Opportunities for Providers


Project Brainy

Project Brainy is a six-session neuroscience-based curriculum designed for OST programs. The curriculum enables students to build social-emotional skills, engage in interactive STEM learning, and increase literacy. Summer and fall OST programs are invited to apply to participate in a research project to study the implementation of the curriculum. Selected programs will receive training and ongoing support on the curriculum and a $1,500 participation stipend. Learn more and apply here.

Engage Every Student Recognition Program

The Engage Every Student Recognition Program aims to recognize non-profit organizations that engage K-12 students in high-quality afterschool or summer learning programming. The entire application must be submitted through the online submission form. The deadline to submit nominations is April 10, 2024.

CLX May Meet-Up!

The next Chicago Learning Exchange May Meet-Up will be on May 16, 2024, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Chicago Public Library Harold Washington Library Center. This is a great place to connect with other OST providers and hear updates on what is happening in the field. 

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is Hiring!

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is hiring for two positions! The Student Programs Manager has primary oversight of the development and implementation of Nature Museum programming designed for students. The School Partnerships Manager has primary oversight of Nature Museum programming designed for ongoing, school-wide partnerships with teachers, administrators, and students. Both of these positions will be open until the role is filled. 

Rise Fellowship Application Now Open

The Rise Fellowship is designed to provide rural and Indigenous community youth-serving providers with coaching, tools, and resources so that they can utilize evidence-based practices in their programs. Through this two-year program, fellows will network, collaborate, and leverage effective strategies to strengthen impacts for children and families. The application deadline is April 1, 2024.

IAN’S 38th Annual Conference 

The Illinois Afterschool Network (IAN) has announced its 38th Annual Virtual Conference from March 6, 2024, to March 8, 2024. The annual conference will provide a framework to support professionals serving youth in expanded learning spaces.

From Fun to Fulfillment: Elevating Your Enrichment Program

Sperling Center for Research and Innovation (SCRI) is offering a webinar series and free toolkit designed for out-of-school time (OST) providers that focuses on high-quality enrichment program design, planning, and implementation. The webinars will take place on the following dates:

  • February 29, 2024, at 12:00 p.m.: Design
  • March 7, 2024, at 12:00 p.m.: Plan
  • March 14, 2024, at 12:00 p.m.: Implement

Fall Field Trip Planning

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum released a Fall Field Trip Planning Guide. The guide is designed to help prepare students for their field trip experience and contains tips to make the most out of a visit to the Nature Museum. To schedule field trip at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, click here 

Engage Girls in STEM  

Techbridge Girls developed a training video to help role models and volunteers engage young girls in STEM programs. The training helps role models and volunteers develop skills to engage girls from marginalized communities in STEM through videos, reflection questions and more. 

Chicago Public Schools Out-of-School Time Partners Office Hours

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is holding office hours with its out-of-school time (OST) partnerships office. These office hours occur between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 during the weekday.

Volunteer Grant Reviewer Opportunity

The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) is seeking community members to read and review grant applications submitted by organizations across Illinois for its equity-based grant programs, such as the Restore. Reinvest. Renew. (R3) opportunity. Reviewers are trained and sit on a team of three to review a number of proposals based on a clearly outlined criteria. This collaborative approach will enhance ICJIA’s application review process with the assistance of individuals with diverse backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences.


Safety, Health, & Nutrition

Free Trauma-Informed Trainings

The Center for Healing and Justice through Sport (CHJS) will host free trauma-informed sport trainings for coaches, youth program providers, teachers, and anyone that wants to learn how sports can contribute to the mental and emotional well-being of Chicago’s youth. CHJS will offer 6 in-person training cohorts and 1 virtual training cohort between February to June, 2023.

Help Reduce the Spread of Seasonal Influenza in Schools

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance for school administrators regarding information to help reduce the spread of seasonal influenza (flu) among students and staff in K-12 schools. 

The Connectory: Integrating Wellness into STEM Education

In collaboration with Healthier Generation’s new Eating Healthy at Home campaign, The Connectory is highlighting five key activities to encourage picky eaters of all ages to try new and nutritious foods – all with a STEM twist.

  1. “I tried It” Chart: Support food preferences while building critical thinking skills. Choose 2-3 types of vegetables or prepare one multiple ways (e.g., raw vs. steamed). Try the veggie plain and rank how much it was enjoyed using emojis or stickers. Add dips and sauces too!
  2. Make Trying (and Retrying) Fun:As you introduce a new item to a child’s diet, add a hands-on counting twist. Label bowls with numbers and ask the child to put the correct amount into the corresponding bowl.
  3. Wild Names for New Foods:There are creative ways to experiment with food preferences, such as pairing a new or disliked food with an ingredient, animal or insect a child enjoys. Does your student dislike peas? Try pairing peas with pasta and giving the dish an exotic name like Beetle Pasta.
  4. Delicious Science:Discuss the science of blending, boiling, baking, and other food prep options and how it changes a child’s preference. Click here for more ideas.
  5. Apple Math Taste Test: Choose 3-4 varieties of apples. Make predictions together on the weight and measurements of each apple. For a literacy “add on”, read Apple Fractions.

For more of Healthier Generation’s resources, click here

Family and Community Partnerships

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

The U.S. Department of the Interior posted an article that explains different ways to celebrate Native American Heritage Month not only in November, but also all year!

Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade

Chicago Thanksgiving Parade is a family friendly annual parade that features huge  balloons, floats, marching bands, dance & equestrian groups, local sports teams and more. The parade will take place Thanksgiving Day from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and is free to attend. 

Native Folklore Event!

The Rolling Knolls Forest Preserve in Elgin is celebrating Native American Heritage Month on November 30, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. by hosting a free event where they will walk through native animals’ folklore.

Illinois Birth to Five Seeks Family Council Members 

Birth to Five Illinois is a new statewide program centering family voice in the decisions made in Early Childhood Education and Care. Family Council Members will be asked to advocate for family needs, share critical input to improve programs, and serve as an advisory committee for their region’s Action Council. Birth to Five Illinois is currently seeking additional interested parents and caregivers with a child eight years of age or younger.

Homeowner Assistance

The Illinois Housing Development Authority is reopening a mortgage assistance program designed to assist homeowners financially impacted by the pandemic. The fund provides up to $30,000 in mortgage assistance to eligible homeowners. The program is free, and funds do not need to be repaid. Applications will be accepted until January 31, 2023.

Strengthening Chicago’s Youth Podcast: The Parenting Supports

The Parenting Supports Podcast, sponsored by Strengthening Chicago’s Youth (SCY), is about all things parenting. SCY aims to empower their audience by providing information on topics relevant to the lives of parents, caretakers, family members, and community providers. Topics surround self-care, trauma, and managing stress and anxiety while adjusting to a pandemic. The podcast is also available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Google Podcasts

My CHI. My Future: Remote Learning Supervision Hubs 

My CHI. My Future. has updated its list of organizations that are providing supervision and care during the remote learning school day for children ages 3 through 14. Hours, fees, and availability should be confirmed directly with the organization and specific offerings have not been formally approved by the City of Chicago or Chicago Public Schools (CPS).  Also, now you are able to see where these opportunities are located, based upon their zip code in the City of Chicago. To view the map and learn more information about supervision and care, click here.

Forefront and Serve Illinois: Nonprofit Volunteer Opportunities Page

In collaboration with ForefrontServe Illinois has developed a statewide page for nonprofits to post volunteer opportunities. Through this page, you can learn more, submit opportunities, become a partner, or search for opportunities by county. Click here to review the page.

Chicago Moves – Transportation Cost Relief

Chicago Moves is a short-term assistance program that provides financial relief for Chicago residents struggling with transportation expenses. The program grants $150 prepaid cards eligible for redemption at local Chicago gas stations as well as $50 prepaid cards eligible for use on public transit. Apply today!

Professional Development & Qualifications

Science Leadership Initiative

The Museum of Science and Industry’s Science Leadership School Partners Program trains educators to lead a cross-disciplinary team to evaluate the current status of science education at their school, then create and implement action plans. Applications are due May 21, 2023.

2023-2024 ENGAGE GLOBE Mission Earth Educator Cohort!

Take part in a year-long virtual professional development program hosted by NASA to explore ways to help your students improve their observation and science writing skills using the GLOBE Program (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment). Participants will be introduced to lesson plans centered on outdoor environmental observations. Applications are due May 31, 2023.

Additional Resources and Support for Youth within the DCFS System

Health Choice Illinois is an insurance company that works to support any youth that has been in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) system. In addition to health insurance and case management, the Youth Care program allows the company to also support young people by providing funding for afterschool programs, uniforms, and gym memberships. Learn more here.

CDOT Safe Ambassadors to Support Chicago Youth and Families

The Chicago Department of Transportation’s SAFE Ambassadors offers free traffic-safety education and programming for diverse stakeholders. Whether your program needs ride support for a community bike event, a share-the-road presentation for drivers, or transportation-resource tabling at your neighborhood event, the SAFE Ambassadors offer a wide range of free services. 

Engaging Girls in Engineering!

Scientific Adventures for Girls (SAfG) is hosting a three part curriculum training series focused on their free curriculum aimed to engage and excite more girls in engineering and design. Participants will leave the series with four engineering design projects and a materials list that they can implement with youth. The training will take place on February 21, 2023 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Invention Convention Training for Educators

Would you like to get your students involved in the Chicago Invention Convention and bring their creativity and ingenuity alive? Then this is for you

Illinois State Board of Education: Free Professional Learning Series for Kindergarten Educators

The Illinois Stated Board of Education (ISBE) and the Erikson Institute have partnered in order to provide professional development opportunities for kindergarten teachers across Illinois. Project Connect will allow teachers will earn professional development hours and get practical resources for their classroom while learning new ways to assess and address the needs of the “whole child.” 

Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority Grant Training

The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) is hosting a training for those interested in securing state grant funding. This course will ease the application process for organizations looking to access ICJIA grants. Participants will receive an overview of the ICJIA grant process, how to set up a budget and complete a program narrative, and what it means to comply with the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA).

Youth Development, Programming, & Activities

We Love Afterschool!

This Valentine’s Day, share some of the reasons afterschool why you and the youth in your program. To help you celebrate, the Afterschool Alliance has created a template that can be filled out by students and family members! 

Latina Girls Who Code 

Latina Girls Code (LGC), formed in 2014, is a program that aims to bridge the diversity gap in STEM for Latinx girls who are interested in technology. LGC works to provide mentors, access to hardware and digital tools, as well as internships through various programs and events throughout the year for youth. 

Wage Supplement Program

Great START (Strategy to Attract and Retain Teachers) is a wage supplement program that rewards eligible early care and education and school-age care practitioners who have completed college coursework, and stay at their current place of employment. Great START recipients are sent a check every six months (based on continued eligibility) to supplement their income. To learn more, click here.

NCWIT Learning from Young Women Study

This National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) study explores why some women pursue and/or persist in computing fields, while some do not. Data included a large sample of women from around the United States in high school, college, and the workforce over six years. Key findings underscore the importance of recognizing institutional and cultural factors that reinforce and maintain exclusionary practices, highlighting how gender and ethnicity-blind meritocracy perpetuate systemic biases.

National Geographic Society: National Geographic Explorer Classroom

This fall, the National Geographic Society is hosting a series of National Geographic’s Explorer Classroom events designed specifically for Out-of-School Time providers. Two versions are offered: one is recommended for grades 1-3 and the other recommended for grades 4-8. All Explorer Classroom events are supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The live YouTube sessions connect young people with cutting-edge scientists, researchers, and powerful storytellers around the world. The events are free and include opportunities to ask questions and receive guidance for facilitating conversations between youth and STEM professionals. To learn more and to register, click here.

Libraries Ready To Code

The American Library Association’s Ready To Code Collection provides resources and strategies for coding and computational thinking activities that are grounded in research, aligned with library core values, and support broadening participation. They have three experience levels to help library staff connect with resources that reflect their own computational thinking (CT) experiences, communities, goals, and interests.  

Chicago Student Invention Convention Mentor Opportunity

The Chicago Student Invention Convention (CSIC) prepares K-8th graders today with the innovative skills they will need tomorrow to succeed in life and work in the 21st century. CSIC is a free program that trains educators in its experiential, applied STEM invention learning and encourages students to develop critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills to positively impact their own lives and communities. CSIC is soliciting mentors for its annual competition. Interested educators and afterschool program providers should register for the program here.

Connecting Students from K to Career

The National AfterSchool Association has partnered with Discovery Education to inspire a culture of STEM education in K–12 schools and afterschool organizations nationwide. Select schools and afterschool organizations will be provided full access to Discovery Education’s Daily Learning Platform, making it easy to find engaging resources that reach every student. Discovery Education’s flexible, award-winning K—12 learning platform connects educators and afterschool professionals to a vast collection of high-quality, standards-aligned content, ready-to-use digital lessons, and timely professional learning. 

American Writers Museum: Online Education Program

The American Writers Museum (AWM) has unveiled an interactive online education program featuring young, diverse, and thought-provoking authors. This initiative is designed to inspire young writers across the United States. The interactive program includes live and virtual sessions with AWM education staff and renowned writers, as well as other digital materials developed for students grades 3 through 12. To review the Museum’s online educational programs, click here.  

Gateways to Opportunity Registry

Gateways to Opportunity is a statewide professional development support system for individuals and programs serving youth and families. The Gateways Registry membership is FREE and offers a quick and easy way to track your training and education online, and meets Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) licensing requirements.

Adolescent Development Toolkit

ACT for Youth‘s Adolescent Development Toolkit presents selected resources that explain and describe adolescent development. Resources include guides, articles, fact sheets, videos, narrated presentations, and websites.