Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) recently honored David Reinbold, executive director of the Carbon County Technical Institute in Jim Thorpe, as an Afterschool Champion for outstanding work in developing, supporting and promoting meaningful high-quality afterschool/out-of-school time programs to benefit children, youth and families across Pennsylvania.

The awards took place Wednesday during PSAYDN's annual reception, which brought together elected officials, program providers, youth, faith-based leaders, parents and business leaders from across the commonwealth to emphasize the importance of afterschool programs in the state.

Afterschool programs pick up where the school day leaves off.

In addition to offering kids a safe, supervised place to go before and after school, on weekends and during summers to get academic help, programs provide a variety of activities-art, music, dance, sports, science, service learning, career exploration and much more-that help kids develop new interests and skills. The Afterschool Champion Awards honor programs and individuals for excellence in the service of children, schools and communities.

Reinbold's advocacy efforts and support for quality afterschool programs resulted in expansion of the SHINE Middle School STEM Afterschool Career Academy in Carbon County, including a five-week pilot project that focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which held an impressive 90 percent student retention rate.

His efforts also led to a 36-week Middle School Career Academy, that served as a pipeline through which students in elementary afterschool could seamlessly enroll in the middle school program. Rates of high school students mentoring and tutoring youth have also increased significantly.

"As an Afterschool Champion, David leads through example," said PSAYDN director Kacy Conley. "His outstanding commitment was recognized by the peers, leaders and community members who nominated him. We are thrilled to shine the light on these inspiring accomplishments.

"Formative, out-of-school hours can be filled with quality youth development programs that not only promote the well-being of our children and youth, but also families," Conley added. "Increased academic achievement, reduced criminal activity, and positive social development are the results of high-quality afterschool activities."

According to the landmark America After 3 p.m. study conducted for the Afterschool Alliance, more than half a million Pennsylvania children need but don't have afterschool programs, even as statewide demand for afterschool programs has increased.

"When it comes to creating safe and creative expanded learning opportunities for children and youth in Carbon County, David is a champion indeed," Conley said. "Too many Pennsylvania children who need afterschool programs don't have them, and families are carrying a heavier burden as a result. Afterschool Champions are critical for building support from all sectors from the business and philanthropic communities, as well as from the government at all levels."

Last year, Jim Thorpe School District superintendent Dr. Barbara Conway, was named a 2012 afterschool champion by the PSAYDN for her work as an advocate for afterschool programs like SHINE.