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Throw a Successful Lights On Afterschool Event on a Shoestring Budget

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Afterschool and Summer News, Policy & Legislation

On Oct. 18, 2012, more than 1 million people will gather at thousands of celebrations across the country and at U.S. military bases worldwide to celebrate Lights On Afterschool andrally in support of the afterschool programs that help working families, keep kids safe and inspire them to learn.  And in today’s tough economic climate, it’s more important than ever to increase awareness about how important afterschool programs are to children, parents and communities.  Register now to share how you’re celebrating!

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But even though some afterschool program budgets are shrinking, it’s still easy to plan a successful Lights On Afterschool celebration on a shoestring budget.  Lights On Afterschool celebrations don’t need to take a lot of time, money or resources to be great; a creative, low-key event with a well thought out guest list can have just as much impact as a larger event.  What matters is taking a moment to recognize the important, positive benefits of afterschool programs and sharing that with your community—with or without the confetti!

There are lots of ways to celebrate Lights On Afterschool by highlighting what’s special about your afterschool program without breaking the bank. Below are two event ideas that can work for any program.  You can find more planning tips and easy event ideas in our Lights On Afterschool Event Planning Kit.

Host an open house

One way to raise awareness and stretch each dollar to the max is to host a Lights On Afterschool open house.  An open house is just that—a time for parents, community and business leaders, local dignitaries, policy makers, reporters, and others to peek behind the curtain and get a glimpse of the enriching learning opportunities available after the school day ends.  Open houses are a great way for guests to see a representation of the fun and educational activities available to children who participate in quality afterschool programs.

Host a site visit for local leaders

Inviting community leaders and elected officials to visit your afterschool program is a powerful way to help them understand the value your program brings to the community.  In fact, site visits have had a definite impact for many afterschool programs by establishing personal relationships with policy makers.

The current election season presents an important opportunity to put afterschool on the radar of local, state and federal policy makers as well as the public in a visible and meaningful way.  During the month of October, Congress will be out of session and policy makers will be back in their home districts and states to campaign, giving you the opportunity to show them the benefits of afterschool firsthand.  Below are simple steps to help you get elected officials to join your Lights On Afterschool celebration.

For more resources to help you use Lights On Afterschool to make afterschool an election issue, see our Afterschool Campaign Toolkit.

Register your Lights On Afterschool celebration now!  Once you register your event you’ll receive 10 free posters, planning tips and event updates.  As always, our event planning kit is available for free online as well as sample materials, graphics, timelines, case studies and more.  No matter what kind of event you end up planning, remember to invite policy makers from every level—local, state and federal—to attend or invite them to do a site visit whenever they’re available.


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