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!




*schedule is subject to change*


1:00 – 8:00 PM | Conference Registration Open

3:00 – 5:00 PM | Site Visits of YouthPower365’s PwrHrs Afterschool Program

(This first-come, first-serve opportunity requires a reservation. Please contact for more information or to reserve your spot.)

3:00 – 5:00 PM | Trauma-informed Care Training for Non-Metro Programs

5:30 PM | Welcome Keynote: A Fireside Chat with Carrie Morgridge & Carrie Besnette Hauser on the Four Pillars of Disruption

6:30 – 8:00 PM | Welcome Reception – Enjoy drinks, appetizers, and live music


7:00 AM – 7:00 PM | Conference Registration Open

7:00 AM – 6:00 PM | Exhibit Hall Open

7:00 AM | Continental Breakfast and Networking

8:15 AM | Opening Remarks

8:15 – 9:30 AM | Opening Keynote: Matthew Emerzian on You Matter!

9:30 – 9:45 AM | Coffee Break

9:45 – 11:00 AM | SESSION BLOCK ONE – view session details 

11:00 – 11:15 AM | Coffee Break

11:15 AM – 12:30 PM | SESSION BLOCK TWO – view session details

12:30 – 1:30 PM | Working Lunch with The Grove Consultants International

1:45 – 3:00 PM | SESSION BLOCK THREE – view session details 

3:00 – 3:15 PM | Coffee Break

3:15 – 4:30 PM | SESSION BLOCK FOUR – view session details

4:30 – 5:30 PM | Cocktails with Colorado Afterschool Partnership (CAP)

4:30 – 5:30 PM | Youth-Centered Sessions

6:00 PM | A Special Evening with Sarah Smarsh: Rural Afterschool and Education: A Door to the World for Low Income & Minority Students* – view event details

*note: conference registration includes ticket to this event


7:00 AM – 2:00 PM | Exhibit Hall Open

7:00 AM | Continental Breakfast & Networking

8:15 AM | Opening Remarks

8:15 – 9:30 AM | Closing Keynote: Dr. Nicole Bosworth on Chronic Absenteeism

9:30 – 9:45 PM | Coffee Break

9:45 – 11:00 AM | SESSION BLOCK FIVE – view session details

11:00 AM – 1:30 PM | Lunch

11:30 AM – 1:15 PM | Final Session with The Grove Consultants International – THE FINALE!

1:15 PM | Final Remarks and Giveaway


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. Use the drop-downs to scroll through daily Session Block information!

  • Best Practices
  • The Power of Partnerships
  • Quality and Evaluation
  • Advocacy and Policy


Please note, the Keynote session descriptions are not included in session breakout drop-downs below.
Visit the ‘Keynotes’ tab for more information.


Student Driven Fifth Day Solutions

Panel Facilitated by Antonio Parés, Foundation Partner of the Donnell-Kay Foundation

Featuring Elaine Menardi of Colorado Aerolab, Nikki Johnson of Campo School District, Frank Reeves of East Grand School District, and Students of Youth Congress.

This panel of Fifth Day leaders and youth join to discuss how youth helped shape creative solutions around the four-day school week and guide the development of the out-of-school time opportunities that meet their needs and interests.

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

Kimberly Larson, Ph.D., Afterschool, Family and Community Engagement Specialist
21st Century Community Learning Centers, Nebraska Department of Education

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.

360 Degrees of Stem

Toby Swaford, 4-H STEM AmeriCorps Agent
Colorado State University Extension, Larimer 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 session to learn how you can help bring this exciting opportunity to your county.

Enhancing Social & Emotional Learning Through Physical Activity*          

Sandy Slade, CEO and Founder

Numerous studies have shown that children who are active and healthy have a lower risk of juvenile delinquent 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!

Genius Hours: Student Led Learning

 Amy Reyes, Children’s Librarian and Margie Shepherd, Children’s Services Specialist
Eagle Valley 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-adaptable 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.

Census 2020: Why It Counts

Natriece Bryant, Deputy Executive Director
Colorado Department of Local Affairs

Census 2020 is approaching, and it is important that Colorado get a complete and accurate count to help the State with funding for our roads, education, school lunch programs, public libraries, healthcare, and businesses. Colorado currently receives approximately $13.1 billion in funding per year for these programs. These are 10 questions and four ways to respond. The Census is used to inform state and local decision-making. It is important, easy, and it is safe.

11:15 AM – 12:30 PM | SESSION BLOCK TWO

The Power of Community: Examples from the Field

Alexis Steines, Senior Director of Field Outreach
Afterschool Alliance

Participants will learn and initiate different strategies from multiple extended-learning programs that focus on community leverage, from government to academia, 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.

Resiliency and Empowerment in the Afterschool Space*

Danelle Hughes Norman, Program Manager
Voyager Youth Program

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.

Stepping Out Your Door to STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Art, and Math)

Toby Swaford, 4-H STEM AmeriCorps Agent,
Colorado State University Extension, Larimer County

Cindy Gantick, Educational Consultant
Creative Coaching for Education Energy (C2E2)

Be prepared for any weather! 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!

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

Karen Johnson, Afterschool Program Director
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.

Youth Voice in Action

Kristen Pozzoboni, Ph.D., Independent Research and Strategy Consultant
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 act 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.

The Endless Possibilities of Library Partnerships

Cody Buchanan, Community Partnership Specialist
Colorado Department of Education
Office of Dropout Prevention and Student Re-engagement

Beth Crist, Youth and Family Services Consultant
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.


Creating a Community-Wide Out-of-School Time Committee*

Francisco Tharp, Healthy Kids Director
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 interagency agreements and operating structures that ensure equitable, collaborative, and sustainable progress beyond any single endeavor.

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

Alexis Steines, Senior Director of Field Outreach
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 afterschool, 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.

Quality Matters: Building and Sustaining a Quality Improvement System for Out-of-School Time in Your Community

Jennifer Harris, Portfolio Manager of Field Services
Weikart Center for Program Quality

Kristen Pozzoboni, Ph.D., Independent Research and Strategy Consultant
Youth Participatory Action Center

When it comes to achieving positive outcomes for children and youth, program quality matters. But what constitutes quality? How is it measured?  And what can organizations do to improve and strengthen afterschool programs? In this session, we highlight components of high-quality afterschool programs and explore what it takes to develop a systemic approach to continuous quality improvement (CQI). Participants will be encouraged to discuss the unique opportunities and possible challenges of building a CQI system for out-of-school time in their rural area.

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

Joy McClure, Program Director
PowerZone Youth Program, Washington County Schools, Kansas

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. Participants will explore how to connect with people and organizations within their community to enhance the afterschool program. Participates will use asset mapping to identify new partners and activities for students.

Sparking a Love of Learning through Student-Driven Projects  

Kate Donelan, Executive Director
Destination Imagination

Use your critical and creative thinking skills to solve a fun challenge! Participants will 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 Destination Imagination (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.

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

Becky Nider, LIFE Family Engagement Manager
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.


Capturing the Heart

Anna Hogberg, Senior Education Specialist
Ellen Sarkisian, Senior Project Manager
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 students’ social and emotional learning, and college and career-readiness skills. Learn about advocacy structures, protocols, teacher supports, and measures that ensure the value and quality of this time for all students.

Reaching the Elusive High Schooler in Rural Extended Learning Programs

Janell Wood, Ph.D., Director
Tennessee Department of Education, Extended Learning Programs

Cedric Bunch, 21st CCLC Director
Haywood County Schools, Tennessee

Emily McCuthcheon, Research Associate with
University of Tennessee Social Work Office of Research and Public Service (UT SWORPS)

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.

How Might We Reach the Child Who Hungers for Purpose?

Elaine Menardi, Chief Innovator
Jess Buller, CEO
Colorado Aerolab (CAL)

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 More, With Less: Increasing Rural Afterschool Capacity through AmeriCorps

Jennifer Manhoff, Assistant Program Director
AmeriCorps National Community Civilian Corp (NCCC), SW Region

Kendra Cowles, PwrUp Sr. Manager

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 learn about existing projects and brain storm project ideas.

Social Emotional Learning-Measuring Impact and Preparing Youth for Life-Long Success*

Karen DeChant Ross, Partnership Manager
Aperture Education

Critical Questions: How can we measure Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in Afterschool to drive quality programs and guide student outcomes? Gain an understanding of the importance of research-based program measurement through the review of the CASEL aligned Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA). Examine current research on the long-term benefits of SEL programming to prepare you in advocating for SEL in your afterschool setting! Learn how the Denver Afterschool Alliance supports sites to address the needs of the whole child by focusing on integrating SEL into continuous quality improvement efforts. Discover how several teams have used the DESSA to catalyze their SEL efforts. Reflect on the approaches available to your organization in SEL implementation and determine steps to align SEL skills, program goals, and measurement tools. Review program data and practice changes in using strength-based measurement to drive quality program improvement.

21st Century Community Learning Centers: Supporting Out-of-School Time Programs in Rural Communities

Dana Scott, 21st CCLC State Coordinator and Program Supervisor
21st CCLC, Colorado Department of Education

Michelle Cusey, 21st CCLC Program Coordinator
Montana Office of Public Instruction

Rochelle Hesford, CCLC State Program Manager
Region IV-Southwestern, Montana

21st CCLC programs provide before-and-after school (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 to learn how your organization can apply for 21st CCLC funding or partner with currently-funded 21st CCLC sites to expand out-of-school time options and wraparound supports for students. Multiple states will be presenting with state and local program perspectives.


Do We Need Gender-Specific Programming?

Edelina Burciaga, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Carrie Makawericz, Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning
University of Colorado, Denver

Hosted by: Girl PowHER Staff and Participants

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 these opportunities.

Building Youth Through Food: Child Nutrition Programs at Your Site

Carrie Thielen, Nutrition Programs Grant and Training Principal Consultant
Colorado Department of Education School Nutrition Unit

Meghan George-Nichols, Quality Improvement/Performance Management Specialist
Nutrition Services Branch, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment

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         

Presented By Colorado Youth Congress (CYC)

The CYC trains diverse communities of young people to lead systems change. We bring together high school students from urban, suburban, and rural communities across Colorado, from all racial, socioeconomic, and political backgrounds, to build a community and learn what it takes to lead change in a complex world.

The session is designed and run by students from all over the state. It will be an opportunity for them to share what they want in afterschool programs, challenges/barriers they face in rural communities, and how school and program staff can better support them.

Community Design for Impact in Rural Communities

Jenn White, Co-Executive Director
We are FARMily in Rye, Colorado

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. 

Using Data for Collaboration and Funding Prioritization

Pearl Bell, Youth Development Specialist
Colorado Department of Human Services

Kristi Griffith, Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program Administrator
Colorado Department of Human Services

The Tony Grampsas Youth Services (TGYS) program provides state funding for community-based programs that provide prevention and intervention services for youth crime and violence, child abuse and neglect, and youth marijuana and substance use. Together TGYS and the Statewide Youth Development Plan (SYDP) have created a shared data dashboard. The showcase will highlight an annual snapshot TGYS-identified indicators of risk and protective factors related to TGYS priorities in an interactive, heat mapping dashboard. Come learn about how the TGYS board used this information to inform the priorities for the fall 2019 request for applications.


WELCOME KEYNOTE: A Fireside Chat on The Four Pillars of Disruption with



Wednesday, November 13 | 5:30-6:30 PM | Beaver Creek Hyatt, Ford Hall

Carrie Morgridge, Vice President and Chief Disruptor of The Morgridge Family Foundation, and Dr. Carrie Hauser, President of Colorado Mountain College, will engage in a Fireside Chat on how to become a “Great Disruptor.” This welcome keynote will set the inspirational stage of the conference by focusin on the four pillars necessary to instigate change and find success on behalf of our rural youth and communities.

Morgridge 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. Morgridge 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.

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

Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser has served as President of Colorado Mountain College (CMC), a public institution enrolling nearly 20,000 students annually at eleven campuses in the central Rocky Mountains. Before CMC, Hauser held leadership roles at the Kauffman Foundation, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and the Daniels Fund. While at Daniels, she was a loaned executive advising Denver’s mayor on a citywide college scholarship program and assisting the Metro Denver Sports Commission on an initiative to attract top-tier sporting events, including the Olympic Games. She co-chaired the 2012 Women’s Final Four.

Hauser’s background includes teaching assignments at UCLA, the University of Denver, and Colorado State University. She has held research and legislative staff roles as well as positions with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and the University of Arizona, her undergraduate alma mater. She earned her master’s and Ph.D. degrees from UCLA and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at the Wharton School of Business.

She is currently a governor’s appointee to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission and a member of the Great Outdoors Colorado and Glenwood Springs Chamber Boards of Directors, and the El Pomar Foundation Northwest Regional Council. At the national level, Hauser is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Society of Fellows, serves on the board of American Rivers, the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank Economic Advisory Council and is past president of the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA).



Thursday, November 14 | 8:15-9:30 AM | Beaver Creek Hyatt, Ford Hall

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:



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

Thursday, November 14 | 5:30-7:00 PM | Q & A + Book Signing*

*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.

CLOSING KEYNOTE: Chronic Absenteeism


Friday, November 15 | 8:15-9:30 AM | Beaver Creek Hyatt, Ford Hall

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.





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