Lights On!

Millions of Americans are turning the lights on as part of the 19th annual Lights On Afterschool to emphasize the importance of keeping lights on and doors open for after school programs. National Lights On Afterschool Awareness Day is Thursday, October 25, 2018, and Kalamazoo Public School students have been doing their part to shed light on the need to invest in after school programs.

A significant body of research demonstrates that students who regularly attend after school programs are more likely to improve their grades, tests scores, attendance, and overall academic behavior.

Elementary and secondary students who participate in Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS) After School are coming up with their own ways to shine the spotlight on quality after school support. Students have been busy writing letters to public officials and stakeholders, making artwork, and more to raise awareness about the need for after school opportunities.

Nationwide, 11.3 million children are alone and unsupervised from 3 to 6 p.m.  After school programs offer not only a safe place to learn and grow, but can serve as a strategic way to address both academic achievement and opportunity gaps. The achievement gap between students from lower- and higher-income families has grown by 40% over the past 30 years. By the sixth grade, middle class students have spent 4,000+ more hours in after school and summer learning opportunities than their low-income peers. Consistent participation in high-quality after school programs can help close and eliminate these gaps.

Parents regularly express their gratitude for having this support within the Kalamazoo Public Schools. “I can’t tell you how many parents say how much they appreciate the homework help their kids receive as part of CIS After School,” says Phillip Hegwood, CIS After School Coordinator at Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts.

In Kalamazoo, CIS relies heavily on local resources and partnerships for its core work during the school day to identify needs and connect students to the right resources to remove barriers to school success. The CIS After School Program is able to extend the learning day Monday through Thursday in 15 KPS schools thanks to the support of federal dollars awarded through the Michigan Department of Education (21st Century Community Learning Centers).

On behalf of all the children who benefit from after school support, thanks for helping us keep the lights on in Kalamazoo.