Lights On Afterschool: Have fun, show off, and support systems building

Guest post by Jennifer Rinehart

The annual Lights On Afterschool celebration is coming up on October 17th. Each year, 1 million Americans celebrate Lights On Afterschool to shine a light on the after-school programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working families. One of the reasons that Lights On Afterschool has grown into a national celebration involving nearly 10,000 communities is because local programs have embraced it as a way to meet some of their big-picture needs, including:

After-school systems can think of Lights On Afterschool in the same way. The annual event can help meet your existing systems-building goals.

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Investing in Youth as Agents of Change

Guest post by Wokie Weah

Xue Yang wants to transform his community by providing young people with opportunities to learn more about business and make local connections. Rachel Huss, a substitute teacher in Minneapolis Public Schools, plans to create a curriculum that incorporates Theater of the Oppressed in ESL/ELL classrooms and as a tool to combat gang violence. Edwin Gonzalez sees urban farming as a tool to educate and organize youth around food justice.

Change Fellows taking part in team-building activities at the start of the fellowship. Photo courtesy of Youthprise.

Change Fellows take part in team-building activities at the start of the fellowship. Photo courtesy of Youthprise.

These are just a few of the big ideas from the first class of Youthprise “Change Fellows”—think Shark Tank with a social innovation twist. Launched this past summer, the Change Fellows program was designed by the Youthprise Innovator Collective. This group of eight worked to redefine philanthropy as a collaborative process in which young people, driven by their love for others, lead the allocation and redistribution of resources—whether time, talent, or funding—toward the just and authentic enrichment of their peers.

Acting on recommendations from the Collective, Youthprise invested in 10 fellows between the ages of 16 and 25 who are stirring up currents of change in their communities. We know that some of the most interesting innovations happen on the margins of fields by new players, and are betting that the Change Fellows will foster the kind of collaboration, dialogue and ideas that could stir up system-wide change.
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Back to School, Into Wonderland

Here in New York, it’s back to school for the city’s 1.1 million students. We saw them on our morning commutes today for the first time since June, heading to school on foot, bike, bus, and train, new backpacks in tow and nervous smiles on their faces.

We thought back to what the first day of school was like for us, growing up in other cities around the country. Here are some of the CBASS staff and partners’ favorite memories. Add yours in the comments below.

I grew up in Florida, where seasons were marked only as “wet” or “dry,” and “hot” or “hotter,” so I didn’t have the crisp fall air to signal a change. My favorite memories of going back to school coincided with everything that signaled a fresh start: going to the drugstore with my mom to pick out a snappy new Trapper Keeper, selecting clean notebooks (one for each class), ink-filled pens and sharp pencils, and, of course, new clothes. Most of all, I remember the butterflies in my stomach with excitement for all the surprises that a new year of friendships and learning would bring.   –Jessica Donner, CBASS

On my first day of 6th grade P.E. (remember P.E.?), I met a girl who played basketball aggressively and wasn’t afraid to disagree with others—and loudly. I, shy and eager to please everyone I met, didn’t like her much. The next year, we were in the same math class and got assigned to work together. Despite my aversion to group work, we got along well and even chose to be running partners in that year’s P.E. class. Today, she’s one of my oldest and dearest friends. It goes to show first impressions aren’t the only ones that count.   –Nina Agrawal, CBASS

As a half-day, afternoon kindergarten student, I missed the rush of kids into the building on the first day of school. When I arrived, the door—which appeared to be from Alice in Wonderland—was too big for me to open. After a few minutes of pulling as hard as I could (thinking that maybe school was just not for me), someone came to my rescue.  It looked up from there—the staff at Rice Square School in Worcester were kind, attentive, and personally interested in our success.   –Chris Smith, Boston Afterschool and Beyond

On the first day of the 4th grade at Isla Vista Elementary, the first thing our teacher, Ms. Schuyler did, was teach each of the students how to give her a shoulder massage, and throughout the year we took turns rubbing her shoulders while she graded papers. It was brilliant! She was a fantastic, warm, caring teacher with the best laugh and bright red hair piled on top of her head. A memorable year.   –Jennifer Peck, Partnership for Children and Youth

When thinking of my daughter’s childhood, both she and I most remember buying school supplies and getting new books at the beginning of the year.   –Suzette Harvey, Prime Time Palm Beach County

On my first day of the 6th grade, I tried out for the girls’ basketball team. I had no interest in basketball, but I was worried my best friend would drop me as her BFF if I didn’t go with her. The try-outs felt monumentally difficult. But over the course of those three days, my experience epitomized why we encourage girls to play sports: I learned how to pick myself up from failure, and how to receive both constructive feedback and praise with grace. I came to recognize the coach as a mentor, and the entire experience built my confidence. At the end, I made the team. (It still holds the school’s all-time best win-loss record for a season).   –Lauren Bierbaum, Partnership for Youth Development