A project of the Afterschool Alliance

Lighting Up Landmarks

Programs often choose to take a literal approach to shining a light on afterschool programs when they plan their celebrations! From lighting up landmarks to aiming the spotlight closer to home, here's how you can help your event shine.

Partner organizations

For over a decade, the Empire State Building has been lighting up the New York City skyline to support afterschool programs everywhere. It's one of the most iconic Lights On Afterschool traditions.

But it's not the only one! Many afterschool programs work with libraries, recreation and parks departments, universities, local athletic teams, arts institutions, and museums. If one of your partners has a prominent property in the community, reach out and ask if it could be lit up for afterschool!

This strategy worked for the South Dakota Afterschool Network, lighting up the Falls of the Big Sioux River in Sioux Falls.

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Buildings and landmarks

Think of large buildings that already light up, from skyscrapers and office complexes to stadiums and historic buildings. Contact the community affairs department, or better yet, contact someone you know to ask about designating October 26’s lighting for Lights On Afterschool. Offer to promote the lighting on social media and to your contacts and media as a thank you.

This strategy worked in IN to have the Indianapolis Power & Light Building run a Lights On Afterschool message that lit up downtown!

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City or town properties

City leaders are big supporters of afterschool programs! Contact your city leader and/or their public affairs office to ask about lighting up a local feature, like an iconic statue, community center, town hall, fountain, or bridge. City and town leaders may appreciate the positive visibility of supporting afterschool and may even help promote the lighting. While you are at it, ask for a proclamation in support of Lights On Afterschool as well.

This strategy worked for the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network, which worked with state leadership to light the State Capitol in yellow.

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Stuck on finding a landmark?

Think outside the box!

  • Create a corn maze or pumpkin patch in the shape of a light bulb
  • Form a human lightbulb on a giant field, cut a light bulb shape into the grass, or plant flowers in the shape of a light bulb. Work with students to fly a drone over the site and take a photo.
  • Host a lantern lighting, where students design, decorate, and release lanterns into the evening sky. Or, if pumpkins are ripe where you are, create afterschool-themed jack-o'-lanterns.
  • Find a Lights On image (or design your own message or symbol) to project on the side of your program’s building.
  • Decorate your community with posters and student lightbulb artwork  
    • Post in your facility’s windows – and provide artwork to families, partners, and local businesses to post in their windows
    • Turn your Lights On posters into yard signs and send home for students to post, or post a gallery of student artwork as yard signs in front of your facility or school
    • Put up posters on community boards in grocery stores, parks, or libraries
  • Coordinate a car or bike parade for your students
  • Have students make huge Lights On chalk sidewalk drawings 
  • Post messages on school marquees and signs outside of faith-based institutions
  • Ask community landmarks to light up for afterschool on October 26, or consider lighting up your program facility, having students light up the outside of their houses with string lights, projectors, or flashlights on phones.
  • Proclamations declaring Lights On Afterschool can be made by your mayor, governor, local officials, or even by organizations.