Using Data to Improve Quality in City-wide Afterschool Systems: Lessons from Boston

Using Data to Improve Quality in City-wide Afterschool Systems: Lessons from Boston
Using Data to Improve Quality in City-wide Afterschool Systems: Lessons from Boston


With the growing support of city-wide afterschool systems from funders and policymakers, many systems have realized the importance of using data to improve program quality. As part of our two-part series on this topic, this second forum addressed efforts across the country to use data and highlight the work being done in Boston, Massachusetts. Presentations included findings from Volume II of the recent Wallace Foundation-commissioned report, Hours of Opportunity: the Power of Data to Improve After-School Systems Citywide.  Jennifer Sloan-McCombs, Senior Policy Researcher, RAND Corporation, discussed the role of management information systems in building quality systems. Boston’s city-wide data alignment efforts was highlighted with presentations by Daphne Griffin, Executive Director from the public agency, Boston Centers for Youth and Families, and Chris Smith, Executive Director, Boston Afterschool and Beyond. They discussed the implementation of data systems that inform students, programs, and policy makers as well as aligned resources among multiple entities.


Daphne Griffin was appointed the Chief of Human Services for the City of Boston in February of 2011. In this role Ms. Griffin oversees six city departments with a total of 500 employees and a combined budget of $34 million. Daphne oversees departments that have a direct effect on people’s lives. They include Boston Centers for Youth & Families, The Boston Youth Fund, The Commission on Affairs of the Elderly, Veterans Services, The Office of Civil Rights, Disabilities Commission and The Women’s Commission.  She is also the first Latino-American appointed to serve in this capacity.

In addition to Daphne’s duties as Chief, she continues to serve as the Executive Director of Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF.) BCYF is Boston’s largest youth and human service agency, overseeing 35 community centers which serve 90,000 residents annually and are located in nearly every neighborhood in Boston. Among the many programs offered by BCYF are the City’s Recreation programming, many after and out-of-school time programs; adult education and the Streetworkers Program, a national model for effective youth violence prevention and intervention services.

Under Daphne’s leadership at BCYF, the department has completed a five-year strategic plan examining all aspects of the department in the areas of Operations, Development, Staff Development and Training, and Marketing and Communications, All programs are now striving to meet Youth Development Outcomes and are designed around an “ACES” model of arts, community and civic engagement, education and sports and the department has installed its first-ever membership tracking system.

Prior to her appointment by the Mayor, Daphne Griffin was the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, Blue Hill Club and for over 10 years worked for Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston in various capacities serving youth throughout the City.  During this time she served on several national advisory boards for Boys & Girls Clubs of America and consulted with many Boys & Girls Clubs across the country.

She has worked and volunteered in the youth development field for over 20 years serving as a consultant for various local and national organizations.  In the past eight years her volunteer work has focused more on promoting educational issues facing the Latino community.  She serves as the Board Chair for the Latino Institute, a national organization based in New Jersey.  Ms. Griffin also serves on a variety of local and national boards that focus on youth development, education, and technology.


Jennifer McCombs (Ph.D., George Washington University) is a Senior Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation.   Her research focuses on evaluating policies and programs, both in school and outside of school, that are intended to improve outcomes for at-risk students using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods.  Dr. McCombs is currently leading a study investigating the quality and effectiveness of summer learning programs for low-income students in six urban districts. She studied methods of building city systems around out-of-school learning opportunities for at-risk youth in five urban districts—Boston, Chicago, New York City, Providence, and Washington, D.C.   She recently concluded a longitudinal evaluation of New York City’s 5th grade promotion policy, which examined the implementation of supports provided to students in-school and out of school, factors affecting implementation, the impact of the policy on student academic and socio-emotional outcomes, and the links between implementation and desired outcomes. Dr. McCombs has also conducted research on out-of-school time, teacher education and training, literacy coach interventions, No Child Left Behind, adolescent literacy, and accountability measures.


Chris Smith, Executive Director of Boston After School & Beyond, has spent his entire career focused on public-private partnerships that support student learning, leading a variety of policy, measurement, and programmatic initiatives.  Since joining Boston After School & Beyond in the fall of 2008, Chris has focused on expanding learning opportunities for Boston’s young people during the whole day and the year.  Chris spent the previous decade at the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC), first as Director of Employer Partnerships, then as Chief of Staff.  While at the PIC, he worked with local business leaders to create Classroom at the Workplace, a learning model that combines intensive academic acceleration and paid employment for teenagers who have failed the high-stakes MCAS exams.  Since its inception, the program has helped well over 1,000 students earn a high school diploma.  He also played a lead role in coordinating Boston’s first-ever study of college graduation rates of Boston Public Schools students and in developing legislation to decrease the dropout rate in Massachusetts.  Before joining the PIC, Chris worked at the US Department of Education in Washington, DC, on the Secretary of Education’s family and community involvement in education initiative.  He has an MBA from Babson College and a BA from Trinity College.


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Presenter Information


Daphne Griffin
Executive Director
Boston Center for Youth and Families
1483 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02120

Jennifer Sloan McCombs
Senior Policy Researcher
1200 South Hayes St.
Arlington, VA  22202
703-413-1100 x5467

Chris Smith
Executive Director, ext. 180
89 South Street, Suite 601, Boston, MA 02111


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.