District C, which opened in 2017, is an after-school program in Raleigh, N.C., that deeply engages students in real-world work projects. Area high schools nominate students to be part of C-Squad: a group of four students, each from a different school, which solve a problem posed by an area business or organization. The program’s primary focus is on “soft skills”—such as cooperation and problem-solving—that are needed to be successful in the world of work. But students also learn deeply about the industry they are working in, which to date has been primarily Business and Information Technology. The nonprofit has partnerships with the coworking space HQ Raleigh, North Carolina State University, the city of Raleigh, and over 20 regional companies and organizations. These partners help financially sustain the program and offer projects for students. District C is already thinking about how to expand: it is working with high schools and organizations in Raleigh and beyond to incorporate District C programming into schools as credit-bearing courses.
Because District C is a nonprofit, the North Carolina Department of Education does not report its outcomes. District C provides information from a satisfaction survey and has publicly available information on demographics and student and program outcomes. The admission process is selective: students must nominate themselves or be nominated by their school. District C suggests that schools nominate students who are on grade level in math and English. The program is free for students.