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Meeting the moment: How afterschool programs kept the lights on through the COVID crisis

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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, early spring time of year, but as we all know now, things shifted drastically in school buildings and community-based organizations across the state (and the nation). As COVID-19 caused schools to close and working parents to stay home, before-and afterschool/out-of-school-time programs across the state went into overdrive to make sure that school-age children were safe, fed, and on course academically.

Life shifted drastically, and afterschool professionals sought ways to serve essential workers as well as support the virtual education efforts of schools when the great move happened that begins with the letter “p.” Pivot! As much as I used this word early in what I now call Covid-interruptus, I have joked that I never want to use the word “pivot” again; yet it so describes the work and resiliency of the thousands of amazing professionals that care for over 135,000 school age children in grades K-12 in nearly 1,100 before-and afterschool programs across the Show Me State.

 Prior to my current role on the Missouri AfterSchool Network (MASN) team, I was the program director of a 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) program, and I was never prouder of my friends and colleagues as I was from mid-March until now. As Zooms became a way of life several times a day, the stories of “pivoting” to serve families gripped my heart. Staff delivered meals everyday to children who lived several miles out of town or just a few blocks away so they could see that their students were safe and taken care of. Facebook Live, Zoom and Google Hangouts replaced the warmth of in-person care, and afterschool professionals still found a way to provide a broad array of activities, a warm voice of encouragement and the assurance that their students were not forgotten.

Thursday, October 22, 2020 is Lights On Afterschool Day. Established 21 years ago by the Afterschool Alliance, this special celebration event shines a bright light on the important role that afterschool plays in the development of and care for school age children. Afterschool provides a vitally important safe place for school age children whose parents must clock into a mid-Missouri factory at 7:00 a.m. or the children whose parents can’t leave their downtown St. Louis or Kansas City office until 5:00 in evening. Beyond providing a safe place while parents begin and finish their workday, afterschool programs provide quality educational opportunities for academic enrichment that supports the success of students, encourages students to dream big dreams through career awareness and entrepreneurship initiatives, and builds confidence for students through mentorship. If ever there was a time to shine a big spotlight on afterschool, it is now. Working families need this critical care and students need the safety and support of a consistent mentor. Missouri has the most amazing programs, from deep in the bootheel to the other three corners of the state and all points in between.

This week, seek out the staff of an afterschool program and tell them “thank you” for the dedication to serve families and care for the students of your community. This year, we honored some wonderful afterschool champions, heard from students whose lives have been changed forever, honored the lifetime achievement of a dedicated professional, and reminded the afterschool community that all those “pivots” have been and will continue to be worth it for Missouri’s kids!

Learn to code with Engineer for the Week!

By Jennifer Chen, program manager at Facebook. On October 19, programs from across the country joined Facebook and the Afterschool Alliance to kick off a week of virtual Lights On Afterschool activities to learn about Engineer for the Week (EFTW) and participate in an online coding activity. Led...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/24/20

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

Amazing afterschool events for Lights On Afterschool 2020

Adapted from a recent press release. Youth-led virtual conversations. A webinar on re-imagining engineering, with girls leading the way. A fall festival with bicycle decorating and pumpkin bowling. Events focused on bridging the gap to the virtual world that include lessons about bridges and...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/23/20

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

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

By Shannon Olsen, NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement. This web article was originally published on NASA's website on October 16, 2020. NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement aims to engage students in NASA’s mission by immersing youth in NASA’s work, enhancing...

BY: Guest Blogger      10/21/20

New York City’s Empire State Building & landmarks across the country light up for Lights On Afterschool

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...

BY: Ursula Helminski      10/20/20

Billboards around the country illuminate the work of afterschool programs

Clear Channel Outdoor Supports Lights On Afterschool 2020 The National League of Cities, the National Summer Learning Association and the Afterschool Alliance have teamed up with Clear Channel Outdoor to launch a campaign across more than 1,000 digital billboards nationwide as part of the...

BY: Ursula Helminski      10/19/20

Senate unanimously passes bipartisan Lights On Afterschool Resolution

On October 2, bipartisan resolution S. Res. 731 passed the U.S. Senate unanimously calling for the recognition of Lights On Afterschool, a celebration of afterschool programs nationwide. The lead sponsors of the resolution, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.),...

BY: Erik Peterson      10/19/20

Take a mindful moment next week during Lights On Afterschool

The Afterschool Alliance is extremely excited to announce that as a part of our week of virtual events for this year’s Lights On Afterschool, we will be partnering with Committee for Children, a global nonprofit organization that has developed the Second Step curriculum for social and...

BY: Dan Gilbert      10/16/20

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

New York City’s Empire State Building & landmarks across the country light up for Lights On Afterschool

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...

BY: Ursula Helminski      10/20/20

Billboards around the country illuminate the work of afterschool programs

Clear Channel Outdoor Supports Lights On Afterschool 2020 The National League of Cities, the National Summer Learning Association and the Afterschool Alliance have teamed up with Clear Channel Outdoor to launch a campaign across more than 1,000 digital billboards nationwide as part of the...

BY: Ursula Helminski      10/19/20

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 youth entrepreneurship during Lights On Afterschool

By Scott Mann, director of education and training at VentureLab. Entrepreneurship. It’s not just about 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 in life. With...

BY: Guest Blogger      10/14/20

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

3 quick ideas for a healthy, happy Lights On Afterschool

Afterschool programs play many important roles in their communities, but one of the most powerful is the positive impact out-of-school time programs can have on the health of their students. From providing healthy meals and safe places to play outside, to supporting students’ mental and...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      09/05/19

Host a sizzling Lights On event: A pitch contest

By Liz Nusken,Young Entrepreneur Pitch program lead at the Ohio Afterschool Network. Lights On Afterschool presents afterschool programs with an opportunity to showcase their fun, hands-on learning experiences to partners and members of the larger community. A Lights On live pitch...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/29/19

4-H is seeking Game Changers this October

By Kittrina Thompson, digital marketing manager, National 4-H Council, 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD) is an annual initiative inspiring kids everywhere to take an active interest in STEM topics through hands-on learning. Celebrations begin October 1, with participation across the country...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/22/19

KIND to celebrate Lights On Afterschool

By Daniel Lubetzky, CEO of Kind LLC. KIND is helping programs celebrate the 20th Lights On Afterschool this October 24. KIND will be on hand at about a dozen Lights On Afterschool events AND they’re donating 150 KIND products to Lights On Afterschool sites nationwide,...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/25/19

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

New York City’s Empire State Building & landmarks across the country light up for Lights On Afterschool

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...

BY: Ursula Helminski      10/20/20

From New York to San Francisco, America’s landmarks shined for Lights On Afterschool

Hernando De Soto Gateway to Memphis Bridge in Memphis, TN. Courtesy of Mary Graham. Last Thursday, as America celebrated Lights On Afterschool for the 20th consecutive year, landmarks across the country lit up in yellow and blue to support the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire...

BY: Magen Eissenstat      10/28/19

City leaders & education advocates light up billboards nationwide for the 20th Lights On Afterschool

Adapted from a recent press release. Big, bright news for the 20th Lights On Afterschool! In partnership with the Afterschool Alliance, the National League of Cities, and the National Summer Learning Association—a coalition of afterschool supporters—joined with Clear Channel Outdoor...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/14/19

Join the Light Up A Landmark Challenge: Light up the night sky across all 50 states!

This October 24 marks our 20th Lights On Afterschool, and one of our brightest partners is back: for the 13th year in a row, the iconic Empire State Building will light up the New York City skyline in support of Lights On Afterschool! The national landmark will light the sky in blue and...

BY: Ursula Helminski      07/18/19

20 weeks to the 20th Lights On Afterschool!

We can’t believe it either—this October 24 will be our 20th Lights On Afterschool celebration! We’ve got exciting plans in the works – so many that we will be unveiling something new each week up until October 24, 2019. We’re asking you to join us and starting...

BY: Ursula Helminski      06/06/19

Learn to code with Engineer for the Week!

By Jennifer Chen, program manager at Facebook. On October 19, programs from across the country joined Facebook and the Afterschool Alliance to kick off a week of virtual Lights On Afterschool activities to learn about Engineer for the Week (EFTW) and participate in an online coding activity. Led...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/24/20

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

By Shannon Olsen, NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement. This web article was originally published on NASA's website on October 16, 2020. NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement aims to engage students in NASA’s mission by immersing youth in NASA’s work, enhancing...

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!

Join us next Monday to celebrate Lights On Afterschool with Facebook. Our friends at Engineer for the Week are coordinating a virtual coding event which will help lead students through a Lights On themed coding activity using Scratch! Take this opportunity to practice your coding instruction,...

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

4-H is seeking Game Changers this October

By Kittrina Thompson, digital marketing manager, National 4-H Council, 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD) is an annual initiative inspiring kids everywhere to take an active interest in STEM topics through hands-on learning. Celebrations begin October 1, with participation across the country...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/22/19

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