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Lights On Afterschool Snacks
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
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!

OCT
5
2016

LIGHTS ON
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Programs across the USA are gearing up for Lights On Afterschool 2016!

By Robert Abare

Tomorrow, October 6, we are kicking off the 17th annual Lights On Afterschool with Learn Fresh, the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings on a big national stage: a game between the Warriors and the Kings at the SAP Center in San Jose, California! Before the 7:30 p.m. tipoff on Thursday, 16 top student “Math Champs” from the Bay Area and Sacramento will put their math knowledge to the test in a special NBA Math Hoops tournament. 

The Warriors' Klay Thompson plays a game of NBA Math Hoops with a student. Photo via NBA Math Hoops on Instagram.

NBA Math Hoops is a board game and curriculum that teaches kids math skills through a lens they know and love—basketball! Learn Fresh, a program provider that involves more than 10,000 students across 15 states, uses NBA Math Hoops to teach students critical math skills they need to succeed. Students and sites participating in NBA Math Hoops are rewarded for excellent performance with apparel, NBA game tickets and experiences with NBA players.

Last year, participating Math Champs solved more than 9 million math problems, and 64 percent improved their test scores!

Now you can educate your community about the value of including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experiences after school with tools from a new online course from FrameWorks Academy: “Making the Case for STEM Learning.” The course is free for a limited time, sign up today!

See how sites across the country are preparing to celebrate Lights On 2016:

SEP
29
2016

LIGHTS ON
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Senate passes unanimous resolution in support of Lights On Afterschool 2016

By Robert Abare

Today, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution in commemoration of the 17th annual celebration of Lights On Afterschool. U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus, along with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) praised the passage of the resolution, which recognizes the only national celebration of afterschool programs and their role in keeping kids safe, insipiring them to learn and helping working families.

"I am so pleased that the Senate recognizes the importance of high-quality afterschool programs,” said Senator Boxer. “These programs help keep our children safe, improve student performance and enrich our kids’ education with activities like music, art, sports and so much more.”

“Afterschool programs provide an enriching environment for students once the school day has ended,” said Senator Collins. “By engaging young people in academic and physical activities, these programs enhance students’ education and help promote healthy habits. In addition, afterschool programs provide parents with peace of mind knowing that their children are in a safe and structured setting.”

This resolution is co-sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Al Franken (D-MN).

Senator Boxer authored legislation in 2001 that lead to the first major national investment in afterschool programs. Last year, Senator Boxer’s Afterschool for America’s Children Act was included in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was signed by President Obama last DecemberThis provision not only ensured a dedicated source of federal funding for afterschool, but will help to modernize the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, improve states’ ability to effectively support quality afterschool programs, and ensure afterschool activities complement the academic curriculum.

Register for Lights On and you could win!

Next month, more than one million people are expected to attend more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events across the nation. It's not too late to start planning an event in your community! Register for Lights On Afterschool by October 6, and you'll be entered to win a prize pack from WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS, which allows kids to author and publish their very own children's books!

SEP
7
2016

LIGHTS ON
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Guest blog: Discover drones at your Lights On Afterschool event

By Guest Blogger

Written by Griffin Schwed, Integrated Marketing Manager at National 4-H Council

See how your program can celebrate 4-H National Youth Science Day at your 2016 Lights On Afterschool event on our Celebrate Afterschool STEM page, part of the revamped Lights On Afterschool website.

Since 2008, 4-H National Youth Science Day has engaged millions of youth around the world in exciting and innovative STEM learning and experiences, from wind power to robotics to rocketry. This year, the 4-H NYSD challenge is soaring to new heights with the 2016 National Science Challenge, Drone Discovery, developed by Cornell University Cooperative Extension.

This year's hands-on science challenge explores the science behind drones and how they are being used to solve real world problems. Youth will learn everything from flight dynamics and aircraft types, to remote sensing and flight control, as well as safety and regulations.

While the official 4-H NYSD event takes place on October 5, 2016 in Washington, D.C., clubs, groups and schools around the world are also inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders, all taking part in what is known as the world’s largest, youth-led science event.

Participating in 4-H National Youth Science Day is easy:

  • Purchase a 4-H NYSD Challenge Kit. Each kit includes all the necessary items needed to participate in the challenge, including youth and facilitator guide books and experiment materials. Kits are available for purchase now on the 4-H Mall.
  • Register your event. Simply create a 4-H NYSD membership account to receive helpful resources and materials and see your local event showcased on our national 4-H NYSD map.
  • Join the conversation on social media. Share your event photos and videos using hashtag #4HNYSD. Your event could be featured nationally!

So what are you waiting for? Put what you know about engineering, drones and flight into action. Purchase your kit, register your event, and get ready to take flight in this worldwide science phenomenon!

AUG
25
2016

LIGHTS ON
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Announcing the winner of the national Lights On Afterschool poster contest!

By Robert Abare

After reviewing hundreds of submissions from afterschool artists from across the country (and the world!), the Afterschool Alliance is thrilled to announce the winner of the 2016 Lights On Afterschool poster contest: Baldwin County High School’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program in Bay Minette, Alabama!

The winning artwork will be printed on 50,000 posters and sent to all registered Lights On Afterschool events to help spread the word about the celebration. Register your event today to receive ten free posters!

About the artists

The winning poster was designed by program participants Maia Austin (17), Gabby Williams (17), and Marquez Drinkard (16). The artists were particularly inspired by the many arts activities offered by their afterschool program, including dance teams, visual art projects and cooking classes. The finished product was truly a team effort, as the poster is comprised of many separate drawings that were cut out and then pasted together.

“We talked about our favorite aspects of our program, and then we decided what we wanted the poster to look like, and who would draw each part.” explained Marquez. “As you can see, we wanted it to be very colorful as well.”

Marquez, who is still figuring out his plans for after high school, is considering a career in nursing, along with fellow artist Maia Austin. Gabby Williams, on the other hand, plans to serve in the United States Air Force.

About the program

Gabby expressed her gratitude for the opportunities offered by Baldwin County High School’s 21st CCLC program. “I love the program because it’s something productive I can do after school,” she said. “I really like the cooking classes, and being with my friends at the same time.”

She added, “My parents think the program is great, because it keeps me busy when I could be doing things that kids aren’t supposed to do.”

The Baldwin County High School 21st CCLC program serves approximately 40 students 4 days per week, and offers a range of activities that include tutoring, arts enrichment, archery, college and career exploration, and robotics.

Michele Hall, director of the program, explained how the program has provided a valuable service for her community’s kids after school. “As a teacher at the high school, I saw that we had a large number of students who were not involved after school and didn’t have opportunities, partly due to our rural location,” she explained. “Now, the program is helping these kids grow academically and socially.”

About the contest

This year, the Lights On Afterschool poster contest received over 400 submissions from 21 states—and from a U.S. military base in Japan! The poster was selected in a vote by Afterschool Alliance staff in Washington, D.C.

The winning artists’ program will receive a case of syrups, courtesy of Torani, for a shaved ice or soda party. Visit the redesigned Lights On Afterschool website to search for event ideas, learn strategies to engage the media and download graphics and artwork to make your event shine.

And don’t forget to register your event to get 10 copies of the 2016 Lights On Afterschool in your program’s mailbox!

AUG
16
2016

LIGHTS ON
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Guest blog: Spoken word gives youth a voice

By Guest Blogger

Written by Chanelle Ignant, Youth Participation Coordinator at KQED, and Rachel Roberson, who leads the Letters to the Next President project for KQED. Also check out the Celebrate Youth Voices event idea for Lights On Afterschool 2016.

Sign up for the upcoming Lights On Afterschool webinar "Engaging Youth Voice & Letters to the Next President" next Thursday, August 25 at 1 PM ET.

Youth tap a deep vein of self-expression with spoken word performance. Whether they are speaking out against injustice or asserting an opinion, spoken word helps young people make their voices heard. 

With the election fast approaching, spoken word is one of many ways youth can express their views on issues that mean most to them. Teens can then publish their views on national platforms like Letters to the Next President 2.0, which launched in August.

But it takes time, patience and an open mind on the part of a mentor to help make spoken word happen.

“You can’t start with your own assumptions or preconceptions about what young people are interested in, what they’re into, what their cultural orientation is based on their appearance or on any demographic data that you have,” says M.C. K~Swift, a senior poet mentor with Youth Speaks Bay Area.  “You have to start really with who they are, and find out who they are from them not from anyone else.”

Once mentors discover what youth are interested in, it’s time to write. And write. And write some more. M.C. K~Swift recommends building trust by asking questions and keeping an open mind.

“When I’m talking to young people I find myself saying, “I don’t know about that, can you tell me more,” M.C. K~Swift says.

Mentors who are writers themselves can provide guidance. But it’s hard to teach what you don’t know.

“If you don’t love writing you can’t convince anyone else to. So be honest with yourself. If you don’t practice writing then you can’t be a guide in that practice,” M.C. K~Swift says. He recommends bringing in a writing instructor, creative artist or expert within your organization, if needed. 

M.C. K~Swift recently led a spoken word workshop at The Mix, San Francisco Public Library’s innovative teen space. The month-long series drew group of 12 young people interested in exploring the spoken word format.

AUG
11
2016

LIGHTS ON
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Registration is open for Lights On Afterschool 2016!

By Robert Abare

The new look of Lights On Afterschool

Registration is now open for the nation’s only celebration of afterschool programs! Mark your calendars for Lights On Afterschool: October 20, 2016, and then start preparing for your event by registering today.

Last year’s Lights On Afterschool saw more than 1 million Americans celebrate at 8,200 events across the country. This year, we’re launching a redesigned logo and website along with updated resources to make Lights On Afterschool bigger and brighter than ever.

Top reasons to register today

  • If you register before August 18, you’ll be entered to win a Lights On Afterschool gift pack full of fun swag to hand out to kids and visitors at your event.
  • Receive 10 free copies of this year’s poster to help spread the word about your event. (Stay tuned to the Afterschool Snack learn this year’s winner of the poster design contest!)
  • Get priority registration for our Lights On Afterschool webinar series.
  • Place your event on our national map of Lights On Afterschool events.
  • Start receiving Lights On Afterschool emails that walk you through our redesigned resources, this year’s top event themes and ideas, and more.

More things to check out on the new Lights On Afterschool website

Start getting the word out today! Share your plans for this year's #LightsOnAfterschool on social media and you could get highlighted by the official Afterschool Alliance accounts on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram