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Calling all artists: It's the 2018 Lights On Afterschool poster contest!

By Shaun Gray

The Lights On Afterschool poster contest is officially open, and this year we’re changing up theme to reflect how youth see themselves and their futures because of their afterschool program! 

We’re asking afterschool artists to consider what they are experiencing afterschool and how it might shape their future. Kids should think about the prompt, "From Afterschool to….” and provide a drawing that shows their potential future self. For example, they might show themselves in a particular career, doing an activity they enjoy, or using a skill they’ve learned. Or, they might draw what they see themselves accomplishing using what they’ve learned, seen, or experienced in their program. This could be concrete, like making a building, or something more abstract, like achieving world peace. Students are also asked to complete the sentence “In afterschool, I am learning _________” on the back of their artwork.

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 are anticipating so many submission this year that we may find ourselves recognizing more than a handful of winners. Our design team is already thinking of ways to incorporate your awesome submissions into a poster collage. Our team is so excited to receive and share submissions as they come in so make sure to follow us on social media.

Tips for a winning “From Afterschool to…” theme: (Be creative!)

Think about the new and exciting things youth are learning in afterschool every day. They’ve learned to build computers, code and design video games; think, “From Afterschool to Computer Scientist.” Students have grown fruit and vegetables then make delicious and healthy meals for friends and families: “From Afterschool to Nutritionist.” Youth in afterschool have learned complex dance routines and performed in front of large or small audiences: “From Afterschool to Professional Dancer.”

These ideas 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

Rules and guidelines:  

Be sure to submit all artwork on 11x14” size paper. Art and office supply stores always have this size paper on hand. This allows us to properly fit the image into our final poster template. Anything smaller than an 11x14”, or with different proportions, will make the image impossible to use. For digital submissions, make sure the artwork is in PDF format and is no larger than a 2 MB file with a DPI of 350. For higher resolution photos, email and request a link to our file transfer account.

A few don’ts: Because the image will be used to promote Lights On Afterschool events nationally, avoid using a specific program name within the submission.  And it’s not required that the winning design includes the words Lights On Afterschool or “From Afterschool to…” within the image; we’ll make sure the Lights On logo is included in the final poster image.

If your artists do include the phrase Lights On Afterschool in their designs, make sure “afterschool” is written as one word, consistent with the national branding of the celebration. Keeping those guidelines in mind, be creative as possible! 

How to enter

We’ve provided an entry form to capture all the necessary information that we need, as well as a set of rules and guidelines governing this year's contest.

Be sure to complete the full form and include it with your artwork submission postmarked no later than May 8 to 

Afterschool Alliance, Lights On Afterschool Poster Contest
1101 14th Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20005 

For digital submissions, email—make sure the artwork is in PDF format and is no larger than a 2 MB file with a DPI of 350. For higher resolution photos, email sgray@afterschoolalliance and request a link to our file transfer account.

Be creative, and most importantly, have fun! We can’t wait to see what your students create this year.

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learn more about: Competition Arts Lights On Afterschool