MARCH 2021
The Synergy Conference 2021 will convene virtually from April 27th, 2021, to April 30th, 2021.
This year's conference is themed: 
The conference timeline can be viewed here. Please note that the Tuesday, April 27th, and Wednesday, April 28th portion of the conference will consist of the 21st Century Community Learning Center Statewide Meetings only. For those registered attendees that are not 21st CCLC programs, the first live plenary of the Synergy Conference will begin at 9:30 am on Thursday, April 29th. We hope that you will join us virtually utilizing the platform, iCohere. 
This year's conference will include a plethora of workshops, engaging keynotes, and networking opportunities. We are proud to announce that Diana Diaz will be one of our amazing keynote speakers.

Diana Diaz is a keynote speaker, writer, and CEO of the Your Story to Tell Academy, a public speaking consulting firm designed to train business owners, high-level leadership, and political officials on crafting a powerful message that fosters authenticity and connection. Together with her team, they explore impactful communication skills, camera-readiness, speech writing and help individuals position themselves for TED Talks and other high-caliber events. Her work has been featured in Fierce by Mitú, Alegria Magazine, We All Grow Latina Network, American Heart Association, and more. Diana was recently one of the 45 poets published in the Latinx Poetry Project by Alegria Publishing. With a master’s degree and over 9 years of marketing and community development experience, Diana has developed a proven method to break through your fears & mental blocks, identify your turning points and core message, and hone in on whom your ideal audience is, all while developing a strong stage presence. 
The North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs is launching a Service-Learning Community of Practice in partnership with the National Youth Leadership Council. The objectives of the Service-Learning Community of Practice include: 

  • Participants will learn from CoP facilitators and each other through shared resources, best practices, successes, and challenges, with a focus on service-learning in a virtual and in-person context.
  • Participants will conduct a needs assessment that assists in the design and implementation of a service-learning project that addresses an identified need within their community. 

This specialized CoP is open to afterschool and summer programs statewide that are currently engaging or want to learn how to engage youth in Service-Learning efforts. Programs that apply and are accepted into the Service-Learning Community of Practice will engage in bi-weekly virtual sessions focused on a range of Service-Learning topics. Examples of session topics include: 

  • What is Service-Learning?
  • Community Service versus Service-Learning: Similarities and Differences
  • Service-Learning in a Virtual Context
  • Using the ENGAGE Handbooks to Implement a Service-Learning Effort in your Afterschool or Summer Program
  • What Needs exist in my Community?
  • The Power of Youth Voice and Choice in Service-Learning 

Additionally, CoP participants will design a Service-Learning Project based on a needs assessment of their community. After participants have successfully implemented their Service-Learning Project, they will receive a $100 stipend. All service-learning projects must be implemented by August 2020. 

Applications for the Service-Learning Community of Practice can be submitted here. The deadline for applications is March 10th, 2021. Space is limited. Accepted programs will be notified by March 15. The introductory CoP meeting will be scheduled for the week of March 29. Recurring bi-weekly meetings will be scheduled for dates between May and August of 2020.
The NC Center for Afterschool Programs is accepting nominations for the 2021 Afterschool Champions. Nominees should demonstrate outstanding work in developing, supporting, and promoting high-quality afterschool and out-of-school time programs to benefit youth and families statewide.

Afterschool Champion Award categories are below, followed by the nomination form. The deadline to submit nominations is March 21st. Selected award recipients will be recognized during the virtual award ceremony at the Synergy Conference 2021 on April 29th.

This award spotlights an individual, program, or organization whose life or mission has demonstrated outstanding work in developing, supporting, and promoting high-quality afterschool and out-of-school time programs to benefit youth and families. Nominees should have more than ten (10) years of experience.

This award spotlights an individual, program, or organization whose life or mission has demonstrated considerable work in developing, supporting, and promoting high-quality afterschool and out-of-school time programs to benefit youth and families. Nominees should have between three (3) and ten (10) years of experience.

A letter of recommendation or support should accompany every nomination.
**Note: For a program nomination, a letter of support must be from a youth program participant or parent.
Two months into 2021, afterschool and summer programs continue to face the challenges posed by the pandemic. The Afterschool Alliance needs your help once again to tell the story of the ways in which COVID-19 is impacting your program and the kids and families you serve. By taking the Afterschool Alliance's short survey, you are lifting up challenges programs face as the pandemic persists and your answers will raise awareness of the short and long-term effects of COVID-19 on the afterschool field.

Take the survey now and have a chance to win a $50 gift card! Five winners will be selected at random each week the survey is open. This is the fourth wave of the Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 tracking survey. Findings from previous waves have been shared with federal policymakers and featured in publications such as Education Week and Youth Today. The survey should take no more than 10 minutes of your time and your responses will be anonymous. The survey will close at 11:59 pm PDT, Sunday, March 14th, 2021.

If you need assistance completing the survey, please contact Lydia Redway at If you would like more information about the research, please contact Nikki Yamashiro at
Explorer Classroom
Engage students in a live discussion and Q&A session with cutting-edge scientists, researchers, and storytellers from across the globe. Explorer Classroom: Afterschool Edition is an interactive YouTube show that connects students with world-renowned National Geographic Explorers, like Mt. Everest Cartographer Alex Tait. This opportunity will started on February 24 and will occur bi-weekly on Wednesdays at 4 pm. To learn more about this opportunity, click here.

Learn to create lessons on biodiversity through outdoor exploration with the National Geographic BioBlitz webinar training series. Each session teaches afterschool educators how to lead students in safe, fun, and free BioBlitz activities in which students must find as many species as possible over a short period of time. Check out the new Guide to BioBlitz for Afterschool Programs. This guide helps organize and lead BioBlitzes for afterschool and other informal education programs. BioBlitz training will occur on March 10th at 1 pm, March 16th at 1 pm, and March 22nd at 1 pm. To learn more about this opportunity, click here.
As NC CAP continues to develop high-quality STEM content, it is vital to discover and map STEM assets throughout the state that youth, families, programs, schools, and communities can leverage. The STEM Asset Mapping Database will serve as a connector for individuals and entities engaged in STEM statewide. Specifically, this project will identify and map both county and statewide resources that can be leveraged to engage youth in STEM. In order to achieve this, NC CAP is collecting information on local STEM assets across North Carolina. If you would like to showcase a STEM asset in your community, please complete this form.

For questions about the STEM Asset Mapping Database, please contact Diana Paredes at
NC CAP has two opportunities for youth to serve on panels.
To learn more about each opportunity, please read the information below.

Opportunity One:
For this year's Synergy Conference, NC CAP endeavors to amplify the voices of youth to discuss the value of out-of-school time programs in North Carolina, especially during a global pandemic. Youth panelists will discuss their experiences in afterschool, before school, and summer programs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Panelists should be active or recently graduated participants of out-of-school time programs from across the state. Selected youth will be awarded a gift card for their contribution to the Synergy Conference 2021. For questions, please contact Sheneika Simmons at

Opportunity Two:
The Dudley Flood Center for Educational Equity and Opportunity is seeking youth to participate in the upcoming Diversity in STEM webinar. In this session, students will engage in a critical conversation on the importance of STEM engagement with an equity lens and discussing ways to breach the critical barriers that exist in K-12 STEM education. Youth panelists should be enrolled or recently enrolled in STEM courses in school. For questions, please contact Ashley Kazouh at Nominations for this opportunity are due March 5th, 2021.

Ideal panelists for both of these opportunities are between the ages of five and twenty years old.
NC CAP is proud to showcase multiple STEM lessons: Fragile Packages, Magnetic Investigations, and Oil Toil.

The Fragile Packages lesson asks students to assume the role of one of Humpty Dumpty's security detail to protect him from hurting himself when he takes a "great fall." Students will engineer a protective case for an egg and drop it from various heights. Students will conduct multiple trials to ensure that their design effectively protects Humpty Dumpty from his falls. To view the lesson, click here.

The Magnetic Investigations lesson allows students to learn more about magnetism. Students will engage in six stations to learn about magnetism. They will document their experience in each station. To view the lesson, click here.

The Oil Toil lesson analyzes what happens to the environment and its inhabitants during an oil spill. Students will simulate an oil spill and design an apparatus to clean the oil spill. Within this lesson, students will learn about major oil spills and discuss the impact of human interaction on the environment. To view the lesson, click here.

To access the STEM lessons, click here. Each lesson includes Spanish translations.  

Please subscribe to the NC CAP Youtube Channel for more videos and resources!
220 Leadership is a youth development organization that develops online programs to help students succeed in the real world. 220's programs teach students how to master authentic leadership skills, advanced workforce skills, and the entrepreneurial mindset; the building blocks to a successful career and life. For a limited time, 220 is offering a 10-day free trial to their online platform.

220 programs are helping educators save time, resources, and energy all while engaging their students on a deeper level than ever before. Check out more about this awesome opportunity here.

Help your students become the best version of themselves whether they're at home, in the classroom, or learning from a distance. Start your free trial today!
President Joe Biden was sworn into office on January 20th, marking the beginning of a four-year term with the pandemic still front and center in the eyes of policymakers and the general public. The first steps for President Biden and Congress have been aimed at getting a handle on the pandemic outlined in the president's American Rescue Plan on January 15th. But for STEM education, particularly informal and afterschool STEM education, there will be a need to expand the role these programs play in providing hands-on learning experiences to supplement the school day.

The recent focus of Congress has been on learning loss and the range of supports needed for students to recover what they've lost over the last year. Much of this recovery will be driven by accountability measures in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), with reading and math likely receiving the most attention due to testing associated with those subjects. This could mean a reduced amount of time spent on subjects like science, computing, and arts that will drive a greater reliance on outside partners like afterschool and summer programs to support students with hands-on STEM, arts, and SEL programming as a part of a comprehensive learning recovery strategy.

Once Congress and the administration can shift from COVID relief to recovery, a few STEM-related pieces of legislation are likely to be reintroduced and make their way through the legislative process. Each of these, in their own ways, has the opportunity to support afterschool STEM education to different degrees. There could also be additional pieces of legislation introduced to emphasize the importance of the afterschool and summer field, along with other informal STEM partners, in supporting students in the learning recovery process.

To continue reading the article, click here.

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Coolest Projects online is a celebration of creativity and innovation where young people can showcase what they've made with technology. Young people, up to 18 years of age, can make games, animations, Scratch projects, websites, apps, hardware projects, and much more. It's an opportunity to share their creations with a global audience and learn in a safe and encouraging space online -
for free!

Find out more about Coolest Projects and see the 2020 showcase here.
National Youth Leadership Council is honored to host the 2021 National Service-Learning Conference, now in its 32nd year.
This conference is more than workshops and keynote addresses; it is an extension of the classroom, allowing for the youth and adult attendees to be part of a national movement. Throughout the conference, youth plan programming, emcee plenary sessions, inspire attendees through keynote addresses, and lead workshops for youth and adult peers around the world. Youth are given the opportunity to create something so spectacular that it changes how adults perceive all young people - as solutions to real problems.

The conference's multiple-day, concurrent session format offers adults a self-directed facilitated learning environment with education sessions, discussion groups, and interactive workshops designed specifically for all levels of attendees engaged in service-learning and focused on current and emerging issues, best practices, and the challenges facing us today. Both youth and adults come out of the experience with the tools, resources, ideas, and inspiration to return home to improve their practice, their schools, and their communities. This year's conference will be entirely virtual and feature both live and on-demand sessions. Topics range from social-emotional learning and civic education to youth leadership and international service-learning. Whether you are new to
service-learning or an experienced practitioner, this conference has something for you.

To learn more about this opportunity, click here.
Mizzen by Mott has a new partner, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). NFTE is an international nonprofit that's dedicated to empowering students to own their future. NFTE's educational content in Mizzen is gathered together in a module called Operation: Mindset, which features six activities that engage students, grades 7-10, in exploring and growing an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset. Operation: Mindset is organized around NFTE's Entrepreneurial Mindset Index (EMI), a framework for describing the skills that students need to identify and make the most of opportunities, overcome and learn from setbacks, and succeed in various settings.

Download the app today from your preferred app store. To learn more about Mizzen By Mott and the NFTE content, click here.
The United States Naval Academy STEM is hosting a Middle School Girls Only STEM Day on Saturday, March 20, 2021, from 10 am to 12 pm noon.

During this session, youth will discover how engineers and scientists explore the world and make it a better place for all. Youth will experience hands-on activities using simple supplies, done in
real-time. The United States Naval Academy college mentors will lead middle school girls in a fun project to promote interest and confidence in STEM topics and careers. There is no fee to attend, but advance registration is required. Sessions will be held on the Zoom Webinar platform.

To register youth, click here.
STEM Leaders from across the United States offer recommendations for the
Biden-Harris Administration on Education and Career Pathways. Fostering collaboration is the top recommendation offered by the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice for how the Biden-Harris administration can improve STEM learning and connections to career communities across the country.

The STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice developed five major recommendations for how the Biden-Harris administration, as well as individual states, can improve STEM learning for all. The recommendations, contained in a recently released report, "Restoring America's Position as a World Leader by Reinvesting in STEM," are based on a series of Town Hall sessions, surveys, and focused interviews with STEM leaders from nearly every state in the country. The ideas of more than 1,000 STEM leaders, families, teachers, afterschool educators, as well as those from nonprofits and philanthropy contributed thoughts.

Top Recommendations are:
  • Foster collaboration to engage, leverage, and link all relevant community resources -- adoption of the STEM Learning Ecosystems model.
  • Introduce a collaboratively-designed performance-based system to ensure quality and alignment with strong post-secondary and/or STEM careers.
  • Support a diverse, well-prepared, and high-quality teaching workforce, and ensure their involvement and leadership with students, administrators, and higher education faculty.
  • Encourage long-term student participation in STEM by increasing its visibility, relevance, connections to the real-world and community, and global challenges.
  • Build a strong early learning system.

To learn more about the "Restoring America's Position as a World Leader by Reinvesting in STEM" report, click here.
To inform research, policies, practice, and professional development for the afterschool workforce, we, along with the National AfterSchool Association, are asking afterschool and youth development professionals and leaders to participate in the Be Counted Campaign—a brief survey about demographics and representation. Results will be compiled into the 2021 State of the Profession Report, providing workforce data to solidify the profession and its essential role for young people, families, and communities. To learn more about this field-wide effort, click here.
If you work with or on behalf of youth in out-of-school time, then afterschool and youth development is YOUR profession—be heard by being counted—your voice matters. Your voice can make a difference. Take three minutes to participate in the National AfterSchool Association’s Be Counted Campaign – a brief survey about demographics and representation.  Results will help us inform research, policies, practice, and professional development for the afterschool workforce. Learn More and Take the Survey Today!
Enter the Possibility Grant Sweepstakes daily for your chance to win $5,000 for STEM at your school. This year, five Title 1 schools will have the opportunity to win the added STEM goodies that you have been dreaming of. This competition is open to all Title 1 schools. The competition closes on April 30th, 2021.

The Afterschool Advantage (ASA) program is IGT's flagship community initiative, devoted to providing young people with access to technology in a safe, nurturing afterschool environment while promoting opportunities in digital learning centers in communities where IGT operates. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

The Coca-Cola Foundation provides grants to a wide variety of 501(c)(3) organizations that focus on children, education, and/or health. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Imagination Playground is an innovative design in play equipment that encourages creativity, communication, and collaboration in play. With a collection of custom-designed, oversized blue foam parts, Imagination Playground provides a changing array of elements that allow children to turn their playground into space constantly built and re-built by their imagination. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation seeks to dramatically improve people's lives and the world around us through innovative strategies, systems-changing approaches, and disrupting technologies. Their goal is to find social entrepreneurs with dynamic ideas and nurture them at the early stages with maximum leverage and total commitment. Draper Richards Kaplan aims to find exceptional entrepreneurs, provide them with three years of unrestricted capital, provide rigorous
on-going support, and help build organizational capacity. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation awards grants to organizations for whom a small amount of money can make a big difference. The Foundation welcomes requests from museums, cultural and performing arts programs, schools, hospitals, educational and skills training programs, programs for youth, seniors, and the disabled, environmental and wildlife protection activities, and other community-based organizations and their programs. Applications are due May 10th, 2021.

The Student STEM Enrichment Program (SSEP) supports diverse programs with a common goal: to enable primary and secondary students to participate in creative, hands-on STEM activities for K-12 students and pursue inquiry-based exploration in Burrough's Wellcome Fund home state of North Carolina. Applications are due on April 15th, 2021.

The Walmart Local Community Grants can support nonprofit organizations with programs that benefit communities within the service area they are requesting funds. All proposals should fall within Walmart's focus areas: community, sustainability, and career opportunity. Local community grants range from $250 to $5,000. Applications are due December 31st, 2021.

The Whole Kids Foundation Garden Grants program provides a $3,000 monetary grant to support a new or existing edible educational garden located at a K-12 school or 501(c)(3) nonprofit that serves children in the K-12 grade range. Applications are due March 31st, 2021.

Youth Service Zone Grants, sponsored by Youth Service America (YSA), offers organizations an opportunity to work collaboratively to increase youth volunteer rates in their community or state. Ten zones will receive a grant of $15,000 ($5,000 to each of the three collaborative leaders) to support program activities. Applications are due March 31st, 2021.
North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs |