November 13-15, 2019 | beaver creek, co

The PwrHrs Rural Afterschool Conference is a unique opportunity to connect, collaborate, and create. It will bring together a strong network of educators, organizations, and thought leaders to share information, gain expertise, and collectively build a roadmap to support the quality and sustainability of afterschool programming in our rural communities.

The conference line-up includes keynotes from national education leaders along with a special evening with New York Times best-selling author, Sarah Smarsh. Individual tickets are on-sale now and can be purchased HERE. Conference registration includes entry to the special evening with Sarah Smarsh.

The Grove Consultants International will lead collaborative learning sessions and interactive workshops with practitioners and experts in the field to provide all attendees with an actionable road map to take back to your community.

I’m interested in…


Early Bird Registration: $150 (until September 15, 2019)

General Registration: $200

Special registration discounts available through our partners! For more information, contact

Certificates for Continuing Education Credit provided. Refer to your own state Department of Education for more information. Some session blocks are approved Professional Development for Colorado licensed school-aged childcare providers. More details coming soon. 


Special lodging pricing is available at the Park Hyatt, Beaver Creek for $129/night. (Rate based on availability)


Lodging is also available at the Westin, Avon for $129/night. (Special rate is valid until 11/6/19)



Epic Mountain Express can get you to and from Denver International Airport to Beaver Creek. Book your travel with 25% off special pricing!



Click HERE to see full Session Block descriptions.

*schedule is subject to change*


12:00 – 7:00 PM | Conference Registration Opens

3:00 – 5:00 PM | PwrHrs Site Visits / Special Activities / Post Sessions

5:00 PM | Welcome Reception


7:30 AM | Continental Breakfast and Networking

8:00 AM | Opening Remarks

9:00 – 10:15 AM | SESSION BLOCK 1: 5th Day – Partnerships – Social Emotional Learning – STEM 

10:15 AM | Break

10:30 – 11:45 AM | SESSION BLOCK 2: R.A.F.T. – Community – Resiliency – Quality – Student- Driven

11:45 AM – 12:15 PM | Open Lunch

12:15 – 1:15 PM | The Grove Consultants Exercise

1:30 – 2:45 PM | SESSION BLOCK 3: Dual-Generation – GO OUTSIDE! – Growing Staff – Excellent Humans 

2:45 PM | Break

3:00 – 4:15 PM | SESSION BLOCK 4: Advocacy Anywhere – Blended & Project-Based  Learning – ESSA

4:15 PM | Cocktails with Colorado Afterschool Partnership

4:30 – 5:30 PM | General Session: Heart Mapping for Rural Quilt

5:30 PM | A Special Evening with Sarah Smarsh: Rural Afterschool and Education: A Door to the World for Low Income and Minority Students


7:30 AM | Continental Breakfast and Networking

8:45 – 10:00 AM | SESSION BLOCK 5: Nutrition –Youth Voice – Community Design – 21st Century

10:00 AM | Break

10:15 – 11:30 AM | SESSION BLOCK 6: Starting from Scratch – Volunteers – The Elusive High Schooler – Evaluation – Our Voice

11:30 AM | Open Lunch

12:00 PM |  Final Session with The Grove Consultants – THE FINALE!

1:00 PM | Final Remarks and Prize Drawing


The Grove Consultants International will graphically record facilitated listening sessions providers, stakeholders, and youth around experiences, ideas, and problem-solving strategies around afterschool in rural communities. Participants will all contribute to creating a “roadmap” tool to support their work in their in-home communities after the conference.



Each Session Block will contain breakout sessions tapping into the following strands. Scroll down to see full Session Block information!

  • Best Practices: practioners in rural afterschool will use interactive and hands-on to share their expertise in…
  • The Power of Partnerships
  • Quality and Evaluation
  • Advocating for Rural Afterschool Sessions 
  • The Fifth Day 

Knowing Everyone is an Asset: What Partnership Looks Like in a Rural Community and Why Relationships Matter

Presenter: Joy McClure, Program Director, PowerZone

Do you feel like you have run out of ideas for student activities? Are you having trouble connecting your community to your program? Join us as we seek out ways to find and engage community members and partners. Participates will explore how to connect with people and organizations within their community to enhance the after school program. Participates will use asset mapping to identify new partners and activities for students.

Fifth Day Solutions: A Panel

Facilitated by DK Foundation, Featuring Colorado Aerolab, Campo School District, East Grand School District, and others

This panel of Fifth Day leaders join together to discuss the history, challenges, and creative solutions around the four-day school week and its relationship to out-of-school time providers and opportunities.

The Endless Possibilities of Library Partnerships

Presenter: Cody Buchanan, Community Partnership Specialist, CDE’s

Office of Dropout Prevention and Student Re-engagement, and Beth Crist, Colorado State Library

This engaging presentation will highlight partnership opportunities available between Out of School Time (OST) providers and their local public libraries. Modern libraries have a wealth of resources and materials available to communities, and partnership can improve the quality and sustainability of OST programs – particularly in rural areas that have limited partnership options.

360 Degrees in STEM

Presenter: Toby Swaford, 4-H Agent for OOT in Larimar County

Colorado State University Extension and 4-H have partnered with AmeriCorps to help deliver out of school time STEM programming to under served youth throughout Colorado.  Would you like to provide high quality STEM programming using a variety of easily attainable household items?  Do you want to create rewarding partnerships with community centers, libraries, schools, and more?  Attend this interactive, hands-on program to learn how you can help bring this exciting opportunity to your county.

Enhancing Social & Emotional Learning Through Physical Activity

Presenter: Sandy Slade, Skillastics

Numerous studies have shown that children who are active and healthy have a lower risk of juvenile behavior, an increase in academic achievement, and tend to have a much better self-image. This workshop integrates STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math with Physical Activity in the  unique Skillastics® format that helps develop healthier, more productive children. Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in a one-of-a-kind workshop!

The Power of Community: Examples from the Field

Presenter: Alexis Steines, Afterschool Alliance

Participants will learn and initiate different strategies from multiple extended learning programs that focus on community leverage, from government to academia, from businesses to schools and everyone in between. These partnerships and collaborations can not only keep the doors open but bring incredible value to programs in both curriculum and wrap-around services. The session will also highlight how to track in-kind value in a meaningful way.

Resiliency and Empowerment in the Afterschool Space

Presenter: Danelle Hughes Norman, Programs Manager for Voyager Youth Program in Ridgway, CO

While the planned enrichment activity leads the story and makes the calendar, it is the moments in between that can have a profound impact on the way children connect to the environment and each other. This session offers tools and tricks that make transitions easier and fulfilling.

Using Upcycled Materials for Centers-Based Design Challenges

Presenter: Harley Young, Innovation Specialist, RAFT

How do you unlock the power of hands-on? Become an agent in a top secret organization, and use design thinking  to solve authentic problems. Come experience Raft’s ready-to-use resources that can take your out of school time to a whole new level of STEAM!

Program Implementation: Program Quality

Presenter: Jennifer Harris, Weikart Center for Program Quality

Research shows that quality extended learning programs have a positive impact on youth outcomes. But what constitutes quality? How can that be measured for program implementation and outcome purposes? Participants will grapple with these questions and consider what the rural experience is with youth program quality.

Sparking a Love of Learning through Student-Driven Projects

Presenter: Kate Donelan, Destination Imagination

Use your critical and creative thinking skills to solve a fun challenge!! Participants with learn how to incorporate a competitive problem solving experience for their students either during school or after school. This interactive session will give you a hands on understanding of the DI educational experience. DI teaches critical and creative thinking in a student centric competition. Participants will learn how the DI educational experience can enhance students love of learning.

Creating a Community-Wide Out of School Time Committee in THE Rural Rockies

Presenter: Francisco Tharp, Get Outdoors Leadville!

This session highlights how our under-resourced community is establishing an inclusive working group to implement system-level changes that will improve the out-of-school experience for local youth, families, and organizations. We will mention some positive outcomes of the working group, but will focus on how to establish a foundation of inter-agency agreements and operating structures that ensure equitable, collaborative, and sustainable progress beyond any single endeavor.

LIFE: Dual Generational Approaches to Social-Emotional Growth and Literacy

Presenter: Andrew Hysell, Reading Roadmap

Learn about LIFE (Literacy-Integrated Family Engagement) and how the principles underlying it can help families in your community. The LIFE model provides a combination of early literacy and social/emotional supports that can be implemented in schools and by community-based organizations. In this session, we’ll provide simple, step-by-step descriptions of social/emotional interventions you use to improve family connection, resilience, and emotional well-being.

Stepping Out Your Door to STREAM

Presenter: Dr. Barbara Shaw, Colorado State University, and Cindy Gantick, Creative Coaching for Education Energy (C2E2)

Stepping Out Your Door To STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, and Math): You have a remarkable resource to engage youth in exploring their world: the great outdoors. We will provide two complete units on using the landscape as your laboratory: Inside and Outside Weather (from making homemade instruments to predicting tomorrow’s weather), and Hug a Tree (from figuring out the number of leaves on a tree to reasons for photosynthetic colors of fall). Get ready for STREAM FUN!

How Might We Reach the Child Who Hungers for Purpose? The #HMW 5th Day Primer

Presenter: Elaine Menardi, Colorado Aerolab

The #HMW 5th Day Primer is a 5th Day mini-class offered in the small rural schools in northwestern Colorado. Participants can choose from popular CAL activities designed to help students Do-It-to-Think-About-It-Differently. Hands-on, multidisciplinary activities, peer-to-peer interaction and personal reflection will expand a bias toward action and spark creative thinking. CAL 5th Day programs are designed to reach the child who hungers for purpose in Pivot-the-Model design school learning.

Do We Need Gender-Specific Programming?

Presenter: Edelina Burciaga and Carrie Makawericz, University of Colorado, Denver

What are the benefits and challenges of gender-specific programming in out-of-school time? This session will examine the theory and practice of gender-specific programming. Panelists will include researchers, practitioners, and program participants. Following a brief research presentation, the audience will engage in small groups to discuss their own experience with gender-specific programming and brainstorm how the unique context of rural communities shapes gender-specific programming.

Leveraging a System of Supports: Professional Development in a Rural Landscape

Presenter: Dr. Kimberly Larson, University of Nebraska

Ongoing professional development is essential to the implementation of a quality afterschool program. However, informal educators working in rural communities face unique challenges that make participation a challenge. Attend this session to consider the unique strengths and challenges of rural Nebraska program leaders and staff, reflect on circumstances in your rural community, and consider potential improvements to your own professional development system.

Capturing the Heart

Presenters: Anna Hogberg and Ellen Sarkisian, Generation Schools

Advocacy – Anytime, Anywhere! This session will help participants create a successful afterschool Advocacy Program to promote the overall well-being and development of student’s social and emotional learning and college and career readiness skills. Learn about the Advocacy structures, protocols, teacher supports and measures that ensure the value and quality of this time for all students. Join us!

Project Dream: Blended Learning Platforms for Academic Intervention in Rural Environment

Presenter: Karen Johnson, Lake County School District

Advancing Academics in Afterschool proves that afterschool does not have to be an afterthought for academics. This session will explore a K-2 afterschool reading intervention program called Bookworms. This successful offering has demonstrated growth for students below grade level while being engaging for kids. Key components for discussion will include making the necessary connections with school staff, data collection and progress monitoring, and implementation challenges.

The Power of Alignment

Presenter: Jullian Luchner, Afterschool Alliance

Demonstrating how your program aligns with local and state education plans is key to developing relationships and even finding supplemental funding. Participants will be guided by a facilitator and YouthPower365 staff to connect their specific extended learning program to state ESSA measurements and local school goals.

Project Based Learning in the 5th Day Context

Presenter: Victoria Sordyl, Director of Project-Based Learning, East Grand and Carin Aichele, Imagine Create Be

Are you ready to engage your students in real-world problem solving driven by their passions, motivations, values and interests? Make your programs relevant using Project-Based Learning (PBL) ideologies including mentoring, sustained inquiry, reflection with self and peers, critique and revision. Join us in this session and leave with a proven, step-by-step PBL template that will increase student interest and passion for learning.

Creating a Safe Space to Learn: Classroom Management

Presenter: Kristina Anderson: Educational Consultant, Buffalo, NY

Classroom management was rated as the most important variable in building and sustaining a high achieving classroom. Educators lose precious instruction time on Lower level discipline challenges. Academics and discipline go hand in hand. Participants will learn how to increase academics, decrease discipline challenges and empower all educators.

Building Youth Through Food: Child Nutrition Programs at Your Site

Presenters: Carrie Thielen, CDE Nutrition Programs, and Meghan George-Nichols, CDPHE

Access to healthy food is an integral building block for youth development. In this session, you will discover the current needs, gaps, assets and opportunities to increase participation in and access to federal child nutrition programs. Learn how your afterschool program can benefit from child nutrition programs from out-of-school time to summer meals and all meals in between!

Youth as Leaders in Afterschool – How to Authentically Engage Us

Presenters: Youth Congress Colorado, CO PH&E (Protective Factors), and YouthPower365

The Youth Voice Session at the PwrHrs Rural Afterschool Conference will be a great opportunity to hear youth voice. The session will be designed and run by students from all over the state. It will be an opportunity for students to talk about what they want in afterschool programs, challenges/barriers they face in rural communities, and how school staff can better support them.

21st Century Community Learning: How it Addresses Rural Education Issues

Presenter: Dana Scott, 21st CCLC State Coordinator for Colorado

21st CCLC programs provide before and afterschool (and summer) academic and enrichment programs for students attending high-poverty schools. 21st CCLC grants also support family engagement activities for families of participating students.

Attend this workshop and learn how your organization can apply for 21st CCLC funding or partner with currently 21st CCLC-funded sites to expand out-of-school time options and wraparound supports for students. Multiple perspectives will be provided.

Using Community Design for Impact in Rural Communities

Presenter: Jenn White, Executive Director of FARMily in Rye, CO

Build programming that unleashes the power of your community through co-creation.   Learn best practices for developing Community Design Teams (CDT), even if you have ZERO existing social capital.  Leave with tools for identifying the best approaches for your organization, getting started, developing strong relationships, transitioning power to participants, adapting to changing needs, and ready to confidently develop your own CDT.

Youth at the Center

Presenter: Kristen Pozzoboni, Youth Participatory Action Center

Youth voice is essential to high quality out-of-school time programs. Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) is a process that provides young people with opportunities to examine problems relevant to their lives, develop a plan, and take action to address or solve these problems. This session will highlight the benefits of incorporating YPAR into out-of-school time programs, share strategies and techniques for designing projects, and discuss potential pitfalls.

Leveraging University Partnerships to Evaluate Afterschool

Presenters: Dr. Nate Riggs, Colorado State University Professor and Jeff Corn, YouthPower365 Research

In the 2017-18 school year, YouthPower365 partnered with Colorado State University’s Human Development and Family Studies Department to evaluate the impact of PwrHrs on program participants. Participants will learn about the PwrHrs evaluation method, results and YouthPower365’s partnership with CSU, as well as share their own experiences and success, and all will engage to consider how to deepen or begin their own program evaluation.

Power of Our Voice: Rural and Small-Town Afterschool Advocacy

Presenter: Alexis Steines, Afterschool Alliance

Presenter will discuss the black, white, and gray areas of advocacy for extended learning providers and highlight positive outcomes of advocacy across the nation. Through advocacy training, participants will learn best practices for messaging and how to talk about after school, as well as draft a plan for local advocacy on issues that matter to their programs, kids, and families and understand how their voice can influence policy makers and help their students succeed.

Do More, With Less: Increasing Rural Afterschool Capacity through AmeriCorps

Presenter: lead by Jennifer Manoff, AmeriCorps NCCC, with guests from CO Serve, State and National AmeriCorps, and Project Leaders from Rural Areas

Did you know that there are three different AmeriCorps programs that can support after school and summer programs? Education is one of the six issue areas AmeriCorps works in. Come learn how AmeriCorps State, Vista and NCCC are supporting youth development programs and how to apply for AmeriCorps support for your programs. You will hear from representatives from each program, learn about existing projects and brain storm project ideas.

Starting from Scratch: Building an Afterschool Program

Presenter: Jennifer Martinez and Kendra Cowles, YouthPower365

Starting as a neighborhood book mobile in 1997, YouthPower365 has grown to serve children at 13 schools and 10 neighborhoods. Staff will share detalis of the innovative partnerships, shared resources, program development, and that led to the organization’s long-term sustainability. Participants will be guided on next steps for buildign their own youth-serving organization using what they have and a little inspiration.

Student-Led Genius Hours

Presenter: Amy Reyes, Children Services Librarian, Eagle County Library District

Move away from highly structured programs and lesson planning with the student led learning model of Genius Hours. Come learn more about this flexible and easily adapted program with hands-on exploration of resources. Discover how to get a huge bang for your buck, save hours on monthly program planning and have packed attendance each week with students engaged and excited about learning.

Reaching the Elusive High Schooler in Rural Extended Learning Programs

Presenter: Janell Wood, Tennessee Department of Education, Extended Learning Programs

Developing engaging afterschool programs for high school students is challenging. High school students have a myriad of options to occupy their out of school time and they don’t necessarily want to spend an additional two hours in the afternoon on remedial work. This presentation will focus on how one rural school district in Tennessee has used its 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) grant to connect high school students with a work based learning opportunity.



Presenting: Rural Afterschool and Education: A Door to the World for Low Income and Minority Students

Thursday, November 14 | 5:30 – 7:00 PM | Q & A + Book Signing $25 | CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS

*note: conference registration includes tickets to this event

Sarah Smarsh is an author, speaker, and journalist who focuses on socioeconomic class and rural America. Her book Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, an instant New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Award, examines economic inequality through her upbringing among the working poor on a Kansas farm. Sarah has reported on socioeconomic class for The Guardian, the New York TimesThe New Yorker, Harper’s, and many other publications. Heartland was named a “best of 2018” by NPR, Fresh Air, the Boston Globe, Amazon, Buzzfeed, Barnes and Noble, and Publishers Weekly. In addition to being short-listed for the National Book Award, Heartland was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, the Lukas Prize, the Indie Choice Award, and an Audie Award for Smarsh’s reading of audiobook. Actor-producer Sarah Jessica Parker selected the title for the American Library Association’s Book Club Central.

Sarah is a regular political commentator in national media and has spoken internationally on poverty, rural issues, and cultural divides at venues ranging from small-town libraries to the Sydney Opera House. Sarah was recently a Fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and will soon launch a much-anticipated podcast about class and rural America.

By ninth grade, Sarah attended eight southern-Kansas schools, ranging from a 2,000-student high school to a two-room prairie schoolhouse. Now, she holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, as well as degrees in journalism and English from the University of Kansas. A former English professor and grant-writer for social service agencies, Sarah aims for all of her work to have a backbone of civic responsibility.

As a fifth-generation Kansas farm kid, Sarah is a long-time dancer of the Country Two-Step, and she once won a nail-driving contest. She lives in Kansas.


Matthew Emerzian is founder and Chief Inspiration Officer of Every Monday Matters (EMM), a not-for-profit organization committed to helping people and organizations understand how much and why they matter. The EMM K-12 Education Program currently reaches over 1.5 million students in 49 states and 6 countries, and the EMM Employee Engagement Program is changing the culture of companies nationwide. Emerzian’s new book, Every Monday Matters – How to Kick Your Week Off with Passion, Purpose, and Positivity, hit the stores in January 2019. His work has been hailed by, The TODAY Show, Fast Company Magazine, The Huffington Post, Hallmark TV, and several other media outlets. Over the past ten years, Emerzian has traveled the country sharing his unique story and insight on finding purpose. His life-changing message focuses on sustained personal and social change that happens by stepping outside of our selves. His third book, You Matter – Learning to Love Who Your Really Are, will be out February 2020.

Watch a Ted-Talk with Matthew:


Carrie Morgridge serves as the Vice President and Chief Disruptor of The Morgridge Family Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to invest in transformative gifts. Carrie is the award winning Author of Every Gift Matters – How Your Passion Can Change the World. Her second book, The Spirit of the Trail was just released on May 5, 2018.

Carrie and her husband John created Student Support Foundation, a national organization that inspires youth philanthropy. For the past decade they have celebrated and advanced the educator profession by creating mindSpark Learning. mindSpark Learning is focused on empowering educators to tackle the most challenging conditions in their schools through Design Thinking and other strategies.

Carrie speaks nationally to education advocacy forums, at poverty alleviation conferences, and many convenings, globally, that are philanthropically focused. She divides her time between Colorado and Florida. She and John have two children who both reside in Denver, Colorado.


As Director of District Partnerships, Nicole develops collaborative relationships with districts across the country to help strategically reduce absenteeism. A mounting body of research links absenteeism to lower academic performance, lower attainment of critical and social and emotional skills, and lower high school graduation rates. Absenteeism is also tied to equity: students from low income districts are three times more likely to be chronically absent than their peers. Nicole is on a mission to improve student outcomes by reducing absenteeism and empowering parents and guardians with actionable information proven to increase the number of days students are in school.

Prior to joining InClass Today, Nicole was the Director of Literacy for Scholastic Education where she partnered with educators across the country to implement student-centered literacy frameworks. Nicole is passionate about creating equitable opportunity for all students through a focus on access and innovation. Her areas of expertise include instructional leadership and teacher effectiveness; content and implementation; and student engagement and independence. Her career in education began as a secondary educator in large, urban school districts in Texas and Colorado. She holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Innovation from the University of Colorado, a Masters in Educational Psychology, and earned her undergraduate degree at Purdue University. Nicole resides in Dallas, Texas and in her free time you can find her laughing with family and friends, dining al fresco, or watching classic movies at home.


This is a Special Presenter. Check out Alexis Steines’ multiple presentations in our program book.

As the Senior Director of Field Outreach, Alexis Steines serves as the liaison between the Afterschool Alliance and its growing network of afterschool providers. She keeps the field up-to-date on the ever-changing afterschool policy landscape and mobilizes them to affect the development of afterschool-related public policy. Alexis directs the Afterschool Alliance’s national AmeriCorps VISTA project focused on creating sustainable afterschool programs, increasing participation in the afterschool and summer meal programs and expanding access to STEM education afterschool. Alexis joined the Afterschool Alliance in June 2011 after spending 5 years with the School Nutrition Association, primarily as the Public Affairs Associate. In that position, she monitored federal and state legislation, including the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, served as liaison to several allied organizations, and assisted in managing media relations for the Association. Alexis holds a B.A. in History and Political Science from George Washington University.


This is the Visual Recorder for the Conference; she will visually capture the needs, hopes, and innovations of attendees into a shareable roadmap.

Malgosia Kostecka specializes in creating interactive visual frameworks for group collaboration and strategic visioning. With a background in education and project coordination, Malgosia is dedicated to leading participants in their process design, using creativity to achieve fruitful outcomes. She pursued the field of graphic facilitation after witnessing how previously frustrating meetings became successful and engaging with the use of a shared visual memory. Malgosia holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and fine art from The University of California, Santa Cruz.

Watch a video of Malgosia at Work:



YouthPower365 is a non-profit based in Eagle County, Colorado. The organization’s PwrHrs K-12 programming utilizes a strong partnership with Eagle County Schools, coupled with support from grants, individual donors, and local volunteers to provide quality afterschool and summer programming to thousands of young people each year.

Our mission to provide year-round extended learning that inspires, educates and empowers the youth and families of Eagle County from cradle to career-readiness.




For general and media inquiries about the conference, please email

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