KYD Network is Kalamazoo

Meg Blinkiewicz | Photo by Robert Neumann

Out-of-school time. It’s not a household phrase — yet — but making the most of this critical time for kids is the mission of Kalamazoo Youth Development Network, known as KYD Network. 

A program of United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, KYD Network has been around for 15 years, with your Community Foundation providing numerous grants over the years to support its innovative work. 

“Research demonstrates the positive impact of high-quality programs offered during out-of-school time, which encompasses after-school and summer programming,” says KYD Network Director Meg Blinkiewicz, Ph.D. Activities that at one time only happened during the school year have been replaced with a year-round approach. 

Research shows when low-income students don’t participate in OST programming, by fifth grade there’s already an achievement gap in math between them and their higher-income peers. When their OST participation is high and consistent, that’s not the case. 

Says Blinkiewicz, “Time spent in OST activities means kids are more likely to engage in school and graduate. 

 “OST programs help kids do better at their job: going to school. Our quality ratings have increased and youth are gaining important social-emotional learning skills. We’ve always known what we do matters and now we have the data to better tell our important story.”

In addition to providing effective programming to Kalamazoo-area kids, KYD Network plays a leadership role in building the collective capacity of the youth-focused organizations that comprise Kalamazoo County’s OST sector. 

According to Blinkiewicz, over the last few years the number of local organizations partnering with KYD Network to serve area children with high-quality programs has grown from 12 to 30. KYD Network provides the organizations with training, coaching and technical assistance to ensure Kalamazoo County youth are ready for post-secondary education or training — and ready to contribute to the community in positive ways. 

Says Blinkiewicz, “Over the last three to four years we’ve undergone a renaissance, growing the sector through collaboration and working on inclusion and equity to get to impact.” 

Read more: Christopher Terkos is Kalamazoo

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