Last updated on July 7th, 2019 at 02:45 pm
The Beyond the Bell app, launched on Thursday, acts as a hub for youth-focused community activities as it inventories more than 250 after-school programs and services run by more than 200 area organizations.
The Center for Youth Engagement, an organization that aims to enhance the quality and accessibility of programming for underserved youth, partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s App Brewery to develop the app. Student developers working for the App Brewery donated their time and expertise to get the app market-ready.
The Center for Youth Engagement also produced the app in collaboration with Creative Associates International, a Washington, D.C.-based development organization that prioritizes youth engagement in its work to solve global challenges.
The app is part of a broader Beyond the Bell initiative aiming to build capacity among youth service providers.
Design and development of the mobile tool spanned a year, according to Reggie Moore, founder and senior strategist of the Center for Youth Engagement, and relied heavily on the input of area youth, who collected up-to-date information on existing Milwaukee programs.
Youth involvement in the construction of the app was a key part of ensuring the app would be a success, according to Moore.
Often, community discussions surrounding youth highlight youth as recipients of services whereas the app project placed youth at the frontend, Moore said.
“We are extremely proud of everybody that’s been involved in making this project possible and seeing it come to fruition,” he said. “This is a gift to our community, and the young people who’ve been a part of that should be commended.”
To maintain the Beyond the Bell app, the Center for Youth Engagement plans to review the program and activity data it houses on a quarterly basis, Moore said.
The organization also plans to augment app capabilities with the addition of a search bar and other functions in future versions of the tool.
The app is currently available for Android users and will also be available on the iOS operating system in the coming days. The Center for Youth Engagement looks to launch a marketing campaign surrounding the tool as it also continues to promote the benefits of after- and out-of-school programming as well as reinforce the quality of youth-focused programming.