Call for Presentations

The U.S. Department of Education (the Department) seeks proposals for workshop sessions at the 2021 Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Grant Program Summer Symposium. Afterschool practitioners, researchers, program directors, evaluators, 21st CCLC state coordinators, network representatives and others are invited to submit abstracts for consideration. During the three-day event, approximately 90 breakout sessions that align with this year’s discussion strands will be convened. Workshop elements should meet these guidelines:

  • Design content for delivery in a 75-minute block of time.
  • Use interactive strategies and follow adult learning best practices to disseminate information.
  • Include activities that invite audience participation (e.g., polls, chat box use).
  • Provide practical information that participants may use to improve or enhance their programs (e.g., concrete examples, samples, and/or interventions that can be implemented in a reasonable timeframe).
  • Target one or more of the following audience role groups: project directors, site coordinators, program evaluators, local school system officials, state education agency coordinators, program finance staff, community partners, program staff and school-day leaders.
  • Offer information that will help 21st CCLC programs support students who attend schools that are implementing comprehensive support and improvement activities or targeted support and improvement activities or other schools determined to be in need of intervention and support to improve student academic achievement and other outcomes; address students who may be at risk for academic failure, dropping out of school, involvement in criminal or delinquent activities, or who lack strong positive role models; and the families of said students. 

Selection Criteria

Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of outside experts and Department staff, and will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Alignment with proposed conference strand: The extent to which the design and intent of the proposed presentation aligns with the theme and desired outcomes of the selected conference strand. 
  • Statement of session outcomes and how they will be attained: The extent to which the proposal states the intended objectives and outcomes of the proposed presentation and how those outcomes will be attained.
  • Clarity of session description and relevance to expected audience: The extent to which the session abstract communicates the proposed presentation’s structure, content and applicability/relevance to the expected audience.
  • Presenter(s) expertise: The extent to which the submission demonstrates the presenter(s) level of expertise with the content to be delivered.
  • Engaging, interactive techniques suited to adult learners: The extent to which the proposal includes engaging, interactive presentation techniques and adheres to adult learning best practices.

Proposal Submission

To be considered, proposals must be submitted through the online form by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 7, 2021. In addition to the presentation abstract, you must submit a brief bio and resume for each session presenter and provide other information relevant to your proposed presentation, such as target audience(s), student grade level(s) and locale type (e.g., rural, suburban, urban). If your submission is accepted, you will be notified via the email address you provide during the submission process.


There are five conference strands for the 2021 Summer Symposium:

Learning Recovery Through 21st CCLC: Remote schooling and uncertain schedules are causing students to fall behind grade level. How can 21st CCLC programs help with learning recovery, especially for students in schools and communities with limited resources? Sessions in this strand look at ways to identify areas of need, decide how and where your program can make a positive difference, and help students and their families reverse the COVID slide. Presenters may also address ways to deliver high-quality virtual or in-person learning supports, such as intensive summer programs or tutoring, and ways to monitor program quality to ensure that efforts are as effective as possible. 

Engaging Families and Partners in 21st CCLC Programs: Sessions in this strand assist program leaders in learning and sharing how to assess the needs of families, map assets to support family needs, and intentionally design a program that engages families and other community partners from start to finish. Presenters from programs across the nation share their knowledge, materials and experience. You’ll also get practice-based advice on making the most of virtual tools and platforms as you work to engage families and partners. 

Career Pathways: As the nature of work and workplaces evolves, so do the knowledge and skills required to succeed on the job. Yet many students remain unaware of their career options, how their current choices can affect those options, and how to align their educational and career aspirations. 21st CCLC programs can help students prepare for success in at least two ways. First, they can help students develop “employability skills” including applied academic knowledge and critical thinking, interpersonal skills that lead to effective relationships, and workplace skills such as time management and technology use. Second, they can engage students in activities that support career awareness, exploration and planning. Sessions in this strand can help you integrate career pathways into your program, align your efforts with school and community initiatives, prepare students and families for self-directed learning in a complex world, and keep students engaged by focusing on “what’s in it for them.” 

The Fundamentals of Flexibility - The Wide World of Creative Thinking: Breaking down the perceived barrier between creative and scientific fields is critical for students headed into the careers of the future, and for the educators preparing them for those careers. The recent shift from STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to STEAM (STEM plus an “A” for arts) exemplifies this thinking. Sessions in this strand delve into “hot topics” like STEAM, design thinking, makerspaces and technology integration. Learn how to build knowledge and confidence to help program learning facilitators guide students as they imagine, discover and prepare for careers that require creative thinking — including jobs that don’t even exist right now!  

Building Equity and Unity: Students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools tend to have fewer resources and opportunities than their more affluent peers, making the work of 21st CCLC programs essential to their current and future success. Sessions in this strand acknowledge potential challenges such as student tardiness and absenteeism, academic and civic disengagement, poor health, low mastery of academic content, and lack of digital literacy and access to technology for virtual learning. These sessions may also spotlight approaches for serving and empowering students by offering positive, constructive tools and strategies to help young people identify problems and facts, design solutions, then engage effectively to address social and civic divisions. Learn how to ensure that your program is part of a strong system of support that includes families, schools, community organizations and students themselves. 

Conference Audiences

Sessions should target one or more of these audience role groups: 

  • Project Directors
  • Site Coordinators
  • Program Evaluators
  • Local School System Officials
  • State Education Agency Coordinators
  • Program Finance Staff
  • Community Partners
  • Program Staff
  • School-Day Leaders

Presenter Information

All personnel who will take part in the presentation must be listed in the submission or they will not be allowed to present. Also, please note the following:

  • The Department will not provide reimbursement for any expenses. All personnel taking part in the presentation are responsible for any costs related to presenting at the 2021 Summer Symposium.
  • Session size will vary. Presenters should be prepared to present to large audiences (150 or more people).
  • All presenters must attend an online training session that will provide information about the Symposium format and virtual platform. People who do not attend the training session will not be allowed to present at the conference.
  • Department staff will review all presentation materials (PowerPoint slides and handouts) prior to the Summer Symposium to ensure that they are informative and unbiased in their presentation and free from any conflicts of interest. Instructions for submitting presentations and other materials will be provided in the acceptance email.

Conflicts of Interest

  • Presenters and their organizations must be free from any conflicts of interest. Presentations and/or presenters may not engage in the following activities:
  • Endorse or otherwise require the use of a particular product or service to obtain the stated outcomes.
  • State that the U.S. Department of Education (or another federal government agency) certifies or endorses a particular product or service.
  • Receive any monetary benefit from the publication or distribution of materials or recordings used in the presentation.

All presenters must certify that they, their family members, colleagues, or any institution(s) or entities that they represent, or with which they have a professional affiliation, will not benefit financially from their presentations. 

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