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Snacks by Charlotte Steinecke
NOV
21
2017

LIGHTS ON
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STEM partners helped ignite curiosity during Lights On 2017

By Charlotte Steinecke

Afterschool STEM learning was one of our top themes for this year’s Lights On Afterschool, and with good reason. Afterschool programs provide an ideal space to connect kids to exciting, hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experiences, helping them engage deeply with these concepts in fun, inspiring ways!

Lots of afterschool programs used STEM as a centerpiece in their Lights On events. Here are a few of the ways programs celebrated STEM on October 26:

  • Students got ready for blast-off at the Mississippi Library in Fridley, Minn., with an activity to build their own rockets. Students and families designed and constructed their out-of-this-world space shuttles with a combination of science and art skills, led by library and afterschool program staff.
  • kidscommons Children’s Museum in Columbus, Ind., offered free museum admission for families with children age pre-K through 6th grade, with science, technology, engineering, art, and math activities available throughout the museum.
  • Think Together Liberty Elementary in Victorville, Calif. held a family night with student-taught 30-minute activity rotations, so students and parents could participate in mad scientist STEM unit lessons, including making moldable goo, engineering and testing different paper airplane designs, and creating monsters out of pipe cleaners and other materials.

This year’s Lights On Afterschool wouldn’t have been the success it was without the help of our amazing STEM partners. We’d like to give a big thank-you to STAR_Net, Association of Science - Technology Centers (ASTC), National Girls Collaborative, WGBH, STEMfinity, 4-H National Youth Science Day, and everyone else in the STEM world who contributed to a fantastic celebration!

NOV
10
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Introducing our inaugural class of Youth Afterschool Ambassadors

By Charlotte Steinecke

Through our Afterschool Ambassadors program, every year we recruit a cohort of program providers and advocates of special distinction and provide them with training, technical support, and modest funding to complete projects that raise the profile of afterschool in their communities. This year, we're very excited to announce that we're building on the success of that program, with our new Youth Afterschool Ambassador initiative!

Our first five Youth Ambassadors will each design and carry out a project showcasing the value of afterschool programs. In addition, they will write blog posts for Afterschool Snack about the importance of afterschool and travel to Washington, D.C., next year to participate in the annual Afterschool for All Challenge, where they will meet with members of Congress and their staff.

The five Youth Afterschool Ambassadors in this inaugural class come from four states. They are: 

  • Ruben Balderas from Walla Walla Washington’s WaHi FORWARD Afterschool Program  
  • Maya Irvine from Camdenton, Missouri’s Camdenton FIRST LASER Robotics Team  
  • Harli Jo McKinney from Stratford Oklahoma’s C3 Afterschool Program  
  • Kaleb Robertson from Green Bay, Wisconsin’s Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay  
  • Marisol Romero from Toppenish Washington’s 21st Century Community Afterschool and Summer Program at Safe Haven Community Center  

"The Youth Ambassador program is an incredible opportunity for students to share their experiences of afterschool and summer learning programs and the ways that participation in those programs have significantly impacted their lives," says Alexis Steines, director of field outreach at the Afterschool Alliance and manager of the Youth Ambassador program. "I look forward to seeing the creative advocacy projects our inaugural class of Youth Ambassadors is developing!" 

NOV
2
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Where were we during Lights On Afterschool 2017?

By Charlotte Steinecke

At the Afterschool Alliance, we spend a substantial part of our year focusing on Lights On Afterschool; when it finally happens, we’re running to keep up! We couldn’t wait to head out of the office (and sometimes out of the state) to explore the amazing programs and events that opened their doors to celebrate on October 26.

In our own words, here’s a small selection of where we were, what we saw, and who we met during this year’s Lights On Afterschool.

Andrews Air Force Base loves afterschool

"I had the pleasure of celebrating Lights On Afterschool with Matrice Brooks and the rest of the Youth Program staff on Andrews Air Force Base," said Shaun Gray, production and office manager. "As parents entered to pick up their kids, local youth programs were set up in the main area to offer sign-ups for sporting, art, and reading programs. McGruff the Crime Dog made an appearance but the highlight of the day was Sparky, a remote-controlled dog in a firetruck that sprays water."

Glowing bright in Tuscon, AZ

"We visited KIDCO, an afterschool program from the Tucson Parks and Rec department that serves 800 students during the school year and 1,200 students during the summer," wrote Andrea Szegedy-Maszak, our field outreach coordinator. "Their event was held in the beautiful Reid Park in Tucson, with an hour of lawn games before each KIDCO site performed a dance routine with a "decades" theme. More than 200 people attended the event, which kicked off with a group countdown until everyone cracked a glowstick and cheered for Lights On Afterschool!"

OCT
31
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Lights On Afterschool 2017 in pictures

By Charlotte Steinecke

Javan Ng Photography

This year might just be our most photogenic Lights On Afterschool yet!

The Empire State Building lit up the night in blue and yellow on the evening of October 26, the Lowry Bridge gleamed on the waters of Hennepin County, and social media buzzed with our amazingly successful “My Light’s On Afterschool” lightbulb challenge.

We saw amazing images taken with drones, the STATE Grill and Bar surprised us with a sweet shoutout, and the youngest afterschool advocate we’ve ever seen showed support for #LightsOnAfterschool. Middle schoolers from LEAP in Brooklyn blew us away with a musical extravaganza all about afterschool!

In the lead-up to October 26, the 50 statewide afterschool networks worked with 44 governors, including New York, Idaho, Florida, and Alaska, to proclaim Lights On Afterschool day. (We’ve got the Delaware and South Carolina proclamations in our office — love them!) We also saw a wonderful post proclaiming Lights On Afterschool day from the office of the mayor of Houston.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2z1P12E
learn more about: Lights On Afterschool
OCT
26
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Today is Lights On Afterschool!

By Charlotte Steinecke

Happy Lights On Afterschool!

Today is a day to celebrate the amazing impact afterschool programs have on the lives of millions of children every day. Thank you for everything you do to keep the Lights On Afterschool!

For the next 24 hours, our home page will be populated with a social media wall, showing all the action online. Join the party by using the #LightsOnAfterschool hashtag and challenge your friends to show their support by participating in the “My Light’s On Afterschool” Challenge.

If you’re not hosting an event today, use our lookup tool to find an event to attend near you!

We would love to see your pictures, as well — please send images of your event loa@afterschoolalliance.org with the name of the program and the location in the subject line.

Enjoy the celebration!

share this link: http://bit.ly/2yOcnIM
learn more about: Lights On Afterschool
OCT
19
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Easy, last-minute ideas for an amazing Lights On Afterschool!

By Charlotte Steinecke

Lights On Afterschool is just seven days away! While many programs are wrapping up their plans, some will only start planning this week. Luckily, we’ve got something for everyone over at our Last-Minute Ideas page. Use these ideas as the foundation of your event, or add an extra dimension to your celebration with another fun activity.

Looking for a few more easy ways to celebrate? We’ve got you covered:

  • Celebrate health and wellness by planning a make-your-own-pizza, -snack, or -taco night, with fresh and flavorful fixings that kids can mix and match to make their own meals. Polish it off by offering blank recipe cards so kids can write down their favorite combinations, decorate the cards, and take them home.
  • Bring art to your event with easy crafts and activities: Pinterest is full of instructions for tealight holders, galaxy and tornado jars, yarn pumpkins, dreamcatchers, and more.
  • Connect with your local library and ask if a librarian or staff member can come down to your event for a library card sign-up station. Then, host a read-aloud and encourage students to practice their peer-to-peer reading skills. Staple together some blank booklets so kids can write their own stories!
  • Plan a sidewalk parade around the block, showcasing student art, signs, and representations of all the activities you do in afterschool. Take pictures and tweet @ your reps with a message about why they should keep the #LightsOnAfterschool!
  • Take students on a nature walk or a field trip to explore the changing seasons. Encourage students to observe their surroundings and record their observations by taking notes and sketching points of interest. (Interested in more outdoor STEM fun? Check out the PLUM LANDING Explore Outdoors toolkit!)
  • Host a fall-friendly line or square dance party to get kids and parents moving at your event.

We’ve also got an activity so you can celebrate afterschool anywhere, with anyone: the “My Light’s On Afterschool” challenge! To join the challenge, just recreate our Lights On logo, snap a photo, and share it on social media with a message of support for #LightsOnAfterschool and a challenge to your friends and followers to participate. Head over to the Facebook event page for full details — and be sure to use our Facebook frame!

OCT
13
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Nominate a youth volunteer for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

By Charlotte Steinecke

For many middle and high school students, community service is a requirement for graduation—one that afterschool programs often assist with, giving students a chance to give back through volunteering, community beautification efforts, and tutoring younger students. As a result, afterschool programs often see young people going above and beyond the call to improve their communities!

Do you know an exemplary youth volunteer? Nominate them for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards!

State Honorees: Two students in each state and the District of Columbia will be named State Honorees and receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. with a parent or guardian for a recognition event from April 28 to May 1, 2018.

America’s top youth volunteers: In D.C., a national selection committee will name 10 of the 102 State Honorees as America’s top youth volunteers of the year. Winners will receive additional awards of $5,000, gold medallions, trophies for their nominating schools or organizations, and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.

Distinguished finalists will receive bronze medallions and runners-up will receive Certificates of Excellence; local honorees will receive Certificates of Achievement.

Nominations run from now until November 7, 2017. To apply, complete the application and the student/parent agreement, then email or print and deliver instructions to your local certifier (school principal or head of a county 4-H organization, Girl Scout council, Americans Red Cross chapter, YMCA, or Affiliate of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network).

Best of luck to all applicants!

share this link: http://bit.ly/2yhPZrn
learn more about: Competition Youth Development Awards
OCT
5
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Celebrate afterschool STEM during Lights On

By Charlotte Steinecke

Whether it’s cooking up polymer-based jiggly jelly, writing computer code, or exploring urban ecology, we know that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning thrives in afterschool! Afterschool STEM learning presents an incredible opportunity to help students learn, expose them to new ideas and concepts, and involve them in fun experiments and activities. Moreover, afterschool offers a chance to engage students from populations underrepresented in the STEM fields with material they may not otherwise have opportunities to explore.

With so many opportunities for creativity and customization and so many benefits to offer, how could we not include afterschool STEM as one of this year’s Lights On Afterschool themes?

Programs across the country are gearing up with great ideas for 2017! Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Movie night: Show a science fiction or comedy movie and coordinate experiments related to the theme of the film. Science Matters of Fort Collins, Colo. plans to show Flubber at their local movie theater and host table experiments after the show.
  • Fall field trip: Take your students to a local farm to learn about the effect of changing seasons. Cougar Club After School in Centerview, Mon. will be visiting a local farm to learn about the life cycle of pumpkins and press apples into cider.
  • Museum visit: Visit your science center or science museum for a hands-on learning experience. Kids Commons in Columbus, Ind. will offer free admission to their children’s museum for families with kids in pre-K through 6th grade, with STEAM activities throughout the museum.
  • Math crafts: Have kids use model kits or cardstock to create and decorate geometrical solids and shapes. Students at the YMCA of Hobart, Ind. will make and decorate dodecahedrons, icosahedrons, and rhombicuboctahedrons with pictures depicting what they like about afterschool, followed by a family game night.
  • Build and tinker: Illustrate a lesson with a makerspace event. Students at High Desert Leapin’ Lizards in Ridgecrest, Calif. will spend the month of October learning about the laws of motion and building cars from recycled materials, with a special celebration at the end of the month so parents join the fun.

Are you celebrating STEM at your Lights On Afterschool event? Share your plan on Twitter using #LightsOnAfterschool!

You can find more ideas and inspiration from past years by searching for “STEM” in the Events Ideas & Activities database.