The Public School Forum of North Carolina released its Top 10 Education Issues for 2018 at its fourth annual Eggs & Issues Breakfast in Raleigh, where the Forum's Executive Director, Keith Poston, declared the K-3 class size mandate and school funding among the most pressing issues facing North Carolina schools for 2018.

"Forecasting what will be the top education issues in any given year can a tricky business and last year we whiffed on the K-3 class size mandate because we anticipated a quick resolution," Poston said. "This year it's the top issue on our list as school districts across the state are scrambling to meet the General Assembly's mandate to lower class sizes, while at the same time trying to protect thousands of art, music and PE teachers and create hundreds of new classrooms."

Also in this year's Top 10 List, the Public School Forum urges state leaders to ensure that all North Carolina children have access to high-quality afterschool and out-of-school time (OST) programs that support their learning.  Moreover, they recommend an increased investment in afterschool and out-of-school time programs now to ensure long-term economic benefits. 

Public School Forum of North Carolina's Top 10 Education Issues for 2018
  1. Provide Certainty for Students, Parents and All Educators by Fixing the Class Size Crisis
  2. Adequately and Equitably Invest in Our Children's Education, Including Their School Buildings
  3. Insist on Transparency & Accountability for School Choice Programs
  4. Recruit and Retain the Best and Brightest Teachers and Principals
  5. Once Again, Fix the Faulty A-F School Grading System
  6. Scale Up Successes for Our State's Struggling Schools
  7. Adopt a Whole Child Approach to Health and Learning
  8. Pursue Outcomes-Focused Strategies Toward Racial Equity
  9. Keep Building Upon North Carolina's Investments in Early Childhood Education
  10. For Those Who Govern Our State's Public Schools, Do It Well (And Together)
To download the full Top 10 Report, click here

North Carolina Campus Compact, a network of colleges and universities that share a commitment to civic and community engagement, has released its NC Afterschool Corps host site application. Campus departments or community-based non-profits can apply to host an NC Afterschool Corps member. These members serve full-time for one-year, starting in mid-July 2018. The Afterschool Corps project is part of the AmeriCorps VISTA national service program, and all members receive a modest living stipend and an education award, paid by AmeriCorps. Host site organizations must pay a cost share fee of $5,000 to North Carolina Campus Compact. Host sites must also reimburse the member for service-related travel, and are strongly encouraged to provide additional housing support to the member if appropriate.
Community-based non-profits that wish to host an Afterschool Corps member must obtain a letter of support from a local college or university that is a part of the NC Campus Compact network. The Corps member's work plan will include activities that involve creating or supporting partnerships with the local college or university.
AmeriCorps VISTA guidelines do not permit Afterschool Corps members to perform direct service. Instead, Afterschool Corps members do "capacity-building" work, including fundraising and grantwriting, volunteer mobilization, curriculum development and event management.
For more info about the NC Afterschool Corps:
The application deadline is February 28, 2018.
An approved host site application does not guarantee placement. Placement of the Afterschool Corps member is contingent on the Compact receiving its continuation grant and availability of federal resources. The host site organizations must also work with NC Campus Compact to actively recruit and select an Afterschool Corps member during the recruitment window.  


Early Registration is now open for the annual SYNERGY CONFERENCE! We hope you will join us on April 25-27, 2018 at the Greenville Convention Center in Greenville, NC.  You can register here before February 14th for the discounted rate of $200.  Regular registration will begin on February 15th at the regular rate of $225.

The SYNERGY CONFERENCE is the premiere afterschool and expanded learning conference in North Carolina.  This year's conference is themed:

We will continue the SYNERGY CONFERENCE  trend of engaging keynotes, a plethora of workshop opportunities, and networking with providers across the state. This year's workshop strands include the following:

The SYNERGY CONFERENCE has a hotel block at the Hilton Greenville at the discounted rate of $139/night, which includes breakfast. You can make hotel reservations here.  
Hotel rooms at the Hilton in the conference block are selling fast and only a limited number remain. Please make your hotel reservations as soon as possible to secure your room...

THANK YOU to everyone that submitted a workshop or vendor proposal. The number of proposals submitted exceeded the conference capacity. All accepted proposals were notified on January 31st. 

Check out the SYNERGY CONFERENCE page on the new NC CAP website periodically for additional details. 

We hope to see you in Greenville!
The 10th Annual "Doodle 4 Google" contest theme asks children to think about "What inspires me" and to express that inspiration through a creative, uplifting doodle. Any medium is acceptable from crayons to wood to Legos. 

Five finalists will be flown to Google's Mountain View headquarters, and one winner from among the five will receive:
  • A $30,000 college scholarship
  • A $50,000 Google for Education technology package for their school/non-profit organization
  • A behind-the-scenes experience with the Doodle Team to transfer their Doodle into an interactive experience that will launch by the end of 2018
The competition closes on March 2. Check out for the entry form and more information. 
Educational programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) - when coupled
with literacy, reading, and comprehension skills - are critical to helping our children thrive in our 21st century workforce. Yet we know that many  low-income, at-risk, and underserved youth struggle  with access to learning resources that can help them gain those skills and attain academic and economic success.

STEM Next and The Molina Foundation, have extensive experience working with early childhood centers, after-school programs and K-12 campuses throughout the nation. They have seen that the strongest STEM educational programs interweave literacy-rich materials with hands-on investigation and experimentation.

They wanted to look deeper at both the research and the current environment supporting the connections between literacy and STEM, especially in underserved and English language learning populations. They wanted to uncover findings that would help empower practitioners, educators, researchers, and policymakers with the right education tools to ensure our children are on a path for success. 

Together with The Institute for Entrepreneurship in Education, the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research at the University of San Diego and the Hoag Foundation, they present this report: " The Role of Books and Reading in STEM: An Overview of the Benefits for Children and the Opportunities to Enhance the Field." 

The report finds: 
  • To learn STEM vocabulary, students need multiple exposures to target words and opportunities to engage in reading, writing, and speaking practice. 
  • There is a lack of culturally and linguistically relevant STEM books for underserved children. 
  • Although limited, there are strong programs, organizations, and materials that are helping bridge the gap between STEM and literacy.
To read the full report, click here
Our Children's Place of Coastal Horizons Center ( ) is a statewide program that serves as North Carolina's leading advocate and educational resource focused on children of incarcerated parents.

Their work includes:
  • educating professionals, especially those working with children
  • supporting the relationship between children and their incarcerated and returning parents
  • identifying and promoting policies, programs, and practices which improve the outcomes for these children.
They are working to create communities where children of incarcerated (jail and prison) and returning parents are recognized, supported, and encouraged to share their stories.
If you're interested in learning more about professional workshops, Parent Day at local prisons, community resources, book lists, Sesame Street tool kits, what you can do to support these children, Bill of Rights for Children of Incarcerated Parents, and more, please contact us at (919) 904-4286 or [email protected].
Members of the State Board of Education were treated to a debut appearance by "Ray," a mascot designed by students to help promote summer nutrition programs across the state. The life-size mascot will be making appearances around the state to help the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and local school and community partners promote N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs that provide meals to students struggling with hunger when school is out.

Ray was designed by a team of students from Corinth Holders High School in Johnston County as part of a student art contest sponsored by NCDPI's School Nutrition Services. Another student from Corinth Holders High School designed the new N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs logo.

Now, North Carolina students have another opportunity to apply their creative skills through the N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs Promotional Materials Contest. Students in grades 6-12 are invited to design and submit promotional content such as a theme song, jingle, rap, dance, skit, public service announcement or other animated creation to help get children and teens excited about meeting up to eat up, enjoy physical activity, learn and have fun through N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs. With support from The Dairy Alliance, contest winners will receive cash prizes: $200 for first place, $150 for second place and $100 for third place. All contest entries must be submitted by April 6 at 5 p.m.

During the school year, many students rely on the nutritious meals served through the School Breakfast Program, School Lunch Program, and Afterschool Meals Program. But hunger doesn't take a summer break. Last summer, the N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs served more than 5.2 million meals to children and teens at almost 3,000 locations around the State. Still, only 12 out of every 100 public school students eligible for the program received these meals. And even through these programs are open to all students up to age 18, mostly elementary students or younger children participate in the N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs.

Students and teachers with questions about the N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs Promotional Materials Contest or citizens and organizations interested in more information about getting involved as a site, activity provider or volunteer, should contact NCDPI Summer Nutrition Programs Manager Cynthia Ervin [[email protected]].

HIGH POINT LEAP (Literacy Empowers All People) is a non-profit, grassroots, multicultural dropout intervention program focused on uplifting children and families through literacy. We believe that education is a ladder out of poverty and we seek to hold up the ladder for children and families. Leap's mission is to empower children from K-12th grade living in poverty to succeed academically while developing skills to become 21st Century Leaders and to strengthen their families through literacy programs and educational resources.

On December 8, 2017, the Office of Child Care released a  Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) Plan Pre-Print Draft for 2019-2021 for 30 days of public comment. The plan is the foundation that states must use to receive their allocation of the $5 billion in federal  Child Care and Development Block Grant funding. The plan draft incorporates the   2016 Final CCDF Rule and the full implementation of the updated CCDF legislation reauthorized in 2014. The draft pre-print also includes a process for a one to two year extension for states to implement new background check requirements under the law.

Across the country, school-age children account for 35 percent of CCDF subsidies. State administration is often housed in an administrative office connected with early care, where personnel may not naturally see where needs for school-age programs diverge. Nevertheless, a provider for a 12-year-old child requires a different set of training and requirements than a provider of infant care. It is therefore essential that school-age providers and organizations take a proactive role to be an essential part in the design and implementation of these state plans.

In response to the draft, the Afterschool Alliance  submitted comments to the department emphasizing the value of explicitly including school-age care organizations in the formulation of state child care policies and ensuring that professional development training, standards, and technical assistance also be appropriate to the age of child served and the setting (including programs at school sites), after consultation with partners and the field.

As the letter states, "State policies that are conscious of the need to consider different ages in their plan and implementation help to build quality access for more youth. Conversely, policies that overlook the distinct needs of school-age care can unintentionally incentivize school age providers to opt out of the CCDF funding at a large loss to families and youth in need of services."

To read the full article, click here

Excerpt from: 
For the more than 4 million English language learner (ELL) students who attend public schools nationwide, it's more critical than ever to provide literacy skill development support both in and out of school.

That's why the National AfterSchool Association (NAA), in collaboration with the Afterschool Alliance, created "The Afterschool Guide to Building English Language Learners' Literacy," a free eBook filled with valuable information and field-sourced tools and strategies specifically designed for the afterschool environment.  Click here to join NAA (for free) and then visit the "Program Resources" tab on the right column.

Afterschool and informal learning programs are ideal opportunities for ELL youth to develop their literacy skills in fun, supportive environments. With strategies ranging from student-run newspapers to initiatives that connect kids with their communities and bring families into the program, the range of education possibilities is limitless!

NAA is proud to offer the Guide to its members. For membership information and to download the eBook visit

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has opened it's application for the 2018 Student STEM Enrichment Program (SSEP) grant awards.  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 BWF's home state of North Carolina. These awards provide up to $60,000 per year for three years. The application deadline is  April 18, 2018 .

The  Ezra Jack Keats Foundation is offering funding of up to $500 to design and implement a creative program for your school or library! Public schools, public libraries, and public preschool programs are encouraged to apply.   Previous successful projects have included a public story walk, a multicultural portrait project, a school garden, a bookmaking workshop, and an inter-generational storytelling day.

This coming May, the New York Life Foundation will make 26 awards to out-of-school time programs serving disadvantaged youth through their Aim High grant program. The Aim High program is part of the New York Life Foundation's ongoing investment in middle school OST programs to help economically disadvantaged eighth-graders reach ninth grade on time. The grant program will fund a total of 26 afterschool, summer and expanded learning programs nationwide, based on a competitive application process. This year, the Aim High grant program will provide $1,350,000 to support 26 awards nationwide.

All out-of-school time (including summer) programs in the United States are eligible to apply for the Marathon Kids Grant.   School-based OST programs are welcome to apply, but OST programs not directly operated by a school or district will be given priority.

Launched in 2015 through a partnership between PHIT America, KIDS in the GAME, and the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, GO! Grants are available for all schools, grades K-12, who wish to add a more robust physical activity component to their programming. These grants offer equipment and registration or activation of a physical activity program for your school. 

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