After School Programs

After-school is a busy time of day at the New York State Museum! On average, 40 young people, ages 8-18, converge on the Museum from a variety of Albany City schools. The State Museum has always been a magnet for urban youth with its central location, free admission and intriguing exhibits. 

In 1987, the Museum introduced one of the first programs of its kind and targeted the needs of Albany City school children. Focused on the city’s most underserved neighborhoods, the Museum Club and Discovery Squad programs were designed to encourage young people to enjoy learning through interactive, hands-on activities. A friendly, diverse staff and informal approach encourages students to explore, discover and challenge themselves in this unique, educational environment. 

Nearly 4,500 kids have benefited from the services offered each weekday afternoon. The fun, holistic approach to learning and life have made the Museum Club and Discovery Squad programs a favorite educational resource for kids, families, social workers, teachers and school principals in the City of Albany. 

For more information on the After-School programs, please contact Stephanie Miller, Director of Youth Services at 518-486-1420 or Stephanie.Miller@nysed.gov 

Museum Club

The Museum Club is an educational enrichment program that serves Albany children, ages 8-13. A diverse staff creates a welcoming, informal atmosphere that encourages kids to embrace mutual respect and to believe in themselves as they explore the Museum’s resources together. Children are encouraged to inquire and express their thoughts and feelings while gaining confidence in a supportive, youth-oriented environment. 

ENRICHMENT PROGRAMS inspire kids to explore their world through object-based, hands-on activities. Programs compliment core curricula while increasing each child’s motivation for learning through fun-filled, thematic programs. 

MUSEUM CLUB ENCOURAGES KIDS THROUGH:

  • continued learning while helping or teaching others 
  • career development and improving communication skills
  • goal setting and practicing critical thinking skills
  • working as a team and learning to embrace and explore differences
  • developing research and study skills in preparation for college

DAILY MUSEUM CLUB ACTIVITIES INCLUDE: 

  • homework, tutoring and academic support 
  • emphasis on the development of study skills & good study habits
  • learning through fun, interactive programming with the use of Museum objects, exhibits, collections, research labs and through the expertise of Museum personnel
  • communication with families, teachers, social workers to foster a team approach

Discovery Squad

The Discovery Squad is the work-based learning extension of the Museum Club program. Teens, ages 14-18 from Albany’s lower income neighborhoods are encouraged to continue learning in a comfortable, supportive environment while building their capacity to become healthy, well-rounded adults. Teens serve as mentors to younger Club kids while developing professional skills from adult mentors. Students acquire job training, receive academic and personal support, explore higher education opportunities and gain confidence as they serve the Museum in various work environments.

WORK-BASED LEARNING empowers teens to explore careers and professions, while instilling confidence through guided mentoring. Teens earn much-needed stipends while helping younger Museum Club kids with schoolwork; interpreting exhibits for the public; assisting in laboratories or other professional departments; or conducting floor demonstrations in the Museum. These valuable work experiences often lead teens to internships and additional work opportunities throughout the school year or summer months.

D-SQUAD ENCOURAGES TEENS TO:

  • continue learning while helping or teaching others 
  • develop career and communication skills
  • pursue goal-setting and critical thinking skills
  • work as a team and learn to embrace and explore differences
  • develop research and study skills in preparation for college

DAILY D-SQUAD ACTIVITIES INCLUDE:

  • tutoring and academic support 
  • Regents, SAT, college preparation 
  • informal counseling/coaching as needed
  • professional development opportunities such as job training, visits to work sites, internships and team-building activities
  • exploration of adolescent issues through community workshops; global issues through Museum programming, team discussions and community service projects

Success Stories

Since 1987, nearly 4,500 young people have benefited both academically and personally.

Students stay at the Museum, year-after-year. Many begin as children in the Museum Club and mature into Discovery Squad teens.

100 percent graduation rate for D-Squad teens, who enter their senior year while in the program! 

93 percent college admission rate for D-Squad teens (most are the first in their family to attend college) 

Improved academic achievement. The longer a student is in the program, the more their grades improve. All students are required to produce report cards and progress reports. Study skills, reading levels and an overall interest in learning develops as young people experience education in an informal, hands-on, interactive environment that encourages individual achievement, mutual respect and cooperation. Teams are formed as Museum staff, students, parents, teachers, social workers and principals work together for a child’s success! 

Teens develop a renewed interest in education and other fields which often leads to specific college and career choices.

Social skills blossom through community service projects; participation in Museum events, receptions and programs; mentoring other students; working together on experiments, projects and on trips; sharing their knowledge with Museum visitors. 

The Museum Club has been acknowledged by the local chapter of the NAACP for “enhancing the quality of life for youth in the Capital District.” 

On a national level, the Museum Club was recognized by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities for “innovative, educational programs that offer opportunities for children and youth to learn new skills, expand their horizons and develop a sense of self, well-being and belonging.”