Feb 14

The 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster contest is here!

Grab your markers and sketchbooks, your digital art pads and pens and get ready for the 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster contest. This year, we’re adding a new twist to the competition: the afterschool artist who creates the winning masterpiece will take home $500 for their afterschool program!

As always, the winning artwork will be printed on more than 50,000 posters that will be displayed at more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events around the world. We encourage all of your program participants to submit artwork that celebrates afterschool programs and conveys the importance of keeping the lights on after school. We all know afterschool programs keep kids safe, help working families and inspire kids to learn. We want your students to tell the world what afterschool means to them!

The Lights On Afterschool poster contest is a great opportunity for an afterschool program to gain national recognition for the opportunities it offers. The winning artist will be featured on our website, blog, and a national press release, and their afterschool program will be credited on the poster in addition to receiving the grand prize of $500!  Not a bad deal!

Get your students’ creative juices flowing soon: the deadline for submissions is April 15, 2017.

Tips to create a winning design

Have your youth participants demonstrate artistically how afterschool program has benefited their lives.  Need some tips to help your students bring their compositions to life? Think about what happens in your afterschool program. Dancing, singing, robotics, reading, sports, learning how to play an instrument—these things can be portrayed in abstract or realistic renderings.

Encourage students to use bright, bold markers or paint to bring life to their images and make it possible for us to scan the artwork into a digital file. Or feel free to get your burgeoning graphic designers involved by encouraging them to submit their artwork in the digital form to

The nitty-gritty: be sure to submit all artwork on 11×14 size paper. Art and office supply stores always have this size paper on hand. This allows us to properly fit the image into our final poster template. Anything smaller than an 11×14, or with different proportions, will make the image impossible to use. 

For digital submissions, make sure the artwork is in PDF format and is no larger than a 2 MB file with a DPI of 350. For higher resolution photos, email and request a link to our file transfer account.

Also, because the image will be used to promote Lights On Afterschool events nationally, avoid using a specific program name within the submission. It’s not required that the winning design includes the words Lights On Afterschool within the image; we’ll make sure the Lights On logo is included in the final poster image. But if your artists do include the phrase Lights On Afterschool in their designs, make sure “afterschool” is written as one word, consistent with the national branding of the celebration.

Keeping those guidelines in mind, be creative as possible! 

How to enter

We’ve provided an entry form to capture all the necessary information that we need, as well as a set of rules and guidelines governing this year’s contest.

Be sure to complete the full form and include it with your artwork submission postmarked no later than April 15 to Lights On Afterschool Poster Contest, Afterschool Alliance, 1616 H Street NW, Suite 820, Washington, D.C. 20006. For digital submissions, email—make sure the artwork is in PDF format and is no larger than a 2 MB file with a DPI of 350. For higher resolution photos, email sgray@afterschoolalliance and request a link to our file transfer account.

Be creative, and most importantly, have fun! We can’t wait to see what your students create this year.