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Inside this Research Update:  The benefits, challenges, and successful strategies of OST programs in rural areas.

Out-of-school time (OST) programming can be a crucial asset to families in rural areas where resources to support children’s learning and development are often insufficient to meet the community’s needs. OST programs that offer youth in rural communities a safe and supportive adult-supervised environment—along with various growth-enhancing opportunities—can promote academic, personal, social, and recreational development. However, programs located in rural areas face a number of challenges in implementation and sustainability. This Research Update highlights findings from evaluations and research studies of nine programs located in rural areas, all of which have been profiled in HFRP’s OST Database.

The rural programs profiled in the OST database represent a diverse range of geographic locations across the U.S. These programs mainly serve elementary-age children, but some also serve middle school grades. Some of the programs focus on a specific demographic, such as Spanish-speaking children or struggling students, while other programs provide services to any interested child within the local community. They also provide a variety of program offerings, from academic supports to recreational activities.

This Research Update addresses the benefits, challenges, and successful strategies of OST programs in rural areas, based on data from the nine programs, and supplemented by other OST research examining programs in rural areas.  In addition, the Appendix provides listings of all of the research and evaluations about rural OST programs that we are currently tracking in our OST bibliography.

About this Series
The Research Update series provides insight from the evaluations and research studies profiled in Harvard Family Research Project’s Out-of-School Time (OST) Program Research and Evaluation Database. Research Updates highlight new and innovative topics, methods, and findings in the increasingly sophisticated, growing field of OST research and evaluation.

Free. Available online only.

© 2014 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project