It is evident that the extracurricular lack in Atlanta and in Urban Cities everywhere is a problem. Fortunately, there are organizations advocating for change, in Atlanta and in cities all over the country.
- Who is involved?
Often, the organizations start with teachers and students coming together and forming their own clubs, for academic support or just generally to have a safe place to go after school.
- How have they organized?
At least one of the organizations I found is an organization of other organizations, making it easy for anyone who wants to start an after-school program to connect to resources for funding, advertisement, and to find participation. Others simply provide easy, affordable access to after-school enrichment.
The issues of poverty and underlying racism connected to poverty in urban areas intersect with the issue of the activity gap. Street violence, gang activity, and teen pregnancy are also connected to the problem in that they are side effects of the problem, so often, the organizations cite these issues as ones that can be combatted with extracurricular access, and sometimes will take approaches to directly target students with these negative involvements when advertising extracurricular opportunities.
- How has their work affected the problem/challenge?
The problem remains a constant despite the organizations’ efforts. Because they are currently working on such a small scale, it seems like they are making an impact for only the small groups of students who are in their programs. However, the issue of extracurricular lack has increased tremendously in awareness. The majority of the articles defending the need for extracurriculars and critiquing their needlessly high fees have been published in the last five years, demonstrating the spread of awareness, which is major.
- What are the obstacles they are facing?
One of the main obstacles these organizations are facing is the income gap in Atlanta makes it look like lots of kids are involved in extracurriculars, when in reality, it is only the privileged, statistically white students who make up those participation numbers. Further, pay-to-play is not enforced in Georgia, but many sports and programs send out statements that look like bills and player fees to parents, and they are not adequately informed of their student’s right to play regardless of monetary prerequisites. Also on the same note of funding, in order to expand after-school programs, these organizations are dependent on qualified volunteers, who know how to best help their students succeed, which is hard to find for free.
- What has been the impact on organizing for those involved?
The key organizers have resultantly shifted their focus from directly expanding extracurriculars to educating parents about what is available for them at their schools. People in charge of the after school programming have had to adapt to teach and work with kids who have vastly different schooling levels, as a result of a lack of resources to spread the kids out.