RALEIGH, NC (April 21, 2021) – The Public School Forum’s NC Center for Afterschool Programs (NC CAP) will virtually host its 17th annual Synergy Conference on April 27-30, 2021. This year’s conference theme is Revolutionizing Afterschool: Renew-Reconnect-Rise.

The Synergy Conference brings together hundreds of afterschool and expanded learning program directors, staff, K-12 educators, and college faculty to share research-based information, as well as relevant strategies for engaging students and parents in the afterschool environment to help strengthen students academically, socially and emotionally. 

This year’s four-day virtual conference will kick off on Tuesday, April 27 and Wednesday, April 28, as the NC Department of Public Instruction facilitates the 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) Statewide Technical Assistance Meeting for current 21st CCLC Programs. 

On Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 pm, April 28, Jodi Grant and Erik Peterson from the Afterschool Alliance will provide insight on the American Rescue Plan and how the plan provides an opportunity for North Carolina to increase afterschool and summer opportunities for all young people. 

On Thursday morning at 9:30 am, April 29, Michelle Mackonochie, an anchor and reporter for WRAL-TV, will facilitate a panel with afterschool, before school and summer program providers from across the state who defied the odds and rose to the moment in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, panelists include Tunmorya Bennett, HeartWorks; Carmen Blackmon, Above and Beyond Students; Sil Ganzó, ourBRIDGE for Kids; Pam Hyatt, The Dream Center; Leonard Paulk, Boys & Girls Club of the Coastal Plains; Carolyn Ross-Holmes, C.A.R.E./The John 3:16 Center; Elizabeth Scott, Boys & Girls Clubs of The Tar River Region; and Aubrey Vinson, Chapel Hill – Carrboro YMCA.  

At noon on Thursday, NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green will provide a keynote address entitled “The Revelation of Self-Reclamation.” During her address, Green will discuss how with the trustworthy seeds of family, friends, and community, we are nurturing a greater harvest and that is the humble power of belonging first to ourselves and to each other. 

On Thursday afternoon at 2:30 pm, awards will be distributed to recognize individuals and organizations that have served as champions of afterschool programs, and whose collective efforts have helped to bridge the gap for youth across North Carolina in regards to access to out-of-school time programs, initiatives and policy. Congressman David E. Price and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt will make remarks at the awards ceremony. 

Friday, April 30 at 9:30 am will kick off with North Carolina’s first Afterschool For All Challenge. The Afterschool For All Challenge is a national initiative that focuses on advocacy for afterschool, before school and summer programs on the state and national levels. The Afterschool For All Challenge will feature Jen Rinehart from the Afterschool Alliance and a panel of program providers that have engaged in advocacy and elected officials. Specifically, panelists include North Carolina State Senator Valerie Foushee (D-Chatham, Orange); Jonathan Helms, Boys & Girls Club of Cabarrus County; Kristen Mellette, Positive Direction for Youth Afterschool Program; North Carolina Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Caswell, Orange); Emily Neff, W.A.M.Y. Community Action, Inc.; and Renee Price, Orange County Board of County Commissioners.  

At noon on Friday, Diana Diaz of Your Story To Tell Academy will provide a keynote address entitled “The Top Five Skills Every Student Needs to Succeed Post-COVID”. Using immersive storytelling, Diaz will discuss the importance of effective communication, a solution-oriented min, adaptability, attention to detail and accountability for youth. Amber Rupinta, an anchor for ABC11 Eyewitness News, will conclude the conference’s live plenaries on Friday afternoon at 2:00 pm as the facilitator of the second annual Youth Voices Panel with youth and teens participating in afterschool, before school or summer programs statewide.  

In addition to the series of live plenaries, this year’s virtual conference features over 50 pre-recorded workshop sessions comprising a range of topics that include arts & literacy, college & career readiness, social & emotional learning, STEM and youth development; there will also be access to vendors and networking opportunities.

The 2021 Synergy Conference is open to the public and stakeholders who are interested in learning more about out-of-school time opportunities and how they help strengthen student success in school and life. Space is limited, and registration closes April 23, 2021.


For more information, a full schedule of events, and to register for the conference, please visit https://ncafterschool.org/synergy-conference-2021/. For media inquiries, please contact Dr. Sheronda Fleming at sfleming@ncforum.org or 919.781.6833 x135.



About the North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs (NC CAP)

As North Carolina’s only center dedicated to serving the afterschool and expanded learning community, the North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs (NC CAP) leads and supports a network of over 6,000 providers. NC CAP is a part of the Public School Forum of North Carolina. Our work impacts 160,000 K-12 students in the afterschool community throughout the state. We support the afterschool and expanded learning community by advocating and helping to shape policy, providing professional development opportunities, and bringing together state and national stakeholders. Follow us on Twitter @ncafterschool and visit our website at www.ncafterschool.org. The Synergy Conference is the only statewide conference that convenes providers of out-of-school time programs, educators and community stakeholders.

About the Public School Forum of North Carolina

Since 1986, the Public School Forum of North Carolina has been an indispensable and nonpartisan champion of public schools and the most trusted source in the state for research and analysis on vital education issues. We bring together leaders from business, education and government to study education issues, develop ideas, seek consensus, and ultimately inform and shape education policy. We do that through research, policy work, innovative programs, advocacy, and continuing education for educators and policymakers. Follow us on Twitter @theNCForum and visit our website at www.ncforum.org.

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