School of Education & Social Policy

Bart Hirsch Wins Social Policy Book Award

After-School Centers

SESP professor Barton Hirsch, along with his co-authors Nancy Deutsch (PhD04) and David DuBois, brought home a book award from the Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA) conference. Their book After-School Centers and Youth Development: Case Studies of Success and Failure won the 2012 SRA social policy book award for best multi-authored volume.

The Society for Research on Adolescence chose to recognize this book for its high-quality research that clarifies a substantive and timely policy issue. The award was presented on March 8 at the 2012 biennial meeting in Vancouver.

Hirsch is the first person to have won the award for two different books. His earlier book A Place to Call Home: After-School Programs for Urban Youth won the award in 2006.

After-School Centers and Youth Development clarifies the interactions that lead to success for after-school programs, based on an intensive study of three centers that differ widely in quality. 

The book presents highly readable case studies of six students and three after-school centers, based on data collected from 233 site visits over the course of a year, and it brings to life how the after-school programs affect young people. As the book considers how and why youth thrive in good programs and suffer in weak ones, it emphasizes the importance of elements such as collective mentoring and the synergies among different programs and activities.

“After-school centers have some terrific staff and are a great resource for impoverished urban communities. The best ones encourage staff to mentor youth and create dynamic new programs. But many centers don't live up to their potential. They need to focus like a laser on promoting positive youth development and learn as an organization how to keep improving what they do,” says Hirsch, a psychologist and professor of human development and social policy.

Case studies of three different after-school organizations that range from low quality to high quality are an important element of the book. “The blending of the organizational studies with those of individual youth is a distinct contribution of the book,” Hirsch notes.

Hirsch is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the Society for Community Research and Action and general editor for a book series from New York University Press called Adolescent Lives in Context. He has also recently completed a major three-year study of the After School Matters program in Chicago, a flagship program that serves more than 17,000 students.

Deutsch, who studied with Hirsch at SESP, is an associate professor at the University of Virginia. She is also the author of Pride in the Projects: Teens Building Identities in Urban Contexts, which explores the process of teenagers discovering their identities in U.S. inner cities. DuBois, a former student of Hirsch’s from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, is a professor at University of Illinois-Chicago in public health.  

After-School Centers and Youth Development was written for scholars, youth workers, after-school program leaders and policy makers. Published by Cambridge University Press, the book was released in September.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 3/8/12