PASE's founding was based on a growing consensus among researchers and practitioners in the youth services field that community-level strategies were necessary to support young peoples’ healthy development and on the idea that a network of afterschool programs – a professional learning community – would be instrumental in promoting the importance of their work and supporting the continual improvement of their services. In the twenty years since then the afterschool field has grown in size, deepened in sophistication, and enhanced in quality.
While the critical need remains for high-quality afterschool programs for all young people – and in particular for young people living in poverty – new programmatic priorities continue to emerge, new resources to be developed, and promising practices to be identified. Keeping practitioners abreast of current trends and providing timely, responsive professional development offerings to emerging needs is of central importance to any professional network, and the afterschool field requires broad professional development services that are tailored to the unique needs of youth services professionals.
Providing high-quality, interactive, practically-oriented professional development is central to PASE’s mission. The tools PASE uses – professional development workshops open to the field; cohorts to deepen knowledge and foster a network; individualized technical assistance to agencies; forums to convene diverse groups of stakeholders; strategic discussions to develop consensus on emerging needs and trends; the creation and publication of resource materials – have remained consistent, while PASE’s programs have remained responsive to the evolving needs of an evolving field.
PASE’s professional development programs are supported by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, in addition to general operating support from the Mary J. Hutchins Foundation, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, and the Barker Welfare Foundation. Additional professional development services are offered through general operating support from PASE’s generous Board of Directors and individual donors.