Rowayton Fire Department Delivers Gifts of Joy to Carver Kids!

Mike Barbis

Mike Barbis

Rowayton Volunteer Firefighters (and Chairman of the Norwalk Board of Education) Norwalk Mike Barbis and long time Carver volunteer Joan de Regt delivered more than 500 gifts to the Carver Community Center for children attending our holiday party.

The fire department teamed up with the Rowayton Civic Association for its annual Santa Run in the effort to collect toys, board games and much else. Joan de Regt founded the initiative more than 10 years ago.

Carver provided Joan with a list of toys our kids like, such as sports equipment and dolls and this annual campaign once again exceeded all expectations! Without these presents, many of the families participating in Carver’s annual holiday party might not have gifts to open this year.

Thanks, Rowayton, for these many gifts of joy!

Carver’s annual holiday party on Friday, December 7th is always a joyous event thanks to our many volunteers and benefactors!

Parents and Students: Here are some aids to winning college scholarships

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Have you heard of RaiseMe? 51 Brien McMahon High School students have and they (as early as 9th grade) are accumulating $626,221 in scholarship funding!

Students who are applying to colleges and universities can use the popular Common App – a digital application system that allows students to apply to any of more than 700 member colleges and universities by filling out an application once online. The same information then goes to each school the student selects.

And yet scholarship applications are still mostly singular applications that require students to fill out the same required information – name, address, personal information, grades, essays – every single time.

The Dell Foundation created Scholar Snapp to solve this problem. Scholar Snapp is a free, easy-to-use solution that allows students to reuse their application information on different scholarship applications. By using Scholar Snapp, students save valuable time and potentially find more funding for college. Scholarship providers can import application data, allowing students to stop being data entry specialists and instead spend more time personalizing their applications resulting in stronger applicant pools. It’s a win-win.

And it’s not just about time. Students from low-income families often don’t have unlimited internet access to apply to applications over and over again. Since Scholar Snapp stores more than 300 fields of information, students can save not only basic information, but also essays, letters of recommendation, and videos.  Remember the Common App above?  They became Scholar Snapp enabled two years ago.

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Parents: there will be a special benefit performance of the Nutcracker at New Canaan High School for Carver kids!

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See the article at the Newcanaanite.com here.

Seating for The Nutcracker is reserved, and tickets are available online. For more information, visit NEADance.com.

There will be an interactive children’s performance of Act II on Saturday, December 8th at 11:00 a.m. and, in the spirit of giving, there will also be a special benefit performance for members of local social organizations such as the Carver Foundation of Norwalk, Person to Person in Darien, and The Boys & Girls Club of Stamford.

The New England Academy of Dance together with New England Dance Theater’s production of The Nutcracker Ballet, now in its 33rd year, is a Fairfield County tradition. The full-length ballet will have three performances at New Canaan High School on Friday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 9 at 4 p.m.

NEAD and NEDT’s Nutcracker Ballet is the only full-length production in the region to feature dancers accompanied by a live performance of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece by the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Jonathan Yates.

This year’s production features over 200 ballerinas from New Canaan, Darien, Wilton, Stamford, Norwalk, Bedford, Pound Ridge and other communities in Fairfield and Westchester counties. Senior Rose Engel stars at the Sugar Plum Fairy dancing alongside fellow classmates Ava Edmonds as Clara and Sophie Hill and Esha Dagli as Marzipan.

The Nutcracker, a classical two-act ballet based on the story by E.T.A Hoffmann, follows the enchanting journey of young Clara, who receives a Nutcracker as a gift on Christmas Eve. In her vivid, come-to-life dreams, her Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince, who leads her on a magical journey through an enchanted forest to his Palace of Sweets where she meets the exquisite Sugar Plum Fairy and the people of the Land of Sweets.

Lavish sets and dazzling costumes serve as the backdrop to the extraordinary talent of The Nutcracker cast, comprised of students from the New England Academy of Dance and professional guest artists from New York City performing original choreography by company directors Ted Ortiz, Frances Ortiz and Ginna Ortiz.

“The Nutcracker signifies a magical time of year for people of all ages,” says Ginna Ortiz, one of the company’s directors, “and we are thrilled to give our dancers and our audience the opportunity to experience live performance of the individual pieces of music, bringing each scene to life.”

The Norwalk Symphony Orchestra is comprised of musicians from all over Fairfield County.
“This historic collaboration makes NEAD and NEDT’s Nutcracker one of the very few to be performed to live music in the entire Northeast,” said Music Director Jonathan Yates.

Olympian Julia Marino’s visit to Carver inspires Carver athletes!

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Julia Marino, a native of Westport, has risen to the pinnacle in the snowboarding world both domestically and overseas as one of the best the United States has to offer. After marked success at amateur events and then on the Revolution Tour, Julia Marino put the snowboarding world on notice when she stomped her way to victory at the FIS World Cup/U.S. Grand Prix big air event at Fenway Park in 2016. Marino then officially made it a breakout year with a podium performance in slopestyle at the Corona World Championships of Snowboarding in Yabuli, China. At just 18 years of age, she became the first woman ever to land a double in slopestyle competition and she landed not one but two in the same run--a Cab double underflip and a double backflip. She is a 5-time X Games medalist and 2018 Olympian.

And now Julia is a hero and role model for Carver kids!

Julia and her parents visited with members of the Carver Girls’ Development Program at the Carver Community Center on November 20 evening (along with other Carver students in the Carver Community Center who heard about the visit and joined us). The Fairfield County Sports Commission (FCSC) funds this program (for the second consecutive year). FCSC also sponsors the Chelsea Cohen Fitness Academy at Carver. FCSC Executive Director, Tom Chiappetta, arranged for Julia to visit with Carver students. Shannon Bates, Carver’s Director of Recreation Programs and leader of the Girls’ Development Program, and Carver’s Career Coach, Eve St. Surin, joined the Carver students for this memorable session with Julia.

The Girls’ Development Program serves 25 female athletes ages 13-18 from Norwalk Public Schools. Activities range from fitness and strength training to discussions about injury prevention and college sports scholarships, yoga and Zumba, to nutrition coaching and preparing meals together, as well as guest presentations from college-level and professional athletes, coaches and scouts, such as Julia Marino. Julia discussed the joys of teamwork, the thrill and stress of competition at the highest levels, and her personal goals.  

Julia (“Jules” to her teammates) is one of the world’s most celebrated athletes in snowboarding. The 20-year-old stormed through her rookie XG appearance, taking Slopestyle gold and Big Air bronze at Aspen in 2017. She proved to be no fluke at XG Norway 2017, earning Big Air silver and Slopestyle bronze and becoming the only person to collect 4 X Games medals in 2017. She followed it up with Slopestyle silver at XG Aspen 2018.

See the photos here of Carver students showing off some of Julia’s medals!  

Julia says that looking back on her early X Games success is almost surreal, because when she goes home to Westport, CT, she's just a "normal kid." She is anything but normal to the Carver community. She is a champion who took time out of her intense schedule to value and encourage the personal goals of our students as they each prepare for their academic and athletic careers.

The Conservative Synagogue donates pies to Carver's annual Thanksgiving food drive

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Members of the Conservative Synagogue of Westport, Weston and Wilton gave Carver 74 kosher pies (apple crumb, pumpkin, chocolate cream and pecan), each sold to the public for $23 through its annual Share the Pie fundraiser. Through the fundraiser, individuals can buy a pie for themselves and/or buy one to be donated to local social service charities. Area companies also place orders. The Conservative Synagogue conducts this annual fundraising program in partnership with and to raise awareness and support for Homes with Hope. Aside from helping people find permanent housing, Homes with Hope provides emergency shelter, offers casework and supportive services, and provides food and meals to those in need. The Conservative Synagogue’s commitment to helping the poor also benefits charities like Carver during the holiday season.

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Carver students compete in regional robotics competition!

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FIRST LEGO League (FLL) challenges Carver kids each year to think and create like scientists and engineers. Carver’s after school STEAM programs such as this one receive crucial financial support from a 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) competitive federal grant. Here are similar stories about Carver FLL teams competing in 2017 and 2016.

During the 2018/2019 INTO ORBIT FLL season, teams choose and solve a real-world problem. They build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS technology to solve a set of missions in the Robot Game. Throughout their experience, teams operate under the FIRST signature set of Core Values, celebrating discovery, teamwork, and Gracious Professionalism.

This year’s regional FLL competition was held on Saturday, November 17, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, at Saint Mary School in Ridgefield. Carver teams represented Roton Middle School (the Ramzillas team coached by Jennifer Howard-Baker) and West Rocks Middle School (the Technomancers team coached by Vicki Gacesa).

Ethan Allen Prep in Ridgefield hosted this FLL Robotics Competition Qualifier. They named the event "The Gathering of the G.O.A.T." G.O.A.T. stands for 'Greatest of All-Time,' and since "Robotics is the Sport of the Mind," the team stated that they always strive to be the G.O.A.T. in everything they do.

Sixteen middle school teams from throughout Connecticut competed. Other team names included E.P.I.C. (Exceptional People Impacting the Community) and G.L.O.W. (Girls Lead Our World), each were all-girls robotics teams from Danbury. The Ethan Allen Preparatory robotics team was called Disruptive Technologies.

FLL robotics tournaments provide a cheerful atmosphere in which students solve a complicated “mission” with the help of a robot. Teams research a given topic, and are then tasked with planning, programming and testing an autonomous robot to solve the mission. The FLL teams experience all the steps of a real product development process.

Carver STEAM after school projects are facilitated by certified teachers hired from within each of the Carver school sites. They deliver Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics programming through small group instruction using strategies consistent with CT’s Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and the CT’s Science, Technology Education and Arts Curriculum Frameworks.

The 21st CCLC grant is authorized under, Title IV, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (P.L. 107-110), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015. The 21st CCLC grant is administered by the Connecticut Department of Education and provides funding for the establishment of community learning centers to provide students with academic enrichment opportunities. In addition to academics, 21st CCLC permits Carver to offer students a broad array of other services and programs as well as support for parents.

Carver's 2018 Annual Meeting

Carver Board President, Diana Napier, and Carver Board President Emeritus, Charles Burns

Carver Board President, Diana Napier, and Carver Board President Emeritus, Charles Burns

Carver conducted its 80th Annual Meeting yesterday evening at the Carver Community Center. As we enter into the busy holiday season, this annual meeting of the Board of Directors is also a time each year that Carver reviews its previous year's achievements, elects board members for the next fiscal year, and discloses the organization’s financial health.

Here is Carver’s Annual Report for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

Here is the 2018 Annual Meeting booklet that includes reports from the Board President, Treasurer, Executive Director, and each of the Committees of the Carver Board of Directors.

Here is the Carver website page that lists the current and many past annual audited financial statements and annual reports.

Here is a link to our Facebook album of photos of our 2018 Annual Meeting.

And below is the greeting and report from Carver’s Executive Director, Novelette Peterkin.

Dear friends,

As our milestone year comes to an end, we are as vibrant and relevant as any other time in our eighty-year history. We are executing our “2020 Strategic Plan” and making thoughtful adjustments along the way. There are solid commitments to strengthen our organization’s capacity to ensure we meet our goals and fulfill our mission. Giving equitable access and opportunity to hundreds of Norwalk youth is the cornerstone of our work through our three areas of focus: after school, summer, and community.

Thoughtful planning with emphasis on analysis of students’ performance and growth data continues to drive the expansion of our current after school and summer programs. Carver is operating after school programs at the Carver Community Center, at Norwalk’s four public middle schools (Nathan Hale, Ponus, Roton, and West Rocks), and at Side By Side Charter School. Carver conducts a 5th grade after school program at Tracey and Brookside Elementary Schools; we’ll be adding Naramake and Kendall Elementary Schools to this new program in January. Carver is also at work after school and during summer at Brien McMahon and Norwalk High School. This month, we are partnering by invitation of the Bridgeport Board of Education with the Classical Studies Magnet School in Bridgeport to provide after school programming for up to two- hundred 3rd through 6th grade students.

Today, Carver remains committed to providing the access that will unlock lifelong opportunities for our students. We are “Building Lifetime Achievers” as every Carver student’s future is full of potential and driven by his or her curiosity and eagerness to absorb knowledge. Our commitment to customized solutions is reflected in our work in the 2017-18 school year. In every community the success of our children depends on the actions of adults. With the support of a wide range of stakeholders and our many partners including Norwalk Public Schools, investors, community members, volunteers, staff and families, Carver students are growing and succeeding in healthy environments. All our young people deserve and receive an excellent education that helps them reach high standards of performance, regardless of their life circumstances.

I know that leaders cannot drive change alone. We need the power of many to be successful. How blessed am I to have the smart, energetic and generous support of so many.  We have accomplished so much in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Expanded our summer programming (adding two middle schools) and after school programming (adding two elementary schools) to serve 1,461 students (unduplicated). We served the largest number of students in Carver’s history: 1,358 Norwalk Public Schools students and 103 non-NPS students.

Raised more than a $1million at our annual gala, the most raised at any event in Carver’s history.

Secured more than $4 million in total revenue, the most operational funds raised in a single year in Carver’s history, exceeding our budgeted goal by 13 percent.

Replaced the HVAC systems on the 1st and 2nd floors of the Carver Community Center.

We continue to benefit from diligently seeking independent assessments of our work. To this end, we added a full-time data analyst, a school-based program manager, and a chief operating officer to our staff. Each of these new key strategic positions are necessary to ensure that we are implementing better evaluation tools, strengthening our connection between Carver and Norwalk Public Schools and ensuring continual improvements in our operations. Continued growth will require us to focus on building our organizational capacity, enhancing our data management tools, methodologies, and analysis, and expanding our fundraising and marketing initiatives. While projects and opportunities may change through the years, our determination to meet rising expectations for each and every child remains steadfast.

Our work today includes the following priorities:

Building our cash reserves to ensure the long-term financial stability of the organization.

Serving ever more students until Norwalk completely closes its achievement gap. This means a bold plan to work hand-in-hand with Norwalk Public Schools to identify high needs students and engaging more partners in addressing all barriers that frustrate strong academic performance.

Continuing to work closely with Norwalk Public Schools (NPS) to ensure that our programs are aligned with their 2016-2019 Strategic Operating Plan and their 2017-18 Priority Outcomes and Implementation Steps.

Partnering with NPS elementary schools to add two 5th grade after-school programs each year (4 programs this fiscal year).

Growing our middle school summer transition programming to serve 100 students per school to stem summer learning loss among students. Add a summer enrichment program at Tracey Elementary School in summer 2019 to serve 5 through 13-year old students.

Launching a capital improvement campaign to renovate the Carver Community Center gymnasium; convert the first-floor storage rooms into a large and inviting space for teens; and then offer this newly refurbished athletic center to the greater Norwalk community.

We have immense gratitude to our many partners and investors for their priceless contributions that helped us in shaping a culture of belonging and membership here at Carver. Carver students know that we never give up on them. We are especially grateful for our donors, parents, students, teachers and staff, volunteers, principals, Norwalk Public Schools and Side By Side Charter School administrators, and our program partners for all they do to advance the Carver vision of “Building Lifetime Achievers.”

We are Carver!

Factset volunteers teach Carver kids how to code

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On November 13, Factset employees visited the Carver Community Center to teach our students how to code! This was the first of more lessons to come. Led by FactSet engineers Nick Dean and three others, plus two Carver after school program assistants, thirteen 7th and 8th grade Jr. YDP students participated. New careers in IT are being launched at Carver!

FactSet joined forces with HomeFront this past year to revitalize the Carver Community Center. Laura Ruhe, S.V.P of Corporate Social Responsibility at FactSet, serves as a member of Carver’s Board of Directors. FactSet has also supported the Carver annual college tour for years as a part of the corporation’s strategic focus on education.

Thank you, Factset!

Marge Costa teaches Carver kids videography!

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Marge Costa teaches a videography class to Carver students, serves on Carver’s Marketing Committee, and is involved in the Carver community in many other ways. Here Marge is teaching a group of kids the art of video editing.

Marge has a deep experience in video production, working for CBS Television Stations as a producer for 10 years before starting her company, Aries Video Productions. 

In addition to serving as the Executive Director of the Norwalk Education Foundation, Marge’s love of film compelled her to share her talents with Carver kids for many years. A number of her students go on to work in TV production, including at Channel 12 news.

Costa recently completed a documentary about illegal adoption from mother-baby homes in Ireland between 1940 and the mid-1960s that was well received by a number of film festivals.

Thank you, Marge!

Carver Students Tour Connecticut Universities

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Each election day, as they did this year, some 30 Carver students visit and experience life at several prominent colleges in Connecticut. This year, students visited the University of Hartford and the University of Bridgeport.

For many students, the process of figuring out which school best fits their needs is an overwhelming and confusing task. Carver's fall College Tour transforms this experience into an enriching adventure, in which students take campus tours, have meetings with admissions representatives and receive materials to help evaluate each school. Tour participants are shown how to get the most out of their future college visits. For example, students learn what questions they should be asking of campus officials, how to compare schools to one another, and what factors are most important for their personal college selection process. Many tours are led by the admissions office staff, depending on the campus and tour dates. 

Carver's 10-day Spring and one-day Fall College Tours offer a wonderful opportunity for students to tour numerous college campuses and evaluate their college options. Students visit a wide variety of campuses, including private and public schools in both urban and rural areas. Participants are able to determine if a large or small school suits them and, with the comparison materials we give them, they can review their options back home. Students also have the opportunity to experience great American cities. 

Fairfield County Alumnae Association of Kappa Kappa Gamma returns to read to our CASPER students!

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The Fairfield County Alumnae Association of Kappa Kappa Gamma returned to Carver on November 7 to read to our youngest children attending our CASPER after school program.

Among the volunteers are two Kappas who are also dedicated Carver volunteers, Meri Erickson and Dr. Susan G. Weinberger.

The Kappas, Meri, Susan, Julie McLaughlin and Betsy Evans each read a book around the theme of young children who nurture STEM ideas. 

The reading of books are always followed by a treat. Apple cider and a yummy and decadent chocolate cake baked by Betsy were a winner. Carver staff loved the cake so much the last time that Betsy baked an additional cake for them as well!

For more then a decade, the Fairfield County Alumnae Association of Kappa Kappa Gamma has been volunteering at Carver’s after school program.

Kappa has a total membership of more than 260,000 women, with 140 collegiate chapters in the United States and Canada and 307 alumnae associations worldwide. Although the groundwork of the organization was developed as early as 1869, the 1876 Convention voted for October 13, 1870 to be recognized as the official Founders Day as no earlier charter date could be determined.

Kappa Kappa Gamma is a women's fraternity due to its founding before the term "sorority" came into use. Because men were able to create fraternities at the time, Kappa Kappa Gamma's founders did the same, but as the fraternity admits only women, it is referred to as a sorority. The fraternity is a founding member of the National Panhellenic Conference(NPC), an umbrella organization that includes 26 American sororities.

Here are just a few "firsts" that this prestigious sorority is proud to have.

In 1942 Kappa was the first women's fraternity to set up Service Women's Centers during World War II.

  • In 1952 Kappa Kappa Gamma was the first to purchase a Headquarters building, and base their operations permanently in Columbus, Ohio.

  • In 1980 The Heritage Museum was established, and Kappa became the first fraternity to own and operate a public museum.

  • In 1989 The Minnie Stewart Foundation purchased the Stewart family home, which was then merged into the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation in 2000. Kappa is the only women's fraternity to own the home of a Founder and operate two historic house museums.

  • In 2000 Kappa Kappa Gamma launched Pathways – Kappa's Continuous Education Experience, leading men's and women's fraternities into new frontiers of education and training.

  • In 2002 Kappa Kappa Gamma released The Voyage of Discovery, a virtual tour through women's history.

  • In 2009 Kappa Kappa Gamma launched the Kappa Learning Institute, an interactive online portal which provides free e-courses to active members and alumnae.

Thank you to KKG for your on-going partnership!

Dick Whitcomb is the New Canaan Community Foundation Hall of Fame Awardee

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The New Canaan Community Foundation will present this year’s annual Volunteer Recognition Awards on Thursday, November 15th at 5:30 PM at New Canaan Town Hall. This annual event honors local volunteers who dedicate their time and talent to local nonprofit organizations. The Foundation honors inspirational volunteer efforts and Carver is honored that Dick Whitcomb is the 2018 Hall of Fame recipient!

As most Carver visitors here know, Dick Whitcomb has been a stalwart and inspirational Carver volunteer, donor, advocate and board member for decades! Without question, Carver’s year after year growth and success would not have been possible with our Dick’s leadership in so many ways and times.

Dick Whitcomb did not just take up his career in education to make a living. He did it because he could not imagine living any other way. That passion took Dick from Vermont to the pinnacle of his profession in Connecticut.

In 1961, Dick Whitcomb began preparing students for success in life in at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan. In 1980, Dick was named Headmaster and was pivotal in the growth and stature of the school where he remains Headmaster Emeritus. In 2002, Dick retired and then founded a scholarship fund to enable economically challenged students, many from Norwalk, an opportunity to attend St. Luke’s School. In late 2010, Dick founded the Richard and Barbara Whitcomb Foundation to extend his philanthropy to many others, especially to the Carver community. For many years, Dick’s unofficial office has been the conference room in the Carver Community Center. In addition to general operating support, Dick is especially committed to financially supporting  Carver’s college scholarship fund.

Since his earliest years at St. Luke’s School, Dick and his students have been volunteering at Carver. Several years ago, Dick formed Carver’s Strategic Planning Group, which brought many new resources and leaders to the Carver community. Dick also recruited the significant financial and in-kind support necessary to renovate the Carver Community Center, which had not benefited from such thoroughgoing renewal since the day the building’s construction in 1975. Carver awarded Dick its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, Carver’s 75th anniversary year.

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Each year, Dick is a leader on the Carver Board of Directors, the committees serving each of Carver’s major special events, such as Carver’s annual gala and golf outings, and a close counselor to Carver’s longtime executive director, Novelette Peterkin. Dick is also a mentor to any number of Carver students, not a few throughout their college and graduate school careers.

Throughout all of his success as an educator, philanthropist, and volunteer, what has inspired Dick the most and something he has never forgotten, is the help he received as a young man growing up. He remembers all the hard work and dedication his mother gave as a single mother of three. He recalls the many individuals who stepped into his life, guided and supported him. “That’s why I’ve never been big on individual accomplishments. I don’t think anyone can be successful individually. You can’t accomplish anything without the support of others.”

 Carver certainly could not have achieved what it has to date for Norwalk’s youth without Mr. Whitcomb’s unwavering and extremely generous commitment to Carver’s success.  

Congratulations and THANK YOU!

Here are some of the Quality Design Principles that guide Carver's work

Carver adheres to these Quality Design Principles and more as a guide to the ongoing development of Carver’s competency-based learning practice to ensure that every Carver student succeeds. The use of design-orientation allows for schools and afterschool and summer programs like Carver’s be intentional in their purpose and creating positive outcomes for their students.

Carver adheres to these Quality Design Principles and more as a guide to the ongoing development of Carver’s competency-based learning practice to ensure that every Carver student succeeds. The use of design-orientation allows for schools and afterschool and summer programs like Carver’s be intentional in their purpose and creating positive outcomes for their students.