Ready by 21® Quality Counts Initiative Sites Announced

More than $2,500,000 in grants, technical assistance awarded to enhance local youth programs.

(October 31, 2007: Washington, D.C.) One dozen sites across the United States will receive a total of $1,000,000 in cash and $1,500,000 in technical assistance to improve the quality of youth-serving organizations in their communities. The Forum for Youth Investment, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping communities and the nation make sure all young people are Ready by 21 for college, work and life announced that seven localities and five states were selected as Ready by 21 Quality Counts sites. The selected localities are: Austin, TX; Columbus, IN; Georgetown Divide, CA; Grand Rapids, MI; Indianapolis, IN; Nashville, TN; and St. Louis, MO. The selected states are: Iowa, Kentucky, New York, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island.

The Ready by 21 Quality Counts Initiative will improve the quality and reach of youth programs in the selected sites by providing them with tools and resources for planning. The sites will create a database of available youth programs offered by different organizations and systems, assess the quality of individual youth programs, document the characteristics of the staff who work with youth, and identify public and private resources available to support youth programs and the staff who work in them. This information will allow the sites to improve the quality of their youth programs.

Three leading national organizations are collaborating to run the Ready by 21 Quality Counts Initiative. The Forum for Youth Investment is managing the initiative; High/Scope Educational Research Foundation (High/Scope) is training sites in the Youth Program Quality Assessment tool to evaluate the effectiveness of youth programs; and the AED National Training Institute for Community Youth Work (NTI) is training sites in the Advancing Youth Development Curriculum to improve the quality of their youth programs. The Ready by 21 Quality Counts Initiative is made possible by generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Atlantic Philanthropies.

“Ensuring that all youth are ready for college, work and life by the age of 21 not only requires increasing the quantity of investments in youth, but also the quality of the programs which serve youth,” says Karen Pittman, executive director of the Forum for Youth Investment. “The Ready by 21 Quality Counts Initiative Sites will develop coordinated quality improvement systems, guaranteeing that when a young person walks into a youth program he or she will receive a powerful, transformative experience.”

“The Youth Program Quality Assessment tool is based on a solid body of research on what works in raising children to adulthood,” says Larry Schweinhart, president of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation. “Our challenge is to firmly install effective programs and practices in every community. Defining and assessing program quality is central.”

“We are thrilled to be selected as a Ready by 21 Quality Counts Initiative site,” says Rob Schamberg, Superintendent of the Black Oak Mine Unified School District from Georgetown Divide, California. “We look forward to learning and doing more to improve the success rates for all children and youth.” Carol Blethen, executive director of Kentucky Child Now! agrees, saying “We are excited by the opportunity to partner with the Forum, High/Scope and NTI to improve the quality of youth programs and services in Kentucky.”

For more information about the Ready by 21 Quality Counts Initiative, contact Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom at the Forum for Youth Investment at 202-413-3363 or alicia@forumfyi.org.

ABOUT THE FORUM FOR YOUTH INVESTMENT

The Forum for Youth Investment is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping communities and the nation make sure all young people are Ready by 21: ready for college, work and life. This goal requires that young people have the supports, opportunities and services needed to prosper and contribute where they live, learn, work, play and make a difference. The Forum provides youth and adult leaders with the information, technical assistance, training, network support and partnership opportunities needed to increase the quality and quantity of youth investment and youth involvement. To learn more, please visit: www.forumfyi.org.

ABOUT High/Scope Educational Research Foundation

High/Scope Educational Research Foundation is an independent nonprofit research, development, training, and public outreach organization with headquarters in Ypsilanti, Michigan. High/Scope's mission is to lift lives through education. High/Scope envisions a world in which all educational settings use active participatory learning so everyone has a chance to succeed in life and contribute to society. To learn more, please visit: www.highscope.org

ABOUT AED NATIONAL TRAINING INSTITUTE FOR COMMUNITY YOUTH WORK

The National Training Institute for Community Youth Work (NTI) was established by the Academy for Educational Development in 1997 to strengthen the field of youth development through the professional development of America's youth workers. To learn more please visit: nti.aed.org.

ABOUT THE ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION

As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 30 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves, because when it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in our lifetime. To learn more, please visit: www.rwjf.org.

ABOUT THE ATLANTIC PHILANTHROPIES

The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Atlantic focuses on four critical social problems: Ageing, Disadvantaged Children & Youth, Population Health, and Reconciliation & Human Rights. Programmes funded by Atlantic operate in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Viet Nam. To learn more, please visit: www.atlanticphilanthropies.org.

Publishing Date: 
October 31, 2007