Chicago Youth Centers Celebrates the 16th Annual Lights On Afterschool on Oct. 22, 2015


Developed by The Afterschool Alliance, Lights on Afterschool is a nationwide event designed to raise awareness for afterschool programs’ impact on children and communities. Across the nation and here in Chicago, studies show that powerful afterschool programs strengthen communities and influence the positive development of children, closing significant academic and achievement gaps. For low-income children, these programs ultimately help them break out of generational cycles of poverty.

In a recent research report, America After 3PM, a decade of data chronicles how children spend the hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. —the hours when school has ended and typically before parents have returned from work.  It also defines families’ greatest needs as well as the current challenges in creating greater access to afterschool programs. The data shows an increase in the number of children enrolled in these programs, but also articulates the need to develop more options that are accessible and affordable.  More than 11 million children across the country do not have access to afterschool programs, and consequently could get left behind.

Afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working families.  We encourage you to visit to learn more about this research, and to read CYC's essay about afterschool programs and the aspiration gap from this year's Illinois Kids Count ReportChicago Youth Centers (CYC) is proud to be part of this significant national event.  On October 22, our Centers in Bridgeport, Bronzeville, North Lawndale, and South Shore will host events with our kids, families, and community and legislative leaders to raise awareness to support strong afterschool programs.

At CYC, our lights are always on. From our Early Childhood Education to our Teen Leadership Development Programs, we care for and about the success of our kids every day. For our children ages 6-13 in our Out-of-School Time Program, we support them with innovative and intentional programming designed to fuse academics with non-cognitive and project-based learning.  Through our three Maker Labs, we provide STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) education to children who might not experience this otherwise. Through our project-based learning curriculum, which is modeled after the national movement The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, we teach children the skills needed to succeed in school, in life, and ultimately, in the workforce.

We surround children and teens with the social capital they need to keep them on a path to success: innovative and creative spaces to learn, engaged families and mentors, and programs designed to increase their persistence academically and expand their abilities to reason, create, communicate, and collaborate. We promote their physical development through creative and safe play spaces that include age-appropriate and cool stuff like climbing walls. Our lights are on 12 months out of the year, even after school ends. Our Summer Enrichment Program focuses on combatting summer learning loss and violence prevention.

We are paying attention to the issues and meaningful strategies to address them. We are actively and passionately addressing the major gaps often faced by low income-children, and thoughtfully and intentionally teaching and supporting the whole child.

We encourage you to become passionate advocates with us: help us strengthen the public and private partnership necessary for the well-being of our children, families, and communities. We invite you to celebrate with us between the hours of 3-6 p.m. in any of our Centers on October 22, 2015. We encourage you to come celebrate with us any day. We ask that you let your voice be heard among our legislators, encouraging them to do whatever it takes to preserve vital afterschool funding.  And, when you are asked to give, we ask that you do—as generously and as deeply as possible.   

Join us on Oct. 22 as we celebrate Lights on After School at one of our four participating  Centers:

CYC-ABC  Polk Bros. Youth Center North Lawndale5:30-7:30 pm

Enjoy a Pumpkin Patch Party, Shining Orange on After School. Activities include baking pumpkin squares, roasting pumpkin seeds, pumpkin carving and a Spooky Family Feud competition. There will also be an open forum for parents to talk about the importance of After School programs for the community.

CYC-Elliott Donnelley Youth Center (EDYC) Bronzeville | 5-7 pm

EDYC presents It's Electric! The evening will feature illuminating science experiments like creating glow in the dark crafts and making tornadoes in a bottle. EDYC's Summer Enrichment Staff will also run water activities for children and families,

CYC-Fellowship House  Bridgeport | 4:30-6:30 pm

CYC-Fellowship House will host Fall Fun with Families. Stop by for scarecrow-making, pumpkin carving, taffy cooking, and more!

CYC-Rebecca K. Crown South Shore | 5-6:30 pm

Experience Fall-O-Ween S.T.EA.M. Festival. All activities will focus on one of the S.T.E.A.M fields. They will be making pumpkin-volcanoes (science), building robots (technology), conducting apple drops (engineering), creating popsicle stick Frankensteins (Art), and counting spiders (mathematics).

Research and Resources:

The After School Alliance 

America After 3PM

Illinois Kids Count Report