Free & Cheap NYC After-School Programs for Kids

September 2, 2021

After spending so much time together with the kids through Covid-19 quarantine and distance learning, as NYC schools open back at full capacity, we can’t help but feel a sense of anxiety and stress. But here we are making the best of it.

While figuring out which masks to pack and how much sanitizer fits in a backpack, you’re tasked with the usual back-to-school meal planning, school supply shopping and after-school logistics.

So how do you find the best NYC after-school program for your kids? As a starting point, here’s our list of some free and inexpensive after-school activities for young NYC children and teens.


Free, K-12th Grade

COMPASS NYC (the Comprehensive After School System of NYC) offers over 900 high-quality programs to support and strengthen overall development of young people. Due to Covid-19, some of the programs are operating on a limited or remote basis.

To sign up, talk to your child’s school principal, teacher or after-school program staff.

Learn more on the COMPASS website.

NYC Parks Afterschool Program

Free, Ages 6-13

Based on monthly themes supported by sports and fitness, arts and culture and STEAM, this after-school program offers NYC kids academic support and physical activity on weekdays from 3pm-6pm. The program complements the curriculum at NYC schools.

Register on the NYC Parks website starting on September 13, 2021.


Free or Low-cost, Ages Vary

You’re probably already familiar with the YMCA. They offer so many classes that promote health and well-being for all ages.

Find your local YMCA branch to see which programs are available.

Asian woman tutoring Asian girl at desk

Photo by Jerry Wang

Good Shepherd Services

Free, K-12th Grade

Non-profit Good Shepherd Services has been helping NYC kids succeed in school since 1991. They offer NYC students in Brooklyn and the Bronx after-school programs designed to strengthen young people’s academic, leadership and social schools.

Contact Good Shepherd Services for enrollment info.

STACKS at Queens Public Library

Free, K-5th Grade

This free enrichment program is designed to enhance your child’s learning experiences through age-appropriate activities while building their social, emotional and academic skills.

Head to the Queens Public Library website for more info.

NYPL After School

Free, Ages 6-12

Stop by specific New York Public Library branch locations from Monday to Thursday, starting September 27, to get after-school homework help from tutors or Teen Reading Ambassadors. No reservations needed.

Find a participating library location at the NYPL website.

Two masked girls running in grass

Photo by Atoms

Children’s Aid Society

Mostly Free, Ages 6-18

Monday through Friday, NYC kids in Staten Island, Harlem, Washington Heights and South Bronx can participate in art, sports and technology programs at various public schools who partner with the Children’s Aid Society.

Visit the Children’s Aid Society website for more info.

NIA Community Services Network

Free, Grades K-8th

Founded in 1981, NIA Community Services Network is a not-for-profit community service organization dedicated to addressing issues that impact youth, families and seniors. Their NYC expanded day and after-school partnerships serve thousands of kids annually.

These programs encourage exploration and learning through arts and sciences, teaching new skills, physical education, and fostering positive youth development and healthy lifestyle choices. Activities include STEM, homework help, literacy, art and fitness.

Visit the NIA Community Services Network to learn more.

Hit the Books

Free, Ages 7-12

Founded in 2019 to bring additional educational resources to Harlem, Hit the Books provides NYC kids with supplemental learning support by partnering with nearby schools. They also provide mixed martial arts lessons, tutoring and mentorship.

Visit Hit the Books for more info.

Boys’ Club of New York

$5 Membership, Ages Vary

Find your local Boys’ Club of New York chapter and enroll in the after-school membership program which enables your student to hang out in one of their three clubhouses where they can get homework help, play sports, take swimming or music lessons, and have snacks.

Get more info at the Boys’ Club of New York website.

Lower Eastside Girls Club

Free, 6th-12th Grade

Connecting young women and gender-expansive youth of color throughout NYC to healthy and successful futures, the Lower Eastside Girls Club offers free, innovative year-round programming and mentoring.

Find out more on the Lower Eastside Girls Club website.

Extreme Kids & Crew

Free, Ages 6 & Up

Extreme Kids & Crew is a nonprofit that provides a welcoming, supportive space for young people with disabilities and their families and friends to connect, create and learn. They offer an after-school program to NYC kids ages 6 and up that promotes making friends, building confidence and having fun together.

Join their after-school waitlist here.

Young Dancers in Repertory

Free, K-5th Grade & 6th-8th Grade

Founded in 1985 as a pre-professional Touring Ensemble in South Brooklyn, YDR has been offering dance classes since 1995. Since 2000, they’ve also been providing after-school programs to NYC youth.

Visit the YDR website for an application and details.

OST Program at Fort Greene Council

Free, K-5th Grade

The Out of School Time program provides academic, recreational and cultural activities for students after school and full-time on holidays and throughout summer. NYC kids also get homework help and academic-based learning opportunities to build study skills.

Visit Fort Greene Council for more info.

The Saturday Program at The Cooper Union

Free, 9th-12th Grade

This program offers eight free studio art courses and enrolls more than 200 NYC Public High School students. Classes meet remotely for a few hours on Saturdays and subjects range from architecture, drawing, painting and sculpture, to digital media and graphic design.

Apply at The Cooper Union website.

Children of Promise After School

Free, Ages 6-18

Children of Promise is a community-centered organization that partners with children and families impacted by mass incarceration to dismantle the stigma and heal from the trauma plaguing Black and Brown communities.

Their NYC after-school and summer day camp programs are designed specifically to meet the needs, interests and concerns of children left behind by a parent who is serving time in prison.

Learn more at the Children of Promise website.

CAMBA After School

Free, Ages Vary

Serving more than 65,000 NYC individuals and families annually, CAMBA offers more than 160 programs in 95 locations to improve the lives of a diverse cross section of New Yorkers.

Their after-school programs include STEM-focused Tech Titans, as well as a variety of elementary and middle school offerings.

Learn more about CAMBA and register here.

With Covid-19 still affecting our daily lives, some of these programs may be offering limited availability or require masks and/or vaccination. So be sure to reach out to them in advance.

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