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:
- The Mott Foundation
- John Deere
- New York Life
- The FrameWorks Institute
- The Administration for Children and Families
- Change the Equation
- Sam Liccardo, Mayor of San Jose, California
- Jennifer Roberts, Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina
- Kentucky Dept. of Education
- Georgia Dept. of Education
- The Georgia State Government
- The City of Las Vegas
- Pennsylvania State Senator John Yudichak
- Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President of the National Education Association
- The Arizona Governor's Office of Education
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.