Happy Lights On Afterschool! The Believe It. Build It. Contest Winners Are…

Today is the day we’ve been waiting for – Lights On Afterschool! Minnesota will be celebrating afterschool throughout the day with 190+ events at afterschool program sites, official Proclamations from Governor Dayton and other city leaders across the state, and a video message from Senator Al Franken! Click here to see all the ways you can get involved in #LoAMN15 today.

In the spirit of celebrating afterschool programs, we’re announcing the winners of the Believe It. Build It. Implementation Contest today. Announced at the beginning of the summer, this statewide contest encouraged afterschool programs across the state to submit their stories of how they were using Believe It. Build It. (BiBi) in their programs. We hope their stories will give you inspiration on how you can put BiBi to work for your program! Without further ado, here are the top 3 submissions, along with some honorable mentions.

1st Place – $500 Award:
4-H / UMN Extension Center for Youth Development – New York Mills

Submitter: Janet Malone – Program Coordinator

Janet used the concepts of Believe It. Build It. to brings an Intentional Planning Design (Building Block #1) approach to forming a new youth leadership education program in partnership with two other community organizations in her area: the local Boys & Girls Club and PartnerSHIP 4 Health (a Tobacco-Free program). Janet and her planning team of program volunteers and community partners used Believe It. Build It. (BiBI) to create a list of engaging activities for her new program that explicitly connected the youth leadership goals they hoped to achieve.

Reflecting on the difference that BiBi made in her program, Janet wrote:

“The impact on youth will be much easier to measure with some intentional goals in place. The planning process helped the team planners have a vision of what we are planning, igniting a passion and hope for a positive impacting program.”

Well said! Congratulations to Janet and her partners in New York Mills.

2nd Place – $300 Award:
ComMUSICation – St. Paul

Submitter: Sara Zanussi – Founder & Executive Programming Director

Sara deeply embedded Believe It. Build It. in her program by giving each of her staff a copy of the book and structuring her staff meetings around the Building Blocks and Guided Reflection questions in it. She also focused on the strengthening the third Building Block in her program: Youth Voice & Leadership. Working with her music director Ryan LaBoy, Sara used the concepts in this Building Block to establish a youth leadership council whose voice will help ComMUSICation select repertoire, field trips, and other program decisions.

Sara found the Guided Reflection questions particularly helpful in, “initiating thoughts about strengths and areas of growth for the program.” Reflecting on how BiBi has been most helpful in strengthening ComMUSICation programs, Sara wrote:

“The best thing is that I have a resource to give to all staff and volunteers to communicate using the same language, and they have a go-to resource.”

Great use of BiBi! Congratulations to Sara and the staff and volunteers at ComMUSICation.

3rd Place – $200 Award:
Boys and Girls Club – Deer River

Submitter: Chad Evans – Out of School Program Director

Chad’s story provides a great example of how Believe It. Build It. can lead to big, impactful changes in your program! Chad used Building Block 1: Intentional Program Design to guide his summer staff planning meetings, and he also acted on the concepts in Building Block 3: Youth Voice & Leadership by surveying older youth in his county to hear what they wanted. Based on this survey, the Boys & Girls Club discovered that their programming schedule didn’t match when the teens had time to attend. To address this, Chad’s program now offers a morning “Club” time for Boys and Girls Club members to have a space to finish homework, get a snack, and visit and prepare for the day.

Chad wants to continue strengthening his program, and his next focus will be to use Intentional Program Design to improve the consistency of activities, and ensure they’re connected to broader program goals. Reflecting on where he wants to go next with Believe It. Build It., Chad wrote:

“There have been activities and lessons that seem to just come and go without any real thought. Now, we will ensure all of our activities, lessons and programs have a purpose and desired outcomes we can track. We will offer time for reflection and all of our programs will feel connected.”

Awesome idea! Congratulations to Chad and the Boys and Girls Club of Deer River.

Those are our winners! But we had lots of great submissions, so we also want to give an honorable mention to the following submissions (listed in alphabetical order by organization):

  • Family Pathways – North Branch, MN
  • Duluth YMCA – Duluth, MN
  • ANEW BAM – St. Paul, MN

Kudos to all of these programs for submitting innovative and inspiring ideas!

Now, get back to celebrating Lights On Afterschool! Click here to see all the ways you can celebrate today.


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