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News & Events

Sitar Arts Center Participates in A Public Information Gathering Session of the Committee on Out of School Time Settings

On February 8, 2024, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, through the Board on Children, Youth, and Families, hosted “The Experiences of Youth and Practitioners in Afterschool Programming. A Public Information Gathering Session of the Committee on Out of School Time Settings.” The session aimed to gather insights from program staff and youth regarding their experiences with afterschool programs. Among the participants were Rob Smith, the Director of Community Arts Education at Sitar Arts Center, and Donyel Marbley, an apprentice with Sitar’s ArtsAdvance: Career Studios, along with representatives from Digital Harbor, Life Pieces to Masterpieces, Project Ready, and Community Lodgings.

Over 200 virtual attendees tuned into the three-part session. The conversation started off with the youth participants sharing personal anecdotes about their engagement in afterschool programs, reflecting on how they became involved, what aspects they found rewarding, and the significance of their participation in these programs. Donyel credited Sitar with introducing him to professional career opportunities in creative industries that he never knew were possible. He highlighted the networking opportunities that have opened new doors for him and expressed gratitude for the valuable insight on how to operate a business in the creative field. 

In the second part, both youth and program staff discussed their perspectives on program quality, access barriers, and methods of measuring success. 

The third part featured insights from program staff regarding professional pathways within the OST field, covering their motivations for joining the sector, challenges related to recruitment and retention, and avenues for professional growth. Rob reflected on the real challenges of staff dealing with burnout and how Sitar prioritizes staff wellness to combat it. He also shared how Sitar works hard to ensure that professional development resources are readily available to staff. These efforts underscored the commitment of organizations like Sitar to support their staff and nurture a sustainable workforce in the field. 

These narratives resonated deeply, echoing findings from existing research, as acknowledged by the Committee. Further virtual sessions are planned in the coming months to gather additional perspectives from young people in diverse geographic contexts. 

The Committee anticipates releasing its final report in early 2025. 

A recording of the session is available on the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s event webpage.