city is working with foundations to get additional funding.

The idea is to get every student involved — the School District has 206,000 students in traditional public and charter schools, and the wider net of K-12 students in the city's parochial and private schools totals nearly 250,000. Currently, just over 200,000 students citywide participate in after-school programs through the Department of Human Services and the Parks and Recreation Department, DiBerardinis said.

Asked what would be different about this program, DiBerardinis said, "Intentionality."

"It's about, what are the outcomes, what do we want to get out of these programs, and how are we going to know we got it? So that's the turn," DiBerardinis said, following the announcement. "The real big turn is collaboration. A real, honest-to-goodness, School District, City of Philadelphia, collaborating down with the providers and neighborhood organizations. So that's the big change."

Kenney sees Out-of-School Time as a natural follow-up to his pre-kindergarten and community schools plan that he launched last year, his first in office.

"The timing for this is perfect. We are about to invest $91 million annually in pre-K, community schools and improving parks, rec centers, and libraries, thanks to the revenue of the Philadelphia beverage tax," Kenney said. "Integrating our [Out-of-School Time] efforts into this will allow our youngest and most vulnerable citizens to reach their full potential."