Funding & Lights On Afterschool
21st Century Community Learning Center Project PASS program Camdenton, Missouri
The Challenge: Build Awareness of and Support for Afterschool
A key component of sustainability is having strong community awareness of and support for afterschool at all levels - from parents and teachers to community leaders and elected officials. Afterschool supporters in Camdenton, Missouri wanted to expand on successful awareness events and have more elected officials attend and generate better media coverage.
Every October, the Afterschool Alliance holds Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide grassroots celebration of the importance of afterschool programs. Camdenton R-III's 21st Century Community Learning Centers program hosted a Lights On Afterschool celebration for the entire community at the Camdenton High School Little Theatre. Planning for the event began well in advance. Unlike the previous year, planners wanted to host one large Lights On event at a central location, in order to have as many distinguished guests attend as possible. Additionally, funds needed to be secured to have a multicultural presentation by Cultural Kaleidoscope that taught students about Russia and its culture. By starting early, grants from the Missouri Arts Council and the JCPenney Afterschool Fund were secured to support the event.
Outreach to elected officials also began well in advance, and they were encouraged to participate in the event either in person or by issuing proclamations in support of Lights On. Missouri's First Lady, Lori Hauser Holden was the featured guest speaker at the event. A Resolution was signed and presented to the organizers on behalf of the Missouri House of Representatives and Mayor Kerry Shannon presented a Proclamation declaring October 9, 2003 Lights On Afterschool Day in Camdenton. Other distinguished guests at the celebration included: State Representative Daniel Moore, Chair of the Joint Committee on Out of School Time; State Department of Education Officials Jay Acock and Cindy Waibel; and numerous community and school leaders.
The event generated numerous local newspaper articles, one of which spurred the interest of an executive at the G-TECH Corporation. A few months after the event, the G-TECH Corporation established an office in Missouri and agreed to donate $20,000 worth of computer equipment to the afterschool program, all because of the media coverage from the Lights On Afterschool event.
Applying Project PASS' Success to Your Program
An event such as this one involves lots of early planning, and building on the success of the previous year's event. Start small the first time, and involve partners who share the same goal for supporting afterschool. Certainly not every event results in a corporation investing money in your community, but media clips are a great way to break the ice when doing outreach.
Refer to the event planning kit for Lights On Afterschool, and also look at tips on arranging a site visit.
About Project PASS
Camdenton R-III Schools Project PASS (Partners Assisting Student Success) is an innovative community-based afterschool program resulting from a three-year $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program. The program's primary goal is to provide students and their families with the skills, resources, and support necessary for success in school as well as in life. Project PASS collaborates with various community agencies, support groups, businesses, clubs, and community members to provide activities and classes.