Commentary: Campagna Center: Lights On Afterschool

Commentary: Campagna Center: Lights On Afterschool

Keeping children safe and engaged after school.

Afterschool programs are making an important difference for Alexandria’s children and their parents. They keep our kids safe in the critical afternoon hours when they are most likely to be the victims or perpetrators of crime. They help kids achieve academically by providing homework support and tutoring, and offering mentorship and college prep support for older students. They provide healthy snacks to help promote the right eating habits. And, these programs give working parents a peace of mind that their children are safe and engaged in enriching activities as they work to provide for the materials needs of their family.

The most recent data available on the value of afterschool programs in Virginia was captured by a report released by the Afterschool Alliance where 15 percent of children participate in an afterschool program, but 35 percent would if a program were available to them. Parents across Virginia rank the following reasons as their top picks for getting their children engaged in these vital programs: safety (90 percent), quality of care (87 percent) convenient location, usually collocated in a school (85 percent), hours match needs (83 percent), and child’s enjoyment of the program (81 percent). Afterschool programs are also vital to our state’s economic health with 77 percent of Virginia’s parents agreeing that afterschool programs help them remain employed.

In Alexandria, The Campagna Center is one of several organizations participating in the city’s Out-of-School Time Work Group, where data has been gathered to understand the profile of programs in our community and where gaps might exist. This Work Group was established following the City Council and the Alexandria School Board’s adoption of the Children and Youth Master Plan. Their final report on the city’s afterschool programs’ needs and best practices will be released later this year.

The Campagna Center has experienced strong support for afterschool programs here in Alexandria, where parents, business leaders, religious groups and others have been long-time supporters of our afterschool programs. Through the partnership between The Campagna Center and the City of Alexandria — with afterschool programs like Campagna Kids for elementary school students and Building Better Futures for middle and high School students — Alexandria is reducing the likelihood its children fall into at-risk behaviors while increasing academic achievement and opportunity.

The Campagna Center programs serve as safe places during the school year and offer activities during spring and winter breaks and summer recess. And the outcomes speak for themselves:

  • 87 percent of parents feel the program helps their child learn and develop new skills

  • 88 percent of parents with children participating in homework assistance feel their child has improved academically

  • 86 percent of parents feel their child has improved how frequently they complete their homework

  • 96 percent of regularly participating high school students were promoted to the next grade

  • 93 percent of seniors applied to college and 89 percent were accepted

On Oct. 26, The Campagna Center will join with numerous other afterschool programs in our community and around the country to celebrate Lights on Afterschool, a national campaign focused on showcasing the power of these important programs. Campagna Kids operates out of 11 elementary schools in Alexandria. To learn more about The Campagna Center and our many enrichment opportunities that help Alexandria children, youth, and families thrive, visit