Charles Smith, Ph.D.


Chief Knowledge Officer, David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality

Executive Vice President, The Forum for Youth Investment

Charles has guided the Weikart Center to a position of national prominence in the area of quality assessment and performance accountability policies for out-of-school time programs. The Weikart Center supports quality improvement systems in dozens of states. Charles led the development and validation of one of the field’s most prominent performance improvement tools, the Youth Program Quality Assessment. As vice president for research at the Forum (where the Weikart Center is a division), Charles is engaged in design and evaluation of the Ready by 21® Comprehensive Community Solution, which helps local leaders improve the effectiveness of community supports and settings on youth readiness for college, work and life. Before joining the Weikart Center in 2007, Charles worked for the High/Scope Foundation, where he managed research and technical assistance projects in the early childhood and out-of-school time fields. These included a randomized trial for the Youth Program Quality Intervention, a longitudinal evaluation of child outcomes in the Michigan School Readiness Program and a low-stakes accountability system focused on improving quality in Michigan’s 2,000 state-funded preschool classrooms. Charles received his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Wayne State University in Detroit, with primary concentrations in welfare state history, urban planning, adult education policy and civic education for young adults. At Wayne State he co-founded, implemented and evaluated the Youth Urban Agenda Civic Literacy Project, an ongoing civic learning initiative for secondary and undergraduate students which enrolled over 18,000 participants in southeastern Michigan in past two decades.