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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: Community Partners
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.
OCT
24
2016

LIGHTS ON
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Diverse partners helped keep the Lights On Afterschool this year

By Robert Abare

As you might have heard, Lights On Afterschool 2016 was a big success! Thousands (8,200 to be exact!) of programs and leaders hosted events in their communities. The Empire State Building glowed yellow on the evening of October 20, along with the Orlando Eye, the Tampa Bay Ray's Tropicana Field and the 35 W Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The nation’s celebration of afterschool would not have been possible without enthusiastic participation from a host of partners, ranging from national organizations that serve thousands of kids to local programs that help small communities.

Major afterschool providers took part in Lights On Afterschool 2016, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, YMCA of the USA, After-School All Stars, Camp Fire, and 4-H, which celebrated in coordination with National Youth Science Day. And more than 100 allied organizations lent their voices and support, including the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), the STEM Education Coalition, The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the Association of Science - Technology Centers (ASTC), the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA), and the Administration for Children and Families' Office of Child Care.

At the national and local levels, companies offered their support in many ways, from donating materials to helping build public awareness. Bright House Networks provided hands-on STEM learning experiences for hundreds of afterschool  kids across Florida, and Marriott provided funds for posters and online tools for sites. Nickelodeon teamed up to keep kids physically active by celebrating Lights On Afterschool with Worldwide Day of Play.  Scholastic gave away 300 books to Lights On sites; WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS gave away their publishing-based literacy program; STEMfinity provided $2000 of experiment kits; and Torani sent celebratory party supplies to the winners of our national Lights On Afterschool poster contest.

All 50 statewide afterschool networks mobilized and supported communities across their states, and worked with 44 Governors who proclaimed October 20 Lights On Afterschool day. The mayor of the District of Columbia also issued a proclamation in support of Lights On Afterschool.

A number of prominent figures, from national foundations to local mayors, added their voice to raise awareness of Lights On Afterschool on social media. These advocates include:

Just like the learning experiences that happen after school, this year's Lights On events came in all shapes and sizes, and provided diverse opportunities for kids to learn, grow and speak out. Thank you!

Although the official day of Lights On Afterschool has passed, many celebrations will continue into early November. Please continue to send us descriptions and photos of your Lights On Afterschool celebrations to loa@afterschoolalliance.org.

OCT
21
2016

LIGHTS ON
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6 reasons why Lights On Afterschool 2016 was the brightest yet!

By Robert Abare

Exactly 8,200 events held across the USA and the world make this year's Lights On Afterschool the biggest and brightest since the rally first began 17 years ago! One million people joined together to shine a light on the accomplishments of afterschool programs and to say 'thank you' for all the benefits they provide to communities and working families.

Here are 6 things that made Lights On Afterschool 2016 truly shine:

1. We kicked off Lights On Afterschool with Learn Fresh, NBA Math Hoops, the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings on a big national stage—a game between the Warriors and Kings at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA!

2. The U.S. Senate issued a bipartisan proclamation in support of Lights On Afterschool.

3. The Empire State Building glowed yellow on the evening of Lights On Afterschool, October 20.

4. 44 states issued official Lights On Afterschool proclamations to honor afterschool programs.

5. Exactly 8,200 Lights On events were held around the world!

6. 641 people signed the petition to ask for greater investments in afterschool.

Did you host a Lights On Afterschool event this year? If so, we want to hear from you! Send us your photos and any highlights to loa@afterschoolalliance.org.

OCT
18
2016

LIGHTS ON
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Video: Math Champs help kick off Lights On Afterschool 2016

By Robert Abare

On October 6, we joined Learn Fresh, the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings to kick off Lights On Afterschool 2016 with a special NBA Math Hoops tournament at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. Take a look inside the celebration with our executive director Jodi Grant and tournament winners Patricia and Angela Rodas, who triumphed in a nailbiter 30-29 championship round to earn their third straight Bay Area Math Hoops title.

Join the national rally for afterschool this week!

Then, join us on Thursday, October 20 to celebrate Lights On Afterschool at one of 8,000 events across the country! If you’re not hosting an event or finalizing your event with one of these last-minute ideas, consider finding one to attend in your community. Or, participate on-the-go by signing the Lights On Afterschool petition and joining the conversation on social media using the hashtag #LightsOnAfterschool!