Tag Archives: after


One of the biggest potential limitations associated with after school programs is funding and budget constraints. Developing and maintaining high-quality after school programming is costly, as it requires resources for staff salaries, supplies, transportation, facility rental/use, and more. Government and philanthropic funding for after school programs is limited and not guaranteed long-term, which threatens the sustainability of programs. Programs must spend time fundraising and applying for grants instead of solely focusing on students. Securing consistent, multi-year funding sources is a significant challenge that all programs face.

Related to funding is the challenge of participant fees. While most experts agree that after school programs should be affordable and accessible for all families, setting participant fees is tricky. Fees that are too low may not cover real program costs, risking quality or sustainability. But fees that are too high exclude families most in need from participating. Finding the right balance that allows programs to operate yet remains inclusive is difficult. Transportation presents another barrier, as many programs do not have resources for busing students and families may lack reliable pick-up/drop-off. This restricts which students are able to attend.

Recruiting and retaining high-quality staff is a persistent challenge. After school work has relatively low pay, high burnout risk, and often relies on a cadre of part-time employees. The after school time slots are less than ideal for many as it falls during traditional “off hours.” Programs must work hard to recruit staff who want to work with youth, are well-trained, and see the job as a long-term career. High turnover rates are common and disrupt programming.

Developing meaningful, engaging programming that students want to attend poses a challenge. Students have many after school options, from other extracurricular activities to open free time. Programs must carefully plan diverse, interactive activities aligned to students’ interests that encourage learning but do not feel like an extension of the regular school day. Specific student populations, such as teens, English learners, or students with special needs, require more targeted programming approaches to effectively engage them.

Accountability and evaluation is an ongoing struggle for many programs. Measuring short and long-term impact across academic, social-emotional, health, and other domains requires resources. Yet, funders and the public increasingly demand evidence that programs are high quality and achieving stated goals. Collecting and analyzing the appropriate data takes staff time that could otherwise be spent on direct services. Relatedly, programs may lack evaluation expertise and struggle with identifying meaningful performance metrics and tools.

Partnering and collaborating with community groups and the local K-12 school system presents hurdles. All parties need to define clear roles, lines of communication, and shared goals. Resource and turf issues can emerge between partners that must be navigated delicately. Schools may be wary of outsider programs if they are not seen as an enhancement or direct extension of the school day. And community organizations have their own priorities that do not always align perfectly with academic or social-emotional learning outcomes.

Beyond funding and operations, the specific needs of the youth population served pose programmatic challenges. For example, students from high-poverty backgrounds have greater needs and face more barriers compared to their middle-class peers. Programs need extensive supports to address issues like hunger, chronic stress, lack of enrichment activities, and more for these youth. Similarly, managing student behaviors and social-emotional challenges is an ongoing concern, as many youth struggle with issues exacerbated by out-of-school time that require sensitivity and intervention. Finding the right balance to simultaneously support all students can be difficult.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic illustrates another limitation of after school programs – Public health crises that disrupt in-person operations and learning. Switching to remote platforms is challenging due to lack of family access and comfort with technology as well as limitation in virtual engaging activities for youth. Public health concerns also increase costs related to hygiene, distancing, and protective equipment that stretches limited budgets further. Programs demonstrated flexibility amidst COVID, but future uncertainties loom large. Long term, climate change and other disasters may present related continuity issues.

While after school programs present many positive impacts, underlying limitations around long-term stable funding, staff recruitment and retention, collaboration, evaluation, access and inclusiveness, pandemic response, and meeting diverse student needs present systemic barriers. Successful programs require significant resources and strategic partnerships to sustainably overcome these challenges affecting the youth they serve. With care and collaboration, these obstacles can be navigated.


After the successful launch of the new 5-year strategic plan for Tech Company X, the leadership team conducted a thorough review and assessment of the organization’s performance and progress over the first year of implementation. While the strategic plan outlined ambitious goals and initiatives that were meant to drive sustained growth and transformation across the business over the long term, the first year was seen as a critical period to lay the groundwork and set the stage for future success.

The assessment showed that while some strategic priorities proved more challenging than others in the early going, many positive results and achievements could also be pointed. On the financial front, revenue growth came in slightly below the year one target but profitability exceeded projections thanks to tight cost controls and operating efficiencies realized from several restructuring initiatives in manufacturing and back office functions. Market share also expanded modestly across key product categories as planned through focused investments in R&D, new product launches, and expanded distribution networks domestically and in several high priority international markets.

In terms of operational priorities, mixed progress was seen on various productivity and process improvement programs aimed at streamlining operations and gaining structural cost advantages. While initiatives around supplier consolidation, inventory optimization, and workflow automation started generating benefits in scope and scale as the year progressed, other efforts around energy reduction and facility consolidation faced delays due to unforeseen hurdles and will need more time to fully realize their objectives.

Perhaps the most encouraging results stemmed from the organizational transformation dimensions of the strategic plan. Significant milestones were achieved in realigning the organization along customer and product-centric rather than functional lines of business. This enabled more agile decision making and collaborative solutions for clients. An intensive leadership development program injected fresh skills and perspectives from internal promotions and external hires alike across different business units and geographies. A strategic rebranding and marketing campaign helped strengthen brand perception and equity with target audiences.

On the other hand, integrating newly acquired companies into the broader group fully proved far more difficult than envisioned, taking a toll on synergies captured and employee morale. Likewise, full implementation of new capabilities in areas like cloud migration, AI and data analytics, and digital marketing faced delays due to under-estimation of change management needed and skills gaps to be addressed. Turnover was higher than projected especially in some technical roles as the new strategic direction caused disruption amidst a competitive labor market.

While the first year results validated the strategic roadmap and highlighted encouraging progress in important domains, it also exposed vulnerabilities and growing pains to be tackled. The assessment concluded that bolder changes may still be needed to certain business models, processes and organizational culture to unleash the next horizon of performance. Meanwhile, more integration and alignment efforts are required across regions and functions to sustain early gains and better capture planned synergies. Therefore, the leadership committed to proactively course correct where issues emerged and double down support where further progress is essential to get fully back on track over the remaining years of the strategic plan cycle.

Despite some key metrics not entirely meeting year one targets and unexpected emerging challenges, the first year of implementing the strategic plan proved to be a period of important learning. Many foundational changes began taking root and initial benefits materialized that will serve the organization well in future. With ongoing agility, commitment and mid-course adjustments, the assessment provided confidence that the strategic roadmap remains on the whole appropriate for driving the envisioned transformation, if properly bolstered and seen through with dedication over the long term.


Once a capstone proposal is approved, students have a set amount of time to complete their project, which usually ranges from 3-6 months depending on the program and institution. Breaking this overall timeline down into specific milestones and target dates can help keep a large project like this on track for successful completion.

The first month after approval should focus on research and planning. The student should spending 2-3 weeks thoroughly researching their topic to gain a deeper understanding of the scope and any challenges involved. They should dig into academic literature, industry reports, case studies, and data sources to lay the groundwork for their methodology. By the end of the first month, they should have an annotated bibliography compiled and a draft research plan outlining their approach, questions to be answered, assumptions, limitations and timeline.

The second month is when work on the capstone project truly kicks off. The first two weeks should involve finalizing the research plan and beginning data collection if applicable. Qualitative data collection methods like interviews or focus groups may begin. Any necessary equipment, software licenses or other materials also need to be acquired. The last two weeks involve analyzing collected data, exploring patterns and insights. Charts, graphs and preliminary findings should start coming together. Major sections of the literature review and methodology chapters should also be drafted.

By the end of the second month, the student should have a minimum of 10-15 pages drafted for each of the major project chapters – introduction, literature review and methodology. They should be able to clearly articulate the problem statement or question guiding their research as well as how they plan to approach answering it. Any data collection should be well underway at this stage.

The third month marks the halfway point and a key deadline – a preliminary proposal defense. This allows the student to present their initial findings to their committee and receive feedback on the project direction before investing significant additional time. The committee will want to see polished drafts of the introduction, literature review and methodology chapters at minimum. This month focuses on data analysis if applicable, as well as refining literature reviews based on committee feedback and fleshing out results and discussion chapters.

The student should spend 2-3 weeks performing deeper analysis on their collected or secondary data, identifying themes and relationships. Initial result visuals like charts and tables should be prepared. Committee feedback from the defense is incorporated into revising the draft chapters. A complete draft of the quantitative or qualitative analysis as well as initial results writeups should be finished by the end of the third month.

For the fourth month, the focus is on synthesis and completion. The results chapter is polished based on analysis performed. The discussion chapter synthesizes findings within the context of the literature reviewed initially. Limitations and implications are also discussed more fully. Throughout, revisions are made to drafts based on continuing committee feedback. One or two drafts of the full project paper should be completed and reviewed by both committee chair and full committee.

In the final fifth month before the defense deadline, refinement and wrapping up take priority. A polished final full draft is submitted 3-4 weeks in advance for committee review. Feedback received at this stage involves mostly small revisions like grammar, formatting or clarifying certain points rather than major changes. The student defends their full completed project in an oral exam in weeks 4-5 of the final month. Any post-defense revisions required by the committee are incorporated to publish or archive the final capstone paper.

Breaking the overall capstone timeline into specific monthly goals, deliverables and deadlines helps ensure the large project stays on track to completion. Regular interim check-ins with the research committee also allow mid-course feedback to refine direction as needed before investing significant time in approaches that may not be viable. Sticking to this timeline structure can help any student successfully complete their capstone paper and presentation within the designated full program period.


Gathering user feedback is crucial after the initial launch of any new software, product, or service. It allows companies to understand how real people are actually using and experiencing their offering, identify issues or opportunities for improvement, and make informed decisions on what to prioritize for future development.

For our initial launch, we had a multi-pronged approach to feedback collection that involved both quantitative and qualitative methods. On the quantitative side, we implemented tracking of key metrics within the product itself such as active user counts, time spent on different features, error/crash rates, completion of onboarding flows, and conversion rates for core tasks. This data was automatically collected in our analytics platform and provided insights into what parts of the experience were working well and where users may be dropping off.

We also implemented optional in-product surveys that would pop up after significant user milestones like completing onboarding, making a purchase, or using a new feature for the first time. These surveys asked users to rate their satisfaction on various aspects of the experience on a 1-5 star scale as well as leaving open comments. Automatic trigger-based surveys allowed us to collect statistically meaningful sample sizes of feedback on specific parts of the experience.

In addition to in-product feedback mechanisms, we initiated several email campaigns targeting both active users as well as people who had started but not completed the onboarding process. These emails simply asked users to fill out an online survey sharing their thoughts on the product in more depth. We saw response rates of around 15-20% for these surveys which provided a valuable source of qualitative feedback.

To gather perspectives from customers who did not complete the onboarding process or become active users, we also conducted interviews with 10 individuals who had started but not finished signing up. These interviews dug into the specific reasons for drop-off and pain points encountered during onboarding. Insights from these interviews were especially helpful for identifying major flaws to prioritize fixing in early updates.

For active customers, we hosted two virtual focus groups with 5 participants each to get an even deeper qualitative understanding of how they used different features and what aspect of the experience could be improved. Focus groups allowed participants to build off each other’s responses in a dynamic discussion format which uncovered nuanced feedback.

In addition to directly surveying and interviewing users ourselves, we closely monitored forums both on our website as well as general discussion sites online for unprompted feedback. Searching for mentions of our product and service on sites like Reddit and Twitter provided a window into conversations we were not directly a part of. We also had a dedicated email for user support tickets that generated a wealth of feedback as customers reached out about issues or requested new features.

Throughout the process, all feedback received both quantitative and qualitative was systematically logged, tagged, and prioritized by our product and design teams. The in-product usage metrics were the biggest driver of prioritization, but qualitative feedback helped validate hypotheses and shed new light on problems detected in analytics. After distilling learnings from all sources into actionable insights, we then made several iterative updates within the first 3 months post-launch focused on improving core tasks, simplifying onboarding flows, and addressing common pain points.

Following these initial rounds of updates, we repeated the full feedback collection process to gauge how well changes addressed issues and to continue evolving the product based on a continuous feedback loop. User research became embedded in our core product development cycle, and we now have dedicated staff focused on ongoing feedback mechanisms and usability testing for all new features and experiments. While collecting feedback requires dedicated resources, it has proven invaluable for understanding user needs, identifying problems, building trust with customers, and delivering the best possible experience as our service continues to evolve.


The app saw impressive user growth in the first few months after its public launch, although growth slowed as competition in the market increased. In the first month, the app was able to acquire over 250,000 users which far exceeded initial projections of 100,000 users. This was helped by a well-executed marketing campaign around the launch that generated a lot of buzz on social media platforms. They were particularly effective at influencer marketing by partnering with top influencers in their target domain who promoted the app to their large follower bases.

The strong initial growth allowed the app to reach the #1 spot in the ‘Top New Free Apps’ category on both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store in many countries. This exposure from being featured prominently in the app stores helped drive even more organic growth through word-of-mouth and downloads from app store browse/search. In the first 3 months, the monthly active user count grew to over 500,000 MAUs. Revenues in this initial growth phase came primarily from ads and in-app purchases of paid premium features.

Average revenue per user (ARPU) started off modest at around $1-2 per month given the freemium business model but grew steadily as more users engaged more deeply with paid features over time. Gross margins were around 70-80% with the bulk of costs going towards marketing, customer support and engineering to build out additional features. While still early-stage, the financial metrics like retention, Payback Period and Lifetime Value were quite encouraging and indicated the app was demonstrating good early signs of potential long-term viability and scalability as a business if growth continued.

After about 6 months post-launch, user acquisition rates began to plateau and month-on-month growth slowed significantly. This is typical for many apps/startups as the initial burst of ‘low hanging fruit’ users is tapped out and it becomes incrementally harder to find and activate new users over time. Competition in the market also intensified with new entrants appearing regularly which made customer acquisition costs through paid channels like mobile ads start rising sharply. Monthly user growth rates fell to 5-10% compared to 30-50% in the beginning.

User retention also started softening as initial high levels of engagement came down to more steady-state levels. Around the 1-year mark, the app hit an inflection point and reached a total installed base of 1 million MAUs. But monthly active users growth essentially flattened out after this point and monthly user additions were barely keeping up with monthly user losses. To keep fueling revenue growth, the team prioritized aggressively boosting user engagement and monetization through new product features rather than focusing only on user growth.

Some of the new features like a premium subscription model, in-app tipping/donations and integration with popular streaming/e-commerce sites helped uplift ARPU, retention and revenue per MAU over time. But the slowdown in user growth also meant revenues scaled more gradually compared to initial faster growth projections. It became evident sustaining rapid double-digit revenue growth would require continual major feature releases, ongoing experimentation and ideally expansion into new international markets as well through localization.

After the initial 2 years, monthly user counts have remained around the 1-1.5 million range while revenues have grown 2-3x from the first year levels, primarily through ARPU increases rather than user growth. Overall the app has been able to achieve modest but steady profitability with a revenue run rate of $10-15 million and gross margins around 60-70%. Valuations have remained reasonable at a $50-100 million valuation based on closed funding rounds.

While user growth slowed faster than expected after the initial post-launch surge, the app has still demonstrated good progress on monetization and a clear path to long-term sustainable growth and profitability through continuous product development and market expansion. It has proven the viability of its business model and core value proposition to users and also attracted ongoing investment to fuel its plans for geographic expansion and new services over the next 3-5 years. With the right execution, it remains well positioned to ultimately scale revenues significantly further whilst maintaining adequate margins as a stand-alone business over the long run.