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Lights on Afterschool Events and the Importance of Afterschool Programs

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

More than 45 Wisconsin afterschool programming sites held Lights On Afterschool events to celebrate the importance of afterschool programs for kids on October 24.

Lights on Afterschool celebrations started in 2000, led by the Afterschool Alliance, a national, non-profit organization “dedicated to ensuring that all children have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs”(Afterschool Alliance).

Many of the sites in Wisconsin that hosted Lights on Afterschool events are 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLCs). These centers are supported through federally funded 21st CCLC grants, awarded to applicants serving students primarily from schools that have at least 40 percent of families with significant economic need.

Centers can be located in elementary schools, secondary schools, or other similarly accessible facilities, and provide a range of high-quality services to support student learning and development, including tutoring and mentoring, homework help, academic enrichment, community service opportunities, as well as music, arts, sports, and cultural activities.

DPI 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program Consultant Alison Wineberg explained, “Lights on Afterschool encourages communities to get out and see what happens with activities being offered outside of the school day. These kinds of programs provide safe places for kids to be but also places where they get exposure to engaging experiences that they may otherwise not have access to.”

Federal and state funding for 21st CCLCs and other afterschool programs are in high demand. Just this past year, DPI administered roughly $4 million in federal 21st CCLCs grants to Wisconsin schools and organizations, supporting only a quarter of the total requests received.

The Wisconsin 2018-19 21st Century Community Learning Centers Annual Report states, “21st CCLCs provide coverage that working families need. In 2018-19, the average program covered about 83% of school days. This means that families had access to subsidized afterschool care during most days that school was in session. In addition, 29% of sites provided morning programming and 16% of sites provided summer programming.”

Almost all 21st CCLCs also tie in family and community events, like Lights On Afterschool to share information, resources, and build connections.

The Department of Public Instruction continues to support safe, enriching, and supportive afterschool spaces, whether through the 21st CCLC Program or other local efforts.


Afterschool Alliance. n.d. LIGHTS ON AFTERSCHOOL HISTORY. Accessed October 31, 2019.

University of Wisconsin–Green Bay Consortium of Applied Research, and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. 2019. “2018-19 Annual Report: 21st Century Community Learning Centers.” Accessed October 31, 2019.