Nationwide ‘Lights On Afterschool’ celebration highlights Lincoln Community Learning Centers impact

On Thursday, Oct. 20, Lincoln Community Learning Centers (CLC) joined in with after school programs around the country in celebrating Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide celebration “to call attention to the importance of afterschool programs for America's children, families and communities”. 

City of Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird declared Oct. 20 as Lights On Afterschool Day in the City of Lincoln. CLC Director Nola Derby-Bennett read part of the mayor’s proclamation at Thursday night's event.

“Lincoln residents are committed to high quality afterschool programs that provide academic and enrichment opportunities essential to student success, school and life, and by keeping the lights on after school, Lincoln’s 30 afterschool programs provide safe, fun and nurturing space every school day for over 5,000 students per day.”

Community organizations and partners from around Lincoln attended the event, including University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Lincoln Children’s Museum, Civic Nebraska and many more. Dana Berger, a school community coordinator at Norwood Park Elementary, said community partners are essential to their mission.

“We are about the community,” said Berger. “What we want to be is a community school to get different resources and different programming going on in our schools to help our families and our students in our neighborhoods.”

Community Learning Centers also work with a wide array of clubs at the schools they serve, helping to coordinate meeting times and materials, and connecting club members with local partners.  At Lincoln High, senior Gianna says partnering with their CLC has made a world of difference for her club, LHS Skate Club.

“It helped so much,” said Gianna. “Before, we just had our once a month meetings during a school club, but with CLC we can have weekly meetings so we can get more stuff done. And then we also connected with Precision through CLC, we connected with the Bay, which are like big skateboarding things. And so with that, we get more opportunities.”

She says the opportunities and friendships gained from participating in LHS Skate Club are a great reason for anyone to give their school’s CLC clubs a try.

“I've never had opportunities like that before,” said Gianna. “CLC is amazing. The clubs are amazing. Our club is amazing. Just it's opened up so much for me. I've met so many new people, and I've got to do so many things. It's worth it.”

For Berger, providing the space and support for students to explore their interests and make new connections is what CLC’s are all about, and the purpose behind the Lights On Afterschool celebration.

“It's a safe place after school where kids can go and learn, have fun, build positive relationships with adults and kids all around them,” said Berger.

For more information about Lincoln Community Learning Centers, go to 

Published: October 28, 2022, Updated: October 28, 2022