Keeping Lights On During Dark Times

National Lights On Afterschool Awareness Day is today, Thursday, October 22, 2020, and Kalamazoo Public School students are doing their part to shed light on the need to invest in after school programs. As part of this 21st national event, elementary and secondary students who participate in Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS) After School Programs have been busy coming up with creative ways to shine the spotlight on quality after school support during these unprecedented times.

A significant body of research demonstrates that students who regularly participate in after school programs are more likely to improve their grades, tests scores, and overall academic behavior. CIS Senior Director of Site Services Dr. Tamiko Garrett says, “Students value the opportunities and supports they receive as part of the after school experience. They know it makes a difference in their lives and they want the community to know it’s important to ‘keep the lights on’ for them.”

To get a taste of what some of our kids have been doing to raise awareness about the need for after school opportunities, here is one of the videos they’d like you to see. (And we’ll be sharing more videos in the weeks to come.)

CIS relies heavily on local resources and partnerships for its core work during the school day, including placing CIS Site Coordinators within schools to identify needs and connect students to the right resources to remove barriers to school success. The CIS After School Program is able to serve students in 15 after school sites—11 elementary and 4 middle schools— thanks to the support of federal dollars awarded through the Michigan Department of Education, 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

CIS Think Summer is underway!

Boxes of materials and supplies sent to CIS Think Summer! students.

CIS Think Summer! is in full swing this year for elementary and secondary students thanks to continued support of federal dollars awarded through the Michigan Department of Education, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers. CIS Think Summer! is designed to reduce summer learning loss and increase academic and enrichment opportunities. Until this year, students’ CIS Think Summer experience has always been an in-person summer program with interactive field trips occurring at least once a week. “Due to COVID, our programming, including field trips, had to be cancelled and we had to shift CIS Think Summer to an online platform,” said Dr. Tamiko Garrett.

To fill the holes in the students’ enrichment schedule, Dr. Garrett reached out to a number of individuals and organizations to see if they would be willing to offer one-time presentations that align with the career themes (food, health, and entrepreneurial focus) promoted during CIS Think Summer!

CIS is grateful to all those who have already and will be sharing their knowledge and expertise with our students. “All have been willing to step up and present without hesitation,” says Dr. Garrett. “Their commitment has helped us ensure that, despite these challenging times, students still have interactive experiences. We can’t thank them enough!”

Next week, we’ll introduce you to Jessica Waller, Vice President of the Salty Snacks Division with the Kellogg Company. A proud graduate of Kalamazoo Public Schools, she helped us kick off CIS Think Summer! with a fun, informative, and interactive presentation for our secondary students.