Next generation professional learning portal, content integration, and technical assistance for the You for Youth (Y4Y) program

  • Agency:
    U.S. Department of Education
  • Office:
    Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE)
  • Solution:
    Synergy assessed community and staff needs and developed a comprehensive Web-based technical assistance, knowledge transfer, and e-learning center that is available to more than 160,000 educators.

Synergy's Approach

The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) administers the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, which is supported by the You for Youth (Y4Y) project. It offers a technical assistance and training center to support 21st CCLC state coordinators and the nearly 166,000 educators that serve 1.66 million students at 11,500 program sites. This program helps students meet state and local academic standards, offers a broad array of enrichment activities that can complement regular academic programs, and offers literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children.

Synergy’s commitment to Y4Y began in 2009, when our staff collaborated with OESE and a 21st CCLC advisory group to assess practitioner needs and conceptualize the first generation Y4Y web portal. The online learning center content continues to expand and Y4Y trainers now provide targeted learning sessions through in-person and virtual experiences. Synergy continues to coordinate with subject matter experts to develop evidence-based content. We also work with instructional designers to ensure that Y4Y learning experiences adhere to best practices in professional development.

Synergy works with ED’s partner agencies to improve teaching and learning in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, and math). We manage communications and evaluation efforts related to the three interagency partnerships between OESE and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Park Service, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. An evaluation component supports the partner agencies as they create engaging, effective, and sustainable trainings and activities for use by 21st CCLC sites and the communications component helps participating sites share their successes with 21st CCLC and other out-of-school programs.

Synergy and OESE are collaborating on other initiatives to advance the 21st CCLC agenda:

  • We are refreshing Y4Y design, navigation, and functionality to improve user experiences.
  • A credit-for-completion initiative will help ensure that 21st CCLC staff members can earn professional credit for completing Y4Y learning activities. This will bring meaningful benefits to staff and students by raising professional knowledge and encouraging staff retention.
  • New approaches to online course delivery and professional networking tools will help 21st CCLC practitioners connect with experts and one another to share and improve practices.