MAY 2021
The virtual Synergy Conference 2021 was a huge success. This year's conference, "REVOLUTIONIZING AFTERSCHOOL: Renew - Reconnect - Rise," featured over 55 pre-recorded workshops and live plenaries in Arts & Literacy, Closing Gaps, College & Career Readiness, Organizational Capacity, Public/Private Partnerships, Social and Emotional Learning, S.T.E.M., and Youth Development. We hope that all of this year's attendees enjoyed the engaging keynote speakers, a dynamic range of workshop topics, and opportunities to network with providers from across the state. 

We would be remiss if we didn't take the time to acknowledge and thank everyone that made this year's conference a success. Thank you to all of our sponsors and partners, especially the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, for making the conference possible! We couldn't have done it without you. Thank you to our amazing keynote speakers and panelists, who inspired us and challenged us to persevere in our efforts to build tomorrow's leaders. Thank you to the amazing vendors who shared invaluable resources with our conference attendees that can be utilized within programs statewide. Thank you to our workshop presenters, who offered an extensive array of workshop sessions. Your expertise and passion are unrivaled. Last but certainly not least, thank you to all of our attendees who were flexible and embraced the virtual conference platform with grace. Thank you for everything you do through your programs to support, inspire and prepare our youth for their futures. 
Join us for the "The After Conference," in which all aspects of the virtual Synergy Conference 2021 will be accessible on the iCohere platform through Friday, June 25th. This provides registered attendees with nearly two additional months beyond the live conference week to engage with every feature of the virtual conference experience, including live meetings and plenary recordings, workshop sessions, vendors, and the networking lounge. In addition to the pre-recorded workshops, live plenaries, vendors, and networking opportunities, there will also be live workshops hosted by Afterschool Coaching for Reflective Educators in STEM (ACRES), Dropping Seeds in Motion, and Jobs For the Future (JFF). We will also be hosting the Afterschool For All Challenge Celebration on May 27th, 2021.

If additional members of your team want to register for the Synergy Conference, they are invited to do so here through Friday, May 28th, 2021.  
We can't wait until next year! Plans for Synergy 2022 are underway and details will be forthcoming. In the meantime, please save the date for April 19-22, 2022!
We hope to see you then! 
On March 4th, 2021, the NC State Board of Education approved the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) to launch the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) Cohort 15 Competition for the 2021-2022 school year for any Public School Unit (PSU) or Non-PSU organizations [NPO, CBO, FBO, For-Profit, IHE, City/Local Gov].

Authorized under Title IV, Part B, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, the purpose of Nita M. Lowey 21st CCLC Programs is to provide federal funds to establish or expand community learning centers that operate during out-of-school hours providing three specific services: intentional academic support, quality enrichment experiences, and family engagement opportunities.

The competitive grant opportunity will be processed through the CCIP system. Grant amounts will range from $50,000 to $400,000 depending on (1) the needs identified in the community and schools; (2) scope of the program; (3) the proposed number of students served; and (4) program design. Depending on funding availability, grant awards may continue for up to three years (through Summer 2024).

The RFP and Application Guidance documents are linked below. If you meet the eligibility requirements to apply in the RFP, you are welcome to do so.

Applications are due May 13th, 2021 at noon.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a broad range of flexibilities to allow school meal programs and childcare institutions across the country to return to serving healthy meals in Fall 2021 as part of the Biden-Harris Administration's commitment to reopen schools safely. Several meal service flexibilities that enable social distancing are now extended through June 30, 2022. The waivers continue the Administration's commitment to providing safe, healthy meals free of charge to children as the pandemic continues to threaten the food and nutrition security of the most vulnerable.

"USDA will remain relentless in ensuring our nation's children get the critical nutrition they need," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "States and districts wanted waivers extended to plan for safe reopening in the Fall. The USDA answered the call to help America's schools and childcare institutions serve high-quality meals while being responsive to their local needs as children safely return to their regular routines. This action also increases the reimbursement rate to school meal operators so they can serve healthy foods to our kids. It's a win-win for kids, parents, and schools."

A recent study from Tufts University found that in 2018, schools were the single healthiest source of U.S. food consumed across a sample of children and adults. The 2018 study found that diet quality for foods from schools improved significantly from a similar study conducted in 2003-2004. Schools nationwide will be allowed to serve meals through USDA's National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO), which is typically only available during the summer months. This option maintains the nutrition standards of the standard school meal programs - including a strong emphasis on providing fruits and vegetables, fluid milk, whole grains, and sensible calorie levels while allowing schools to serve free meals to all children. In addition, schools that choose this option will receive higher-than-normal meal reimbursements for every meal they serve, which will support them in serving the most nutritious meals possible while managing increased costs associated with pandemic-related operational and supply chain challenges. This option also affords schools the financial flexibility to further customize their meal service design to fit their local needs.

To learn more about the flexibilities, click here.
The North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs is a part of the Million Girls Moonshot, helping out-of-school time programs as they increase the quality of STEM learning opportunities for all young people, especially underserved and underrepresented youth. The following engineering activities can be shared with programs and families for additional STEM learning.

This lesson introduces youth to the engineering design process as youth work in teams to design both a product and process to safely remove "toxic" popcorn and save the city.

Youth use the engineering design process to design a device that uses simple chemical reactions to create a floatable device for a cell phone.

Youth use the engineering design process to design an environmentally sustainable shoe that meets the design requirements they specify.

In this team-building activity, youth work together to lift an object by using a set of strings attached to a center ring. Each student grabs a few strings and must work together to raise the item in the center. The task requires concentration and communication and introduces the value of teamwork.
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. 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.

The STEM Asset Mapping Database will be launched during the Synergy Conference 2021. For questions about the STEM Asset Mapping Database, please contact Sheneika Simmons at
NC CAP is proud to showcase a new STEM Lesson, Recreational Science. This lesson showcases the ways in which youth can understand how the body responds to various movements. Youth will engage in various challenges to test their strength and use a video app, such as FlipGrid, to create their own workout or dance video.

This lesson was created in partnership with Dropping Seeds in Motion. Dropping Seeds in Motion promotes a dynamic learning experience for youth of all ages through the art of dance and movement to engage students in science. To learn more about Dropping Seeds in Motion and their programmatic offerings, 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!
On April 9, the Biden administration released their preliminary FY 2022 discretionary budget request which includes topline appropriations levels for each agency as well as key spending priorities. With regard to education, the proposal includes historic funding requests from community schools as well as Title I funding that supports high poverty schools. The full budget proposal including mandatory funding request and revenue proposals, along with the program-level budget numbers for FY 2022 discretionary funding including programs like 21st Century Community Learning Centers, is expected to be released later this spring when the Administration submits its full budget request.

The FY 2022 budget request seeks an historic investment in high-poverty schools to address entrenched disparities in education through proposing a $36.5 billion investment in Title I grants which would be a $20 billion increase from the 2021 enacted level. This investment would provide historically under-resourced schools with the funding needed to deliver a high-quality education to all of their students. Title I funds can be used by high need school districts to support afterschool and summer learning programs in addition to a wide range of other supports for students.

Additionally, the budget request prioritizes the physical and mental well-being of students coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing the profound effect of physical and mental health on academic achievement, the discretionary request provides $430 million for Full Service Community Schools, which play a critical role in providing comprehensive wrap-around services to students and their families, from afterschool, to adult education opportunities, and health and nutrition services. It also provides $1 billion, in addition to the resources in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to increase the number of counselors, nurses, and mental health professionals in schools.

To continue reading the article, click here.

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Are you looking to learn more about service-learning and why you should use it? How do you plan a service-learning unit? These are questions that the National Youth Leadership Council will answer with you, as they explore the essentials of service-learning. Find out how service can be a transformative tool to engage students, build civic and career skills, and help educators meet student goals in new and exciting ways. Essentials of Service-Learning is an introductory exploration of best practices for and approaches to service-learning. This opportunity will occur on May 11, 2021 at 11am to 12:15pm CST.

To learn more about this opportunity, click here.
As youth development professionals, the focus is solely on the development of the whole child. In the dedication to this important work, we tend to neglect something just as essential, the development of the whole adult. In order to be of the highest and best service to young people, it is imperative that we have an opportunity to plan for, prioritize and practice self-care.

As part of Mizzen's focus on mindfulness and young people's social and emotional learning, Monica Marie Jones is delighted to share five tips. Drawn from her work in mindset coaching for adults and youth development, these tips lend themselves to supporting your self-care as an adult and can apply to your work with young people.

Get Grounded in Your Day
When we think about mindfulness, we often picture-perfect little images such as sitting alone with our legs crossed and eyes closed under a tree. Mindfulness is so much more than that. Sometimes the seemingly simple act of sitting still can feel overwhelming so this tip is obvious, practical, and a little non-traditional. Begin by asking yourself: "How do I get present and grounded in my day today?" Then, take a moment to mentally walk through your agenda and schedule for the day. For some, this form of visualization may be enough, but you can take it to another level by writing out your schedule hour by hour, being certain to schedule in breaks or buffers between meetings. With young people, this might take the form of walking through the day, lesson, or project and posting it on a slide, handout, or whiteboard that they can refer back to. When times are so uncertain and you don't know what tragedy will appear in the news next, taking things one day, one hour, or one minute at a time can center us, reduce anxiety and prepare us for the day ahead.

"Meditation is a Meeting with Yourself"
This is a quote from award-winning storyteller, podcaster, and former monk, Jay Shetty. It's a simple and profound idea. Adults and youth need time to reflect and recharge. How might you make space for autonomous or self-directed time? This could look like setting aside five minutes to take a nap, read a book or go for a walk. Building in time for yourself and providing opportunities for youth to engage in independent reflection, journaling, or drawing are small things that can make a world of difference.

To Listen is an Action
Begin to notice your participation in conversations when you are not the one who is speaking. Are you listening actively, thinking about what you are going to say next, or focused on something completely unrelated such as the next item on your to-do list? Practice being fully present in every exchange. Use silence, eye contact, and other non-verbal cues not only to let the other person know that they are being seen and heard but to give your mind a rest. Truly attend to the conversation while you're in it.

Discover Open-Ended Questions
The types of questions we ask determine the quality and depth of our connection during communication. Be more intentional about asking questions that do not call for one-word, right or wrong, or yes or no answers. Ask questions in a way that sparks deeper thoughts, opinions, and inner inquiry, then pause to stick around and truly hear the answers. This is particularly important during challenging times such as what we've been experiencing over the past year. Instead of jumping right into tasks or agenda items, begin meetings by asking: "How are you as a human?" No matter how much we try to compartmentalize, we all bring our whole selves everywhere we go. This means that sometimes we need that space to share what's on our minds to be able to show up and be fully present in the moment.

Find Flow
Asking open-ended questions leads people to explore and share what really matters most. When people share things that they are deeply interested in, they get into a state of flow. Flow is a state in which you feel fully immersed and highly competent. This provides an opportunity to tap into young people's and adults' deepest motivations. Activating our intrinsic motivation in this way leads to sustained and authentic engagement. Youth and adults are now doing things because they truly want to, not solely based on the manipulation that is often associated with external factors such as grades, empty verbal praise, or other rewards.

To continue reading, click here.

Download the app today from your preferred app store, click here to visit the Mizzen website.
The new podcast series by The Wallace Foundation shares findings and early lessons from a RAND Corporation study of their Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative (PSELI).

The five-episode series features in-depth conversations with school/district and afterschool/out-of-school time leaders about their experiences working together to help children develop social and emotional skills. In episode 2, Knellee Bisram, SEL specialist with Prime Time Palm Beach County; Kristen Rulison, SEL manager for the School District of Palm Beach County; and Charlotte Peterman, cafeteria manager at Crosspointe Elementary School, describe their efforts to build a knowledge base and skill set among adults who are part of the initiative in the Florida school district.

"Teaching can be very stressful at times, and we know that stress affects our health and well-being. We wanted to make sure that we were spending time to promote adult self-care practices and help educators be able to cope with stress and manage their own emotions. Our goal was to create space in the work environment where adults can cultivate, practice, and reflect on their own SEL skills while feeling supported, valued, and empowered." - Kristen Rulison

To tune in, click here.
Summer may look different this year, but summer isn't canceled. Even if we can't all be together, summer programs are adapting and innovating to ensure children and their families can access quality summer learning opportunities and critical supports and services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Families also are coming up with innovative ways to incorporate learning with summer fun.

National Summer Learning Week is a celebration dedicated to elevating the importance of keeping kids learning, safe, and healthy every summer, ensuring they return to school ready to succeed in the year. This year, the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) is bringing back themes you can use to highlight activities during the celebration. Some suggested themes are: (1) Dive into a Book Adventure, (2) Discover STEM and Soar, (3) Eat Healthy and Grow Strong to Win at Wellness, (4) Celebrate the Future Leaders of Tomorrow, and (5) Make a Masterpiece.

To learn more about National Summer Learning Week, click here.
Creating Healing Centered Summer Programs
Wednesday, May 5 at 2 pm EST

The events of the last year - the immediate and long-term impact of a global pandemic as well as the renewed reckoning around our country's dark history of racial injustice - only add to the host of overwhelmingly stressful circumstances many young people regularly face. The epidemic of trauma threatens both the physical and mental health outcomes of youth. Summer programs offer a necessary vehicle through which to address this urgent need.

In order to help summer programs amplify their impact, Megan Bartlett of We Coach will provide training to help youth development professionals, camp counselors, and coaches understand the impact of overwhelming stress, or trauma, on young people and equips them with skills to take action to support these young people. Their interactive training provides a foundation in trauma-informed practice and provides concrete strategies that adults can use immediately. The training explores three core ways that programs can maximize their healing potential: through the power of relationships, by encouraging physical activity, and creating manageable, resilience-building patterns of stress.

To register, click here.
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.

GENYOUth is providing grants of up to $3,000 per school to supply much-needed resources for meal distribution and delivery efforts to get food to students during COVID-19. From soft-sided coolers, bags, and containers for individual servings, to protective gear for food service sanitation and safety, this equipment will help ensure children continue to receive the nutritious meals they need. 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 Office of Naval Research (ONR) recognizes the need to support efforts that can jointly improve STEM student outcomes and align education and outreach efforts with Naval Science and Technology's current and future workforce needs. Projects that improve the capacity of education systems and communities to create impactful STEM educational experiences for students. Applications are due March 30th, 2022.

The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation seeks to dramatically improve the lives of people 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. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

TD Bank is accepting applications for grants of up to $1,000 to help employees of community-based organizations attend training that enhances their job performance. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

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.
North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs |