The Future Of Supporting The Afterschool Profession

For over 30 years, NAA has fostered positive youth outcomes by supporting, developing and advocating for afterschool professionals and leaders.

In 2018 and 2019, NAA embarked on an organizational review and strategy development effort that resulted in—among other things—a revised mission and vision, four strategic focus areas, and a list of core values and approaches that guide our work.

MISSION AND VISION: The National Afterschool Association is the professional membership association for people who work with and on behalf of youth during out-of-school time. NAA fosters positive youth outcomes by supporting, developing, and advocating for afterschool professionals and leaders. As a national association, we deploy our mission through people-centered programs and partnerships, building equity, access, and connections to create a strong, valued profession that benefits kids, families, and communities.


  1. Field Leadership – Creating, contributing to, and fostering partnerships that promote policies, professional and program standards and supports.
  2. Advocacy – Serving as the voice of the profession—building partnerships, policies and programs that recognize, promote, and support the afterschool profession and its professionals.
  3. Professional Development – Fostering partnerships, policies and programs that support the development of people who work to provide high-quality afterschool opportunities for young people, recognizing and promoting the important contribution of the afterschool profession and its professionals.
  4. Community – Creating a safe and inclusive community that provides opportunities for sharing, learning and growth.


  • We believe that every young person deserves quality, enriching experiences afterschool that positively impact their development and help them thrive.
  • Given research on the importance of staff and leaders in creating quality youth experiences, NAA supports, develops, and advocates for afterschool professionals and leaders.
  • Equity, access, and connections are the through lines across all NAA’s work. Our goals are achieved by collaborating with NAA members, board, state affiliates, partners, and other stakeholders through convenings, communications, and capacity building.

In 2020, given the Movement for Black Lives, the rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans, immigrants, and members of the transgender community, and numerous injustices that, while not new, were finally being recognized more broadly. NAA recommitted to focusing on equity and using an anti-racist lens to guide the organization.

Also, in 2020—at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic—Grantmakers for Education Afterschool & Summer Recovery and Opportunity Fund invited us to submit a funding proposal. When we saw the RFP, we were excited to see that one of the priority funding areas was building field capacity by advancing racial equity. As part of this funding cycle, NAA received funding to revise or develop several resources that have been on our “wish list” for several years, including:

  1. Conducting an equity review and update of the Core Knowledge and Competencies for Afterschool and Youth Development Professionals.
  2. Creating Afterschool’s Guide to Equitable Hiring and Staff Development Practices.
  3. Organizing national convenings and facilitated conversations with local, regional, and national organizations to garner commitments to equitable hiring practices and strategizing increased job quality for the profession.
  4. Creating Afterschool’s Guide to Culturally Responsive Practices resource guide for use by local afterschool providers, intermediaries, and funders.
  5. Providing a virtual PD series focused on working toward anti-racism for state and local intermediary leaders and youth-serving organization leaders.

Watch for ongoing opportunities to contribute to resource development or review or participation in the virtual PD or convenings. Please direct any related questions to Heidi Ham, NAA’s VP of Programs and Strategy at

Heidi Ham is the Vice President of Programs and Strategy for the National AfterSchool Association.

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