Turning the first Lights On Afterschool in the nation's Last Frontier!

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Turning the first Lights On Afterschool in the nation's Last Frontier!

LOA Alaska Kickoff

On Monday, Oct. 12, I had the honor of kicking off our national celebration of Lights on Afterschool at Hunter Elementary in Fairbanks, Alaska. Keeping the Lights On is especially important in Fairbanks, where temperatures can drop far below zero and there are just a few hours of daylight. It's why the city celebrates Lights On Afterschool twice each year: once in the fall, and once at the end of the long winter in the spring.

The champion of our kick-off event was Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. A relentless advocate for high quality afterschool programs, Senator Murkowski led a challenging effort in the Senate to save afterschool and summer learning programs for 1.6 million students, which the original Senate education bill had eliminated. Senator Murkowski worked tirelessly with every member of the committee until her amendment to restore and improve funding and programming for out-of-school time was adopted—unanimously—by all 22 members of the Senate education committee. 

I treasured watching the students of Hunter Elementary guide Senator Murkowski around their school. They clearly impressed the Senator with their many activities and creative endeavors, which included programming 3D printers, controlling robotic hands, crafting Rube Goldberg devices, and taking classes about indigenous cultures lead by museum staff. Students were engaged, they were learning, and they were so grateful for their afterschool opportunities. As Hunter Elementary students will often tell you, "Afterschool is Pretty Cool!"

You can watch Senator Murkowski's comments to the Hunter Elementary community on the Afterschool Alliance's YouTube page.

Like afterschool initiatives across the country, this event came together thanks to a strong partnership across institutions. Fairbanks afterschool advocates have been working to implement great programs for more than a decade. This team of superstars at Hunter Elementary includes Robyn Ward, the school principal; Billy Smith, coordinator of the afterschool program; Courtney Havrilek, the 21st CCLC Coordinator at Fairbanks' North Star Borough School District; and Afterschool Ambassador Julie Wild Curry, who is also a recipient of the White-Riley-Peterson Fellowship and the Director of After School Programs for North Star Borough School District. Alaska Afterschool Network Director Thomas Azzarella provided state-level support for the team. Together, these partners have created invaluable afterschool opportunities for local students.

The benefits of afterschool programs speak for themselves, inspiring local supporters like Fairbanks' superintendent Dr. Karen Gaborik, and national champions like Senator Murkowski. It came as no surprise that the team in Alaska put on an excellent national kickoff for Lights On Afterschool.

I left Hunter Elementary feeling encouraged and energized. Please send us stories or multimedia from your own Lights On activities—simply email loa@afterschoolalliance.org with your program's name and location in the subject line. Lights on Afterschool is our chance to celebrate and promote the programs we care so much about, while encouraging more local, state and national leaders to become champions of afterschool.

Even if you aren't hosting an event of your own, there are many ways to show your appreciation and support for afterschool programs. Find an event to attend in your community, ask Members of Congress to help keep the Lights On Afterschool, add your voice to our Thunderclap, or give the gift of afterschool—just ten dollars helps ensure that four kids in need have access to a quality program!

Lets continue to work together to keep the Lights On Afterschool: both for the 10.2 million students currently participating in a program, and for the nearly 20 million more who are still waiting to get in. This Thursday, one million people in 7,500 communities across America will come together to celebrate afterschool's role in keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn and helping working families. Don't miss this opportunity to show your support—join me in celebrating this year's Lights On Afterschool.

Calling all artists: It's the 2018 Lights On Afterschool poster contest!

The Lights On Afterschool poster contest is officially open, and this year we’re changing up theme to reflect how youth see themselves and their futures because of their afterschool program!  We’re asking afterschool artists to consider what they are experiencing afterschool and...

BY: Shaun Gray      03/08/18

Health & Wellness partners got communities active & moving during Lights On 2017

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BY: Faith Savaiano      11/30/17

STEM partners helped ignite curiosity during Lights On 2017

Afterschool STEM learning was one of our top themes for this year’s Lights On Afterschool, and with good reason. Afterschool programs provide an ideal space to connect kids to exciting, hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experiences, helping them engage deeply with...

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At the Afterschool Alliance, we spend a substantial part of our year focusing on Lights On Afterschool; when it finally happens, we’re running to keep up! We couldn’t wait to head out of the office (and sometimes out of the state) to explore the amazing programs and events that...

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Lights On Afterschool 2017 in pictures

This year might just be our most photogenic Lights On Afterschool yet! The Empire State Building lit up the night in blue and yellow on the evening of October 26, the Lowry Bridge gleamed on the waters of Hennepin County, and social media buzzed with our amazingly successful...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/31/17

Today is Lights On Afterschool!

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

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...

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With Lights On Afterschool only two weeks away, many programs and coordinators are busy finalizing the creative and fun celebrations that will take place across the country. But while many afterschool providers are experts at planning engaging activities for large groups, all Lights On Afterschool...

BY: Faith Savaiano      10/12/17

Celebrate afterschool STEM during Lights On

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...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/05/17

America's #HealthiestSchools: 3 ways to team up for Lights On Afterschool

By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, director of Community Partnerships at Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The 2017 America’s #HealthiestSchools campaign is grounded in the shared belief that every child deserves a healthy school. Afterschool leaders are essential partners for healthy...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/28/17

America's #HealthiestSchools: 3 ways to team up for Lights On Afterschool

By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, director of Community Partnerships at Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The 2017 America’s #HealthiestSchools campaign is grounded in the shared belief that every child deserves a healthy school. Afterschool leaders are essential partners for healthy...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/28/17

Afterschool & Law Enforcement: Using Lights On Afterschool to collaborate in new ways

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this post as part of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement blog series. For more information on the ways afterschool programs are partnering with local police, check out our previous blogs on building relationships and...

BY: Elizabeth Tish      12/09/16

These twin sisters celebrated Lights On Afterschool 2016 by becoming math champions

One might not think that basketball can help kids gain critical math skills. But for twin sisters Patricia and Angela Rodas, that’s exactly the case. The Rodas sisters have become rather like local celebrities in the San Francisco Bay Area through their success in NBA Math Hoops, a...

BY: Robert Abare      11/18/16

This program used Lights On Afterschool to shine a light on health and wellness

For the Boys and Girls Club of East Los Angeles (BGCELA), encouraging kids to lead healthy lifestyles goes hand-in-hand with the other areas of the organization’s mission: building students’ academic success and developing their character. For Lights On Afterschool 2016,...

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BY: Robert Abare      10/24/16

6 reasons why Lights On Afterschool 2016 was the brightest yet!

Exactly 8,200 events held across the USA and the world make this year's Lights On Afterschool the biggest and brightest since the rally first began 17 years ago! One million people joined together to shine a light on the accomplishments of afterschool programs and to say...

BY: Erin Murphy      10/21/16

Video: Math Champs help kick off Lights On Afterschool 2016

On October 6, we joined Learn Fresh, the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings to kick off Lights On Afterschool 2016 with a special NBA Math Hoops tournament at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. Take a look inside the celebration with our executive director Jodi Grant and...

BY: Robert Abare      10/18/16

Programs across the USA are gearing up for Lights On Afterschool 2016!

Tomorrow, October 6, we are kicking off the 17th annual Lights On Afterschool with Learn Fresh, the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings on a big national stage: a game between the Warriors and the Kings at the SAP Center in San Jose, California! Before the 7:30 p.m. tipoff on Thursday,...

BY: Robert Abare      10/05/16

Guest blog: Discover drones at your Lights On Afterschool event

Written by Griffin Schwed, Integrated Marketing Manager at National 4-H Council See how your program can celebrate 4-H National Youth Science Day at your 2016 Lights On Afterschool event on our Celebrate Afterschool STEM page, part of the revamped Lights On Afterschool...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/07/16

Announcing the winner of the national Lights On Afterschool poster contest!

After reviewing hundreds of submissions from afterschool artists from across the country (and the world!), the Afterschool Alliance is thrilled to announce the winner of the 2016 Lights On Afterschool poster contest: Baldwin County High School’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st...

BY: Robert Abare      08/25/16

STEM partners helped ignite curiosity during Lights On 2017

Afterschool STEM learning was one of our top themes for this year’s Lights On Afterschool, and with good reason. Afterschool programs provide an ideal space to connect kids to exciting, hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experiences, helping them engage deeply with...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      11/21/17

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

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...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/19/17

Celebrate afterschool STEM during Lights On

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...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/05/17

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BY: Leah Silverberg      09/21/17

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Programs across the USA are gearing up for Lights On Afterschool 2016!

Tomorrow, October 6, we are kicking off the 17th annual Lights On Afterschool with Learn Fresh, the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings on a big national stage: a game between the Warriors and the Kings at the SAP Center in San Jose, California! Before the 7:30 p.m. tipoff on Thursday,...

BY: Robert Abare      10/05/16

Guest blog: Discover drones at your Lights On Afterschool event

Written by Griffin Schwed, Integrated Marketing Manager at National 4-H Council See how your program can celebrate 4-H National Youth Science Day at your 2016 Lights On Afterschool event on our Celebrate Afterschool STEM page, part of the revamped Lights On Afterschool...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/07/16

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

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...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/19/17

Make the most of media at your Lights On Afterschool event

With Lights On Afterschool only two weeks away, many programs and coordinators are busy finalizing the creative and fun celebrations that will take place across the country. But while many afterschool providers are experts at planning engaging activities for large groups, all Lights On Afterschool...

BY: Faith Savaiano      10/12/17

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      07/25/17

These twin sisters celebrated Lights On Afterschool 2016 by becoming math champions

One might not think that basketball can help kids gain critical math skills. But for twin sisters Patricia and Angela Rodas, that’s exactly the case. The Rodas sisters have become rather like local celebrities in the San Francisco Bay Area through their success in NBA Math Hoops, a...

BY: Robert Abare      11/18/16

Guest blog: Spoken word gives youth a voice

Written by Chanelle Ignant, Youth Participation Coordinator at KQED, and Rachel Roberson, who leads the Letters to the Next President project for KQED. Also check out the Celebrate Youth Voices event idea for Lights On Afterschool 2016. Sign up for the upcoming Lights On...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/16/16

Registration is open for Lights On Afterschool 2016!

Registration is now open for the nation’s only celebration of afterschool programs! Mark your calendars for Lights On Afterschool: October 20, 2016, and then start preparing for your event by registering today. Last year’s Lights On Afterschool saw more than 1 million Americans...

BY: Robert Abare      08/11/16

Diverse partners helped keep the Lights On Afterschool this year

As you might have heard, Lights On Afterschool 2016 was a big success! Thousands (8,200 to be exact!) of programs and leaders hosted events in their communities. The Empire State Building glowed yellow on the evening of October 20, along with the Orlando Eye, the...

BY: Robert Abare      10/24/16

6 reasons why Lights On Afterschool 2016 was the brightest yet!

Exactly 8,200 events held across the USA and the world make this year's Lights On Afterschool the biggest and brightest since the rally first began 17 years ago! One million people joined together to shine a light on the accomplishments of afterschool programs and to say...

BY: Erin Murphy      10/21/16

Video: Math Champs help kick off Lights On Afterschool 2016

On October 6, we joined Learn Fresh, the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings to kick off Lights On Afterschool 2016 with a special NBA Math Hoops tournament at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. Take a look inside the celebration with our executive director Jodi Grant and...

BY: Robert Abare      10/18/16

Programs across the USA are gearing up for Lights On Afterschool 2016!

Tomorrow, October 6, we are kicking off the 17th annual Lights On Afterschool with Learn Fresh, the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings on a big national stage: a game between the Warriors and the Kings at the SAP Center in San Jose, California! Before the 7:30 p.m. tipoff on Thursday,...

BY: Robert Abare      10/05/16

Registration is open for Lights On Afterschool 2016!

Registration is now open for the nation’s only celebration of afterschool programs! Mark your calendars for Lights On Afterschool: October 20, 2016, and then start preparing for your event by registering today. Last year’s Lights On Afterschool saw more than 1 million Americans...

BY: Robert Abare      08/11/16

Lights On Afterschool poster contest deadline extended!

Summer is here! Why not use the spare time to design a piece of artwork that could be published across the world? The 2016 Lights On Afterschool poster contest has a new deadline: July 15, 2016. Afterschool or summer learning program participants are encouraged to design, craft and...

BY: Robert Abare      06/01/16

Calling all artists: It's the 2018 Lights On Afterschool poster contest!

The Lights On Afterschool poster contest is officially open, and this year we’re changing up theme to reflect how youth see themselves and their futures because of their afterschool program!  We’re asking afterschool artists to consider what they are experiencing afterschool and...

BY: Shaun Gray      03/08/18

Cast your vote in the 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster contest!

Over the last few months, we’ve received hundreds of impressive submissions for the 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster contest. Using paint, crayons, colored pencils, mixed media, and even digital design tools, students of all ages from communities nationwide shared a wide variety of creative...

BY: Rachel Clark      05/01/17

Programs across the USA are gearing up for Lights On Afterschool 2016!

Tomorrow, October 6, we are kicking off the 17th annual Lights On Afterschool with Learn Fresh, the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings on a big national stage: a game between the Warriors and the Kings at the SAP Center in San Jose, California! Before the 7:30 p.m. tipoff on Thursday,...

BY: Robert Abare      10/05/16

Announcing the winner of the national Lights On Afterschool poster contest!

After reviewing hundreds of submissions from afterschool artists from across the country (and the world!), the Afterschool Alliance is thrilled to announce the winner of the 2016 Lights On Afterschool poster contest: Baldwin County High School’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st...

BY: Robert Abare      08/25/16

Guest blog: Spoken word gives youth a voice

Written by Chanelle Ignant, Youth Participation Coordinator at KQED, and Rachel Roberson, who leads the Letters to the Next President project for KQED. Also check out the Celebrate Youth Voices event idea for Lights On Afterschool 2016. Sign up for the upcoming Lights On...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/16/16

Lights On Afterschool poster contest deadline extended!

Summer is here! Why not use the spare time to design a piece of artwork that could be published across the world? The 2016 Lights On Afterschool poster contest has a new deadline: July 15, 2016. Afterschool or summer learning program participants are encouraged to design, craft and...

BY: Robert Abare      06/01/16

Calling all artists: It's the 2018 Lights On Afterschool poster contest!

The Lights On Afterschool poster contest is officially open, and this year we’re changing up theme to reflect how youth see themselves and their futures because of their afterschool program!  We’re asking afterschool artists to consider what they are experiencing afterschool and...

BY: Shaun Gray      03/08/18

Video: Math Champs help kick off Lights On Afterschool 2016

On October 6, we joined Learn Fresh, the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings to kick off Lights On Afterschool 2016 with a special NBA Math Hoops tournament at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. Take a look inside the celebration with our executive director Jodi Grant and...

BY: Robert Abare      10/18/16

Programs across the USA are gearing up for Lights On Afterschool 2016!

Tomorrow, October 6, we are kicking off the 17th annual Lights On Afterschool with Learn Fresh, the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings on a big national stage: a game between the Warriors and the Kings at the SAP Center in San Jose, California! Before the 7:30 p.m. tipoff on Thursday,...

BY: Robert Abare      10/05/16

Announcing the winner of the national Lights On Afterschool poster contest!

After reviewing hundreds of submissions from afterschool artists from across the country (and the world!), the Afterschool Alliance is thrilled to announce the winner of the 2016 Lights On Afterschool poster contest: Baldwin County High School’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st...

BY: Robert Abare      08/25/16

Lights On Afterschool poster contest deadline extended!

Summer is here! Why not use the spare time to design a piece of artwork that could be published across the world? The 2016 Lights On Afterschool poster contest has a new deadline: July 15, 2016. Afterschool or summer learning program participants are encouraged to design, craft and...

BY: Robert Abare      06/01/16