Poverty Lab Urban Initiatives

Today, middle-class parents routinely spend their evenings and weekend shuttling children from piano lessons to hockey practice and dance recitals. Yet, access to high-quality extracurricular programs is decreasing for low-income children, creating an “activity gap” with wide-ranging implications for millions of American children. Urban Initiatives has helped to fill this “activity gap” for students in the Chicago Public Schools since 2003. Their innovative Work to Play program provides curricula, mentorship, leadership programming, and academic achievement incentives during the critical early years of a child’s development. Urban Initiatives has partnered with the Poverty Lab to study the benefits of Work to Play for CPS students. This ambitious project will generate some of the first causal evidence of the effects of extracurricular sports programs for lower-income students, allowing policymakers to make better decisions when school budgets are on the line. Researchers are currently working in 19 schools during the 2017 – 2018 school year.