While many classrooms and internship programs are actively trying to incorporate science, technology, engineering and math - also known as  STEM - education into the lives of children and young adults, after-school programs that focus on STEM let children explore new ideas without worrying about keeping their grades up.

A new study by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and STEM Next, "Afterschool & STEM: System Building Evaluation 2016," surveyed and looked at the impact of more than 160 after-school programs providing informal STEM education in 11 states. Nearly 1,600 students in grades 4 through 12 took part in the programs.

"After-school works and can be part of the solution for really helping to have more educational opportunities available for kids, particularly for low income kids and for kids who are in underserved populations," Gywnn Hughes, senior program officer at Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, said at the STEM Ready America event in Washington, D.C.

According to the study, more than 70 percent of students in all participating states showed positive gains in STEM subjects, careers, knowledge and 21st-century skills by participating in STEM-focused programs after school.

The study also found that 80 percent of students reported a positive gain in their science career knowledge, 78 percent said their interest in science had increased, 72 percent reported an increase in their perseverance and critical thinking skills and 73 percent reported an increase in "STEM identity" - a personal belief that he or she can do well and succeed at science.

You can read the full article 
here .


22 years ago, in the back seat of a police car, an organization that would significantly reduce the juvenile crime rate in Dunn, North Carolina was born. A few officers perceived the need for a community policing initiative and sought a way to connect positively with youth in their area. In 1995, the Dunn Police Athletic and Activities League began offering a few sports programs and a handful of volunteers serving 10 children.

Today, Dunn PAL serves about 400 K-12 children per year in their afterschool program, mentoring program, and sports program. Dunn PAL is a Non-Profit 501(C)(3) organization under the Dunn Police Department that works to establish mutual trust between law enforcement, citizens, and youth.

I had the opportunity to interview Lieutenant Rodney Rowland, the Executive Director, and Stephanie Coxum, the Enrichment Instructor, about their program and their Lights On Afterschoolevent.

Both Lt. Rowland and Ms. Coxum emphasized the relationship-building that occurs between law enforcement and children. When kids see law enforcement officers on the street they are more likely to say "hey, what's up" than to run away in fear. And when law enforcement see children in precarious situations, they have the clout with them to have a conversation about their behavior and encourage children to think critically about their choices.
"We are unique because we actually have police officers in the city directly involved in the lives of kids, which directly affects their parents, their families, and the community as a whole. And in such a positive way," Lt. Rowland explained.  

To continue reading the article, click here


The mission of Wade Edwards Foundation & Learning Lab (WELL) is to provide the student community with opportunities for achievement, enrichment and service in preparation for personal and academic success. The WELL opened in 1996 as a memorial to a student who died in a car accident before graduating high school. Since then, the WELL has evolved into a dynamic resource for area high school students, filling a gap by providing afterschool support and enrichment to students with few places to turn. Working closely with schools and community partners to focus on developing the whole student, we support academic excellence, build career readiness, and offer enrichment and volunteer experiences. 

Program Notes: 
Afterschool tutoring in a variety of subjects 
Use of the computer lab for independent study & access to the Internet 
WELL Rounded Build Your Future curriculum 
WELL Service Warriors - community service/advocacy 
WELL Ambassadors - youth leadership development LEAP (Life Expectations and Planning) - just for seniors 
Teen Talk - facilitated discussions about emotional wellness, healthy relationships and "life"
The question of how to scale up-taking a successful program, project, or policy and growing it to expand its reach and therefore its impact-has been an important one when thinking about systems change. It is a key component in efforts to make sustainable, positive social gains; a subject highly relevant to the afterschool field. Commissioned by The Wallace Foundation, the study, "  Strategies to Scale Up Social Programs: Pathways, Partnerships and Fidelity," takes a close look at the strategic decisions made by 45 programs-ranging in focus from education to the environment-that helped them expand their reach and bring their services to a greater number of people. Key takeaways from the report include:

Pathways, partnerships, and fidelity. The three interrelated strategic choices common to scale up efforts are:
  1. Pathways - the decision of how to scale
  2. Partnerships - whom to partner with and how
  3. Fidelity - how a scale up effort does or does not change or adapt as new partners or communities implement the scale up
Partnerships are critical in scaling up efforts. While funders were identified as core partners by almost all of the programs included in the study, partnerships provided scaling up efforts more than funding. From consultation expertise to volunteers and from infrastructure to implementation, the programs reviewed relied on the support of their partners.

Find the right balance. Finding the right balance between program fidelity and adaptation can help ensure that the scaling up effort is meeting the needs of the community while at the same time maintaining its effectiveness.


Are you concerned for children in your community who are missing out on free, nutritious summer meals? 

If so, take the first step to a solution and register now for the fourth annual NC SummerPalooza! Summit, hosted by the NC Department of Public Instruction. Registration is free and lunch will be provided. 

SummerPalooza! Summits provide an opportunity to learn more about the summer nutrition programs in North Carolina, identify ways to reduce barriers, and pinpoint areas where summer meals are needed to reduce food security. They celebrate the successes of summer nutrition for our children in 2017, celebrate summer meals champions, and provide a jumpstart for 2018. 

Some dates for the 2017 SummerPalooza! Summits have changed. The tickets you've signed up for are still good, but the Greensboro Summer Palooza! date has changed from Wednesday, November 8th, 2017 to Monday, November 6th, 2017. This year's series of planning meetings on summer meals will be held from 9:30AM to 4:00PM in four cities across the state in November: 

  • GREENSBORO [November 6 at the Deep River Event Center]
  • ASHEVILLE [November 7 at Four Points Sheraton]
  • WILLIAMSTON [November 14 at the Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center]
  • NEW BERN [November 16 at the New Bern Convention Center]
If you need to make a change to which summit you plan to attend, tickets are still free and spots are still available for each event.  To learn more about SummerPalooza! Summits or to register, click here

For many middle and high school students, community service is a requirement for graduation-one that afterschool programs often assist with, giving students a chance to give back through volunteering, community beautification efforts, and tutoring younger students. As a result, afterschool programs often see young people going above and beyond the call to improve their communities!

Do you know an exemplary youth volunteer? Nominate them for the  Prudential Spirit of Community Awards!

State Honorees: Two students in each state and the District of Columbia will be named State Honorees and receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. with a parent or guardian for a recognition event from April 28 to May 1, 2018.

America's top youth volunteers: In D.C., a national selection committee will name 10 of the 102 State Honorees as America's top youth volunteers of the year. Winners will receive additional awards of $5,000, gold medallions, trophies for their nominating schools or organizations, and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.

Distinguished finalists will receive bronze medallions and runners-up will receive Certificates of Excellence; local honorees will receive Certificates of Achievement.

Nominations run from now until November 7, 2017. To apply, complete the application and the student/parent agreement, then email or print and deliver instructions to your local certifier (school principal or head of a county 4-H organization, Girl Scout council, Americans Red Cross chapter, YMCA, or Affiliate of Points of Light's HandsOn Network).

For details regarding the award, click here

Excerpt from: 

Dropping Seeds for Science is a division of Dropping Seeds in Motion which offers customized, interactive science based workshops which integrate learning through movement. Highly interactive, movement workshops help students retain scientific concepts. 

 Workshops also develop critical thinking, problem solving, and team building skills. Dropping Seeds for Science facilitates learning through implementing a kinesthetic teaching approach. 

Kinesthetic learning takes place when students carry out physical activities, rather than listening to a lecture or watching demonstrations. Each workshop is uniquely customized for specific content/program or state curriculum standards.  

Dropping Seeds for Science brings science based workshops to schools, daycare centers, summer camps and more!



Twenty years ago in Charlotte, N.C., a young woman began the first   Girls On the Run (GOTR) team as an individual effort. But when the program was covered in Runner's World, a running-focused magazine, the demand for this girls-specific running program exploded. Today, GOTR has more than 200 councils across all 50 states, serving more than 200,000 girls each year.

The program's rapid growth presented the young organization with the challenge and opportunity to develop a more structured curriculum, according to Dr. Heather Pressley, senior vice president of mission advancement.

"The team at headquarters realized that the organic growth was great but it was very fast, [and] we needed to look into the quality and consistency of the program across sites where it was being offered," Pressley said. "We took the original concept of building confidence through running and created an intentional curriculum with measurable physical, social, emotional, and life skills outcomes."

As a physical-activity-based positive youth development (PAPYD) program, GOTR's intentional curriculum successfully integrates both a SEL component to girls' health, as well as a physical activity component that overlaps with the National AfterSchool Association's (NAA)  Healthy Eating & Physical Activity (HEPA)  standards. According to Pressley, GOTR sees both these elements as necessary in addressing the whole health needs of all girls and the communities they serve.

The physical activity component of the program is especially apparent. Throughout the course of a ten week program, participants in the 3rd through 8th grades engage in age-appropriate strength and conditioning activities as well as fun running games and activities that incorporate movement. The program culminates in a celebratory 5K event, where participants experience a sense of accomplishment for achieving their goals.

With regard to healthy eating and nutrition, the curriculum is led by trained volunteer coaches and focuses on self-care, balance, and intentional decision-making, all of which develop healthy eating and lifestyle habits. Throughout the season, girls are participating in activities that address HEPA standards and have been structured by GOTR to also develop SEL skills, such as self-confidence and teamwork.

To continue reading the article, click here



The American Honda Foundation engages in grant making that reflects the basic tenets, beliefs and philosophies of Honda companies, which are characterized by the following qualities: imaginative, creative, youthful, forward-thinking, scientific, humanistic and innovative. They support youth education with a specific focus on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in addition to the environment. Funding priority is youth education, specifically in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, the environment, job training and literacy. 

The Home Depot Foundation offers grants, up to $5,000, to IRS-registered 501c designated organizations and tax-exempt public service agencies in the U.S. that are using the power of volunteers to improve the physical health of their community. Grants are given in the form of The Home Depot gift cards for the purchase of tools, materials, or services. The primary goal is to provide grants and volunteer opportunities to support the renovation, refurbishment, retrofitting, accessibilty modification, and/or weatherization of existing homes, centers, schools and other similar facilities. 

Annie's believes that showing future generations how sustainable food is grown changes their lives. The purpose of the grant for gardens is to connect children directly to real food and a vision for a healthy food future. Grants may be used to purchase any supplies for an edible garden, such as plants, seeds, raised bed, fencing, wheelbarrows, greenhouses, and drip irrigation systems. 

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 handicapped; environmental and wildlife protection activitiesl and other community-based organizations and their programs. 
NC CAP wants to highlight your program!

The North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs 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. 
To influence policy and serve as a catalyst, convener, and clearinghouse for afterschool programs through advocacy, professional development, and quality improvement. 

High quality afterschool programs accessible to all North Carolina children and youth helping them to succeed in and out of school. 
NC CAP | 919.781.6833 | Email | Website