A project of the Afterschool Alliance

Case Study: Cultural event opens door to new contribution

"The time between kids getting home from school and parents getting home from work is the worst time for them to get into trouble. Afterschool programs have had an enormous positive effect not only on residents but also on the community. More programs of this nature are needed." - St. Clair County Circuit Judge Milton Wharton

Advice for Coordinators:

  • Start planning early.
  • If possible, send invitations to key legislators, mayors and/or the governor the year before.
  • Send several follow-up letters.
  • Tip: Pictures and personal notes from students work best. 

Where: Camdenton, Missouri

Who: 550 participants: 350 students and 200 family members, school officials, political leaders, local residents


Missouri's First Lady, Lori Hauser Holden, was the featured guest speaker. Media coverage of the event caught the eye of a local business executive, leading to a gift of $20,000 in computer equipment.

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. Its primary focus was a multicultural presentation by Cultural Kaleidoscope that enabled students to learn about Russia and its culture. Funding for the program was made possible through a grant from the Missouri Arts Council.

“What made the event a success was the fact that students, parents and community members were introduced to the arts in a way that would never be possible for most of our students," explained Project PASS Director Sherry Comer, an Afterschool Ambassador. "Many of our youth will never travel outside of the United States or even out of the state of Missouri. To see what the culture of Russia is like through dance, music and numerous Russian artists was a phenomenal opportunity for our community. It was a great way to draw a crowd to share the importance of afterschool issues and demonstrate what programs do for the youth of our state and nation.”

The Program:

Missouri's First Lady, Lori Hauser Holden, was the featured guest speaker at the event. A Resolution was signed and presented to Comer on behalf of the Missouri House of Representatives, and Mayor Kerry Shannon presented a Proclamation declaring Oct. 9, 2003, Lights On Afterschool Day in Camdenton.

Other distinguished guests at the celebration included: State Rep. Daniel Moore, Chair of the Joint Committee on Out of School Time; Camdenton Mayor Kerry Shannon; State Department of Education Officials Jay Acock and Cindy Waibel; and numerous community and school leaders. On behalf of Project PASS, students Jacob Fordyce and Doug McDonald proudly presented keys to these officials to symbolize PASS's theme that “Afterschool is key to a student’s success.”

The event generated numerous local newspaper articles, one of which spurred the interest of an executive at the G-TECH Corporation. In the spring of 2004, 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.

Leading up to the event, the afterschool programs built support and excitement among the student through activities and studies that focused on Russia.
Keys to Success: Reach out to elected officials, and do it early in your planning. Comer began outreach to elected officials well in advance, encouraging them to participate in the event either in person or by issuing proclamations in support of Lights On Afterschool.

Hold the event at one key site. “The year before, I had a celebration at each site and it was impossible to get the legislators, mayor, other dignitaries and media to each location on time to read proclamations and participate in the activities. Comer also notes that it is important that speakers recognize that most of the audience members are young students and the speeches need to be short and engaging.