In honor of after-school programs that extend learning beyond school hours, Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed Thursday, Oct. 17, "Lights On Afterschool Day," connecting Minnesota to a national celebration of after-school programming.
To mark the day, the lights on the 35W Bridge over the Missisippi River will glow gold Thursday evening, starting 30 minutes before sunset. And in Manhattan, the Empire State Building will shine with the same color, connecting the Midwest to celebrations across the country.
“After-school programs keep kids engaged and help them develop both socially and academically,” Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said in a news release. “Educators across the nation are dedicated to supporting our youth and ensuring every child has access to incredible learning opportunities both in and out of the classroom.”
This will be the 14th annual Lights On Afterschool celebration. It's organized nationwide by the Afterschool Alliance, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of after-school programs and advocating for more after-school investments. Last year, more than a million people participated in more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events across the nation.
In Minnesota, after-school programming is supported by the 21st Century Community Learning Centers awards, grants awarded to help establish or expand community learning centers that provide students with enrichment opportunities during those times when school is not in session. Last year $11.8 million in federal funding was used to support after-school programming in communities with high concentrations of poverty. Grants provide support for 113 programs throughout the state. Last year, these programs served 22,500 students.
To find an after-school program that will be hosting an event on Thursday in your area, visit the Afterschool Alliance website (http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/loaFindEvent.cfm). Visit the Office of the Governor website (http://mn.gov/governor/resources/proclamations/) to view the proclamation.