The virtual Synergy Conference 2020 was a huge success. This year's conference, "Future in Focus", featured over 60 pre-recorded workshops and live plenaries in Arts & Literacy, Closing Gaps, College & Career Readiness, Mentoring, Organizational Capacity, Public/Private Partnerships, S.T.E.M., and Youth Development. We hope that all of this year's attendees enjoyed the engaging keynote speakers, 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 is 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 that you do through your programs to support, inspire and prepare our youth for their futures. 

All aspects of the virtual Synergy Conference 2020 will be accessible on the iCohere platform through Friday, September 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 meeting and plenary recordings, workshop sessions, vendors and the networking lounge. 
If additional members of your team want to register for the Synergy Conference, they are invited to do so here through Friday, August 21st.  

We can't wait until next year! Plans for Synergy 2021 are underway and details will be forthcoming. In the meantime, please save the date for April 27-30, 2021! 
We hope to see you then! 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has created communication tools and guidance for childcare programs and summer camps. Guidance and tools to help childcare program and summer camp administrators make decisions, protect children and staff, and communicate with their communities.

Resources include guidance information about reopening, posters, fact sheets, and videos. 

There is additional resources on the website for Youth Sports, K-12 Education, Employee and Worker Safety, and many more!

To learn more about the CDC Toolkit for Childcare Programs and Summer Camps, click here
The STEM Coalition, or STEMco, is intentionally designed to convene individuals from various sectors to discuss and develop strategies and solutions focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion within STEM career pathways. During the Synergy Conference 2020, NC CAP was able to kickoff the STEM Coalition with an amazing panel featuring individuals engaged in STEM across sectors (spotlighted below). During the kickoff, the panelists participated in a discussion that focused on the importance of STEM in North Carolina, particularly for girls and minorities, and addressed challenges within the STEM pipeline. The invitation is open for individuals that are invested in youth STEM engagement to join the STEM Coalition. To join the STEM Coalition, complete this form.
To learn more about NC CAP's STEM initiatives and the STEM Coalition, click here
As champions for children, program providers are doing everything they can during this time to keep youth safe and continue to serve them. NC CAP wants to continue to support providers during this time. In every way, providers throughout North Carolina and the nation have risen to the challenge in every way. 

In support of your efforts, NC CAP has a new resources to share, Mizzen by Mott. Mizzen by Mott is a new app built with and for afterschool professionals to provide high-quality, engaging learning content to the afterschool field. 

To meet the needs of this moment, the Mizzen team has added new activity playlists and multi-week modules that can be done at home or in a small-group setting. The app's content focuses on youth learning and well-being and is provided by organizations like Jazz at Lincoln Center, the California Academy of Sciences, After-School All Starts, OregonAsk, and VentureLab. Through support from the Mott Foundation, the app and all of its content is available for free to afterschool providers. 

 To learn more about the Mizzen app, click here
As providers in North Carolina and across the nation have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NC CAP team has observed program providers step up and find innovative ways to support youth, families, and communities. As time progresses, there have been ongoing concerns about engaging youth during an atypical summer and NC CAP is here to assist in navigating these uncharted territories. 

To support the hard work of providers statewide, NC CAP and the 50 Statewide Afterschool Networks, under the leadership of the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network, has developed a suite of fun and engaging activities and challenges designed for the summer amid COVID-19. Over the course of the summer, there will be units released bi-weekly. 

Within the Summer Activity Guides, providers can expect 150 activities and challenges that are: 
  • organized by age groups (5-9; 10-12; 13-15; and 16-18)
  • adaptable for in-person and virtual instruction
  • designed to build skills and social-emotional learning 
This resource also includes supplemental materials for professional development and enhancing family engagement. 

All Units of the Summer Activity Guide have been released:
  • Unit I: Who I Am
  • Unit II: Healthy Life
  • Unit III: Passion & Purpose.
  • Unit IV: Invention and Imagination
  • Unit V: Exploring My World

For more information and to access the Summer Activity Guides and additional strategies for Summer Learning, please visit NC CAP's Summer Learning page. 
The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) challenges academically talented students from across the state with a comprehensive curriculum including highly specialized courses in science, technology, engineering, computer science, and mathematics. Their Summer Programs team is looking for a strong candidate to support their Summer Accelerator program and help aid in their expansion to academic year programming and serving more students in North Carolina and across the world. 

General Responsibilities of the Assistant Coordinator for Summer Program Management include: 

  • Admissions and enrollment: Manages applications and enrollment, recruits and leads selection teams, and tracks payments. Authority to make independent decisions regarding admissions procedures and student placements. Conveys sensitive information and/or decisions to clients and fields and resolves questions and concerns. Develops supplemental forms to collect student information and ensure their completion.
  • Site supervision: as a site supervisor, makes independent decisions regarding safety, programming, discipline, staffing, activities, and resources; serves as primary point of contact and is on call 24 hours a day for families, students, staff, contractors, and faculty. 
  • Communications and Marketing: Supports student recruitment and engagement; representing NCSSM at events and conferences, managing social media pages and website.
  • General duties: supervises campus service students, serves on various campus-wide projects and committees.
For more information include preferred skills and education experience, as well as information on applying, visit here. The posting closes on August 17th, 2020 at 5:00pm EST. 
From the White House to governors' mansions, there is currently a lot of discussion occurring about how and when schools should reopen for the 2020-2021 school year. That conversation ultimately will need to happen in the local communities of about 13,500 school districts nationwide, and each locality will need to develop a plan that reflects the situation on the ground. To help inform those conversations, the Afterschool Alliance has released "A Blueprint for How Afterschool Programs & Community Partners Can Help"

Based on the experience of afterschool and summer learning providers this spring and summer, we believe that the most successful school reopening plans will be developed jointly by schools, parents, teachers, afterschool programs, and community-based organizations, so that together we can ensure our children are learning, safe, engaged, and building academic, social, and emotional skills during the hours their parents are at work. There is a growing consensus that schools do not have to tackle the challenge of reopening alone and the Blueprint outlines a host of additional resources and local expertise that can be tapped to help implement a new learning day and ensure our children reach their full potential. 

The Blueprint outlines considerations that local communities are currently discussing and provides five essential building blocks that together can help ensure that students have access to a multitude of learning settings and trusted adults -- all operating with a shared vision -- to help support the social, emotional, and academic learning of all young people. While the Blueprint goes into more detail, a brief overview of these components include: 
  • School-Community Partnerships: Perhaps more than any other component, strong partnerships between community organizations and schools will be needed as we redesign the learning day and reopen in ways that look different than a "traditional" school day. Partnerships should be characterized by the alignment of goals and services, effective lines of communication, and data and resource sharing. 
  • Commitment to Active and Engaged Learning: Supporting students' social, emotional, and academic learning as we emerge from this crisis will be a top priority.
  • Family Engagement: Engaging with families to determine how community partners can help supplement any new school day scenario will be essential to help young people, working families, and our economy recover. 
  • International Programming: Explicit goals intentionally designed activities that align with these goals are critical to the success of a redesigned learning day. 
  • Health & Well-Being: Together schools and community partners should take a holistic approach to well-being, helping students build their social and emotional skills and competencies, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to work in teams, as well as providing opportunities for exercise and access to nutritious meals and snacks that otherwise might be unavailable. 
The Blueprint also discusses possible partners that can be leveraged; program staffing possibilities; and public funding sources that can be accessed collectively. Finally, a table is included that demonstrates how school-community partnerships can work in a variety of school reopening scenarios. 

 To learn more about the Blueprint, click here.
For 35 years, the National Youth Leadership Council has transformed classrooms, empowered educators, and captivated students by leading the way in providing high-quality, dynamic service learning content to school districts, classrooms, afterschool programs, and everything in-between. Their programs and services develop young leaders, support educators and advance the field of service learning. 

NYLC, with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, developed a series of Engage handbooks designed for youth in elementary, middle, and high school. The handbooks assist providers in bringing service learning to afterschool programs in 15 one-hour sessions. The books begin with an overview of the practice, then engage youth in experiential sessions that highlight youth voice and leadership. Each session begins with an energizer activity tied to the content of the session, and ends with a reflection, that is often in the form of an "exit ticket". By the end of the experience, young people will have acted on issues of importance to them through a deliberative inquiry-based process. 

Learn more about the NYLC Engage Service Learning Curriculum, click here

NYLC will be hosting a live conversation on August 11 from 10:30-11:30 EST for interested program providers across North Carolina to ask questions, brainstorm ideas and generate a plan for service-learning.  If you are interested in attending, contact Julie Rogers Bascom, Director of Training and Leadership Development at to register.  
For the past decade, the USA Science & Engineering Festival has been proud to offer the largest and only national science festival with thousands of hands-on activities, conversations with STEM mentors, and exciting stage shows. While the USA Science & Engineering Festival awaits the opportunity to host the in-person Expo, they hope that you will join them for a FREE Virtual Festival - SciFest All Access. 

At SciFest All Access, attendees of all ages can engage directly with sponsors and exhibitors to experience 100+ virtual STEM activities! This FREE virtual event will be a graphical depiction of the live Festival to include exhibitor booths, pavilions, videos, games, and more!

SciFest is open to K-12 students, college students, educators, and families. Educators can utilize the virtual STEM event as educational content for students this fall. Educators should register each student separately to access the virtual space with their unique username. SciFest will occur online September 16th, 2020 to September 23rd, 2020. There is no cost to attend. 

To learn more information about the SciFest and to register for the virtual event, click here
For many kids, summertime means two things: fun and friends. But when school is out, that also means that families cannot count on their kids eating meals at school, and already tight family food budget have to be stretched even further. Parents also know that growing kids have big appetites. 

An astounding 85 percent of the almost 900,000 NC children from economically-challenged families are not accessing the federally-funded summer nutrition programs designed to fill the need when school is out. 

Meals were available to close to 3,000 meal sites in North Carolina in the summer of 2017. But only a small percentage of schools serve as summer meal sites for children in their community, or are willing and/or able to arrange transportation for these federally reimbursed meals to be delivered to the kids. Many organizations where kids gather in the summer still are not aware of the opportunity to serve as a free meals site. 

Here are four ways to find a nearby free summer meals site in North Carolina for children:
  1. Text "FoodNC" or "COMIDA" to 877-877
  2. Text "Summer Meals" to 97779
  3. Call toll-free 1-866-3HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) or 1-877-8HAMBRE (1-877-842-6273)
  4. Visit the USDA's Summer Meal Site Finder
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb along with unemployment claims, pressure has continued to build for the Senate to take up another COVID-19 relief and response bill. Last month, the White House and the Secretary of Education mounted a public relations campaign calling for all local schools to physically reopen and admit students for the 2020-2021 school year. Increased costs for safety protocols and the growing need to address inequities in the education system which existed even before the pandemic coupled with projected state and local education funding cuts, further point to the need for a sizable federal investment in education in the next COVID-19 relief bill. 

In June, the Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member, Patty Murray, rose to that challenge by introducing the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (S. 4112) with 18 Democrat co-sponsors. The measure would build on the educational investments from the CARES Act with almost $430 billion in additional funding for child abuse and neglect prevention, child care, K-12 education, post-secondary education, and workforce development. 

The bill does not include additional funding set aside for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, it does build on the language in the CARES Act allowing local school districts to support afterschool programs for students and families. Specifically the bull allows school districts to meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of students and educators by, in part, supporting access to afterschool programs; and suggests districts coordinate with afterschool programs in planning, coordinating, and implementing activities during long-term and short-term closures and staggered school schedules. 

To learn more about the new Senate bill, click here

STEM is all about problem-solving. 
"When you're looking at real-world problems, a one-dimensional approach will not solve those problems - not the problems of today and definitely not the problems of tomorrow," says Dr. Suzanne Nesmith, associate dean for undergraduate education and associate professor for curriculum and instruction at Baylor University's School of Education. 

World progress and development depends on science, technology, engineering, and mat, she says. And the skills STEM education emphasizes - critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity - can apply not only to these fields, but also to other disciplines. That's why STEM learning should begin in early childhood education, says Dr. Sandra Cooper, professor of mathematics education, coordinator of mathematics education, and program director of Baylor University School of Education's Doctor of Education in Learning and Organizational Change online program. 

Not only is early childhood a critical period of brain development, there are also practical reasons for integrating STEM into the classroom for young students. "It comes more naturally in elementary schools because most elementary classrooms are self-contained, where one teacher teaches all subjects," Cooper says. "They can easily go from one to the next or integrate these areas." 

When introducing STEM in the classroom, Cooper and Nesmith teach their student to follow the four guiding principles developed by Early Childhood STEM Working Group, made up of scholars, policymakers, curriculum developers, and educators who advocate universal access to STEM education for preschool children. 
  • Develop children's natural STEM inclinations
    • Encourage curiosity by fostering, guiding, and building on their interests so they have positive early STEM experiences
  • Consider that representation and communication are central to STEM learning 
    • Use discussion, illustrations, and writing to help students understand important concepts and practices. 
  • Be aware that beliefs and attitudes affect how children think about STEM
    • Change negative attitudes and beliefs people have about STEM competencies. Be positive and build confidence in everyone's ability to learn STEM
  • Understand STEM education is not culturally neutral
    • Acknowledge cultural influences, racial biases, and class stereotypes to develop different approaches to STEM education that reduce the biases and stereotypes that can limit students' success
To learn more information about selecting high-quality STEM activities for youth , click here

The North Carolina Science and Engineering Fair has created virtual workshops centered on scientific inquiry and the engineering design process. The workshops are designed to support educators that are interested in supporting students in exploring their interest in supporting students in scientific research and/or engineering design. 
Topics discussed in the workshops include fostering and guiding scientific and engineering research, initiating and managing research projects, and planning a school, program, or district science and engineering fair. 

To access the workshops, visit the Tuesday Workshop Series and the Wednesday Workshop Series YouTube Playlists. 
The North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs 
(NC CAP) is embarking on exciting new work to expand the amount of STEM opportunities in afterschool programs. High quality afterschool programs have shown to increase student academic performance, behavioral improvements and have been a factor in supporting regular school attendance. To increase these types of opportunities for children and youth throughout the state, it is necessary to develop partnerships and identify resource gaps. The STEM Afterschool Expansion VISTA will increase access to high-quality afterschool programs focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields for youth statewide, particularly those that are growing up in poverty, and establish a community support system that links established afterschool programs with potential partners and STEM resources. This position is based in Raleigh, NC. 
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. 

The After School Advantage Program is a signature education program and flagship community involvement initiative. The program is devoted to providing young people with access to technology in a safe, nurturing afterschool environment, whole promoting opportunities in digital learning centers in varying communities. Applications are accepted on rolling basis.

The Cornell Douglas Foundation offers small grants to non-profit organizations that work to advocate for environmental health and justice, promote stewardship, and encourage respect for sustainability. With grant amounts averaging $10,000, the Foundation supports programs in environmental health, sustainability, and education for elementary and high school students. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

The Costco Charitable Contributions Committee oversees charitable donations to nonprofit organizations focusing on supporting children, education, and health and human services. Award amounts vary, and previous grants have gone to organizations such as United Way, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, and the Red Cross. Grant-giving focuses on communities in the markets where Costco does business. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

The D'Addario Foundation is a non-profit grant-making organization providing monetary and product support to high-quality sustainable music instruction programs on the front line to improve access to music education. They support programs that bring music back into communities and schools and get kids playing as early ans as frequently as possible. The D'Addario Foundation believes in the transformative power of music and that mentoring and building communities through music can positively affect social change. Grant proposals are due September 30th, 2020. 

Schools, public libraries, and nonprofit organizations who help students who are below grade level or having trouble reading are eligible to apply. Grant funding is provided to assist in the following areas: (1) implementing new or expanding existing literacy programs, (2) purchasing new technology or equipment to support literacy initiatives, and (3) purchasing books, materials, or software for literacy programs.

Good Sports creates opportunities in sports and physical activity for kids through donations of brand new sports equipment, apparel, and footwear. Good Sports are looking for organizations that operates an organized sport, recreational activity, or fitness program that offers consistent and structured opportunity play for large groups of children, ages 3 to 18 years old. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. 

The Kars4Kids Small Grant Program is dedicated to supporting educational initiatives and youth development programs in the country. Kars4Kids provides year-round educational and mentoring opportunities and support to develop youth into productive and engaged members of society. Areas of interest include youth development, mentoring, and education. Grants range from $500 to $2000. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

The NASA Teams Engaging Affiliated Museums and Informal Institutions (TEAMS II) Remote Opportunities Rapid Response (RORR) call for proposals for innovative programs, opportunities, or products capable of reaching a diverse set of students, with a specific focus on underserved and/or underrepresented students in STEM and helping to minimize the inequities faced by communities without ready access to information and communication technology. Eligible institutions do not need to have the words "museum", "visitor center", "science", "planetarium", "youth", or "library" in their official name, but they must be located in the United States or its Territories. Applications are due on August 13th, 2020. 

The Public Welfare Foundation offers grants to groups that work to advance fair, effective, community-based justice for all youth across the country, particularly those geared towards fighting the criminalization and incarceration of youth of color. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. 

The Reiman Foundation supports the dedication, imagination, and courage of many organizations, particularly those involved in education, healthcare, arts, and children's initiatives. Applications are reviewed and 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 discretionary grant programs and (2) through donor-advised grants. 

The Sparkplug Foundation funds start-up organizations and new projects of established organizations in music, education, and community organizing. Their particular focus is on "the development of democratic movements and communities, especially those that work on issues of local democracy, justice, and sustainable energy. The Sparkplug Foundation has two grant cycles per year, spring and fall. 

Waste Management, Inc. gives to organizations and programs that preserve and enhance natural resources; in particular, grants prioritize programs that emphasize environmental education, where middle and high schools can learn about the importance of environmental stewardship and responsibility. Examples include environmental and science related projects, science fairs, earth day projects, and others. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. 
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