After School Advantage
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

After School Advantage

The goal is to enrich and strengthen the communities in which GTECH conducts business by leveraging its technology expertise to offer unique educational opportunities to disadvantaged children.

Paul Holmes

GTECH Corporation, the leading supplier of online systems and services to the gaming and entertainment industries worldwide, and its public relations agency, the RDW Group, launched an ongoing comprehensive community outreach program in 1999. The goal is to enrich and strengthen the communities in which GTECH conducts business by leveraging its technology expertise to offer unique educational opportunities to disadvantaged children.


The need for quality after-school programs has received heightened attention in the last few years. Former President Bill Clinton proposed tripling federal financing for after-school and summer programs to $600 million in 2000.  Moreover, Congress created the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program to award grants to allow inner-city schools to expand after-school programs.

Statistics that support the need for after-school programming are compelling:

  • Five to 15 million children come home from school to an empty house each day 
  • Twenty-nine percent of all juvenile offenses occur on school days between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. 
  • Latchkey children are more likely than their supervised peers to use alcohol, drugs or tobacco, commit crimes, receive poor grades or drop out of school 
  • During after-school hours, children are at an increased risk of being a victim of violent crimes 
  • The US Department of Commerce reported that households earning more than $75,000 are six times more likely to have home Internet access than those at the lowest income levels. 
  • Black and Hispanic households are half as likely as White households to have home internet access.

While public sector initiatives take important steps towards curbing this national issue, GTECH recognized that its magnitude would require additional funding and support from private organizations and saw the opportunity to make a difference.


In January 1998, GTECH launched a pilot after-school program at the YMCA in Providence, Rhode Island. The Powerzone, as the program was named, is a state-of-the-art computer center, which GTECH designed and implemented to meet the needs of children and adults of all ages. This feasibility study led to the launch of a national initiative in 1999, the After School Advantage program. The target audiences for the After School Advantage program are: inner-city children, news media, customers, opinion leaders, general public and employees.  Program objectives include the following:

  • Develop a sustaining community relations program to address the national need for quality after-school programs 
  • Leverage GTECH’s technological expertise to provide a fun, learning experience to inner-city children during critical after-school hours 
  • Position GTECH as an important contributor to communities in which its employees live and work 
  • Create maximum attention for GTECH’s program among the news media, and business and opinion leaders


GTECH’s After School Advantage is a national community program, which provides non-profit community agencies and public elementary and secondary schools with state-of-the-art computer labs. After School Advantage centers are designed to provide inner-city children ages five to 15 with a fun, learning experience in a safe environment during critical after-school hours. The program also aims to bridge the digital divide among disadvantaged children by providing educational experiences to children who may not have the same opportunity at home or in school. By applying its technological knowledge and expertise to this type of program, GTECH hopes to increase children’s interest in careers in computers and provide them with the necessary tools to help them become more competitive in school, and in tomorrow’s job market.  

The following criteria were established to determine eligibility for the After School Advantage program: 1. Must be either a non-profit 501(C3) community agency or public elementary, middle or secondary school. 2. Must be located in a jurisdiction in which GTECH does business. 3. Must have an existing after-school program in need of a computer lab. 4. Must serve disadvantaged youth ages five –15 of diverse backgrounds. 5. Must have staffing and monetary support systems in place to sustain the lab.

By the year 2003, After School Advantage will be implemented in the 23 states and the District of Columbia, in which GTECH conducts business. Several sites per state will be opened each year, with each one located in a different media market. GTECH’s overall commitment is $3.3 million, with an average investment of $20,000 per site in state-of-the-art computers, online technology, computer software and volunteer hours. GTECH employees not only work with each site to design an appropriate center to meet their unique needs, but also have one paid workday per year to volunteer and are encouraged to remain active in their local After School Advantage program.


RDW Group, Inc. and GTECH developed a comprehensive public relations plan to gain publicity, momentum and excitement for the After School Advantage program. The components of the plan included:

  • Press conference for each opening 
  • Invitations to local business leaders, opinion leaders and officials and aggressive follow up for attendance 
  • A video to explain the need for after-school programs and to introduce After School Advantage 
  • A four-color brochure outlining the need for after school programs and GTECH’s commitment 
  • After School Advantage mouse pad 
  • Stationery 
  • Press kit 
  • Op-ed article 
  • Permanent signage for each center 
  • Banners for each opening 
  • Follow-up letter to local opinion leaders announcing the opening of the After School Advantage center 
  • Internal communications including newsletters and intranet posting 
  • Partnership with America’s Promise 
  • Program information provided in the Annual Report and on GTECH’s web site (

Since the national launch took place at a press conference at the John Hope Settlement House in Providence, Rhode Island, in April 1999, After School Advantage openings have since followed in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin. For each opening, a media advisory is distributed to local media. Local officials and business leaders are invited to attend the ceremony along with the children and parents of each recipient site. A speaking program follows that includes remarks from local dignitaries and representatives from GTECH and the center. It has become tradition that the children from the center make a presentation at the launch as well. At the conclusion of the speaking program, guests and members of the media are asked to join the students on a tour of their new computer center. Following the event, a news release and photo are distributed over PR Newswire and a press kit is sent to national news media and philanthropic publications.

In January 2001, GTECH celebrated the launch of its 50th After School Advantage center in Washington, D.C. at an America’s Promise site. GTECH hopes to continue to expand this worthwhile program by opening several additional centers around the country in the future.


Today, 53 After School Advantage centers are in operation in the United States.   More than 15,000 children across the country have benefited from this program. The program has been met with tremendous success and has received praise from a number of business leaders, elected officials, opinion leaders, civic group leaders, parents and children. Letters of commendation are enclosed.

In addition, with a total investment of almost $1 million to date, GTECH has garnered the following coverage:

  • More than 28 million print impressions were made since the program launch in April 1999 
  • The total potential viewing audience for television coverage is: 500,000
Total impressions for all combined media is: 28.5 million
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