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Lights On Afterschool 2021

On Thursday, October 28, we celebrate Lights on Afterschool, a nationwide celebration of the power and impact that afterschool providers have on the millions of youth across the country, around the state, and especially here in the city of Detroit. Since 2000, Lights On Afterschool has been celebrated nationwide to call attention to the importance of afterschool programs for America’s children, families and communities.

Now you might ask, Why does afterschool matter right now?

Over the course of the pandemic, the routines and relationships that supported the growth and development of our children and youth has been upended, leaving many of our youth and families scrambling to find resources and supports they would normally receive through their school. During this time, there has been one constant in the lives of the young people of Detroit: Their community afterschool program.

The Skillman Foundation has been steadfast supporters of afterschool programs throughout our history and began working to develop a high-quality afterschool system—with an emphasis on reaching youth living in areas with limited services—in 1992. Alongside community partners, we are building a robust system of out-of-school learning and development opportunities that allow kids to explore and expand their sense of self and the world under the guidance of caring adults.

A high-quality system is only as good as its component parts. This is what makes Detroit’s afterschool community one of the best in the nation and is a major reason why The Skillman Foundation continues to support impactful programming that expands the learning day for youth in fun, engaging, and interactive ways. Throughout 2021, The Foundation has granted over $3 million dollars to sustain access to high-quality opportunities our youth need to maintain important peer and adults relationships, sustain a reliable routine during these hectic days, with a focus of strengthening the youth’s resilience which will enable them to thrive in these current circumstances.

The Detroit Youth Development Resource Center provides three simple action steps so you can lift up the power of afterschool:

  1. Post on social media! Show off your program by posting a slideshow, “go live” on Facebook or Instagram, or post an interview with a parent about why your afterschool program matters to them. Tag us @DetroitYDRC and #LightsOnMi. Here is a toolkit with more LOA activities and resources.
  2. Attend the Youth Development Resource Center’s “We Hear You” event! Join YDRC for an engaging and interactive session that uplifts the voices of Detroit area young people and their families. Participants will come together to write a community op-ed piece that highlights the impact of out of school time programming. This will include a virtual tour of after school programs across the city. Click here to register.
  3. Make Your Voice Heard! Election Day is less than one week away and we will be voting for Detroit’s mayor and city council. Reach out to your respective city council candidate, as well as the candidates for mayor, and tell them to put children and youth first if they are elected to serve the people of Detroit. A united voice from Detroit’s families in service of Detroit’s after school system is very likely to motivate candidates to stand with Detroit afterschool providers, supporter and the youth that are served.

Today, we happily turn on the lights at The Skillman Foundation to celebrate the organizations, programs and positive adults who dedicate their professional lives to help our most precious resource, our youth, gain the skills needed to belong, to learn, and to lead.

Terry Whitfield

Strategy lead for afterschool, including advisory support to other afterschool efforts. Focus areas include afterschool programming, community organizing, and family supports

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