C Squad

An innovative real-world learning experience designed to teach high school students how to work together to solve real problems. 

 
 
 

How It Works

Teams of students solve real business problems for real businesses.

 
District C connects schools so that four diverse students from four different schools can come together to form a problem-solving team called a "C Squad."

District C connects schools so that four diverse students from four different schools can come together to form a problem-solving team called a "C Squad."

After building important mindsets and tools, C Squads meet with their business partners to understand the business problem and context.

After building important mindsets and tools, C Squads meet with their business partners to understand the business problem and context.

With support from trained coaches, C Squads work together online using Google collaboration tools and the Design Thinking process to design a solution.

With support from trained coaches, C Squads work together online using Google collaboration tools and the Design Thinking process to design a solution.

C Squads pitch their solutions to their business partners in a live workshop attended by community stakeholders, school partners, and parents.

C Squads pitch their solutions to their business partners in a live workshop attended by community stakeholders, school partners, and parents.

 

The District C Mindsets

District C defines four mindsets that students build throughout their C Squad experience. With an eye towards the future of work, District C has defined these mindsets based on a review of education and labor-trends research, interviews with talent specialists from national companies, input from student and parents, and our own professional experience.

 
Real problems are messy. Break them down before jumping to solutions.

Real problems are messy. Break them down before jumping to solutions.

Planning is good, but doing is better. Do, test, adapt, and innovate.

Planning is good, but doing is better. Do, test, adapt, and innovate.

The best teams are diverse teams. Leverage the power of different perspectives.

The best teams are diverse teams. Leverage the power of different perspectives.

You are responsible for you. Proactively manage your growth and productivity.

You are responsible for you. Proactively manage your growth and productivity.

 

Benefits

1. GROWTH. The C Squad experience teaches critical mindsets and tools.

Technology has changed everything. In the digital age, information is at our fingertips. Memorizing facts and figures is now less important than figuring out how to make sense of overwhelming amounts of information to solve big problems and seize big opportunities. The world needs thinkers who can break down increasingly complex problems, doers who will persevere in the face of failure and uncertainty, and collaborators who know how to bring together diverse people and ideas.

Developing and leveraging these mindsets is a lifelong journey. Practicing these mindsets leads to confidence, competence, and the ability to effect change. The C Squad experience will get your students started and give them the tools to keep growing.

 
“When I attended District C's very first pitch night, I was astounded. First, by the concept of students from diverse backgrounds engaging in a real world, hands-on approach of presenting a solution to a client. And second, by the professionalism of the students' work and presentation. Today's students are good stewards of their education. However, District C takes their education in a different direction and allows them to experience their future working environment.”

-- Parul Shah, District C parent

2. DIVERSITY. C Squad is an opportunity to learn from and build relationships with a diverse set of peers.

The best ideas are informed by unique perspectives, and unique perspectives start with diversity. District C supports schools in building Squads of four students from different schools, backgrounds, and cultures. Squads are made up of students who bring unique skill sets, different world views, and personal passions and motivations.

C Squads are not about cliques or exclusions, but rather committed students who are inspired by the opportunity to learn from peers who are different from them.

3. IMPACT. C Squad work is real work.

C Squads work with real businesses that have real problems to solve. Past examples include:

  • Creating a plan to help a sports retail company improve its employee training practices

  • Working with a fitness technology company to improve a new app design

  • Developing a strategy to help a local startup company recruit and manage a team of national brand ambassadors

Regardless of the problem, Squads engage in real work that has real consequences and the potential to make a meaningful impact.

4. COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE. Students emerge from C Squad with a unique experience that will set them apart on applications for internships, jobs, and college.

C Squad work -- pushing through the positive struggle that comes with tackling a novel problem, working with a diverse set of peers to achieve a common goal, using design thinking principles to develop robust solutions, and presenting ideas and solutions to real business stakeholders -- gives students a set of real-world experiences that any college or potential employer will want to hear more about.

What Our Students Say

"One of the most important things I learned from District C is how to lean into discomfort and acknowledge why I feel or think certain things during observation or ideating. Noticing those things gives me a greater insight into the problem I am trying to solve and helps me find more innovative ways of solving it."      --Angel Knight, Durham Academy '19

"One of the most important things I learned from District C is how to lean into discomfort and acknowledge why I feel or think certain things during observation or ideating. Noticing those things gives me a greater insight into the problem I am trying to solve and helps me find more innovative ways of solving it."

--Angel Knight, Durham Academy '19

“Today I met with [the director of the program] at my internship and we chatted for about 45 minutes. I found myself naturally using the questioning tool. I would listen to what she was saying and think about what question I could ask next to learn more or dig deeper into something she said. It was so useful; we discussed really neat topics she wouldn’t have mentioned without my questioning. I just wanted to share - I’m so grateful for the experience I had with District C. It truly helped me to be a more engaged learner and leader.”      --Kristen Angell, Athens Drive HS / NCSSM Online '19

“Today I met with [the director of the program] at my internship and we chatted for about 45 minutes. I found myself naturally using the questioning tool. I would listen to what she was saying and think about what question I could ask next to learn more or dig deeper into something she said. It was so useful; we discussed really neat topics she wouldn’t have mentioned without my questioning. I just wanted to share - I’m so grateful for the experience I had with District C. It truly helped me to be a more engaged learner and leader.”

--Kristen Angell, Athens Drive HS / NCSSM Online '19

“District C taught me many influential things such as being more vocal, reaching out to others with different perspectives, and how to be collaborative. Through my District C experience I also got my first job working with a District C business partner called Ello Raw!"      --Jordan Christmas, Southeast Raleigh HS '19

“District C taught me many influential things such as being more vocal, reaching out to others with different perspectives, and how to be collaborative. Through my District C experience I also got my first job working with a District C business partner called Ello Raw!"

--Jordan Christmas, Southeast Raleigh HS '19

"One of the most important things I learned working with my C Squad is the importance of being collaborative - to use each member’s individual strengths to brainstorm, prototype, and finalize our best ideas. I have continued to utilize this mindset in my leadership endeavors by distributing leadership roles in MathNC (a non-profit, virtual, tutoring program I co-founded), where each student brings their own unique background to maximize the impact.”      --Clay Baker, Ravenscroft '18

"One of the most important things I learned working with my C Squad is the importance of being collaborative - to use each member’s individual strengths to brainstorm, prototype, and finalize our best ideas. I have continued to utilize this mindset in my leadership endeavors by distributing leadership roles in MathNC (a non-profit, virtual, tutoring program I co-founded), where each student brings their own unique background to maximize the impact.”

--Clay Baker, Ravenscroft '18