Every year, one million Americans join together to celebrate Lights On Afterschool (LOA). It’s the only nationwide event held to highlight afterschool programs and the positive impact they have on children, families and communities.

Every year, one million Americans join together to celebrate Lights On Afterschool (LOA). It’s the only nationwide event held to highlight afterschool programs and the positive impact they have on children, families and communities.

Launched in October 2000, the event also provides the afterschool community an opportunity to raise awareness and advocate for the need of affordable, quality programs in communities across the country.

Why Advocacy Matters

There is overwhelming evidence that afterschool program participation yields a range of benefits for youth. Quality afterschool programs create additional time for children to learn in a structured environment, to close achievement gaps and explore interests in a different setting than school, according to Paul Young, author of Principal Matters. In fact, studies show that students in high-quality afterschool programs have better attendance, behavior, grades and test scores compared to those who don’t participate.

Despite the benefits afterschool programs offer youth, program funding such as 21st CCLC continues to be threatened by budget cuts. And, though the House recently passed an amendment that continues 21st CCLC funding through next year, the work to make the case for afterschool is never finished.

Advocating for Afterschool

It’s not too late to add your voice to the conversation. Here are a few ways you can advocate for afterschool during Lights On Afterschool:

  • Hosting a Lights On Afterschool event? Invite your elected officials to help them see the impact of afterschool first hand. Afterschool Alliance provides a sample invitation to help you engage policymakers.
  • Get your mayor, local city/county councils or other local organization to issue a proclamation in support of Lights On Afterschool. By designating a LOA day in your community, you can continue to celebrate and advocate for afterschool for years to come. Check out this sample proclamation to get started.
  • Share your story. Use photos and videos to showcase the work you do daily to motivate, inspire and engage youth in your program. Share student achievements, key milestones or even activities that foster key skills. Use these tips to share your story on- and offline.
  • Engage families during Lights On Afterschool and beyond. Make sure parents and caregivers are aware of the exciting things their children are doing after school. Share regular updates of their child’s skills, interests and behavior to help demonstrate the benefits of program participation. By doing so, you can help convert participating families into afterschool advocates.

Lights On Afterschool is a great opportunity to celebrate afterschool programs and share the positive impact they have on youth. Learn more about the event and how you can get involved by visiting www.afterschoolalliance.org/loa.