Ellen Gannett's Projects

Building a Skilled and Stable Workforce for After School Programs

Building a Skilled and Stable Workforce for After School Programs

Project Director: Ellen Gannett, Ed.M.
Project Associate: Brooke Harvey, B.A.

Funder: The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

AED Center for Youth Development and Policy Research:
Richard Murphy, director
Bonnie Politz, associate director
Mary Lou Bruno, program associate

Read the three recommendations and join the growing list of organizations that have signed on to the strategic plan (PDF - 34kb)

Strategic Planning and Dissemination

NIOST and the AED Center for Youth Development and Policy Research have completed a strategic plan for workforce development for the out-of-school time field. We are currently conducting focus groups with the front line staff and directors of out-of-school time programs. With their input, we plan to finalize the recommendations in the strategic plan and begin dissemination and outreach efforts early this year.

Process for Developing the Strategic Plan

This strategic plan is the culmination of two years of targeted research, discussion, and investigation by NIOST and the Center in partnership with a national Advisory Committee. NIOST, which has traditionally focused on programs for school-age children, and the Center, which has historically worked on programs for older youth, have joined forces on this project in an effort to bridge the fields of school age care and youth work. There are great similarities in both the role they play in the lives of children, youth and families, and also in the construction of the fields themselves. By working together we are a louder and stronger voice for change.

NIOST and the Center began the Building a Skilled and Stable Workforce project in January 2001 by identifying key individuals such as economists, policy-makers, advocates and funders from across the country to join an Advisory Committee to help inform and guide the development of the plan. The goal in choosing members for the committee was to have representation from a broad diversity of fields and sectors that would give the plan a thorough treatment of differing perspectives. The value of hearing from multiple perspectives from the beginning has resulted in a strategic plan that is inclusive of input from people who have been working on these issues and have made good strides and some new and unlikely potential allies. This plan has become illustrative of broad-based thinking from individuals who understand the complexity of tackling this issue.

NIOST conducted an extensive literature review in order to gauge what data collection, workforce improvement models, public policy and advocacy efforts were already underway. In July 2001, NIOST and the Center co-hosted a National Youth Policy Forum, where the need for a "coherent national approach" to address the wage and professional development needs of youth workers was unanimously endorsed. Participants concluded that in order to effectively address the challenges within the out-of-school field, national, state and local strategies must be implemented.

Participants agreed on the key elements of a national strategy to move the field forward:

  • Understanding the 'true costs' of financing the youth workforce, identifying what existing resources currently fund versus the actual costs
  • Creating training programs, professional standards, and an accreditation process that will lead to professionalizing the out-of-school field and increased compensation
  • Facilitating a dialogue and exchange of information within the out-of-school field that will provide youth workers and other stakeholders with the opportunity to examine initiatives in other communities throughout the nation
  • Advocating for the needs of the out-of-school field at the local, state, and national level in order to create a national policy supporting youth workers

In April and October, 2002, NIOST and the Center convened additional Advisory Committee meetings to assist in the development of the strategic plan. The four points listed above helped to frame the initial meeting discussions and have been incorporated into this plan. In between meetings, NIOST and Center staff worked in task force groups to identify action steps in five areas: 1. Using data and research to make the case 2. Professionalizing the field 3. Learning from other fields 4. The true cost of financing 5. Building a movement These task force groups helped NIOST and the Center to crystallize the available information and to begin shaping a strategic plan that is reflective of the collective experience and wisdom of the group.

This project is funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Campaign Coalition for Host Advocacy

Campaign Coalition for Host Advocacy

Ongoing since 2013

Project Director: Ellen Gannett, M.Ed.

Funded by: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with YMCA of the USA

Project Description:

The National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) will provide expertise on out-of-school-time (OST) field-building, research support, and technical assistance delivery of the Healthy Out-of-School Time (HOST) Campaign. This initiative will promote best practices to OST providers in support of the Campaign Coalition to help enable them to develop strategies to implement the best practices in physical activity.

Director Ellen Gannett to speak at National Conference on Summer Learning

The conference features 35 workshops focused on systems-building, knowledge and strategies for program managers, and innovative instructional approaches. Session topics will include: early learning, healthy summers, building and scaling summer learning systems, the latest research on program quality, connected learning, and meeting the socio-emotional as well as academic needs of middle school students. 

Improving the Quality of Youth Programs Nationwide: Expanding Access to the Assessment of Program Practices Tool

Improving the Quality of Youth Programs Nationwide: Expanding Access to the Assessment of Program Practices Tool

Ongoing since 2014

Project Director: Ellen S. Gannett, M. Ed.
Funder: Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation

This funding will enable the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) to: develop an online APT tutorial for programs initiating self-assessment and continuous program improvement; augment the interactive self-paced study tool the team is developing with support from the William T. Grant Foundation and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; and develop and disseminate materials nationwide to programs and stakeholders to build awareness of these new and renewed resources.

Leading for Quality Initiative

Leading for Quality Initiative


Project Directors: Ellen Gannett, Wendy Surr

The City of Cambridge hired NIOST for their general leadership and guidance and evaluation for the out-of-school time “Leading for Quality Initiative,” as well as facilitation of the executive level Communities of Practice. The goal of this project is quality improvement in Cambridge afterschool programs.

Massachusetts Afterschool Research Study (MARS)

Massachusetts Afterschool Research Study (MARS)

Completed in 2005

Project Director: Joyce Shortt

The Massachusetts Afterschool Research Study (MARS) is a statewide study examining the links between afterschool program quality and student outcomes, and the efficacy of various models of afterschool for youth. United Way of Massachusetts Bay is collaborating with the Massachusetts Department of Education and the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services to manage the study, which will be conducted by the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College, in partnership with the Intercultural Center for Research in Education (INCRE).

MARS aims to create consensus around the elements of program quality, features, and participation that contribute to positive outcomes for youth, so that funders, providers, advocates, and policy-makers are better prepared to expand the quality and availability of afterschool programs. Public and private funders will have the information they need to focus resources on effective program elements; providers will be able to make ongoing quality improvements; and policy-makers will have a reliable foundation on which to base their commitment to afterschool.


New York City Afterschool Matters Research Practitioner Fellowship

New York City Afterschool Matters Research Practitioner Fellowship

Ongoing since 2014

Project Director: Ellen S. Gannett M. Ed.
Funder: Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation

This award provides funding for an Afterschool Matters Initiative Practitioner Fellowship group in New York City from fall 2014 to fall 2015. This group will expose 12-15 Fellows working with older youth to the world of inquiry research, and help them examine their own practices. Each Fellow will produce a paper or other product at the end of the process. The Fellows will be energized by their research and learning, becoming part of a strong network of professional out-of-school time workers in the New York Community.

Next Generation Youth Work Coalition

Next Generation Youth Work Coalition

The National Institute on Out-of-School Time partnered with The Forum for Youth Investment as champions for action with the Career Pathway's sites in San Diego and Long Beach, California. This included leading research aspects of the project as well as working to anticipate the site's needs for information, support and tools in a variety of areas.

The Next Generation Youth Work Coalition brought together individuals and organizations dedicated to developing a strong, diverse after-school and youth development workforce that is stable, prepared, supported and committed to the well-being and empowerment of children and youth. We believe that this entails progress in at least five key areas: standards and competencies; professional development and training resources; learning delivery systems; career ladders and compensation guidelines; and research and evaluation systems.

Click here to access a PDF file with more information about the Coalition.

Click here to access a PDF with a review of Youth Work Core Competencies.

NIOST's Ellen Gannett Honored by National AfterSchool Association for Lifetime of Leadership

Ellen Gannett, NIOST senior strategist and former director, was recently honored for her decades of leadership in the field of out-of-school time. Watch highlights of what some of her colleagues had to say about her--and what she herself said about her many years in the field--during the special Celebration of Leadership Reception at the National AfterSchool Association Annual Convention in New York City, March 18, 2019.

Program Practices: An Investigation of Physical Activity and Healthy Eating Standards and Practices

Program Practices: An Investigation of
Physical Activity and Healthy Eating Standards
and Practices in Out-of-School Time Programs

Completed in 2011

Principal Investigator: Georgia Hall, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator: Jean Wiecha, Ph.D.
Team Members: Georgia Hall, Ph.D., Jean Wiecha, Ph.D. (University of Massachusetts), Ellen Gannett, M.Ed., Barbara Roth (YMCA of the USA), Julie Dennehy, M.M., Diane Gruber, M.A.


kids on slide.jpgEnergy balance and appropriate physical activity are critical to preventing obesity and associated cardiometabolic morbidity. In the United States, 6.5 million children attend out-of-school time programs annually, participating in roughly 3 hours per day of activities typically including homework, snack, and gross motor play. If out-of-school time programs can provide appropriate snack and physical activity choices, they can be an important component of the campaign against childhood obesity. There is a window of opportunity to infuse more rigorous content and provide guidance and language in the National Afterschool Association standards for physical activity and healthy eating.

Specific Aims

  1. To build capacity for childhood obesity prevention in OST by infusing rigorous science-based standards and guidelines into NAA standards for physical activity and healthy eating
  2.  Identify current physical activity and healthy eating standards used in a targeted national sample of OST programs
  3.  Identify current program practices in these areas
  4.  Identify statistically significant associations between best practices and program characteristics, components, and social contextual variables
  5.  Disseminate information on effective implementation of high quality standards, through a comprehensive report, study briefs, and presentations at national conferences.
  6. Lay the groundwork for a subsequent Phase 2 project to re-assess the program cohort and develop a tool kit to help all OST programs implement the rigorous science-based standards for physical activity and healthy eating.


kids on slide.jpgThis is a mixed-methods research study using a sequence of quantitative and qualitative data collection methods and multiple regression modeling to examine program characteristics associated with providing healthy eating and physical activity opportunities in a national sample of out-of-school time programs. Effective practice will be operationalized through the application of a field-tested research-based survey reflecting current standards and guidelines established through expert sources such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academy of Science - Institute of Medicine. Data will be collected in ten regions representing a mix of geographic locations, urban/suburban/rural communities, school district sizes, and variety of out-of-school time programs. The sampling frame will be comprised of programs with diverse demographic school district profiles and large percentage of students eligible for free/reduced lunch. The survey sample will include 80-100 programs within each region (500+ total) and Exemplary Program Observations at 30 of these programs. 

Healthy Out-of-School Time: Related Resources (HOST)

Healthy Out-of-School Time:
Related Resources (HOST)

Wyoming Quality Initiative

Wyoming Quality Initiative

Ongoing since 2001

Principal Investigator: Ellen Gannett, M.Ed.

Project Director: Kathy Schleyer, M.S.

Funded by: Wyoming Afterschool Alliance

NIOST’s continuing work with the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance (WYAA) since 2011 assisted in the creation of a statewide system for utilizing data to support continuous quality improvement among 21st CCLC funded afterschool programs. NIOST, in concert with WYAA and the state’s 21st CCLC lead, has helped the state build a network of providers trained in leadership skills who utilize the APAS system of tools to analyze data for action-planning. Currently, NIOST is helping WY expand coaching skills at the program leadership level while programs target 3-year goals to increase youth engagement and build positive youth outcomes including social emotional skills.

Youth Worker Career Pathways Project

Youth Worker Career Pathways Project

Completed in 2010

Project Director: Ellen S. Gannett, M.Ed.

The Career Pathways Project will lead to a set of guidelines promoting success and strengthening the work force for afterschool providers towards stability preparation, support and commitment to the wellbeing and empowerment of youth.


    "NIOST has been an anchor for numerous school age care projects we do, including ASQ (After-School Quality) and Links to Learning. They are a nationally respected organization that Pennsylvania has partnered with for over 20 years."

    – Betsy O. Saatman, TA Specialist/SAC Initiatives, Pennsylvania Key

    "NIOST was a core partner in supporting the development of quality improvement systems across the nine cities that participated in The Wallace Foundation Next Generation Afterschool System-Building Initiative. The NIOST team worked well with other technical assistance partners in the initiative, always willing to pitch in and collaborate with others to make our professional learning community meetings a team effort. I truly hope the Foundation has an opportunity to partner with them in the future."

    – Priscilla M. Little, Initiative Manager, The Wallace Foundation


    "NIOST has been a leader in the out-of-school time field for as long as I can remember, and I have relied on their research, tools, and advice to improve my practice throughout my career. Their staff members are good partners and good listeners, and their influence across the country is palpable."

    – Jane Quinn, Vice President and Director of National Center for Community Schools, Children's Aid Society

    "Georgia Hall, Ellen Gannett, and the NIOST team have been instrumental in driving the healthy afterschool movement. Their dedication to quality practice, informed policy, and collective impact is instrumental in our effort to create healthier communities."

    – Daniel W. Hatcher, Director, Community Partnerships, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

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The National Institute on Out-of-School Time

A program of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College

Wellesley Centers for Women
Wellesley College
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481-8203 USA

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