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Annual National Rally to Put Spotlight on Importance of Funding Afterschool

Annual National Rally to Put the Spotlight on the Importance of Funding Afterschool Programs

More than a million people in communities across the country will be participating in the 16th annual Lights On for Afterschool, the only national rally for afterschool programs.

The group that organizes the rally, Afterschool Alliance, estimates that over 8,000 afterschool programs will be participating in the Thursday, Oct. 22 event to help spread the word about the importance of investing in afterschool programs.

These programs will be "holding rallies, science fairs, fun runs, student performances, community service events, sports competitions, open houses and more at schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, Ys, community centers, museums, parks and recreation facilities, state capitols, malls, and other settings. All these events will celebrate the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families," the group said in a statement.

New York City will be also be bringing attention to afterschool programs for the ninth consecutive year as it plans to light up the Empire State Building in yellow that evening.

Though the cause is always important, it's especially important now as Congress gets together to debate the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in addition to work on the budget for the Fiscal Year 2016. Decisions made for both will impact the funding of—and therefore the status and availability of—afterschool programs in this country.

Research continually supports the benefits of afterschool programs on students. Research from Deborah Lowe Vandell, dean of the School of Education at the University of California, indicated earlier this year that afterschool programs help reduce achievement gaps between low and high income students. These programs also help improve all students' attendance and behavior overall, Lowe Vandell's team learned.

While the fact that enrollment in afterschool programs has increased significantly in the past decade—from an estimated 6.5 million students in 2004 to 10.2 million students last year— could be considered a positive sign for districts, parents and students, there is a need for more programs nationwide.

"...for every child in an afterschool program, there are two more whose parents say they would participate, if a program were available. One in five students in the United States today is unsupervised after the school day ends," said the Attendance Alliance in its statement.

Read more about the Afterschool Alliance here and write to editor[at]educationworld.com if you would like to be interviewed about a story related to this event or afterschool programming in general. 

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

09/22/2015

Will you be showing your support for afterschool programs on Oct. 22?

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