Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shine some light on afterschool programs

Photo via Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach
On Thursday, October 18, 2012 over one million Americans in thousands of communities across the nation will celebrate Lights On Afterschool, an event that first began in 2000.  Afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.

One of the most startling facts is that in America, 15.1 million children (a rate of 1 in every 4) are left alone and unsupervised in the hours between the school bell and parents being able to leave work.  Afterschool programs across the country create a safe place for kids to be afterschool.  But they don’t stop at “safe place,” they bring in academic support, enrichment activities, youth voice and choice, wellness, career and college readiness, STEM, and any other club or class that youth will find relevant and rigorous and give them an opportunity to work with a partner or in small groups.
Last year there were more than 7,500 local celebrations, rallies, parties, or galas to raise the banner of afterschool.  You can find an event in your area by vising the Afterschool Alliance, a non-profit that is focused solely on strengthening programs offered to youth during the out-of-school time hours and the creator of the nationwide Lights On project.

A recent survey found that 8.4 million children participate in an afterschool program, an increase of nearly 3 million children over the past five years.  A study by Learning Point Associates found these facts:

  • On average, 182 students attend each afterschool center and 88 of them are regular attendees
  • 33% of these students are Hispanic/Latino, and 25% are African American
  • 73% of the regular attendees participate in the Free/Reduced Price Lunch Program and 16% have been designated as English Learners
  • Of the 1,585,978 reported students, 468,727 attend high school, 408,835 attend middle school, and 700,225 attend elementary school
  • These programs are operated by 44,690 partnering organizations and 9 out of 10 are located in schools

So this year on Thursday, October 18, raise your voice in support of afterschool programs.  Visit one in your neighborhood. Let your friends and neighbors know how important these programs are for all of us. Keep the lights on for kids!

Are you holding an event? Tell us about it!

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