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America is turning the Lights On for Afterschool today!

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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 others are joining today for the 21st annual Lights On Afterschool.

Several U.S. Senators including Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Jon Tester (Mont.), as well as Congressman David Cicilline (RI) and scores of lieutenant governors, mayors, state legislators, and other leaders are joining the thousands of events taking place across the nation. Many are virtual this year.

The Afterschool Alliance organizes Lights On Afterschool to underscore the need to invest in afterschool programs, which in normal times provide help with homework; mentors; art, dance and music; healthy snacks and meals; computer programming; opportunities to think critically, collaborate and communicate with peers and adults; job and college readiness; sports and fitness activities; robotics; and opportunities for hands-on, team-based learning. During the pandemic, programs have stepped up to provide virtual educational activities, deliver meals and enrichment kits, help families bridge the digital divide, check in with children to ensure their social and emotional needs are being met, connect families to social services, care for the children of essential workers and first responders, and much more.

Nickelodeon and the National Urban League have teamed up with the Afterschool Alliance for a national Lights On Afterschool Youth Town Hall this evening. Youth leaders will share their afterschool experiences and discuss what youth need to thrive and what leaders can do to help all youth reach their potential. National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial, U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (RI), and Nickelodeon’s Darci Lynne, America’s Got Talent winner, will be special guests. Tomorrow, Friday, October 23, the Million Girls Moonshot and NASA will provide afterschool youth with an out-of-this world Lights On experience when students speak live to astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli about her journey to becoming an astronaut and the Artemis mission to land on the moon.

A large majority of afterschool programs that are open this fall report facing significant barriers as they strain to meet the needs of the students and families they have long supported, according to national surveys of parents and afterschool providers conducted by Edge Research for the Afterschool Alliance and released in September. They find that programs and parents are challenged by virtual learning and evolving school schedules; programs are limited by budgets inadequate to address new safety protocols and students’ emerging needs; and students from low-income families are now much less likely than others to have access to out-of-school-time programs.

Tuesday night, the Empire State Building was lit in yellow and blue for Lights On Afterschool. Other landmarks being lit for afterschool this week include Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, the Indianapolis Power & Light Building, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Louisiana, the Branson Ferris Wheel in Missouri, the State Capitol in Pennsylvania, the Governor M. Cuomo Bridge in New York, and the Pawtucket Bridge in Rhode Island.

On October 2, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed bipartisan resolution S. Res. 731, which calls for recognition of Lights On Afterschool. The lead sponsors of the resolution, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Tina Smith (Minn.), recognized the outstanding contributions afterschool programs have made this summer and school year during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 Lights On Afterschool resolution was co-sponsored by Sens. Mike Braun (Ind.), Pat Roberts (Kansas), Tim Kaine (Va.), Elizabeth Warner (Mass.), and Bob Casey (Pa.).

For the first time, Lights On Afterschool is taking place in South Africa this year with a nationwide campaign to celebrate afterschool programs.

A list of local Lights On Afterschool events is here. To find other events in your area, see this map.

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

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BY: Tierra Easter      10/14/21

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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...

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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...

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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

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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

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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...

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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...

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Learn to code with Engineer for the Week!

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

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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!

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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

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

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