New Report Reveals State of Afterschool STEM Learning Opportunities in Virginia

Afterschool and summer programs offer hands-on learning opportunities that spark students’ interest in STEM subjects and help them gain critical STEM skills. The just-released America After 3PM Special Report, “STEM Learning in Afterschool on the Rise, But Barriers and Inequities Exist” finds that programs offer STEM learning opportunities, but inequities exist and too many young people are missing out.

America After 3PM is the nation’s most comprehensive look at how children spend their time during the hours after school and during the summer. The 2020 survey findings provide important new insights into STEM learning in afterschool, and a first ever look at trends in afterschool STEM learning since the first special STEM report released in 2014.*

Top takeaways for Virginia:

1. Opportunities for STEM learning in Virginia afterschool programs have increased.

According to the America After 3PM survey, 161,235 Virginia children participate in an afterschool program and 110,192 children have opportunities to participate in STEM learning in those programs. Compared to the 2014 America After 3PM survey, the percentage of families reporting their child’s afterschool program offers STEM  learning has increased.

Follow-up surveys conducted during the pandemic found that nationwide, STEM learning opportunities in afterschool programs remained steady, and 72% of 2021 summer programs offered STEM learning opportunities.

2. Virginia parents value STEM learning in afterschool and summer programs

77% of Virginia parents agree that STEM learning in afterschool helps children gain interest and skills related to STEM, an increase since 2014. 66% of parents say that STEM and computer science offerings are important when selecting their child’s afterschool program.

3. Afterschool programs reach populations traditionally underrepresented

in STEM.

Women and people of color are underrepresented in STEM professions. Nationally, parents of Black and Latinx students report that their child’s afterschool program offers STEM learning at higher rates than parents of White students. Girls have  opportunities to participate in STEM learning at similar rates to boys.

 4. Many Virginia children are missing out.

In Virginia, for every child in an afterschool program, 4 are waiting to get in. Unmet demand for summer programs is also high for families in Virginia. 25% of Virginia children who would participate in a summer program unable to attend. Parents report that cost and access top the list of the biggest barriers to afterschool program participation.

5. Virginia parents support public funding for afterschool and summer programs.

89% of Virginia parents support public funding for both afterschool programs, and summer learning opportunities. Public funding brings greater opportunities for students to explore hands-on STEM learning in their afterschool programs. 

Afterschool and summer STEM learning offer unique benefits and reach youth traditionally underrepresented in STEM, but millions are missing out. 

Check out the data dashboard to explore more Virginia and nationwide data at

America After 3PM serves as a resource for policymakers, educators, parents, and advocates on afterschool and summer program participation, demand, and expectations and benefits of programs. 

*Data from America After 3PM survey of parents conducted during Jan-March 2020.