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AUG
31
2017

LIGHTS ON
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How to bring advocacy to your Lights On Afterschool event

By Erik Peterson

With many of the nation’s students back in school and afterschool, it is time to start thinking about planning a Light On Afterschool event for the month of October. Lights On Afterschool is an excellent opportunity to show policymakers and elected officials, as well as parents and community members, what takes place in your program when the lights are on – and conversely what learning opportunities students miss out on in communities where the lights are off afterschool.

Here are a few ways to get the word out in support of afterschool programs at your Lights On Afterschool event:

  • Invite local, state, and federal elected officials to your Lights On Afterschool event to meet students and parents, or to speak about their role in policymaking. Use our sample invitation to reach out to your representatives.
  • Engage students in civic education by roleplaying and acting out meetings with elected officials and explain the role of advocacy in policy decision-making. 
  • Create a fact sheet on your program that explains where your funding comes from and points parents to more information about how they can support afterschool at the local, state, and federal levels. (For inspiration or to share them at your event, check out our factsheets on 21st Century Community Learning CentersSTEM in afterschool, or about the many ways afterschool works!)
  • Have petitions or postcards out and available for parents and community members to make their voices heard in support of afterschool programs. You can also have tablets or laptops set up to allow online action alerts for parents wanting to send an email or tweet to elected officials.
  • Use Facebook live or other social media tools to stream the event so policymakers and the public and see the amazing activities that happen afterschool. Be sure to tag your representatives — you can look up their handles here!
  • Have your own ideas? We want to hear them – share it with us by tweeting us at @afterschool4all.

Sometimes reaching out to elected officials can be intimating, but if you don’t promote the good work you are doing and share your success, it is unlikely others will do it for you. Don’t forget to check out the templates, tools, and resources that have been developed to make the process a little easier – and always feel free to reach out to us if we can help!