How Housing Authorities Can Support Schools: Lessons from Denver

How Housing Authorities Can Support Schools: Lessons from Denver
Jeffrey M. Jenson, Christopher Veeh, Yolanda Anyon, Jason St. Mary, Molly Calhoun, Jacqueline Tejada, Stephanie Lechuga-Peña
Children and Youth Services Review
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After-school programs (ASPs) in low-income neighborhoods provide academic enrichment, mentoring and support, and recreational activities to children and youth, all of which are typically enjoyed by wealthier families. Research has often been limited to within-group changes, but this study includes a comparison group. Previous literature studying the impact of ASPs has found mixed results. When examining high-quality, targeted intervention programs, findings reveal positive effects on academic performance while less-structured programs yield no effect.

Using a quasi-experimental design, this study evaluates the effects of the Bridge Project, a community-based ASP located in four public housing complexes in Denver, Colorado, on educational outcomes of students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Intervention activities in the ASP included Read Well’s literacy and reading program; one-on-one tutoring in reading, math, science, and social science; and Second Step’s social and emotional skill training. A comparison group consisted of students living in two public housing neighborhoods without ASPs. The authors compared reading assessment scores, school attendance and suspension and expulsion records, and teacher evaluations of proficiency to assess the program’s effectiveness. The findings suggest that participation in community-based ASPs could improve academic performance and school behavior of students living in public housing.

Key findings

  • Participation in the ASP reduced the likelihood of school suspension or expulsion.
  • The ASP had a large and significant effect on improving teacher-rated science proficiency and a medium but significant effect on math proficiency.
  • ASP’s effects on improving school attendance were small but significant.
  • ASP participation had a small but significant effect on improved reading assessment scores, but there was no effect on teacher-rated reading proficiency.
  • ASP had no effect on teacher-rated social science proficiency.