Please allow us a moment to toot our own horn a little bit.
One of the Afterschool Alliance’s core beliefs is that afterschool programs are essential for supporting working families. We believe that when children are safe, supported and learning, working parents are free to focus on the workplace, helping them to be more successful, and in turn, helping to create a better situation for the whole family.
Throughout the Afterschool Alliance’s 14 year history, we have remained committed to working families, including those on our own staff. That’s why we’re thrilled and honored to announce that the Afterschool Alliance has been recognized by Washingtonian magazine as one of the best places to work in Washington, D.C.
Washingtonian magazine named the Afterschool Alliance a ‘small gem’ as part of its "50 Great Places to Work" issue for the Washington, D.C., metro area. The bi-annual issue on the best places to work in the D.C.-area states that “staffers at this DC nonprofit, which supports afterschool programs, feel challenged and recognized and love the warm culture.”
In late October former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger came to Washington, D.C., to shine a light on the importance of federal funding for afterschool programs. Through meetings hosted by leadership in both the House of Representatives and the Senate with both Republicans and Democrats, as well as a meeting with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a stop at the new D.C. After-School All-Stars program, Gov. Schwarzenegger made clear the importance of afterschool programs in keeping young people safe and supported, inspiring learning for children and youth, and helping working families.
The focus of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s meetings on Capitol Hill was to express strong support for continued federal funding for afterschool programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative. The governor urged Members of Congress to find a separate funding stream for lengthening the school day or school year so that it doesn't compete with funding for afterschool programs. He also called for supporting the 21st CCLC program so that afterschool programs become an expectation, not an afterthought.
Patrick Pinchinat is the Beacon Director at the Queens Community House in New York City. He was previously an Afterschool Ambassador.
I’ve always promoted the importance of afterschool. Before I became Beacon Director at the Queens Community House, I participated in an afterschool program as a youth. Even as a young person participating in an afterschool program, I found ways to advocate for afterschool. For the last few years, I’ve led an advocacy campaign to promote afterschool programs at Queens Community House, as well as advocate for out-of-school-time programs throughout New York City as a member of Campaign for Children.
During my year as a Bowne Foundation sponsored Afterschool Ambassador, I’ve been able to bring our advocacy campaign at Queens Community House Beacon to the next level. I organized several different events to help promote our afterschool programs and increase the momentum of our projects.
When possible, we always included students in our activities. For example, we’ve put on a talent show and an advocacy “carnival” in which our afterschool participants were able to showcase what they were learning. It was a great way to show off our afterschool program in action and demonstrate how afterschool programs help to inspire creativity. We invited elected officials to the carnival so they could spend time with our students and see first-hand all of the great activities our kids take part in every day.
In Selma, Alabama, today, students in the Police Athletic League afterschool program will participate in a talent contest and community leaders will act as judges.
In Belfast, Maine, the 4-H Afterschool RSU20 program will hold an “All Things that Glow” event highlighting science, technology, engineering and math activities students have engaged in.
In East Boston, Massachusetts, students will exhibit artwork and share short stories about superheroes they created.
In Portland, Oregon, students at the Jackson Club will screen their summer film project, “The Quest of Illinois James.”
These are just a few of the more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events that will take place in nearly every community in the country, and at U.S. military bases worldwide, this week. The events—which run the gamut from showcasing science experiments to dance recitals to computer animation demonstrations to sports contests—are all part of the only nationwide rally for afterschool programs. Lights On Afterschool is now in its 14th year. More than a million people are expected to participate.
Social media can help you to greatly expand the reach of your Lights On Afterschool event and enhance the experience for your guests by allowing them to engage one another while also connecting your celebration with events happening all over the world. It's also a great way to strengthen support within your own community and to quickly (and cheaply!) communicate with people throughout the year. You don’t need to have a presence on every social media platform available; choose what will best showcase your program and most allow you to connect with your community of supporters.
Below are some ideas for using social media before, during and after your Lights On Afterschool event. To make it easy for guests to participate, use it to create a poster to display or a flyer to hand out during your event to let them know how to connect with you online. You can also include the information on invitations, posters and any correspondence leading up to your event.
Use these sample social media posts to get the word out:
STEM, child care & federal policy filled the agenda when state afterschool networks came to Washington
Late last month, leaders from more than 40 state afterschool networks, including representatives from state education agencies, gathered for several days in Washington, D.C., for a national convening: “Expanded Learning Opportunities: STEM Programs and Systems.”
The convening, co-hosted by the Department of Education, the C.S. Mott Foundation and the Noyce Foundation, focused on creating positive STEM outcomes for more students through collaboration and cooperation among national, state and local partners. Sessions allowed network leaders and education officials to work together to consider how to leverage investments and actions to expand the availability of quality informal science in afterschool and impact more students across the country.
Deputy Secretary of Education Jim Shelton opened the conference with a well-received talk on the partnerships necessary to generate the best possible STEM outcomes in young people. Stating that learning occurring after school is just as essential as learning taking place during the school day, the deputy secretary demonstrated his understanding of the depth and power of informal STEM education occurring in quality afterschool programs.
Esther Grant-Walker is the Program Director of School Aged Childcare at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center in New York City. Esther previously served as an Afterschool Ambassador.
A sustained advocacy campaign is key to raising public perception and awareness of afterschool programs. Planning an advocacy campaign does not need to be time consuming or costly. A very simple campaign can be as effective as an elaborate one.
During the past year, with the support of the Bowne Foundation, I began to develop a sustained advocacy campaign to promote my afterschool program. New York City afterschool program funding was threatened with cuts during the past few city budget cycles. As the Program Director of School Age Childcare at the Isaacs Center Afterschool Program, I can see that there is a need for increased afterschool advocacy to promote not just my afterschool program, but programs across the city.
I decided focus my campaign on bringing parents and schools together to support afterschool. Many of our parents take our afterschool programs for granted because they are funded by the city. They assume that funding for afterschool will always be in place. In reality, city funding is never guaranteed. To educate parents, I decided to launch an advocacy campaign that would not only teach them about the challenges facing afterschool programs, but would also train them and other community members to be active advocates for afterschool.