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The partnerships that turn Lights On Afterschool

By Ursula Helminski

A student turns Lights On Afterschool in Honolulu, Hawaii.

As we look back on Lights On Afterschool, one thing that struck us was the many varied partnerships that formed the core of this year’s celebration and made it a huge success. From businesses and government agencies, to educators and youth development experts, to funders and elected officials, all came together  to celebrate the afterschool programs that support our children, families and communities.

These unique and creative partnerships fuel our nation’s afterschool programs every day. Public and private interests join to invest resources. The expertise of arts and STEM institutions are applied to youth development principles to engage and excite youth. Families and local officials lend support and involvement. School leaders and afterschool staff unite to meet the needs of their students.

Partnerships allow afterschool programs to provide an incredible range of creative, engaging, hands on activities, and do so in an incredibly cost-effective manner. 

Here’s just a taste of the many partners that came together for our nation’s rally for afterschool:

47 governors and the mayor of Washington, D.C. issued official proclamations and letters of support for Lights On Afterschool. U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski kicked off the nation’s celebration at a 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool program in Fairbanks, Alaska, and First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe toured a program to highlight the important role programs play in preventing childhood hunger.  

Major afterschool providers took part, 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 provided 20 sites with “Motion Commotion” experiment kits.

At the national and local levels, companies lent their support in many ways, from donating resources to helping build public awareness to participating in events. Bright House Networks provided hands-on STEM learning for 1,000 kids; Scholastic gave away 100 books; LEGO donated classroom kits; STEMfinity provided $3000 of experiment kits; and Torani sent celebratory party supplies to the winners of our national Lights On Afterschool poster contest.

Major public voices helped amplify positive messages about the importance of afterschool programs, including writer Joel Stein, Judge Hatchett, the New York Life Foundation, the Schwarzenegger Institute at USC, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the National Summer Learning Association, the National League of Cities, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA).

The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) published a blog post highlighting the role of Lights On Afterschool in shining light on the myriad contributions of afterschool programs; the White House Astronomy Night gave a shout out to informal STEM learning and Lights On Afterschool; and numerous state and local agencies participated or hosted events, such as NYC’s Department of Youth and Community Development, which asked all 900+ afterschool sites to celebrate Lights On Afterschool.

And if you joined our Thunderclap, you helped us reach 1.2 million Twitter and Facebook users with the call to keep the #LightsOnAfterschool!

Lights On Afterschool couldn’t have shone brightly without support from major sponsors, which include Marriott, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Noyce Foundation. These partners laid a critical foundation to the work accomplished by the Afterschool Alliance, and helped us amplify the message of Lights On Afterschool across the world.

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