A project of the Afterschool Alliance

Life and Work Skills

Through creative, hands-on learning opportunities, afterschool and summer learning programs help children and young people develop the essential skills they need to succeed in school, life, and future careers. This Lights On Afterschool, celebrate the skill-building your program is doing. You might highlight skills such as teamwork, academic achievement, or entrepreneurial mindset activities!

Credit-for-learning programs

Also known in some communities as extended learning opportunities (ELOs), credit-for-learning programs are revolutionizing the way youth learn. By participating in these programs, youth are able to earn credit by participating in student-centered, engaging, hands-on learning opportunities outside of their regular classes.

If you’re interested in bringing credit-for-learning programs to your community, check out our credit-for-learning resource webpage, which provides a toolkit on implementing credit-for-learning and tips on advocating for these opportunities with policymakers.

Event ideas to showcase life and work skills:
  • Host a career fair, with parents and members of your community sharing their jobs with students and hands-on activities demonstrating a project from their fields
  • Create a mural, a bake sale, a clean-up event, or another project that combines service learning and teamwork to make a big impact in your community
  • Hold a job and interview event like The Great Shake to help your students develop career readiness skills

Who to invite:

Invite families and leaders from your community, region, and state to see how you are preparing youth for the workforce and to contribute to the local economy. They all have a stake in the current and future state of children as students, employees, and citizens so engage them with an entrepreneurial Lights On experience that will lead to greater interest and involvement.

  • Diverse Chambers of Commerce 

  • Chamber Foundations 

  • Local Businesses

  • Local Economic Development Corporations 

  • Entrepreneurial incubators and investors

  • Small Business governmental organizations

  • Banks and financial institutions

  • Local chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners

  • Institutions of higher education (4 year, community college, technical college, etc.) 

  • Elected officials (city, county, local representatives for state and national offices)

  • Local workforce development organization 

  • Local SCORE (Senior Corps of Retired Executives) office

  • School District (Business Advisory Council, School Board Members, Superintendent)

  • Any financial contributors (philanthropists, foundations, etc.)

Entrepreneurship is more than just 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 beyond. 

An entrepreneurship-focused Lights On event is a strategy for authentically engaging elected officials, school, business, and community leaders, and families; they all have a stake in the future of the community. They will want to see how students are being prepared for the workforce and contributing to the local economy.

Below are five suggestions for fun activities that build essential skills and engage community members: 

  • Mindset Recognition: Post on social media with the #LightsOnAfterschool hashtag to validate the entrepreneurial thinking that’s already happening as students, staff, and community members apply entrepreneurial mindsets in existing programs or events. Find posters, stickers, and cards here! 

  • One-time LOA Event: Include youth entrepreneurship in an event highlighting your afterschool program as the main attraction or as a session/station where students and community members both take part in the activity. See activities from YEI Pitch Toolkit, Wacky Inventions, or Pitch Game.

  • Culminating Event: Organize a pitch event or youth market (think science fair) to showcase a milestone in a student’s entrepreneurial journey. Youth can pitch an idea or have an actual product or service for sale. See YEI Pitch Toolkit, VentureLab Pitch Event Planning Guide, and Lemonade Day.

  • The Amazing Shake Event: This dynamic and exciting live competition rallies leaders and role models in a school’s community together to teach students about professional skills for success. Create your own local version of this big, successful Atlanta event created by Ron Clark Academy. See the detailed free guide!

  • Reverse Pitch Event: Invite local businesses to give an elevator pitch to a panel of students. Students can provide feedback, ask questions, and even vote on their favorites! You can print out and use the YEI Pitch Rubric.

VentureLab entrepreneurial programs: 

VentureLab makes it easy for programs to deliver high quality entrepreneurial education. Visit the VentureLab website to find their no-cost curriculum, classroom and remote learning resources, and other opportunities to engage students in entrepreneurial learning.

  • Create foundational learning experiences for youth and adults to practice and build 21st century mindsets and skills
  • Reinforce academic programs to help students meet state and local achievement standards
  • Allows youth to apply STEM + art ideas in real-world situations (ESTEAM)
  • Prepare youth for careers where creativity and emotional intelligence are needed
  • Support and strengthen social and emotional development