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Lights On Afterschool: Forging futures

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Lights On Afterschool: Forging futures

As we head into the 22nd year of Lights On Afterschool, the nation’s celebration of afterschool programs, I have mixed feelings. Should we be celebrating? After all, this isn’t the school year we hoped to have. Many of our programs, youth, and families are in crisis.

But, I am an eternal optimist – and there actually a lot of reasons to be hopeful for the future. Here are my top three:

  1. Afterschool programs and staff showed their true colors, innovating and adapting to remain a safe haven and place of connection and exploration for young people. In the words of several young people we spoke with, during the pandemic, their program “takes the stress away,” “keeps our minds working,” and “gives me hope.”

  1. We’ve seen more clearly than ever before that afterschool programs provide critical supports for students—and they need and deserve every support we can provide. For once, resources are available. New federal relief funds present the biggest opportunity in decades to invest in opportunities for young people after school and in the summer. The American Rescue Plan specifically calls out afterschool and summer learning programs as a strategy to employ to support students’ recovery, and requires state education agencies to set aside funds for programs.
  1. Parents, educators, and policy makers are increasingly recognizing that supporting students and learning requires tapping all the resources available to us, including afterschool and summer programs. The latest America After 3PM report found that more parents than ever before want their children in afterschool programs, and parents report the highest level of satisfaction with their afterschool program (94%) since data was collected. Among the benefits for children cited are: building life skills; receiving healthy meals or snacks; engaging in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) or computer science; getting help with homework; taking part in physical activity; interacting with peers and building social skills. A recent Learning Heroes study found that parents especially value afterschool programs since the pandemic, and want their children to have the social and emotional supports they provide.
  

We are going to make it through this crisis.

This Lights On Afterschool, let’s remind people we are here, and what we do. You could:

And then… take a deep breath, reflect on the tremendous work of our field, and feel proud.

We appreciate you. Happy Lights On Afterschool!

Lights On Afterschool 2021 in images

That’s a wrap! The 22nd annual Lights On Afterschool celebrated the important role afterschool programs and staff play in the lives of youth and their communities. This year, we celebrated at more than 5,000 events nationwide, proclaimed Lights On Afterschool Day thanks to 42 governors, and...

BY: Maria Rizo      11/09/21

How the lights shined for afterschool in 2021

Creative. Resilient. Dedicated. Innovative. The afterschool field showed its true colors throughout this pandemic, and those traits were celebrated and shone bright this Lights On Afterschool. Here’s a recap of just some of the ways our field, and our nation, recognized the afterschool...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      11/01/21

Happy Lights On Afterschool 2021!

Happy Lights On Afterschool! Today is the big day, and the nation is lighting up landmarks, throwing celebrations, and coming together to shine a light on afterschool programs and staff. We want to say thank you to the afterschool field for celebrating 22 years of Lights On Afterschool and helping...

BY: Maria Rizo      10/28/21

Keeping the ‘Lights On Afterschool’ for Latinx kids and families

This article originally appeared on Unidos' Progress Report blog on October 21, 2021. It is republished here with permission. Fifteen-year-old Angeles Mejia-Sierra came to the HANDY afterschool program in Oakland Park, Florida, seeking a sense of community and family. “A child...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/27/21

Lights On Afterschool: Forging futures

As we head into the 22nd year of Lights On Afterschool, the nation’s celebration of afterschool programs, I have mixed feelings. Should we be celebrating? After all, this isn’t the school year we hoped to have. Many of our programs, youth, and families are in crisis. But, I am an...

BY: Jodi Grant      10/26/21

Take the #LightbulbChallenge during Lights On Afterschool + other easy ways to celebrate!

Searching for last minute ways to celebrate Lights On Afterschool? Join the Lights On Afterschool Lightbulb Challenge! Participation is simple: Take a photo of yourself, students in your program, or even teachers and parents mimicking our Lights On Afterschool logo. Post your photos to...

BY: Tierra Easter      10/14/21

Join us for virtual Lights On events: Celebrating youth voice

We are counting down the weeks until Lights On Afterschool, the nation’s largest rally for afterschool programs. In a typical year, 1 million people join together at more than 8,000 events nationwide to celebrate the impact and value of afterschool. This year, programs rose to the moment...

BY: Maria Rizo      10/07/21

Light up your community for Lights On Afterschool!

Lights On Afterschool is all about shining a light on afterschool programs, and the impact they have on students, parents, and communities. This year, why not shine a light—literally—on the work that your program is doing to forge bright futures and help youth recover? Lighting plans...

BY: Tierra Easter      10/04/21

This Lights On Afterschool, shine a spotlight on SEL!

Afterschool programs have always helped young people develop their teamwork, communication, self-awareness, self-management, and decision-making skills. This year, consider highlighting social and emotional learning (SEL) activities into your Lights On Afterschool event! Here’s some...

BY: Tierra Easter      09/23/21

Webinar recap: Celebrating afterschool programs and staff

Lights On Afterschool is five weeks away, and it has never been more important to celebrate the impact of afterschool programs. Nationwide, programs are gearing up for the 22nd Lights On Afterschool celebration. On September 9, the Afterschool Alliance’s Tiyana Glenn hosted “Lights On...

BY: Maria Rizo      09/20/21

Lights On Afterschool 2021 in images

That’s a wrap! The 22nd annual Lights On Afterschool celebrated the important role afterschool programs and staff play in the lives of youth and their communities. This year, we celebrated at more than 5,000 events nationwide, proclaimed Lights On Afterschool Day thanks to 42 governors, and...

BY: Maria Rizo      11/09/21

How the lights shined for afterschool in 2021

Creative. Resilient. Dedicated. Innovative. The afterschool field showed its true colors throughout this pandemic, and those traits were celebrated and shone bright this Lights On Afterschool. Here’s a recap of just some of the ways our field, and our nation, recognized the afterschool...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      11/01/21

Happy Lights On Afterschool 2021!

Happy Lights On Afterschool! Today is the big day, and the nation is lighting up landmarks, throwing celebrations, and coming together to shine a light on afterschool programs and staff. We want to say thank you to the afterschool field for celebrating 22 years of Lights On Afterschool and helping...

BY: Maria Rizo      10/28/21

Light up your community for Lights On Afterschool!

Lights On Afterschool is all about shining a light on afterschool programs, and the impact they have on students, parents, and communities. This year, why not shine a light—literally—on the work that your program is doing to forge bright futures and help youth recover? Lighting plans...

BY: Tierra Easter      10/04/21

It's here! Announcing the Lights On Afterschool 2021 poster

This year, the Afterschool Alliance commemorates 22 years of Lights On Afterschool with a poster that embodies the spirit of afterschool programs. The Lights On Afterschool 2021 poster focuses on all that afterschool programs do to help youth recover and forge successful futures. It was...

BY: Tierra Easter      08/20/21

What Lights On Afterschool 2020 revealed about the afterschool field

7 ways afterschool shined We’re tired. Challenged. Worried.  Our finances are strained, our staff face too many uncertainties. Yet our field continues to innovate, evolve, and serve kids, families, and communities. Why? Because people are counting on you, and you care for them...

BY: Jodi Grant      10/30/20

America is turning the Lights On for Afterschool today!

Adapted from a recent press release. Sorting donated food and disinfecting donated toys. Virtual STEM fairs and art contests. A car caravan to a State Capitol. Those are among the many activities that students, parents, educators, lawmakers, business and faith leaders, community members and...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/22/20

New York City’s Empire State Building & landmarks across the country light up for Lights On Afterschool

This week, as America rallies for Lights On Afterschool for the 21st consecutive year, landmarks across the country are lighting up in yellow and blue to support the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and support working parents. Lights On Afterschool this year...

BY: Ursula Helminski      10/20/20

4-H partners with Lights On Afterschool to ignite STEM learning

Lights On Afterschool is a great opportunity to showcase your program, and an especially fun time to build excitement about science, technology, engineering, and technology (STEM) learning!   Afterschool and summer learning programs are a great spaces to showcase engaging, hands-on STEM...

BY: Tierra Easter      08/26/21

America is turning the Lights On for Afterschool today!

Adapted from a recent press release. Sorting donated food and disinfecting donated toys. Virtual STEM fairs and art contests. A car caravan to a State Capitol. Those are among the many activities that students, parents, educators, lawmakers, business and faith leaders, community members and...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/22/20

New York City’s Empire State Building & landmarks across the country light up for Lights On Afterschool

This week, as America rallies for Lights On Afterschool for the 21st consecutive year, landmarks across the country are lighting up in yellow and blue to support the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and support working parents. Lights On Afterschool this year...

BY: Ursula Helminski      10/20/20

Billboards around the country illuminate the work of afterschool programs

Clear Channel Outdoor Supports Lights On Afterschool 2020 The National League of Cities, the National Summer Learning Association and the Afterschool Alliance have teamed up with Clear Channel Outdoor to launch a campaign across more than 1,000 digital billboards nationwide as part of the...

BY: Ursula Helminski      10/19/20

Join us, NASA, and the STEM Next Opportunity Fund for a live Q&A with an astronaut!

When the STEM Next Opportunity Fund launched the Million Girls Moonshot last month, the goal was to inspire more young girls to pursue STEM. We recognize that one of the most impactful ways to do this is for young girls to see themselves in STEM careers, whether as a computer scientist, mechanical...

BY: Chris Neitzey      10/16/20

Explore youth entrepreneurship during Lights On Afterschool

By Scott Mann, director of education and training at VentureLab. Entrepreneurship. It’s not just about starting a business, it’s a way of thinking and doing, a mindset and a set of skills that youth need for success in school right now, in their future careers, and in life. With...

BY: Guest Blogger      10/14/20

Celebrating the 4-H STEM Challenge

By Kittrina Thompson, digital marketing manager for the National 4-H Council. National 4-H Council recently re-introduced the annual STEM initiative (formerly 4-H National Youth Science Day) as the 4-H STEM Challenge, a new name that reflects the spirit of the program, reaches more kids,...

BY: Guest Blogger      10/08/20

Lights On Afterschool: Forging futures

As we head into the 22nd year of Lights On Afterschool, the nation’s celebration of afterschool programs, I have mixed feelings. Should we be celebrating? After all, this isn’t the school year we hoped to have. Many of our programs, youth, and families are in crisis. But, I am an...

BY: Jodi Grant      10/26/21

Meeting the moment: How afterschool programs kept the lights on through the COVID crisis

By Mark Cowsert, Associate Director of Policy and Partnerships for the Missouri AfterSchool Network. This article was originally published on Kids Win Missouri on October 21, 2020. The blog is reposted with the author's permission.   Mid-March, 2020 seemed like any other late winter,...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/05/20

What Lights On Afterschool 2020 revealed about the afterschool field

7 ways afterschool shined We’re tired. Challenged. Worried.  Our finances are strained, our staff face too many uncertainties. Yet our field continues to innovate, evolve, and serve kids, families, and communities. Why? Because people are counting on you, and you care for them...

BY: Jodi Grant      10/30/20

America is turning the Lights On for Afterschool today!

Adapted from a recent press release. Sorting donated food and disinfecting donated toys. Virtual STEM fairs and art contests. A car caravan to a State Capitol. Those are among the many activities that students, parents, educators, lawmakers, business and faith leaders, community members and...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/22/20

Celebrate Lights On with SEL & WINGS for Kids: Virtual Field Trip Watch & Play Party for kids and programs

Wings for Kids, nationally recognized for its highly effective approaches to social and emotional learning and development, has teamed up with the Afterschool Alliance to offer a free SEL activity for kids and programs to celebrate Lights On Afterschool!  Register to join us on Tues, Oct....

BY: Ursula Helminski      10/13/20

Lights On Afterschool goes virtual: Join us for a week of virtual events

For the past 20 years, afterschool programs around the nation have opened their doors to the community every October for Lights On Afterschool, the nation’s celebration of afterschool programs. Parents, community leaders, teachers and principals, mayors, members of Congress, and the media had...

BY: Ursula Helminski      10/10/20

4-H partners with Lights On Afterschool to ignite STEM learning

Lights On Afterschool is a great opportunity to showcase your program, and an especially fun time to build excitement about science, technology, engineering, and technology (STEM) learning!   Afterschool and summer learning programs are a great spaces to showcase engaging, hands-on STEM...

BY: Tierra Easter      08/26/21

Learn to code with Engineer for the Week!

By Jennifer Chen, program manager at Facebook. On October 19, programs from across the country joined Facebook and the Afterschool Alliance to kick off a week of virtual Lights On Afterschool activities to learn about Engineer for the Week (EFTW) and participate in an online coding activity. Led...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/24/20

NASA and STEM Next present Million Girls Moonshot: Meeting the Artemis Generation

By Shannon Olsen, NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement. This web article was originally published on NASA's website on October 16, 2020. NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement aims to engage students in NASA’s mission by immersing youth in NASA’s work, enhancing...

BY: Guest Blogger      10/21/20

Join us, NASA, and the STEM Next Opportunity Fund for a live Q&A with an astronaut!

When the STEM Next Opportunity Fund launched the Million Girls Moonshot last month, the goal was to inspire more young girls to pursue STEM. We recognize that one of the most impactful ways to do this is for young girls to see themselves in STEM careers, whether as a computer scientist, mechanical...

BY: Chris Neitzey      10/16/20

Explore Scratch coding with Facebook for Lights On Afterschool!

Join us next Monday to celebrate Lights On Afterschool with Facebook. Our friends at Engineer for the Week are coordinating a virtual coding event which will help lead students through a Lights On themed coding activity using Scratch! Take this opportunity to practice your coding instruction,...

BY: Leah Silverberg      10/12/20

Celebrating the 4-H STEM Challenge

By Kittrina Thompson, digital marketing manager for the National 4-H Council. National 4-H Council recently re-introduced the annual STEM initiative (formerly 4-H National Youth Science Day) as the 4-H STEM Challenge, a new name that reflects the spirit of the program, reaches more kids,...

BY: Guest Blogger      10/08/20

Join us for virtual Lights On events: Celebrating youth voice

We are counting down the weeks until Lights On Afterschool, the nation’s largest rally for afterschool programs. In a typical year, 1 million people join together at more than 8,000 events nationwide to celebrate the impact and value of afterschool. This year, programs rose to the moment...

BY: Maria Rizo      10/07/21

Webinar recap: Celebrating afterschool programs and staff

Lights On Afterschool is five weeks away, and it has never been more important to celebrate the impact of afterschool programs. Nationwide, programs are gearing up for the 22nd Lights On Afterschool celebration. On September 9, the Afterschool Alliance’s Tiyana Glenn hosted “Lights On...

BY: Maria Rizo      09/20/21

What Lights On Afterschool 2020 revealed about the afterschool field

7 ways afterschool shined We’re tired. Challenged. Worried.  Our finances are strained, our staff face too many uncertainties. Yet our field continues to innovate, evolve, and serve kids, families, and communities. Why? Because people are counting on you, and you care for them...

BY: Jodi Grant      10/30/20

Young people raise their voices for afterschool in Youth Town Hall

Please join us on Thursday, October 22 at 6 p.m. ET for the centerpiece event of our Lights On Afterschool celebrations: the Youth Town Hall. Each year, we celebrate Lights On Afterschool by lifting up all of the amazing things that afterschool programs do for families and communities...

BY: Erin Hegarty      10/15/20