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Today is Lights On Afterschool!

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Today is Lights On Afterschool!

In Arkansas, students are completing an obstacle course with members of their local fire department. In California, they are learning to weave baskets and performing songs and skits. In Delaware, they are exploring careers from landscaping to banking; in Georgia, identifying native plants during a hike; and in Illinois, collaborating with professional artists on paper mache sculptures. In Florida, students are competing in dodgeball against their parents and cooking a meal for their families. In Maryland, students are creating cards for local nursing homes and painting rocks with messages about kindness.

All of these activities, as well as student showcases, art displays, science projects, open houses, walks and runs, visits from lawmakers, and much more, are taking place as part of Lights On Afterschool, the only national rally for afterschool programs. Some 8,000 events involving a million people are being held today, October 26, and throughout the month. 

The New York City skyline will shine for afterschool tonight when the Empire State Building is lit in yellow and blue for Lights On Afterschool. Thanks to Clear Channel Outdoor, afterschool messages are being displayed on digital billboards, bus shelters, and poster spaces in 25 markets nationwide, including two jumbo billboards in New York City’s Time Square. Other landmarks being lit up for afterschool this week include: the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana; the Governor’s Executive Residence in Raleigh, North Carolina; the Lincoln Financial Field Eagles Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the South Street Station in Boston, Massachusetts; the Aloha Tower in Honolulu, Hawaii; and the Frederick Douglass Bridge in Washington, D.C.; and many others.

STEM-related Lights On Afterschool events are being sponsored by NASA, which has invited programs and youth to join a special virtual event with Thermal Blanket Technician Paula Cain; the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), which is providing free James Webb Space Telescope Learning Lunchbox STEM kits to youth at 45 programs; 4-H, which is providing Power Protectors challenge kits; and STEM Superheroes, which is donating Everyday Superheroes: Women in Energy Careers books and sending experts to talk to students about careers in STEM energy fields.

This year, Lights On Afterschool is taking place as the country celebrates 25 years since the launch of 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), the chief federal funding stream for afterschool and summer learning programs. 21st CCLC has grown from a small discretionary grant program serving approximately 40,000 students to an initiative reaching nearly 1 million students. Still, though, in the United States today, for every child in an afterschool program, four more are waiting to get in.

The federal American Rescue Plan provided $122 billion to school districts through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund. A new study from the Afterschool Alliance – the first ever to examine how school districts are using those funds for afterschool and summer programming – found that eight in ten school districts are investing pandemic relief funds in afterschool and summer learning, but the overall investment is small and the focus is primarily on tutoring. Just one in five school districts are investing ESSER funds in afterschool programs that provide both academics and enrichment.

Where we were during Lights On Afterschool 2023

Students at Life Pieces to Masterpieces in Washington, D.C. Afterschool Alliance staff members were out and about at afterschoool programs during Lights On Afterschool 2023. Here are a few snapshots of events they participated in. For even more Lights On Afterschool event recaps, check out...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      11/30/23

Lights On Afterschool: Where on earth is Chris Neitzey?

Photo courtesy of Chris Neitzey; Madison Deputy Mayor Sanon addresses the crowd outside the Wisconsin State Capitol.  For Lights On Afterschool 2023, Afterschool Alliance Director of State Policy Chris Neitzey visited a record-breaking six Lights On Afterschool events across Wisconsin. His...

BY: Chris Neitzey      11/20/23

Lights, learning, and lunchboxes – An innovative partnership during Lights On

By Meredith Bush, Senior Manager of Education Business Development at Center of Science and Industry (COSI), and Stephen White, Chief Strategy Officer, Vice President of Partnerships and Business Development at Center of Science and Industry (COSI). Afterschool Alliance teamed up...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/09/23

Lights On Afterschool STEM extravaganza

With Lights On Afterschool season upon us and as the new STEM Hub Manager here at the Afterschool Alliance, I was eager to participate in an event elevating the value of STEM learning for youth at a young age. I was delighted to learn about and attend the inaugural STEM Extravaganza in Columbia,...

BY: Leslie Brooks      11/02/23

Top ten highlights from Lights On Afterschool 2023

Yesterday, the 24th annual Lights On Afterschool was celebrated by afterschool programs and supporters nationwide. With 8,000 different events held in collaboration with hundreds of partners and a million attendees, it’s hard to select just a few special moments to share...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/27/23

Today is Lights On Afterschool!

In Arkansas, students are completing an obstacle course with members of their local fire department. In California, they are learning to weave baskets and performing songs and skits. In Delaware, they are exploring careers from landscaping to banking; in Georgia, identifying native plants...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/26/23

Energy Superheroes join Lights On Afterschool events in Charlottesville, Denver, Houston – and Mons, Belgium

We’re thrilled to share that Energy Superheroes are joining in the nation’s celebration of afterschool programs, Lights On Afterschool! Energy Superheroes are real-life women with superpowers and careers that are leading the energy transition. Many of these women help to power...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/24/23

Celebrate Lights On Afterschool with these last-minute ideas

The time has come: we are officially one week out from Lights On Afterschool day! Did you think it was too late to join in the celebration? Well, think again! Whether you want to partake in the Lightbulb Challenge or light up a local landmark, here are some ways to get involved in Lights On...

BY: Lucy Maddox      10/19/23

Join the Lights On Afterschool Lightbulb Challenge!

With just two weeks left until Lights On Afterschool day, the countdown to this annual celebration is well underway! Still, it’s not too late to get involved and show your support for afterschool programs across the country. Even if you aren’t hosting your own event this year, there are...

BY: Lucy Maddox      10/12/23

Passing the microphone: Ways to amplify youth voice during Lights On Afterschool

Lights On Afterschool is the perfect time to pass the microphone to the young people in your community and let them share their thoughts and experiences with a larger audience. From the planning to the execution, youth can be involved in all aspects of your Lights On event. There are plenty of...

BY: Maria Rizo      10/05/23

Energy Superheroes join Lights On Afterschool events in Charlottesville, Denver, Houston – and Mons, Belgium

We’re thrilled to share that Energy Superheroes are joining in the nation’s celebration of afterschool programs, Lights On Afterschool! Energy Superheroes are real-life women with superpowers and careers that are leading the energy transition. Many of these women help to power...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/24/23

What we saw during Lights On 2022: Part 1

Welcome to part one of "What we saw during Lights On 2022." As we head into the new year, we wanted to share some of the first-hand accounts from our staff members who were able to visit afterschool programs during this year's Lights On. You can read part two on the blog. Mark...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      12/15/22

Spotlight on STEM at YMCA Houston's 21st CCLC Lights On celebration

This Lights On Afterschool, the Afterschool Alliance partnered with Energy Superheroes and Trailblazers from the award-winning multicultural nonfiction children’s book series, Everyday Superheroes to bring STEM learning to four different local Lights On celebrations. One of those celebrations...

BY: Maria Rizo      11/28/22

5 ways to share your students' entrepreneurial mindsets during Lights On

By Scott Mann, VentureLab, Jessie Jones and Kelly Biggar of Young Entrepreneur Institute (YEI), and Liz Nusken, Ohio Afterschool Network (OAN). Photo courtesy of Youth Panel on Entrepreneurship Education. Afterschool programs play a vital role in helping young people explore and develop...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/26/22

Energy Superheroes to celebrate Lights On Afterschool!

We’re thrilled to share that Energy Superheroes and Trailblazers are joining in the nation’s celebration of afterschool programs, Lights On Afterschool! Energy Superheroes and Trailblazers are real-life women with superpowers and careers that are leading the energy transition. Many of...

BY: Shaun Gray      09/06/22

Planning tools for your Lights On Afterschool celebration

We’re nine weeks out from the 23rd celebration of Lights On Afterschool! If you’re in search of event ideas or unsure where to begin, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover our top planning tools to help you organize your event! Register your Lights On event by September...

BY: Tierra Easter      08/19/22

Bring out student creativity during Lights On Afterschool

This Lights On Afterschool, host an art day! Lights On Afterschool is the perfect time to let students express their thoughts on afterschool through art. Events can be as big as a mural painting around a unique theme that resonates with your students and as simple as decorating a lightbulb with all...

BY: Maria Rizo      09/28/23

Meet the winner of the Lights On Afterschool 2023 poster contest

This year's Lights On Afterschool poster was created by Lydia Ireland, a seventh-grade student from Folks Middle School Art Club. Lydia’s drawing features afterschool imagery, including a ballet slipper, a football, a theater mask, a chess piece, and a computer mouse – all radiating...

BY: Shaun Gray      08/21/23

The 2023 Lights On Afterschool Poster Contest is open!

The Lights On Afterschool poster contest is officially open, and this year we’re looking for any artwork that represents the spirit of afterschool programs. To make things even more exciting, we’re looking to gather new or already existing materials. If your program has...

BY: Shaun Gray      05/18/23

Announcing the winner of the 2022 Lights On Afterschool poster contest

The time has come to reveal the official Lights On Afterschool 2022 ! Afterschool Alliance is thrilled to announce the winner of the 2022 Lights On Afterschool poster contest: LEAP afterschool program at PS100x in the Bronx, New York! The winning artwork will be printed on 50,000 posters and sent...

BY: Maria Rizo      07/01/22

Calling all afterschool artists! Design the Lights On poster and win $500!

The Lights On Afterschool poster contest is officially open, and this year we’re changing our theme to reflect how youth see themselves and their futures because of their afterschool program!  We’ve been through a lot over the past few years. Afterschool programs have...

BY: Shaun Gray      03/01/22

Lights, learning, and lunchboxes – An innovative partnership during Lights On

By Meredith Bush, Senior Manager of Education Business Development at Center of Science and Industry (COSI), and Stephen White, Chief Strategy Officer, Vice President of Partnerships and Business Development at Center of Science and Industry (COSI). Afterschool Alliance teamed up...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/09/23

Lights On Afterschool STEM extravaganza

With Lights On Afterschool season upon us and as the new STEM Hub Manager here at the Afterschool Alliance, I was eager to participate in an event elevating the value of STEM learning for youth at a young age. I was delighted to learn about and attend the inaugural STEM Extravaganza in Columbia,...

BY: Leslie Brooks      11/02/23

Energy Superheroes join Lights On Afterschool events in Charlottesville, Denver, Houston – and Mons, Belgium

We’re thrilled to share that Energy Superheroes are joining in the nation’s celebration of afterschool programs, Lights On Afterschool! Energy Superheroes are real-life women with superpowers and careers that are leading the energy transition. Many of these women help to power...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/24/23

NASA is celebrating Lights On Afterschool - and you’re invited!

This Lights On Afterschool, get wrapped up in learning about Paula Cain, who went from fashion designer to space blanket technician at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.  NASA invites programs and youth to join a special virtual Lights On Afterschool event with Thermal Blanket...

BY: Maria Rizo      10/02/23

Spotlight on STEM at YMCA Houston's 21st CCLC Lights On celebration

This Lights On Afterschool, the Afterschool Alliance partnered with Energy Superheroes and Trailblazers from the award-winning multicultural nonfiction children’s book series, Everyday Superheroes to bring STEM learning to four different local Lights On celebrations. One of those celebrations...

BY: Maria Rizo      11/28/22

Communities from Alaska to Florida lit up landmarks for afterschool

Last Thursday, communities across the country rallied for the 23rd annual Lights On Afterschool celebration. This year, the nation shined their lights for the essential programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and give working parents peace of mind that their children are safe and...

BY: Maria Rizo      10/28/22

Inspiring celebrations of afterschool during Lights On 2022

In Alaska, students balanced spiders on webs they created with marshmallows and toothpicks, and enjoyed Polynesian dance. In California, they conducted “Will It Float?” exercises. In Florida, they created elephant toothpaste from dish soap, hydrogen peroxide and yeast; in Indiana,...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/21/22

Light up your community during Lights On Afterschool!

Just four weeks until the 23rd annual Lights On Afterschool! Lights On Afterschool showcases the important role afterschool programs play in supporting students, families, and communities. Shining a light on afterschool programs helps build awareness of the critical need for more...

BY: Tierra Easter      09/23/22

Planning tools for your Lights On Afterschool celebration

We’re nine weeks out from the 23rd celebration of Lights On Afterschool! If you’re in search of event ideas or unsure where to begin, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover our top planning tools to help you organize your event! Register your Lights On event by September...

BY: Tierra Easter      08/19/22