October 24, 2013

A Small World After All

By helping thousands of New York City children attend high-quality afterschool programs, Alison Overseth ’84 is upping the odds that they’ll be successful.

Dan Rosen

Her New York City Legacy
As executive director of the Partnership for After School Education (PASE), Alison Overseth ’84 helps thousands of kids in low-income New York City neighborhoods attend safe and enriching afterschool programs. PASE supports about 1,600 afterschool programs across the city, offering training, technical assistance, and other resources. In 2012 alone, these groups served an estimated 500,000 young people.

How She’s Helping New Yorkers
Why are afterschool activities so important? On school days, the peak time for young people to commit or be victims of crimes is between 3 and 6 p.m. Furthermore, Overseth says, studies show that kids who attend high-quality arts or sports programs tend to do better in school. “These engaging activities help young people develop the skills they need to become successful adults,” she says.

“In New York, we have a long history, going back to the settlement houses, of communities coming together to support young people.”

A few years ago, when Overseth went from leading PASE’s board of directors to serving as its executive director, the financial crisis was in full swing; both families and the youth organizations that support them were hurting. For Overseth, the downturn magnified the importance of PASE’s role leading a citywide network of afterschool programs. “The idea is, ‘We can help each other,’” she says. When an organization is in need, PASE finds resources to help.

Why She Loves the Big Apple
“We have extraordinary community-based organizations in this city,” Overseth says. “That’s not true in every city. In New York, we have a long history, going back to the settlement houses, of communities coming together to support young people.”

Def Dance Jam (DDJ) in Central Harlem is one of Overseth’s favorite local organizations. With PASE’s support, the program helps deaf and physically or developmentally challenged kids and their families learn to dance. “DDJ transforms the lives of children and their families,” says Overseth.

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