America’s kids are in crisis. Consider these alarming facts about the state of our country: the U.S. ranks 22nd in high school completion among 28 countries; three out of 10 kids are obese or overweight; and one in five youth lives in poverty. The consequences of these staggering statistics are felt not just by our next generation, but also across our nation.
The issues facing kids today also impact our nation’s economy, costing as much as $209 billion in lost taxes and higher government expenditures over the lifetimes of those who fail to graduate. Nationally, health care costs to treat health issues related to childhood obesity are $14.1 billion annually. Additionally, states spend an average of $7.1 million a day locking youth up in juvenile justice facilities.
How do we reverse the most negative trends facing young people today? One way is by recognizing the importance of out-of-school time. The out-of-school environment -- after school and summer -- plays an essential, yet often overlooked role in transforming kids’ lives and America’s future.