JUNE 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. 

All aspects of the virtual Synergy Conference 2021 will be accessible on the iCohere platform through Wednesday, June 30th. 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 meeting and plenary recordings, workshop sessions, vendors and the networking lounge.
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! 
The North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs is launching an Afterschool Advocacy Ambassadorship. Components of the North Carolina Afterschool Advocacy Ambassadorship include:

  • Identification and recruitment of OST program providers and stakeholders to participate in the Ambassadorship;
  • Monthly [virtual or in/person] meetings to discuss advocacy strategies and best practices and to identify advocacy priorities for out-of-school time programs in North Carolina;
  • Identification and cultivation of new champions who have access to key decision-makers statewide; and
  • Quarterly meetings with state and local elected officials to discuss the "State of Afterschool" for North Carolina, including the statewide Lights On Afterschool Celebration in October of 2021.

This Ambassadorship is open to afterschool and summer program providers statewide that are currently engaging in afterschool advocacy efforts or want to learn how to advocate for afterschool. North Carolina Afterschool Advocates that apply and are accepted into the Afterschool Advocacy Ambassadorship will engage in monthly virtual sessions focused on a range of Program Advocacy Topics. Applications for the Afterschool Advocacy Ambassadorship can be submitted here. The deadline for applications is June 16th, 2021. Space is limited. Accepted advocates will be notified by June 25th. The introductory Ambassadorship meeting will be scheduled for the week of July 5th.
The General Assembly of North Carolina utilized Session Law 2021-3 House Bill 196 to appropriate fifteen million dollars ($15,000,000) from the Federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) funds for the Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports (ELISS) Competitive Grant Program for the 2032-2022 period. On May 13th, 2021, the NC State Board of Education approved the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI) to launch the Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports (ELISS) Grant Competition for the 2021-2022 school year.

The purpose of the Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports Competitive Grant Program (ELISS) is to fund high-quality, independently, validated extended learning and integrated student support service programs for at-risk students whose learning has been negatively affected by COVID-19 impacts.

Nonprofit corporations and nonprofit corporations working in collaboration with local school administrative units are eligible to apply for the ELISS grant to implement new or existing eligible programs for at-risk students. This does restrict stand-alone applications from local school administrative units, charter schools, lab schools, or other governmental or educational agencies.

Programs must serve one or more of the following groups:
  1. At-risk students not performing at grade level as demonstrated by statewide assessments or not on track to meet year-end expectations, as demonstrated by existing indicators, including teacher identification,
  2. Students at-risk of dropout, and/or
  3. Students at risk of school displacement due to suspension or expulsion as a result of antisocial behaviors.

Grant participants are eligible to receive grants for up to two years in an amount of up to five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) each year. ELISS Grants must be matched on the basis of three dollars ($3.00) in grant funds for every one dollar ($1.00) in non-grant funds. Matching funds may include in-kind contributions for up to fifty percent (50%) of the required match. Any sub-recipient that currently receives federal 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) funding must be able to differentiate their 21st CCLC program from their proposed ELISS program.

If your nonprofit organization is interested in applying for the 2021-2022 ELISS Grant Competition Program, please complete the electronic Notice of Intent to Apply form no later than 5:00 pm on June 11th, 2021. Please note that submission of this notice is not a prerequisite for the application of ELISS grant funds, nor does it obligate the organization to submit an application. NC DPI hosted a technical assistance webinar to support grantees and training on navigating the web-based grants management system, the North Carolina Comprehensive Continuous Improvement Plan (CCIP), the recordings can be found here. For questions regarding the NC DPI ELISS Grant Competition, please contact Jennifer Smith at

Applications are due August 11th, 2021 at noon.

Summer programs provide critical positive experiences that youth carry with them as they grow. Structured programs offer the chance to foster friendships and connections, develop life skills, be active, and explore different subjects through intellectually engaging projects. For families, summer programs provide peace of mind knowing their child is in a safe and engaging space. However, data finds that access to summer learning is still inaccessible for some families. Below are the major findings regarding summer experiences in 2019-2020:

Parent satisfaction for summer programs is strong, with participation higher than ever.

In North Carolina, parent satisfaction with their child's structured summer programs is at 97%, with the percentage of families reporting at least one child in a summer program climbing 29 percentage points since 2008.

Parents want this summer to be different.

With the approach of our second COVID summer, parents are looking for programs focused on recovery and fun, engaging activities. While 77% of parents wanted to make sure their child did not lose academic ground, many parents are prioritizing opportunities for their child to engage in outdoor and screen-free activities, build life skills, and explore different subjects.

Barriers to access remain high, especially for low-income families.

33% of children not enrolled in a summer program would be enrolled if a program was available. The study also finds high unmet demand nationally, with children in low-income families most likely to be left behind. Cost is the barrier to enrolment 43% of parents cite most often.

Programs face barriers to operation.

Summer programs were hard hit by the pandemic, and 82% of providers are still unsure about their future due to concerns about long-term funding. Other factors providers are concerned about include reduced enrollment (52%), hiring enough staff (44%), addressing learning loss (42%), and having the resources to meet families' needs (36%).

Parents are highly in favor of public funding for summer programs.

Support for public funding reaches 91% in North Carolina, with parents agreeing funding should be used to make summer programs available to youth in communities with limited access. Across the country, states show bipartisan support for summer learning.

To find information about North Carolina's data breakdown, click here. You will find additional information regarding North Carolina's metrics to uncover unmet demand, satisfaction rates, enrollment challenges for families, and support for public funding. With insights into what summer programs looked like throughout the nation in 2019-2020, we can help redefine and restructure the parameters of equitable summer learning in 2021.
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.

In this activity, youth will apply STEM to community issues through the engineering design process and the basic mechanics behind building bridges while designing their own bridge. This is a spin on an activity frequently seen in afterschool programs but with a serious focus on the design process. Youth revisit the hands-on experience with new meaning.

This activity is a part of NASA's Engineering in the Classroom tool for educators! In this challenge, youth will use a model robotic arm to move items from one location to another as they engage in the engineering design process to design, build, and operate the arm.

Project Green Schools has selected a sampling of activities from their larger program to give youth a way to apply environmental education to community issues. Join the coastal cleanup challenge, the upcycle challenge, the scavenger hunt, or other activities as a group or individually.
As NC CAP continues to develop high-quality STEM content, it is vital to spotlight STEM assets throughout the state that youth, families, programs, schools, and communities can leverage. The STEM Asset Mapping Database serves as a connector for individuals and entities engaged in STEM statewide. With over 400 STEM assets, this map identifies county and statewide resources that can be leveraged to engage youth in high-quality STEM content, resources, and assets. For questions about the STEM Asset Mapping Database, please contact Sheneika Simmons at If you would like to nominate a STEM asset, please click here.
In late April, President Joe Biden released the American Families Plan, the second part of an overall infrastructure proposal and a complementary piece to the American Jobs Plan. Congress is now holding bipartisan conversations to identify infrastructure priorities. The American Families Plan is focused on investing in children and families, helping them to cover basic expenses, lowering health insurance premiums, and reducing child poverty. There are a number of provisions in the plan that could support the afterschool and summer learning field. A comprehensive summary of the American Families Plan details the far-reaching proposal.

Among the many proposals, the following could impact the families and children served by afterschool and summer learning providers:
  • Permanently increase tax credits to support families with child care needs. To help families afford child care, President Biden is calling on Congress to make permanent the temporary Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) expansion enacted in the American Rescue Plan. Families will receive a tax credit for as much as half of their spending on qualified child care for children under age 13, up to a total of $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. The credit can be used for expenses ranging from full-time care to afterschool programs and summer learning fees.
  • Universal Pre-School - Proposes free universal pre-school for all 3 and 4-year olds, prioritizing high-need areas, and enabling families to choose the settings that work best for them. It focuses on quality, low student-to-teacher ratios, supportive classrooms, inclusivity, and more.
  • Two years of free community college to all Americans, including DREAMers, President Biden's $109 billion plan will ensure that first-time students and workers wanting to reskill can enroll in a community college to earn a degree or credentials for free. Students can use the benefit over three years and, if circumstances warrant, up to four years, recognizing that many students' lives and other responsibilities can make full-time enrollment difficult. If all states, territories, and Tribes participate, about 5.5 million students would pay $0 in tuition and fees.
  • Expand school meal programs. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows high-poverty schools to provide meals free of charge to all of their students. It is currently available to individual schools, groups of schools within a district, or an entire district with at least 40 percent of students participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The President's plan will fund $17 billion to expand free meals for children in the highest poverty districts (those with at least 40 percent of students participating in SNAP) by reimbursing a high percentage of meals at the free reimbursement rate through CEP. This proposal will provide free meals to an additional 9.3 million children, with about 70 percent in elementary schools.

The package would be funded by increasing the marginal income tax rate for the top one percent of American income earners to 39.6% from 37% and increasing capital gains and dividend tax rates for those earning more than $1 million per year. Congress is expected to take up both the American Families Plan and American Jobs Plans this summer as part of a legislative package investing in infrastructure.

To continue reading the article, click here.

Progress monitoring and assessment are standards for quality service-learning practice and easily overlooked. Learn why it's important and how you can embed them in your student learning cycle with youth voice. Leave with strategies for academic, civic, and social-emotional outcomes, plus planning resources. Participants should bring their potential outcomes for youth in their classroom or program. This opportunity costs $35 and $25 for Premium Members. Join NYLC on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021 at 11 am CST.
To learn more about this opportunity, click here.
Mizzen by Mott is an app that helps afterschool programs support youth. Get hands-on activities that foster well-being and learning in arts, STEM, storytelling, music, yoga, and youth voices.

Afterschool programs around the country are hard at work, doing all they can to support youth and families during this difficult time. As resources to these efforts, state networks have been looking for vetted, high-quality learning content that afterschool programs can use to support young people - wherever they are. The Mizzen by mott app can help. The enhanced content focuses on students' well-being; SEL; and engagement in STEM, arts, literacy, entrepreneurship, and youth voice.

With support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the app and all of its content are free to afterschool providers. Download the app today from your preferred app store, click here to visit the Mizzen website.
COVID-19 has prompted educators to think more about using the summer months as additional time for learning and enrichment. Little wonder, given the educational stagnation experienced during the school year by many children who had to adjust to virtual learning and other changes in the wake of the pandemic. This coming summer could prove pivotal in helping students make up for the lost time. It is not too late to start planning for it.

Lessons from Wallace's National Summer Learning Project could help. The initiative, begun in 2011 to assist in the development of effective, school district-led summer learning programs in five communities, has yielded the largest and longest study of its kind, conducted by the RAND Corporation. The latest report from the research, Every Summer Counts: A Longitudinal Analysis of Outcomes from the National Summer Learning Project, finds that students who consistently attended high-quality, five to six-week summer programs experienced meaningful benefits.

To help break down the key findings from the report, Catherine Augustine, a senior researcher at RAND and co-author of the report, has recorded a short video.
The interactive Possible Futures curriculum helps students in grades 6 through 10 engage in career exploration. Through three units, students learn about STEM occupations, develop essential 21st-century skills, and consider how to positively contribute to their communities. Every lesson within the curriculum is customizable and applies to in-school, out-of-school, and extended learning settings. JFF also offers services to support the launch, piloting, and scaling of the Possible Futures program including implementation strategy development, professional development events, and site-based coaching.

For more information about these services, please contact To access the curriculum, click here.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers free summer meals to kids across North Carolina. The program is similar to the School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, except meals are free to all kids that come to a registered summer meals site. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI) manages the program in North Carolina.

To find free, healthy meals, you can:
  • Text FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877 to receive a text with the three drive-thru or pick-up sites with meals for kids closest to you.
  • Use the Site Finder Map with meal sites across the state.
  • Check your local school district's website, social media, and other communications for the most up-to-date information. Contact sites to verify the information.

To learn more about Summer Meals, click here.
Over the next decade, the U.S. will need one million more STEM professionals to meet the market demand. However, there is large and persistent underrepresentation of certain social groups that represents a loss of talent. To build our future economy and a more equitable workforce, we must address the shortage of STEM talent at both the middle and advanced levels.

In the fourth session of the Dudley Flood Center Student Voices Series, students will engage in a critical conversation on the importance of STEM engagement with an equity lens, identifying critical barriers, and how equitable STEM engagement can be achieved. Please join NC CAP and the Dudley Flood Center for Increasing Diversity in STEM on June 24th, 2021 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm EST.

To register, click here.
The North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs (NC CAP) would like to highlight program successes statewide. Tell us about your program and you might be our Program Spotlight in the next edition of the Afterschool Observer or on Social Media. Click the Program Spotlight below to be redirected to the updated survey link to tell us about your program. 
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 Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) has created a directory of grant opportunities for nonprofits seeking to improve the quality of life in Western North Carolina. 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.

Foundation for the Carolinas (FFTC) manages dozens of competitive grant programs that invest in communities throughout the Carolinas. Nonprofits are invited to apply for grants from these programs. Programs vary in grant size, the application process, and funding priorities. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust works to help rural communities thrive, and that starts with supporting children's social and emotional well-being, especially those impacted by toxic stress. To address this, the Trust plans to support community engagement, awareness, and system change efforts that directly engage communities most impacted by trauma and toxic stress in Robeson, Columbus, and Bladen counties. Applications are due on July 20, 2021.

The North Carolina Arts Council's work reaches into all 100 North Carolina counties with more than 2,500 arts and culture nonprofit organizations creating and sustaining innovative arts programs that contribute to the quality of life and to community vitality. There are a variety of funding opportunities that support the arts within communities. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

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.

Triangle Community Foundation is made up of over 800 philanthropic funds, which are used in a variety of ways to provide support for nonprofit organizations. Grants from the Foundation are made in two ways: (1) from their discretionary grant programs and (2) through donor-advised grants. Applications are due 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.
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