What is After School Matters?

After School Matters is a network of free after-school programs delivering quality educational, recreational, and leisure activities.

Available programs in neighbourhoods throughout St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Fort Erie and Welland make a positive impact on youth and teens in Niagara. These programs mitigate the negative effects of low-income for hundreds of families every year. In spite of the fact that children and youth from low-income families are less likely to graduate high school, less likely to pursue post-secondary education, and more likely to live in poverty as adults, After School Matters is creating a measurable impact. Each program site is unique and activities are handpicked by the youth that attend.

A Day in the Life of an After School Matters youth participant

Youth and teens arrive at After School Matters following a typical school day to find friendly staff members ready to welcome them with a smile and a healthy snack. There they can access homework help or fun activities that allow them to get active and participate in games with friends. The best part is, youth who participate in the program get to dictate what programs we offer! While we can’t satisfy every request, we do our best to make sure everyone leaves happy and energized.

For example, After School Matters doesn’t just support after school activities you’d expect like dodgeball or arts and crafts – this initiative also supports youth and teens by moving outside of their comfort zone with field trips, holiday events, off-site learning opportunities and more. After School Matters youth participants went to Safari Niagara, SkyZone, Howells and even ice skating!

Thanks to our community partners such as The RAFT, YMCA, and Learning Disabilities Association of Niagara, the youth that are involved with ASM get to experience what their community has to offer. They can make new friendships, share in healthy food and learn valuable life skills.

After School Matters Expanding throughout Niagara

United Way Niagara proudly invests in youth in our community, ensuring they are afforded an equal opportunity to be all they can be and achieve success in the future.

The After School Matters program impact continues to grow as we develop new sites across the Niagara Region. Four of our six locations now offer both a middle-school age program and a teen program. Thanks to the ongoing support of our community we recently launched our fifth and sixth After School Matters programs in Fort Erie and Welland.

Each location is chosen and developed in communication with the communities they serve. Regularly reaching capacity since its launch, this new site will hopefully be the first of many exciting new developments for After School Matters.

A.S.M. staff member Michaela sits across a table from a youth participant on opening day. Michaela is writing notes on paper with a pen as the student is enjoying a snack - one of the many perks of the program.
person hugging friend at graduation

Burke Family Education Fund

Youth who participate in After School Matters can also qualify for grants of up to $1,000 to their post-secondary school tuition. Each year we look to provide a grant for at least three students and since 2014 United Way Niagara has provided over $20,000 in grants.

The fund is used to assist children needing financial assistance to attend post-secondary education. Through this fund, United Way hopes to provide youth an opportunity for equity and a chance to have a passion for education.

“Your generosity went a long way in helping me succeed in my education and to get where I am today. With your assistance, I have now graduated with two diplomas and one certificate and am ready to give back to the community.” – Grant recipient