Social Emotional Learning

WINGS Afterschool

Helping Kids Soar

WINGS Afterschool is an education program that teaches kids how to behave well, make good decisions, and build healthy relationships. We do this by weaving a comprehensive social emotional learning curriculum into a fresh and fun afterschool program. Kids get the life lessons they need to succeed and be happy, and they get a safe place to call home after school.

We operate afterschool programs in Title I elementary schools. Kids are referred to the program by principals and teachers based on their struggles in school or at home. The program operates at the school site and kids attend three hours per day, five days a week during the school year. There is no cost to attend the program, but full time attendance is required. Kids receive an afterschool snack, help with their homework, dinner, and bus transportation home.

Key Components of WINGS Afterschool

All kids deserve to explore, grow, and believe in themselves. Social emotional skill development lays the foundation for these actions to take hold.

Strong social emotional skills transform the lives of kids by helping them become the best version of themselves. As kids understand themselves and learn how to make smart decisions, they:

  • Succeed in school
  • Stay on track to graduate high school
  • Are better prepared for the workforce
  • Become positive and healthy contributors to society

Sequential learning objectives are taught throughout the school year to provide an opportunity to develop five core competencies through practice, reflection, and positive reinforcement. Kids learn about themselves and others through group activities and discussions while developing the capacity for empathy and respect.

Five Core Competencies

Children learn when they have opportunities to learn.

Affluent parents have the ability to invest more money into their kids than financially stressed parents. Wealthier children are twice as likely to play afterschool sports and they are more than twice as likely to be the captains of their sports teams. They are much more likely to do non-sporting activities, like theater, music, or scouting. We call this an opportunity gap. At WINGS, kids have the opportunity to explore new activities and play on a regular basis. Enrichment activities provide access to important experiences our kids might otherwise not receive such as music, dance, sports, photography, and cooking.

Choice Time

Twice a week children participate in extracurricular activities, called Choice Time. As our kids participate in activities like soccer or lacrosse, cooking, art, or music, staff tie-in the weekly lesson and the Words to Live By to reinforce – in real-time – teamwork, participation, creativity, or focus. Community Partners are often brought in to lead Choice Time activities.

Current partners include:

Field Trips

Field Trips allow our kids to explore new areas of their city and state. The majority of our WINGS kids have not traveled more than 10 miles outside of their neighborhoods. Through grants and discounted rates, we have been able to take our kids to:

  • Gibbes Museum of Art
  • Wild Blue Ropes
  • SEA-LIFE Charlotte Aquarium
  • South Carolina Aquarium
want to help?

Our kids love Choice Time and Field Trips but the expenses add up quickly. We’d love to provide additional Choice Time options and Field Trips! If you are interested in underwriting a portion of the cost for Choice Time or Field Trips, please see Support a Special Project for more information, or contact us at

Under-resourced kids often have many odds stacked up against them: trauma, stress, hunger, and an 18-month lag in achievement behind their higher-income counterparts.

These early childhood trends continue into high school, where low-income students drop out at a rate 4.4 times greater than higher-income students. Research shows that effective social and emotional education has the power to strengthen attachment to school and reduce negative behavior, two significant predictors of success.

Academic Center provides both homework assistance and the opportunity to further build social emotional, ELA (English language arts), and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) competencies through hands-on stations stocked with books and games. Academic Center provides a place for kids – with the guidance and reinforcement from staff – to practice self-management skills like focus, self-discipline, and stress management. These teachable moments can plant seeds of confidence or lessen anxieties, creating space for academic learning to happen.

Social emotional learning contributes to academic achievement:

  • Increased attachment to school
  • 54% more likely to earn a high school diploma
  • Twice as likely to attain a college degree
Want to Help?

We need volunteers to provide one-on-one homework help to our students who struggle the most. Don’t have the time? Take a look at our wish list, we’re always in need of academic kits and homework supplies.

Supportive and Engaging Role Models

From day one, we have understood the powerful role college students as mentors play in the lives of WINGS kids. Oftentimes, the children we work with lack adults in their lives that serve as role models of healthy and positive relationships, and many do not know someone, other than the teachers at school, who have gone to college. We also place a premium on recruiting members from the geographic and demographic communities where we operate. By doing so, our role models provide inspiration to do well in school and stay in school. They instill in our kids the belief in possibilities – and the hope for a bright future.

Each of our sites are managed by two full-time WINGS employees and college students who are recruited as part-time mentors, called WINGS Leaders, to small groups of kids in the program. The 130 college students we hire each year are intentional about developing healthy and supportive relationships with kids, as well as modeling respect and kindness in their interactions with peers. WINGS is not just a program, it’s a community where kids and learning thrive.

A Safe Place to Call Home After School

Juvenile crime peaks after school when more than 11 million youth are alone and unsupervised. WINGS works to provide a safe environment where each child feels they belong. A place where kids don’t worry about making mistakes and getting yelled at. We promote decision-making and uniqueness; we listen and pay attention. Our staff models kindness and fosters a deep sense of purpose and inclusiveness with each child.

A Safe Place to Be Yourself and Have Fun

Through innovation and out-of-the box activities, WINGS feels nothing like the school day. We intentionally create this environment in big and little ways: we sit on the floor in groups, play music, have special handshakes, dance, and sing. Our focus on fun is also why we choose to reinforce and recognize positive behavior instead of reprimanding negative behavior. One of the ways we do this is through tickets. During the week the kids earn tickets for positive behavior. Every Friday, during Wild WINGS the kids get to use their saved tickets to purchase special prizes. Our focus on fun is one way we drive school attendance. If you don’t attend school, you can’t attend WINGS, and our kids definitely don’t want to miss WINGS.

Want to help?

Help us bring the fun in BIG ways – donate special prizes on our Wish List for us to use for awards and prized each Friday.

WINGS Afterschool programs are held on-site at ten Title I elementary schools. Roughly one-third of each school’s students participate in the program.