by Imani Hope
On October 20, more than 7,500 communities nationwide participated in annual Lights On Afterschool events as part of a national campaign sponsored by the Afterschool Alliance to raise awareness about the importance of afterschool programs. City officials joined school board members, school administrators, afterschool providers, community organizations, parents and students to celebrate high-quality, local afterschool programs.
Municipal leaders played an active role in sponsoring events and issuing proclamations in support of Lights On Afterschool Day, recognizing the potential of afterschool programs to provide safe places for children, reduce juvenile crime, impact school dropout rates and support working parents. The following examples of local Lights On celebrations highlight city leadership to build public will for afterschool.
Dr. Donnie Horner, the City of Jacksonville's first education commissioner, shared a proclamation issued by Mayor Alvin Brown reaffirming the mayor's commitment to education and afterschool programming. Approximately 500 children joined the Jacksonville Children's Commission, the Afterschool Alliance and JCPenney in showcasing Jacksonville's highly successful afterschool programs.
This year, Jacksonville was awarded a $5,000 "Light Up a Landmark" award from JCPenney for its creative plans to shine a spotlight on afterschool programs that keep children safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. The Lights On event was held at Friendship Fountain, which was lit up in celebration.
The City of Denver held a series of events culminating in a Lights on Afterschool celebration on October 20. Councilman Paul D. Lopez read a proclamation to the city council declaring October 20 to be Lights On Afterschool Day in Denver.
Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg spoke at the Lights On event. "As a city, we understand that the school door swings both ways and it is our responsibility to ensure quality programs for our children and youth on the other side of that door," said Mayor Hancock.
Hundreds of afterschool programs participated in the Lights On Afterschool celebration in San Francisco. This fall marked the second year that the city's Department of Children, Youth and their Families (DCYF) required out-of-school time providers funded by the city to participate in this awareness-raising event.
DCYF grantees hosted a wide variety of celebrations, from parent literacy nights to awards ceremonies and neighborhood parades. San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Superintendent Carlos Garcia and Hydra Mendoza, Mayor Edwin Lee's education and family services advisor and president of the SFUSD Board of Education, kicked off the event with remarks about the importance of afterschool for the city's children.
The Boise Parks and Recreation Department held open house events at three afterschool sites across the city. Mayor David Bieter joined the festivities at the Whitney Community Center, where students and staff harvested produce from the community garden to provide snacks for attendees.
A grant from the Boise Southwest Rotary Club to acquire books, magazines and bookshelves for afterschool reading clubs was also announced at the event.
On October 20, students and staff at Morton School of Excellence - a YMCA Community School - hosted U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, CPS Board of Education President David Vitale, U.S. Representative Danny Davis and Chicago Alderman Walter Burnett.
CPS students, parents, school officials and other partners lit up the city with paper lanterns and rallied for safe afterschool programs.
Details: To learn more about Lights On Afterschool Day, visit www.afterschoolalliance.org. For more information about NLC afterschool resources and initiatives, visit www.nlc.org/iyef or contact Imani Hope at (202) 626-3180 or firstname.lastname@example.org.