Today we celebrate Lights on Afterschool, an event hosted yearly for over two decades organized by the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that ensures that all children have access to affordable, quality afterschool programs.
The event spreads awareness of the importance of afterschool and, this year, the organization aims to shine a light on all the ways that afterschool programs have supported communities during the pandemic.
I am excited by the efforts that the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce’s afterschool program, YouthQuest, has put forth since we’ve switched to virtual programming – providing resources for families, performing weekly check-ins, and ensuring that we are doing everything we can to support our community.
To celebrate, various YouthQuest sites are hosting social-distanced community programs including Drive Thru Trunk or Treat events and Drive-In movie showings. Community members are encouraged to attend these events and those interested can visit the YouthQuest Facebook page for more details.
We are excited to see YouthQuest families and the community come together with our staff, even if it is at a distance.
Afterschool allows students to explore ideas, provides new experiences in a safe environment and helps students find mutual success with project-based learning. Afterschool is also a great place to build interpersonal relationships, empathy and other skills through experiences students don’t always get during day school – especially in a time of virtual learning.
Everything YouthQuest is able to provide is a direct result of partnerships with local organizations, schools and funders.
We are fortunate to be able to partner with the Flint Community Education Initiative to expand our offerings to our students. We are lucky to have great relationships with our local school partners. We are also grateful to local philanthropic organizations that help fill in the gaps left by federal funding and help build the standards that we use to keep our programs at a top level.
Particularly, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, a foundation that invests in afterschool and education nationally, not only helps us keep our program running but is also one of the forerunners in benchmarking for afterschool programming.
Additionally, it is important to remember the funding that comes from 21st Century Community Learning Centers. This important support is at risk each year when congress sets its budgets, which is the main reason we celebrate Lights on Afterschool – to advocate for and share the importance of federal funding for programs such as ours.
We ask that our community members, families and friends share in helping us spread awareness by learning more about afterschool in our area. Ways in which you can stay up to date is by visiting our website at www.yquest.org, subscribing to our afterschool e-newsletter, Afterschool Download, and following our social media pages.
We hope that you will help us celebrate Lights on Afterschool today and every day.
Kristina Johnston is the Chief Operating Officer at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.