Bestselling author Sarah Smarsh headlines education conference in Beaver Creek |

Bestselling author Sarah Smarsh headlines education conference in Beaver Creek

Rural Afterschool Conference features leaders, advocates for rural, resort education

If you go …
  • What: PwrHrs Rural Afterschool Conference, for afterschool educators, advocates and leaders from rural and resort areas. Speakers include best-selling author Sarah Smarsh, who will present “Rural Afterschool and Education: A Door to the World for Low Income and Minority Students.”
  • When: Wednesday-Friday; special keynote from author Sarah Smarsh Thursday, at the Vilar Performing Arts Center.
  • Where: Beaver Creek, Colorado
  • Cost: $200 regular registration; group pricing and scholarships available. Sarah Smarsh event available separately
  • More info: Learn more at

Mountain and rural communities face similar problems in education. That’s why educators from 24 states are in town to exchange ideas about how to solve those problems during school and after school.

Beginning Wednesday in Beaver Creek, the PwrHrs Rural Afterschool Conference features three days of workshops and presentations focused on meeting the challenges of constrained budgets, scarce resources, geographical distance, retaining staff and the lack of infrastructure.

“At the conference, we’ll get to hear from some communities who have come up with amazing solutions,” Sara Amberg, director of capacity and grants for YouthPower365 said. “It will be a time to share the enormous amount of innovation and community-based work that has come from rural afterschool programs around the country.”

The conference is presented by the Vail Valley Foundation’s YouthPower365 in collaboration with the Afterschool Alliance, Colorado Afterschool Partnership and the National Afterschool Association.

In 30 different sessions, discussions and solutions will focus on things like out-of-school STEM programming, using data for collaboration, sessions on gender-specific programming, social-emotional learning, the power of partnerships, advocacy and four-day school weeks.

Keynote speakers include New York Times bestselling author Sarah Smarsh; Morgridge Family Foundation Vice President Carrie Morgridge; Colorado Mountain College President Carrie Besnette Hauser, Ph.D.; National Afterschool Alliance President and CEO Gina Warner; Every Monday Matters’ Matthew Emerzian; InClass Today’s Nicole Bosworth; and special guest and partner Alexis Steines of the Afterschool Alliance.

“What’s struck me is how much people want and need a space like this conference, both to come up with solutions and celebrate what we’re doing well,” Amberg said. “People are excited to have a space and place for rural afterschool. Right now, there’s nothing that’s just dedicated to creating that network, support and fellowship.”

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