City Leaders, Education Advocates Light Up Billboards Nationwide to Illuminate the Need for Critical Afterschool Learning Opportunities
Groups Team with Clear Channel Outdoor in National Billboard Campaign Marking the 20th Anniversary of Lights On Afterschool
Washington, D.C. – The Afterschool Alliance, the National League of Cities and the National Summer Learning Association, a coalition of afterschool supporters, joined with Clear Channel Outdoor (NYSE: CCO) this week to launch a campaign across more than 1,000 digital billboards nationwide encouraging city leaders and other stakeholders to turn the Lights On Afterschool.
In its 20th year, Lights On Afterschool is the only national rally for afterschool programs. Throughout October, and leading up to Oct. 24, the official anniversary of Lights On Afterschool, the coalition expects to involve more than one million people at more than 8,000 events across the country and at U.S. military bases worldwide. The groups are sending the message on this anniversary that demand for afterschool programs remains high and millions of students are without the programs they need.
In fact, the America After 3PM household survey of more than 30,000 families, commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance, found that participation in afterschool programs has increased to 10.2 million students nationwide – but the unmet demand is great. For every child in an afterschool program today, two more are waiting to get in. Unmet demand is especially high in rural communities and communities of concentrated poverty. One in five students in the United States is unsupervised after the school day ends.
The 20th anniversary of Lights On Afterschool serves as a reminder that a powerful body of evidence demonstrates improvements in attendance, behavior, academic achievement and more among children who participate in afterschool programs. Researchers have also found afterschool programs encourage increased parental involvement – an important building block for student success.
Organized by the Afterschool Alliance, Lights On Afterschool includes open houses, science fairs, fun runs, student showcases, academic contests, community service activities, sports competitions, and other events at schools, 4-Hs, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, parks, museums, community centers, state capitols and other places. Events showcase the skills students gain and the talents they develop in their afterschool programs. Afterschool programs provide homework help; mentors; healthy snacks and meals; computer programming; opportunities to think critically, collaborate and communicate with peers and adults; job and college readiness; sports and fitness activities; robotics; art, dance and music; and continuous opportunities for hands-on, team-based learning.
Clear Channel Outdoor is supporting the 20th anniversary campaign by donating some of its most prominent billboard space to illuminate Lights On Afterschool. This includes some of its digital billboards in New York City’s Time Square, where the messages displayed will complement the additional awareness and visibility provided when the iconic Empire State Building is lit in yellow and blue for the October 24 anniversary. Afterschool supporters also will be lighting up local landmarks and buildings across the country that evening to show their support for afterschool programs.
To further support this nationwide effort, the afterschool-themed messages will also appear on Clear Channel Outdoor’s digital billboards in Los Angeles and at Boston’s South Station and will culminate in a symbolic “Lights On” moment when more than 1,000 digital billboards freeze on one image on October 24 at 7 p.m.
“Quality afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help give working parents peace of mind that their children are safe and learning during the sometimes-perilous hours after the school day ends and before parents get home from work – and Clear Channel Outdoor’s support helps us illustrate the need for more resources so that, sometime soon, every child will have access to an afterschool program” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant.
“The National League of Cities is proud to uplift Lights On Afterschool again this year,” said Clarence E. Anthony, National League of Cities (NLC) CEO and executive director. “As Lights On Afterschool celebrates its 20th anniversary, NLC is also celebrating nearly 20 years of working with cities, towns and villages to advance afterschool learning opportunities. Local leaders have long been champions of afterschool programming – they see the positive impact these programs have on families and communities every day.” This year, NLC is partnering with the Afterschool Alliance to encourage mayors to light up their city halls in honor of Lights On Afterschool.
“We understand the importance and economic value of providing all children with quality learning opportunities after school ends,” said Aaron Philip Dworkin, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association. “That’s why we are proud to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Lights On Afterschool at our annual summer learning conference in Atlanta later this month. Together, we can keep all kids safe, healthy and engaged beyond the school day.”
On October 16, a new report from the more than 5,000 sheriffs, police chiefs, and prosecutors of the organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids will spotlight abundant, powerful research documenting positive outcomes for children and teens who participate in high-quality afterschool programs. The report, being released in conjunction with Lights On Afterschool, identifies the hours that are the “prime time for juvenile crime” and why afterschool programs are one of the nation’s best crime prevention strategies.
Along with Clear Channel Outdoor, Nickelodeon and KIND are generous sponsors of Lights On Afterschool this year.
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The Afterschool Alliance is a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children and youth have access to quality afterschool programs. More information is available at www.afterschoolalliance.org