“Doing Our Part”: What Motivates Black Family Engagement in an After-School Program

Amanda S. Case


Researchers have demonstrated that Black caregivers (a) are more likely than caregivers of any other race to enroll their children in after-school programs, (b) face considerable challenges finding quality after-school programs, and (c) consider family engagement to be a hallmark of quality after-school programs. To date, however, researchers have largely ignored the voices of Black caregivers about what motivates and enables them to engage with their children’s after-school programs. As a result, after-school program staff report continued challenges effectively engaging Black families. The current case study aims to address this gap in the literature using evidence from participant observations, interviews with program staff, and focus groups with caregivers from the Downtown Boxing Gym, a community-based after-school program in Detroit, Michigan that primarily serves Black youth. Results suggest caregivers were largely motivated to engage with the program because of the gains they observed in their children and themselves, causing them to feel thankful and sparking a desire to give back. Caregivers also named specific program practices that made it easier for them to participate, including explicit expectations and requests for family engagement and multiple ways for them to participate. Implications for increasing family engagement at other after-school programs are discussed.


after-school programs; family engagement; Black families; caregiver involvement

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2020.887

Copyright (c) 2020 Amanda S. Case

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