Best After-School Programs in NYC All Parents Should Know

Finding a great after-school program is one of the best things you can do for a kid in the city.

If you don’t believe it, just ask the kids. Of 3,000 New York kids surveyed in 2014, 89 percent said their after-school programs helped them to make greater strides in school, according to the Afterschool Alliance, a national afterschool advocacy group. 81 percent said they were at least somewhat more interested in school, and a whopping 87 percent agreed that their after-school programs at least somewhat helped them stay out of trouble.

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Manhattan offers a world-class variety of after-school programs for kids of all interests and incomes. Depending on the program you choose, you could watch your child’s interest in general learning bloom in a way that school simply can’t match. Or you can watch their specific talents in sports, music or the arts spring to life and take off.

These are among the best afterschool programs that all NYC parents should know:

General Interest After-School Programs

The Lower East Side Girls Club offers girls 8 to 23 a broad range of mentor-led programs in fields ranging from the arts to science, social justice and wellness programs. And this isn’t just stodgy classroom and lab work. In 2015, girls in the program repurposed an old Airstream trailer into a recording and broadcast studio — all the better to support the club’s own local radio station. Its beautification projects include work on the community gardens at East 1st Street and Houston. The club has garnered direct support from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey. Membership is open to any girl who lives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. 

Also accessible to all incomes is The Boys’ Club of New York, where boys from 6 to 21 can get help with schoolwork or a boost in sports, science or the arts. The club runs clubhouses in East Harlem, Queens and the Lower East Side.

Science and Technology

Girls Who Code offers free after-school programs for 3rd-12th grade girls to join a sisterhood of supportive role models and peers using computer science to change the world. They run activities for girls with zero computer science experience all the way up to activities that introduce college-level concepts. Skills they teach include teamwork, confidence, time management, functions, variables, and more. Click here to learn more.

Arts and Literature

Not every after-school program is designed to transport your kids physically from their homes. Some are designed to transport their minds. Girls Write Now teams young women with professional mentors in one of the most literary cities in the world. Through frequent workshops and meetings with their mentors, hundreds of girls have been inspired to write publishable poetry, prose and theatrical works. 

For arts in general, the Lucy Moses School at the Kaufman Music Center on West 67th Street offers incomparable instruction in music, dance and theater for children and teens.

Reading Partners works with underserved schools and communities in need to provde extra individualized attention to early learners. During the 2017-2018 school year, they served 1072 New York-area students over nearly 35,000 tutoring sessions at 19 schools. Their volunteer page says they offer some after-school programs, so contact them on their New York City information page to learn more.

Media Education

The Educational Video Center prepares students for successful media careers and college by offering a rigorous after-school program. 60 students from schools throughout NYC earn school credit, or receive stipends, to learn to produce a documentary on a subject of community relevance or personal interest. EVC students create award-winning docs about a wide variety of subjects, and go on to work at a range of media companies. Click here to learn more about the Youth Documentary Workshop.


There’s no better place in the world to keep your sports-minded kid busy than Chelsea Piers at 23rd Street and the Hudson. The place offers practice, play and competition in more than 25 sports, including golf. So who said Manhattan is a concrete jungle?

Young Kids

The 92nd Street Y on Lexington Avenue serves kids and adults of all ages, but its programs for kids from K-8 are exceptional for the age group.  They include art, music, dance, sports and design that go well beyond the run-of-the-mill. Think metalwork and jewelry, tae kwon do and gymnastics. Transportation and scholarships are available.

Follow for More

On any given day, more than 630,000 New York children participate in after-school programs, according to the Afterschool Alliance. But that still leaves more than 580,000 who don’t. If you are shopping for great after-school programs and ideas that will give your kids opportunities now and in the future, keep your eye on our education videos.


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