Date of Conferral







Dr. Daphne Halkias


In 2019, researchers reported that 80% of afterschool program directors in high poverty neighborhoods felt insecure about program sustainability. Afterschool program staff serving marginalized populations are also failing to build collaborative community partnerships to offset restricted funding due to inadequate professional training. The purpose of this qualitative narrative inquiry study was to gain a deeper understanding of afterschool program directors’ narratives of daily experiences with leadership challenges in building community partnerships aimed at program sustainability in low-resource communities. This study was framed by 3 concepts focused on afterschool leaders building school–community partnerships: Bourdieu’s concept of social capital, Nocon’s concept of afterschool program sustainability, and Valli, Stefanski, and Jacobson’s concept of leadership for school-community partnerships. The narrative inquiry method was used to address the problem and answer the research question using interview data from 12 afterschool program directors across the United States. A two-step process was used in data analysis for thematic coding of restorying data: production and description, cross-referencing, categorizing, and thematic linking for comparative purposes. Five conceptual categories were revealed in answering the research question: (a) social capital, (b) afterschool program sustainability, (c) leadership for school–community partnerships, (d) interagency collaboration, and (e) professional development. The findings of the research reveal leadership challenges faced by afterschool program directors and their staff in building community partnerships and receiving professional development training to support program sustainability. The narratives of afterschool program directors’ leadership challenges may drive positive social change by centering their program sustainability challenges at the nexus of collaborative community efforts.