Tenth Anniversary of "Lights On Afterschool" Calls Attention to Importance of Afterschool Programs Nationwide
Today, at more than 7,500 events across the country and at military bases worldwide, Lights On Afterschool's tenth anniversary is being celebrated in a coordinated drive emphasizing the importance of afterschool programs for America's children, families and communities.
The Empire State Building in New York City will be specially lit up, and the rarely-illuminated Lindbergh Beacon atop Los Angeles City Hall will be turned on in a display of coast-to-coast support for Lights On Afterschool's important message: all children deserve access to high-quality afterschool programs.
"Learning doesn't just happen in a classroom between school bells," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Children learn all day long. So it's vital to give students and their families the tools, the facilities and the opportunity to continue working on traditional academic subjects as well as a place for broader lessons in areas like art and music to enrich their lives."
In the Washington, D.C. area, the Education Department’s White House Liaison Melanie Muenzer will take part in afternoon activities at the YMCA Capital View, 2118 Ridgecrest Court, SE, Washington, D.C. and Senior Advisor Jo Anderson will visit Holmes Middle School, 6525 Montrose St., Alexandria, Va. as students perform music and stage a short play. General Counsel Charlie Rose will attend an open house at CentroNia, 1420 Columbia Rd. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Other officials from the U.S. Department of Education will take part in community events throughout the nation as a way to show support and call attention to the value of afterschool programs. Among them, Michael Robbins, a special assistant at the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, will visit the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and attend an arts workshop sponsored by Pittsburgh's Manchester Craftsmen's Guild while Glenn Cummings, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, will visit a grantee of the Education Department's 21st Century Community Learning Centers program in Auburn, Maine.
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program supports efforts to build centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities outside of regular school hours, particularly for students attending high-poverty or low-performing schools. Literacy and other educational programs are also offered to the family members of participating children. The $1.1 billion fiscal year 2010 budget request for this program would support an estimated 10,140 such centers across the nation.
According to a new study by the Afterschool Alliance, over 15 million American children are alone and unsupervised after their school days end. Millions more need access to quality afterschool programs. In addition to providing a safe and supervised place to go after school, good afterschool programs also offer students help with their homework and introduce them to activities that may give them new interests and skills for the rest of their lives.
More than 200 national partners are supporting Lights On Afterschool activities. The U.S. Department of Education is one of the co-sponsors of this initiative organized by the Afterschool Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all children have access to high quality and affordable afterschool programs.