Tom Wyatt

Tom Wyatt is the chief executive officer of Knowledge Universe-United States, the nation's largest private provider of early childhood education and care and the parent company of the KinderCare, CCLC, Champions, Knowledge Beginnings, Cambridge Schools and The Grove School brands. Under Wyatt's leadership, these brands collectively provide early learning and school-age programs to nearly 175,000 children in more than sixteen hundred locations and more than four hundred programs around the country.

Previously, Wyatt served as president of Old Navy, overseeing all aspects of the brand and supporting more than one thousand stores in North America. Under his leadership, the brand strengthened its positioning and reclaimed its core customer: a young mom shopping for her family and herself.

Wyatt first joined Gap Inc. as president, GapBody in March 2006. In February 2007, he was named head of the Outlet division, where he was responsible for Gap Outlet and Banana Republic Factory Stores.

Prior to Gap Inc., Wyatt held the position of president and CEO for Cutter & Buck. During his tenure, he led the turnaround of one of the nation's top makers of sportswear. Wyatt's career spans more than thirty years leading successful consumer brands. He served as president of Warnaco Intimate Apparel, a global designer and manufacturer of highly recognized brand names including Warner's, Olga, and Lejaby. Additionally, he spent more than twenty years with Vanity Fair Corporation, serving as president of Vanity Fair Intimates and Vanity Fair Intimates Coalition.

Wyatt has served on the board of Gap Foundation and Juma Ventures, two organizations focused on education, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Jack in the Box Inc., a restaurant company that operates Jack in the Box and Qdoba Mexican Grill.

What are the accomplishments you are most proud of?
The quality of the services we provide to our partners and the incredible contribution that our teachers make to the development both socially and academically to the children in our program.

Where do you see the field in ten years?
The way working families spend their time has changed dramatically in the past half century. Dads are doing more housework and childcare; moms more paid work outside the home. Neither has overtaken the other in their "traditional" realms, but their roles are converging, and with that convergence, the need for high-quality out-of-school time programming is becoming increasingly more important for schools and for the social, emotional and educational development of children.

Our challenging economic times today have ushered in a new mindset amongst mothers. Today, approximately thirty percent of working mothers count flexibility to meet the needs of their children and the needs of their work as key. As this percentage continues to grow each year, so too does the importance of the availability of high-quality afterschool programming. We know that safe, secure, structured environments, which provide an opportunity for the social development of the child, is critical to meeting the needs of families today. Key to the necessary quality is that the programs produce positive outcomes for children.

Today, fifty-six percent of working mothers and fifty percent of working fathers find it challenging to meet the needs of their children and their work. This percentage will continue to increase within the next ten years. It is critical that the afterschool profession continue to maximize this time for children. As time progresses, there is an increased focus on the educational components of quality programming while ensuring the time also provides social development opportunities. Trends continue to grow with the increase in programs, which focus on the social and emotional learning and development of children. There is increased need in afterschool time to support
Common Core and better prepare children from an early age for access to college opportunities.

As the out-of-school time profession continues to build on a growing body of research and data that proves the benefits of high-quality OST programs, the partnerships between public/private education and OST will strengthen. Ten years from now, I hope to see a continuum of opportunity for children from early learning to college/career readiness linked together through public policy. I see professionalizing the work force
through a nationally recognized credential or college degree based on the school-age core competencies. We already have many committed organizations, and by uniting, we can change the trajectory of America's youth.

What are the biggest opportunities for the afterschool industry?
Schools themselves are facing increasing conflict as they are challenged with budgetary restraints. As their resources decline in the public sector, afterschool professionals must seize the opportunity to support the educational component that will be leveraged to meet the educational needs of children. There is a large market for add-on services to partner with school administrators. Public and private administrations continually search for relevant ways that afterschool professionals can provide for the schools that they cannot provide themselves. Our opportunity is to provide a compelling story, complete with validated data, to reinforce the value we bring to the children and their families, the education system, and policy makers.

What are the biggest challenges facing afterschool?
Clearly identifying and living our value proposition to the school administration and the families is one of the largest challenges facing the afterschool industry today. How school-age children spend their time after school is a topic of interest in the 90,000+ elementary schools in the U.S. Research supports that forty-four percent of all public elementary schools do not offer formal afterschool programs physically located in the school. We are faced with two challenges from these statistics. First, ensuring that the fifty-six percent of schools with formalized afterschool programs are programs that are enriching, high-quality, affordable and of service to the greater school; and forty-four percent of schools without structured programming have the option to do so. We must demonstrate that we are good partners with the school by aligning with their standards. We must paint a compelling story; our value add must remain consistent and measureable.

Another big challenge is professionalizing the workforce so we can have the greatest impact on children and youth. Most before-school and afterschool programs can't provide full-time wages offer limited career development, which limits our ability to attract the best and brightest talent. Figuring out that piece can dramatically change the landscape of OST.

What makes an afterschool program successful?
Providing a safe, structured, supervised environment for intentional learning to occur in which children have fun and develop friendships while working alongside caring adults—that is the key to our success. Linking those experiences that children have in afterschool programs to positive outcomes in the child's school attendance, academic achievement, decision-making, and problem-solving abilities are tantamount to our industry growth. The more aligned we are to the priorities and mission of the individual school and community in which we serve, the greater success we will achieve. We must sustain relevant relationships with key stakeholders, and our pool of stakeholders is wide and deep. It begins with the school administrators, and includes the student's teachers, the families, and, of course, the children themselves. Remaining a good partner and challenging ourselves to continue to find ways to add value to all stakeholders will ensure afterschool program success.

Edited by Amy L Charles, editorial director of AfterSchool Today magazine, the Official Publication of the National AfterSchool Association.