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Snacks by Charlotte Steinecke
OCT
19
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Easy, last-minute ideas for an amazing Lights On Afterschool!

By Charlotte Steinecke

Lights On Afterschool is just seven days away! While many programs are wrapping up their plans, some will only start planning this week. Luckily, we’ve got something for everyone over at our Last-Minute Ideas page. Use these ideas as the foundation of your event, or add an extra dimension to your celebration with another fun activity.

Looking for a few more easy ways to celebrate? We’ve got you covered:

  • Celebrate health and wellness by planning a make-your-own-pizza, -snack, or -taco night, with fresh and flavorful fixings that kids can mix and match to make their own meals. Polish it off by offering blank recipe cards so kids can write down their favorite combinations, decorate the cards, and take them home.
  • Bring art to your event with easy crafts and activities: Pinterest is full of instructions for tealight holders, galaxy and tornado jars, yarn pumpkins, dreamcatchers, and more.
  • Connect with your local library and ask if a librarian or staff member can come down to your event for a library card sign-up station. Then, host a read-aloud and encourage students to practice their peer-to-peer reading skills. Staple together some blank booklets so kids can write their own stories!
  • Plan a sidewalk parade around the block, showcasing student art, signs, and representations of all the activities you do in afterschool. Take pictures and tweet @ your reps with a message about why they should keep the #LightsOnAfterschool!
  • Take students on a nature walk or a field trip to explore the changing seasons. Encourage students to observe their surroundings and record their observations by taking notes and sketching points of interest. (Interested in more outdoor STEM fun? Check out the PLUM LANDING Explore Outdoors toolkit!)
  • Host a fall-friendly line or square dance party to get kids and parents moving at your event.

We’ve also got an activity so you can celebrate afterschool anywhere, with anyone: the “My Light’s On Afterschool” challenge! To join the challenge, just recreate our Lights On logo, snap a photo, and share it on social media with a message of support for #LightsOnAfterschool and a challenge to your friends and followers to participate. Head over to the Facebook event page for full details — and be sure to use our Facebook frame!

OCT
13
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Nominate a youth volunteer for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

By Charlotte Steinecke

For many middle and high school students, community service is a requirement for graduation—one that afterschool programs often assist with, giving students a chance to give back through volunteering, community beautification efforts, and tutoring younger students. As a result, afterschool programs often see young people going above and beyond the call to improve their communities!

Do you know an exemplary youth volunteer? Nominate them for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards!

State Honorees: Two students in each state and the District of Columbia will be named State Honorees and receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. with a parent or guardian for a recognition event from April 28 to May 1, 2018.

America’s top youth volunteers: In D.C., a national selection committee will name 10 of the 102 State Honorees as America’s top youth volunteers of the year. Winners will receive additional awards of $5,000, gold medallions, trophies for their nominating schools or organizations, and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.

Distinguished finalists will receive bronze medallions and runners-up will receive Certificates of Excellence; local honorees will receive Certificates of Achievement.

Nominations run from now until November 7, 2017. To apply, complete the application and the student/parent agreement, then email or print and deliver instructions to your local certifier (school principal or head of a county 4-H organization, Girl Scout council, Americans Red Cross chapter, YMCA, or Affiliate of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network).

Best of luck to all applicants!

share this link: http://bit.ly/2yhPZrn
learn more about: Competition Youth Development Awards
OCT
5
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Celebrate afterschool STEM during Lights On

By Charlotte Steinecke

Whether it’s cooking up polymer-based jiggly jelly, writing computer code, or exploring urban ecology, we know that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning thrives in afterschool! Afterschool STEM learning presents an incredible opportunity to help students learn, expose them to new ideas and concepts, and involve them in fun experiments and activities. Moreover, afterschool offers a chance to engage students from populations underrepresented in the STEM fields with material they may not otherwise have opportunities to explore.

With so many opportunities for creativity and customization and so many benefits to offer, how could we not include afterschool STEM as one of this year’s Lights On Afterschool themes?

Programs across the country are gearing up with great ideas for 2017! Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Movie night: Show a science fiction or comedy movie and coordinate experiments related to the theme of the film. Science Matters of Fort Collins, Colo. plans to show Flubber at their local movie theater and host table experiments after the show.
  • Fall field trip: Take your students to a local farm to learn about the effect of changing seasons. Cougar Club After School in Centerview, Mon. will be visiting a local farm to learn about the life cycle of pumpkins and press apples into cider.
  • Museum visit: Visit your science center or science museum for a hands-on learning experience. Kids Commons in Columbus, Ind. will offer free admission to their children’s museum for families with kids in pre-K through 6th grade, with STEAM activities throughout the museum.
  • Math crafts: Have kids use model kits or cardstock to create and decorate geometrical solids and shapes. Students at the YMCA of Hobart, Ind. will make and decorate dodecahedrons, icosahedrons, and rhombicuboctahedrons with pictures depicting what they like about afterschool, followed by a family game night.
  • Build and tinker: Illustrate a lesson with a makerspace event. Students at High Desert Leapin’ Lizards in Ridgecrest, Calif. will spend the month of October learning about the laws of motion and building cars from recycled materials, with a special celebration at the end of the month so parents join the fun.

Are you celebrating STEM at your Lights On Afterschool event? Share your plan on Twitter using #LightsOnAfterschool!

You can find more ideas and inspiration from past years by searching for “STEM” in the Events Ideas & Activities database.

SEP
14
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Sharing your story during Lights On Afterschool

By Charlotte Steinecke

Lights On Afterschool is one of the best and brightest moments in the afterschool year, which makes it the perfect time to share the amazing work you’re doing in your program every day! As you plan your Lights On event, it’s a good idea to plan how you’re going to share the news of the event before, during, and after the celebration. Taking the time to figure out how you want to use your event to tell the story of afterschool involves finding your narrative and connecting to your audience — and we have some tips to help.

What does it mean to tell the story of afterschool?  For the Afterschool Alliance, it means that we work every day to:

  • share the message that “Afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working families,” and
  • expand those opportunities to more kids across the nation.

With that as our cornerstone, we can begin to develop stories, share images, and produce videos that prove the positive impact that afterschool programs have on our kids — and make the case for more investment in the programs and practitioners that provide these benefits.

Think about the story that you want to tell during this Lights On Afterschool. Pick something specific to your program that you can highlight in your messaging and find ways to showcase it in your event!

share this link: http://bit.ly/2h3SXbW
learn more about: Lights On Afterschool
AUG
25
2017

LIGHTS ON
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What's happening for Lights On 2017?

By Charlotte Steinecke

Lights On Afterschool is less than eight weeks away and lots of programs have started planning their events! From marches and rallies to scavenger hunts and STEM lessons, the possibilities for a successful event are endless.

Looking for inspiration for your event? Check out the revamped Event Ideas & Activities page, where you can search by theme, activities, planning time, difficulty, partnerships, state, and audiences to find the pitch-perfect idea for your program.

For 2017, here’s what programs around the country are planning:

AUG
7
2017

IN THE FIELD
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From Alaska to Alabama, working parents count on afterschool

By Charlotte Steinecke

From Fairbanks to Miami, young people aren’t the only ones to benefit from quality afterschool programs. Millions of parents who would otherwise have to take time off work rely on afterschool programs to provide support for their children until the business day ends. Knowing that their kids are safe and cared for means that these parents can commit themselves fully to their careers during the day, and that peace of mind pays dividends: a study from Catalyst indicates that afterschool programs help save $300 billion per year, thanks to increased worker productivity.

As Lights On Afterschool approaches, working parents come to mind as one of the beneficiaries of afterschool programs across the nation. In Fairbanks, Alaska, Dale credits his daughter’s afterschool program with his daughter’s improved academic performance and his own literally atmospheric career path. With her kids safe and learning in an afterschool program, Kelly in Alabama was able to return to school and continue her college education while working more than 50 hours a week. And Laticia, an afterschool program director in Oklahoma, has a front-row seat of the effect afterschool has on all children—including her own.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2vGpji3
learn more about: Afterschool Voices Working Families
JUL
31
2017

LIGHTS ON
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The Empire State Building will shine for Lights On Afterschool!

By Charlotte Steinecke

Lights On Afterschool wouldn't be such a powerful rally for afterschool if we didn't have amazing partners to help us celebrate! From the programs that host events and the individuals that attend them and to the organizations that participate by elevating the message on social media, bringing everyone together and sharing our support of afterschool is the key to a brilliant celebration.

This year, one of our brightest partners is back: for the 11th year in a row, the iconic Empire State Building will be lighting up the New York City skyline in support of Lights On Afterschool!

On October 26, the lights on 5th Avenue will stay on, making a shining representation of both the students who are benefiting from afterschool enrichment every day and the students who are waiting to get into quality programs. With the sky lit up in blue and yellow, it will be an eye-catching reminder of how much we need our afterschool programs!

As we move into August, it’s the perfect time to register your Lights On Afterschool event. Once registered, you’ll receive an event starter kit with everything you need to get your event going, including 10 free copies of this year’s poster. (Plus, you’ll be eligible for prizes and giveaways each week leading up to October 26!)

We are honored to have a national landmark like the Empire State Building celebrating afterschool with us, and we’re excited to celebrate the afterschool partners, programs, families, and students across the country during the Lights On Afterschool season. Join us, the Empire State Building, and thousands of out-of-school time programs in keeping the Lights On Afterschool. Register your program so you don’t miss a single update!

share this link: http://bit.ly/2vg9AGp
learn more about: Light Up a Landmark
JUL
25
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Congratulations to Angela Mamun, winner of the 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster contest

By Charlotte Steinecke

Angela Mamun is a Renaissance woman–or at least she’s learning to be. And she’s found the right afterschool program to help her grow her talents.

“I think to be a good student you have to be good in everything, or at least know how to do everything,” said the 11th grade student at Youth Policy Institute (YPI). The winner of the 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster contest was describing an educational philosophy, but the theory applies to her poster design as well.

“The prompt asked for us to focus on one aspect of the afterschool program, but I thought that I could not focus on just one,” Angela explained. “Every aspect of YPI ties in together, so I felt it was important to incorporate everything. As for the lamp, that would be the lights-on part, and the book and the tree represent that YPI is a place where young minds can grow.”

After reviewing hundreds of applications and posters from across the country, Angela’s design cinched the public’s vote in May, with a final count of 466 Facebook likes and other reactions. The design will be printed on more than 50,000 posters and sent to more than 8,000 programs nationwide—and for the first time ever, the contest winner’s program received a $500 cash prize.

Angela had been at Youth Policy Institute for six months when she entered the Lights On Afterschool poster contest. In addition to providing homework help, tutoring in a range of schoolwork and non-schoolwork subjects, and a safe place for students to go afterschool, YPI offers a STEM club, an arts club, and a club that focuses on volunteering and supporting local immigrant families. All of the clubs are student-led, providing opportunities for students to define their interests and take the lead on making change in their community.