Some tips from first-timers and seasoned veterans:

Community Involvement

Children and youth from local afterschool programs performed, and more than 30 community agencies set up booths and provided games, food, and entertainment. Lights On Afterschool t-shirts were handed out to everyone for free. The event culminated with a huge, exciting 20-minute fireworks display.

A rally emceed by a high schooler featured student performances and comments on afterschool by youth and local leaders. An "Afterschool Hero" award was presented to the family of an afterschool staff person. Event co-hosts provided information and fun activities for participants.

Media & Policy Maker Outreach

The Dallas AfterSchool Network hosted a bus tour of afterschool programs in north and south Dallas for local dignitaries and community leaders, affording them a realistic look at “a day in the afterschool life of a Dallas child.” As a direct result of the bus tour, the local ABC television affiliate committed to doing a weekly segment on afterschool, and Dallas AfterSchool Network Executive Director Tanya McDonald was able to establish relationships with federal and state representatives and schedule follow-up meetings.

The main event kicked off with a student torch race to the state capitol. Students passed the torches on to legislators to call attention to the thousands of area children without afterschool. The creative event inspired a state policy maker to help find needed funding for afterschool.

The Fort Worth Independent School District's 21st Century Community Learning Centers Programs' Lights On Afterschool event was a rally in front of the JCPenney store in Fort Worth's Ridgmar Mall. The event, which drew in more than 700 attendees, captured the talents of children from 21st Century programs across the school district and featured singing, cheers, ballet folklorico, poetry, hip-hop dance, steppers, Tae Kwon Do, a band performance, a fashion show, and Kung Fu. Displays on various afterschool learning opportunities filled the mall walkways on two floors in front of the store, giving parents, the media, and policymakers the chance to sample the programs' rich and diverse curriculum.

A "Battle of the Bands" event, built around the mayor's city pride initiative, was hosted at a newly opened high school. Students from neighboring middle school afterschool programs were invited to listen and dance. Each band performed its own arrangement of an original song called "Scranton, Come Back," commissioned by the BEST program to support the mayor's "Restore the Pride" initiative.

An open house featuring afterschool activities impressed local leaders and gave program staff a well-deserved celebration.

Sponsors & Partnerships

Media coverage of the event caught the eye of a local business executive, leading to a gift of $20,000 in computer equipment.

The Arizona School-Age Coalition successfully secured sponsors for Lights On Afterschool by forming a committee dedicated to promoting their cause. Sponsors ranged from Newman's Own Organics to the City of Phoenix and in-kind donations of supplies from the school district, First Book, and others. The committee was primarily made up of school-age providers plus others with a vested interest in children. 

The South Carolina Afterschool Alliance (SCAA) capitalized on its statewide Lights On Afterschool event, using it as an opportunity to attract new sponsors from the business community and to recognize their existing funders. These efforts motivated sponsors to continue and also further their support for SCAA's important work for afterschool in South Carolina. 

Three area restaurants in a small military community were the chief sponsors of Lights On Afterschool rallies at four Southern Sierra Boys & Girls Club and Sierra Sands Unified School District afterschool program sites. The restaurants donated food, space inside the restaurant to promote the rally, and gift certificates for contest winners.

Dynamic partnerships allowed organizers to put together a large-scale event that attracted speakers such as Mayor Michael Coleman and former Miami Dolphin football star Demetrius Stanley.