Why MOST Network

children making shapes with glowing lights

Research shows that the time a young person spends outside of traditional school hours — typically weekdays between 3 - 6 p.m., over the weekend, and during the summer — can be as important and valuable to their development as the moments spent in the classroom.

Participating in after-school music lessons or attending a weekend robotics camp, for example, can provide learning opportunities, encourage curiosity, and foster confidence in ways that are different from traditional methods of instruction.

More important, students who participate in these out-of-school-time learning programs often have a better knowledge retention rate, are more likely to excel in the classroom, and, according to one study, “have a positive feeling about their future,” compared to children who don’t participate. But the demand for out-of-school-time programs far exceeds the supply.

Nationwide, only 1 in 3 families who want after-school opportunities for their children, or approximately 19.4 million children, has access to programs. In Maryland, almost 30% of K-12 students, or a quarter-million children, spend an average of 10 hours per week unsupervised, rather than participating in a structured after-school program. Worse, children from low-income households are less likely than their higher-income peers to participate in an out-of-school-time program. A 2011 survey, for example, found that just 7% of children from families living in poverty attend summer camp, compared to nearly 40% of affluent children.

The Maryland Out of School Time, or MOST, Network seeks to increase both the quantity and quality of after-school-hour programs in the state, and to ensure that access to them is equitable so that all Maryland youth have the same opportunities to reach their full potential.