beyond 3:30

In Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas*, 95% of young people don’t have access to after-school programs. We’re trying to change that. It’s during the hours after school lets out that our children are most vulnerable.

Instead of spending time on the streets, or going home to an empty apartment, beyond 3:30 gives students between the ages of 11 and 14 a safe and welcoming place for sports and physical fitness, a nutritious meal, and homework support each school day — opportunities that are out of reach for most families facing poverty issues. beyond 3:30 is offered free to all students.

beyond 3:30 is unlike any other program of its kind. We operate right in schools, making it safe and easy for students to attend. There’s a big focus on nutrition, as well as sports and physical fitness. Our Junior Chefs’ Club is a big draw, and brings many new students to the program. And, with programs like the Financial Literacy Course, and with Homework Support, beyond 3:30 students not only become more prepared to succeed in high school, but also in life itself. Our homework staff are Teachers’ College graduates who liaise directly with daytime school staff to make sure children get the support they need. In recent years we’ve expanded, and opened four beyond 3:30 Junior programs to support younger participants. 

Last year, 72% of beyond 3:30 students said they gained a much better understanding of nutrition and food preparation, 68% became much more physically active, and over 70% improved their grades.

The research can’t be ignored, and it proves it’s working. Our students are developing better social skills, increasing self-esteem, and learning important life skills while getting much needed physical activity and nutrition in a safe environment.

beyond 3:30 is now in 18 schools, and the children love it. We would like it to be in even more schools in the years to come. But to do this, we need your support.

* The City of Toronto has identified 31 neighbourhoods in Toronto for targeted investment and support. The lack of services facing many of Toronto’s inner suburban neighbourhoods is a major barrier to opportunity for many people particularly newcomers and youth.

COVID-19 Response – 2020/21 School Year

The 2020-2021 school year was a year like no other. With school closures throughout the year, due to the COVID-19 crisis, we found ways to operate beyond 3:30, irrespective of circumstances. Despite the challenges, beyond 3:30 continued to successfully operate every school day. From September – December, we operated in-school, at all 18 sites. Our number one priority was keeping students safe, while offering them all the enriching beyond 3:30 programming they were looking forward to.

As many students chose to learn at home, in the fall, we launched b3:30 online.  Through the online platform, those learning remotely continued to participate through live cooking demos, Amazing Race beyond 3:30 competitions, and financial literacy activities.  As well, we created an online “space” to connect participants with their peers and also with beyond 3:30 staff. After the winter break, schools closed at times due to the pandemic. However, through our beyond 3:30 online platform, we continued to offer our programming every school day. We always seek new ways to support students as they navigate these challenging times, and from March to July 2021 we provided over 10,000 hours of individual academic support through our Homework 2.0 program.

The Impact

Before joining beyond 3:30, a 12-year-old girl went home to an empty apartment. With the TV as her only source of company, she would often fall asleep on the couch. She rarely got any exercise, completed her homework, or had a proper dinner. A school friend told her about beyond 3:30, and after reluctantly joining, she can’t get enough of the program. Now she’s healthier, happier, and finishes her homework on time.

When he had nothing to do after school, a Grade 7 student started getting into trouble on the streets. His mother enrolled him in beyond 3:30 where he made new friends who were positive influences in his life. He is now more cooperative with his family and is developing leadership skills in school.

Sports and Physical Fitness

With a minimum of 60 minutes of skills-oriented training, beyond 3:30 students are becoming healthier and learning important leadership and teamwork skills — not to mention excelling at sports and having a great time doing it. 64% of students said that they learned something new about fitness and sport. The majority of beyond 3:30 students attend the program all 5 days of the week, and while the hour of fitness training is a big draw, many also credit the additional 30 minutes of physical games, like octopus or dodge ball, among their favourite parts.

Nutrition - Junior Chefs' Club

The Junior Chefs’ Club is a cornerstone of beyond 3:30, often encouraging students through the door. Under the supervision of trained Nutrition Staff, a rotating crew of students learn how to cook easy, healthy and inexpensive meals. Then they do the dishes! By providing them healthy food every single day we help improve their immediate health and reduce behavioral issues. By teaching them how to plan, shop for and prepare their own meals, we give them the skills they need to keep themselves healthy for the rest of their lives.

The lucky winners of the Feed Tomorrow Week’s Culinary Cook-Off get an exclusive behind the scenes experience in a real working kitchen with professional Chef Brad Long. Chef Brad gives our Junior Chefs a tour of his restaurant, Cafe Belong, and then cooks them a delicious meal which they all enjoy together. It is a wonderful day out for our up-and-coming chefs!

Homework Support

Led by Teachers’ College graduates who liaise directly with daytime school staff, beyond 3:30 children get targeted after-school support to learn better study habits and achieve better grades. beyond 3:30 students have said that participation in the program helped them work harder in school, and 70% said their grades improved as a direct result. Many of these students have the ability to succeed; they just need the tools to be able to do so and beyond 3:30 is providing those tools.

Financial Literacy

The Financial Literacy Program is designed to help introduce the students to important, real-life issues and lessons. They learn about things like interest, mortgages, and RRSPs as a way to get them familiar with the concepts to take away any fear or apprehension. Tailored to a younger age group, the sessions are games-based and use simple language they find fun, as well as informative. Most of our staff reported learning nearly as much as the kids!

Arts Program

A variety of art programs were offered in rotation throughout the year. Organizations like Arts for Children and Youth provided formal arts training workshops, free of charge. These initiatives are among the most popular with the children, and open a whole new world of art, music, and culture to students that — in many cases —rarely get the opportunity to leave their own neighbourhoods.

Community Dinners

Community Dinners allow students to demonstrate their new skills to their parents in a casual and welcoming environment. Together, all the participants cook meals and serve the teachers and families who are there as guests. Participation awards are presented and participants share with their parents lessons learned and the benefits that result. It’s a fun and interactive event where parents, students, and staff alike come together and celebrate the successes of beyond 3:30.