School is the main priority for most kids. However, according to Jen Rinehart, VP for policy and research at the Afterschool Alliance, kids only spend about 20% of their time in school. So what about the other 80%? With such a relatively small amount of time spent in classrooms, the traditional school day can’t provide a child with everything they need to thrive in school and in life. 

Research shows that participation in afterschool programs is imperative to the success and health of a student. One study from the University of California-Irvine School of Education found that more time spent in afterschool activities improved a student’s overall academic achievement, reduced school absences, and lead to improvements in classroom behavior. 

In order for these outcomes to be achieved, there must be passion! When students and instructors are passionate about their afterschool program, kids demonstrate better work habits, stronger task persistence, and improved social behavior with peers. 

All this research should make it obvious: afterschool activities should be accessible to every student. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In New York City, for every student enrolled in an afterschool program, there are two students left desiring programming. That makes 1.2 million students in NYC alone who would like to participate afterschool, but don’t have access. Lack of afterschool programming is an issue that disproportionately affects low-income areas. Addressing this issue can bring us that much closer to closing the achievement gap and breaking the cycle of poverty. This is where DMF Youth comes in. 

Our programs are 100% FREE for students. We set up class in the Title I schools and homeless shelters we work with so that students don’t have to worry about getting there. We make programs fun for our students, using hip-hop and other contemporary dance forms as a jumping off point to learn about life skill development. We hire instructors with endless passion who are committed to helping our students succeed. We considered every detail to create a program that it is accessible and effective for our students. 

So far, so good. Kids who participate in DMF Programs have a higher attendance rate than their school’s average. We partnered with an evaluation specialist to measure the impact of our programs. The surveys found a 30-70% increase in students’ emotional/social skills and grit (perseverance, determination, courage, and bravery). 

It’s our mission to continue working to close the achievement gap and empower our students to be healthier, happier, and more successful. We depend on individual donors to keep DMF Youth programs free for deserving students. Please join us in moving our mission forward investing in the future of NYC by donating to DMF Youth!