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JUL
31
2017

LIGHTS ON
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The Empire State Building will shine for Lights On Afterschool!

By Charlotte Steinecke

Lights On Afterschool wouldn't be such a powerful rally for afterschool if we didn't have amazing partners to help us celebrate! From the programs that host events and the individuals that attend them and to the organizations that participate by elevating the message on social media, bringing everyone together and sharing our support of afterschool is the key to a brilliant celebration.

This year, one of our brightest partners is back: for the 11th year in a row, the iconic Empire State Building will be lighting up the New York City skyline in support of Lights On Afterschool!

On October 26, the lights on 5th Avenue will stay on, making a shining representation of both the students who are benefiting from afterschool enrichment every day and the students who are waiting to get into quality programs. With the sky lit up in blue and yellow, it will be an eye-catching reminder of how much we need our afterschool programs!

As we move into August, it’s the perfect time to register your Lights On Afterschool event. Once registered, you’ll receive an event starter kit with everything you need to get your event going, including 10 free copies of this year’s poster. (Plus, you’ll be eligible for prizes and giveaways each week leading up to October 26!)

We are honored to have a national landmark like the Empire State Building celebrating afterschool with us, and we’re excited to celebrate the afterschool partners, programs, families, and students across the country during the Lights On Afterschool season. Join us, the Empire State Building, and thousands of out-of-school time programs in keeping the Lights On Afterschool. Register your program so you don’t miss a single update!

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learn more about: Light Up a Landmark
JUL
25
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Congratulations to Angela Mamun, winner of the 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster contest

By Charlotte Steinecke

Angela Mamun is a Renaissance woman–or at least she’s learning to be. And she’s found the right afterschool program to help her grow her talents.

“I think to be a good student you have to be good in everything, or at least know how to do everything,” said the 11th grade student at Youth Policy Institute (YPI). The winner of the 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster contest was describing an educational philosophy, but the theory applies to her poster design as well.

“The prompt asked for us to focus on one aspect of the afterschool program, but I thought that I could not focus on just one,” Angela explained. “Every aspect of YPI ties in together, so I felt it was important to incorporate everything. As for the lamp, that would be the lights-on part, and the book and the tree represent that YPI is a place where young minds can grow.”

After reviewing hundreds of applications and posters from across the country, Angela’s design cinched the public’s vote in May, with a final count of 466 Facebook likes and other reactions. The design will be printed on more than 50,000 posters and sent to more than 8,000 programs nationwide—and for the first time ever, the contest winner’s program received a $500 cash prize.

Angela had been at Youth Policy Institute for six months when she entered the Lights On Afterschool poster contest. In addition to providing homework help, tutoring in a range of schoolwork and non-schoolwork subjects, and a safe place for students to go afterschool, YPI offers a STEM club, an arts club, and a club that focuses on volunteering and supporting local immigrant families. All of the clubs are student-led, providing opportunities for students to define their interests and take the lead on making change in their community.

JUL
20
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Lights On Afterschool registration opens today!

By Charlotte Steinecke

Get ready for a huge celebration—today is the official start of Lights On Afterschool! Registration opens today, so head over to the Lights On Afterschool site to tell us how your program is planning to join in the rally!

Last year’s Lights On Afterschool saw exactly 8,200 events held across the USA and the world, making it the brightest year ever. One million people joined together to shine a light on the amazing work that afterschool programs are doing to improve the lives of kids and families in their communities—and it’s more important than ever to share those stories across the country!

This year, we’re connecting programs with elected officials to show community leaders how afterschool works; amplifying the important work that out-of-school time programs do for kids’ health and wellness; showcasing the amazing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning opportunities in afterschool; and celebrating the partnerships between afterschool programs and libraries across the country. 

Here’s how you can get involved:

Start getting the word out today! Share your plans for this year's #LightsOnAfterschool, tell the world how #afterschoolworks, and connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2uGpwkI
learn more about: Lights On Afterschool
MAY
1
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Cast your vote in the 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster contest!

By Rachel Clark

Over the last few months, we’ve received hundreds of impressive submissions for the 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster contest. Using paint, crayons, colored pencils, mixed media, and even digital design tools, students of all ages from communities nationwide shared a wide variety of creative interpretations illustrating what afterschool means to them.

Given the volume of artwork we received, it was challenging to narrow down all of these submissions and select our finalists. After much debate, we’ve chosen four designs to advance to our round of online voting. Our finalists are:

  • Angela, an 11th grader from the Youth Policy Institute at Camino Nuevo HS – Miramar in Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Malisa, an 8th grader from the 21st Century Learning program in Kapolei, Hawaii
  • Pamela, an 8th grader from the Valley View Middle School Texas ACE Program in El Paso, Texas
  • Marquez, Ethan M., Andrew, Ethan B., Takhia, Gabby, and Janasia, a team of artists in grades 9 to 12 from BCHS 21st CCLC Afterschool Program in Bay Minette, Ala.

You can see previews of the finalist designs above—be sure to head over to our Facebook page to pick the winner! To vote, simply click “like” (or another reaction) on the image with your favorite artwork. You can vote for multiple designs if you’d like, but we encourage you to stick to picking one favorite—remember, voting for more than one design dilutes the power of your vote.

The voting period will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 10. The finalist with the most likes and reactions at that time will be your 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster! The winning artist (or team of artists) will see their masterpiece featured on tens of thousands of posters at more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool celebrations nationwide and take home $500 for their afterschool program.

The exemplary artwork we’ve seen this year not only demonstrates the amazing artistic talent being fostered in afterschool programs across the nation, but also how much students love their afterschool programs. Congratulations to this year’s finalists!

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learn more about: Arts
FEB
15
2017

LIGHTS ON
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The 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster contest is here!

By Shaun Gray

Grab your markers and sketchbooks, your digital art pads and pens and get ready for the 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster contest. This year, we’re adding a new twist to the competition: the afterschool artist who creates the winning masterpiece will take home $500 for their afterschool program!

As always, the winning artwork will be printed on more than 50,000 posters that will be displayed at more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events around the world. We encourage all of your program participants to submit artwork that celebrates afterschool programs and conveys the importance of keeping the lights on after school. We all know afterschool programs keep kids safe, help working families and inspire kids to learn. We want your students to tell the world what afterschool means to them!

The Lights On Afterschool poster contest is a great opportunity for an afterschool program to gain national recognition for the opportunities it offers. The winning artist will be featured on our website, blog, and a national press release, and their afterschool program will be credited on the poster in addition to receiving the grand prize of $500!  Not a bad deal!

Get your students’ creative juices flowing soon: the deadline for submissions is April 15, 2017.

Tips to create a winning design

Have your youth participants demonstrate artistically how afterschool program has benefited their lives.  Need some tips to help your students bring their compositions to life? Think about what happens in your afterschool program. Dancing, singing, robotics, reading, sports, learning how to play an instrument—these things can be portrayed in abstract or realistic renderings.

Encourage students to use bright, bold markers or paint to bring life to their images and make it possible for us to scan the artwork into a digital file. Or feel free to get your burgeoning graphic designers involved by encouraging them to submit their artwork in the digital form to lightson@afterschoolalliance.org

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DEC
9
2016

LIGHTS ON
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Afterschool & Law Enforcement: Using Lights On Afterschool to collaborate in new ways

By Elizabeth Tish

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this post as part of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement blog series. For more information on the ways afterschool programs are partnering with local police, check out our previous blogs on building relationships and trust, the motivations for partnerships, the law enforcement caucus’ briefing on youth mentoring, and on new tools for working with school resource officers.

Last month, local police officers joined the Child Center of New York at Basie Beacon IS 72 for a youth-driven Lights On Afterschool celebration in Queens, N.Y. After identifying conflict with police as a major issue in their community, the program’s youth council developed the theme of the evening, “Improvement Starts with ‘I:’” a call for everyone in the community to play a role in improving relations with local police.

“We like to speak to the students as part of the Beacon program and get their ideas on current events,” said Barry Barclift, Program Coordinator of the Basie Beacon program, explaining the value of youth-led programming.

To bring youth and law enforcement officers together, Beacon hosted a basketball game with youth and officers from the 113th Precinct. Students who weren’t interested in playing basketball got involved in the event as members of the dance and step groups that performed at half-time. One student in the program even emceed the game, amusing parent and community spectators.  

Lights On event leads to future partnerships

“The event allowed students to see the officers in a different light. When you see them in uniform, you see them one way, but if you see them out of uniform or participating in a basketball game, you look at them differently,” explained Barclift. After Lights On Afterschool, the students asked to have monthly events with the officers. These events will continue to be planned with input from the youth council.

Barclift said that the 113th Precinct officers are very supportive and excited to continue working with the Beacon program: “They are going to come and assist anywhere that we need them, so that our students see that [the officers] are invested in the community, even though they don’t live here.”

While the youth council will continue to plan events, they will also give the officers an opportunity to offer future partnership ideas to guide their work with the program going forward.

Barclift advises programs who are looking to adopt a similar partnership model to follow a youth-led approach. He wants Beacon’s law enforcement programming to be a collaboration between the youth council and police officers moving forward, an approach that allows the students to have ownership over the interaction and work hard to create a product they are proud of, while allowing officers to connect with students through an activity that excites them.   

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learn more about: Afterschool & Law Enforcement
NOV
18
2016

LIGHTS ON
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These twin sisters celebrated Lights On Afterschool 2016 by becoming math champions

By Robert Abare

One might not think that basketball can help kids gain critical math skills. But for twin sisters Patricia and Angela Rodas, that’s exactly the case. The Rodas sisters have become rather like local celebrities in the San Francisco Bay Area through their success in NBA Math Hoops, a board game and curriculum that helps kids learn math through the lens of professional basketball. 

To play NBA Math Hoops (and learn math at the same time) students divide into teams to analyze NBA and WNBA players’ stats, strategize, and solve increasingly complex math problems. On October 6, 2016, the Rodas twins showed off their math expertise gained through NBA Math Hoops by winning (for the second year in a row!) the Bay Area NBA Math Hoops championship, as part of the national kick-off for Lights On Afterschool 2016.

Colleen Johnston, Program Manager for Bay Area Community Resources (BACR), has overseen the implementation of NBA Math Hoops at 55 of BACR’s afterschool program sites. Next year, NBA Math Hoops will be rolled out to more than 60 BACR schools in the Bay Area. Currently, NBA Hoops is in over 100 schools in the Bay Area.  It is primarily being played during Out of School time.

“This is disguised learning at its best,” said Johnston about NBA Math Hoops. “The game is fast paced, so it keeps kids engaged, and the curriculum associated with the game builds over time, so it has the capacity to teach both very basic math skills and the very advanced.”

Indeed, the Rodas twins said NBA Math Hoops is helping them succeed in the classroom. “Math Hoops has helped me get better with multiplication and be more confident in the classroom,” said Angela.

Angela added, “My parents like NBA Math Hoops because it’s improved my grades.”

Thanks to their previous success playing NBA Math Hoops and their participation in this year’s national Lights On Afterschool kick-off event, the Rodas twins have become local role models for their peers, showing them that anyone can do well in math. The twins have also helped shine a light on the power of afterschool programs to teach kids valuable STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills.

“When they first started playing NBA Math Hoops, the twins were very shy and didn’t like public speaking,” said Johnston. “Now, they’ve become like local celebrities. The game has helped them realize how much they love math, and their confidence has grown so much that they’re already talking about college.”

Johnston also praised the curriculum for its ability to engage both boys and girls. “NBA Math Hoops includes both NBA and WNBA players, so both boys and girls can get excited about the game,” she said. “And for the past two years, the majority of the teams in the Elite 8 of the Bay Area NBA Math Hoops championship have been girls.”

BACR afterschool programs helped their students make strides in math for Lights On Afterschool on October 20, 2016, when programs held mini NBA Math Hoops tournaments, carnivals, and open houses. Lights On Afterschool calls national attention to how afterschool programs, like BACR and the program’s implementation of NBA Math Hoops, are working to provide kids with hands-on STEM learning experiences that prepare them for our complex and changing world.

NOV
4
2016

LIGHTS ON
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This program used Lights On Afterschool to shine a light on health and wellness

By Robert Abare

For the Boys and Girls Club of East Los Angeles (BGCELA), encouraging kids to lead healthy lifestyles goes hand-in-hand with the other areas of the organization’s mission: building students’ academic success and developing their character. For Lights On Afterschool 2016, BGCELA celebrated its achievements in keeping kids healthy by embracing a fun and unusual theme: bubbles.

BGCELA hosted a community 5K “Bubble Run” for Lights On Afterschool last month, providing a fun outlet for kids, their families, and local celebrities to get active while celebrating the importance of health and wellness education. Participants in the Bubble Run walked or jogged through mountains of bubbles at various checkpoints along the run, where local radio stations also filled the air with their music.

Happy memories lead to lifelong healthy habits

“It basically looked like a washing machine exploded,” said Anna Araujo, Executive Director of BGCELA and former Afterschool Ambassador. “We wanted to use this event to make healthy habits as fun and interactive for the kids as possible. That way, we give kids happy memories related to healthy activities, and those practices become lifelong habits.”

The event was emceed by Peter Daut, a local news anchor, and celebrity appearances were made by Luis Guzman of Code Black, Boxer Victor Ortiz, DJ Cece The Mamacita of KDAY, telenovela actor Adriana Fonseca, singer Miguelilto and actor Anthony “Citric” Campos of The George Lopez Show.

In keeping with the theme, kids also played “Bubble Soccer” at BGCELA’s Lights On Afterschool event, thanks to a local vendor. A local Electronic Dance Music (EDM) fitness program also led the event’s warm up activities, and various vendors offered samples of healthy foods and drinks (and water was provided at no cost).

Boxer Victor Ortiz races with singer Miguelito. Actor Luis Guzman signs a student's Bubble Run t-shirt.