Ngage New Mexico, Executive Director Frank R. Lopez and Program Coordinator, Michael Radtke were guest speakers at the first state-wide New Mexico Out- of-School Time (NMOST) Network Partner Forum on June 13. Ngage New Mexico was among a few, honored organizations asked to speak at the event by NMOST Executive Director, May Sagbakken. The special event hosted more than 8o Stakeholders from across New Mexico, in Albuquerque.
Ngage NM presented the results of a study that identified existing policies at the local, state, and federal levels that either help or hinder youth from connection to Out-of-School Time activities. The local level focus for Ngage New Mexico was Dona Ana County.
The qualitative study evaluated three major aspects, including: 152 articles for literature review, 21 individual key leader interviews and focus groups, containing a total of 191 students. The results of the study concluded key findings for topics surrounding transportation, cost of programs, social and emotional health, interagency collaboration, data sharing, common indicators, and parent engagement.
The study discovered, the after school programs that served rural areas, had a larger return on investment. The lack of transportation can be an issue in rural areas. Recommendations for optimal after-school programs, included having transportation that promotes commuter system usage, has reduced fares for students and ensures safety. When after-school programs collect fees for transportation on a sliding scale that is based on an honor system, and develop systems for subsidies, programs attract more participation.
Information should be shared through youth serving organizations partnership in order to find out which policies encourage or impede youth. In regard to social and emotional health, more training and awareness should be provided for youth serving organizations and reach to actively support youth. In addition, adopting an open policy for LGTBQ culture and identity to allow a safe space for all students.
The study was pivotal for out-of-school program research in New Mexico. The presentation of the findings, informed education counterparts of problems and ended in presenting the solutions to assist all after-school initiatives and continuing programs.