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Youth Today: Politics + Science = Science Fiction

By Karen Pittman, March 2003

The Bush administration unveiled its request last month to cut funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CLC) program by 40 percent for fiscal 2004. This is not good news. But it is not surprising.

Youth Today: Powerful Pathways Indeed

By Karen Pittman, April 2002

Vulnerable youth. College access. Career success. Alternative pathways. Alternative credits. Learning supports.

These themes are increasingly the subject of conversations among progressive educators, particularly in groups that combine K–12 reformers with higher education researchers and specialists. This is a world in which we need to move. These are outcomes that youth workers need to claim as their own.

Youth Today: Precision Engineering

By Karen Pittman, May 2008

Creating sound bites that are not only memorable but communicate a message is a passion of mine. Every now and then I hit one out of the park. “Problem-free isn’t fully prepared” is still in use after more than 15 years. I think “bringing precision to our passion” may be the next one to stick.

Youth Today: Private Competition, Public Confusion

By Karen Pittman, July 2000

The staff at the International Youth Foundation-US (now the Forum for Youth Investment) spend a lot of time in meetings — other people’s meetings. Occasionally, these meetings spark distinct emotions. Last month’s meetings left us humbled, angry and embarrassed.

Youth Today: Promises, Promises.

By Karen Pittman, July 1997

The President's Summit for America's Future unleashed an unprecedented wave of national commitments, local mobilization, media coverage and individual good will. The question at hand is obvious. Will America's Promise be able to ride that wave to shore? As one who was there before, during and immediately after the Summit, I have this answer: It has to.

Youth Today: Put Every Child Ahead

By Karen Pittman, April 2005

In recent weeks, children and youth advocates from across the country have joined forces with anti-poverty activists to oppose Bush’s proposed budget cuts and caps. If enacted, this plan will cripple the country’s capacity to protect and prepare young people today and in the generations that follow. We all need to find ways to bring others into this debate to re-prioritize the nation’s agenda.

Youth Today: Quality + Time = Quantity?

By Karen Pittman, October 2001

Gone are the days when anyone believed that all it takes to get a pilot youth program to scale is a favorable evaluation. Going, it seems, are the days when anyone believes that all it takes to keep a program afloat is luck, a good accounting system and some compelling anecdotes. Outcomes-based accountability has brought discipline to some programs but fear to many. Good evaluations do not ensure automatic growth. Bad or even mediocre evaluations, however, may lead to funding cuts.

Youth Today: Race, Class, Culture and Perceived Entitlements

By Karen Pittman, May 2006

Bear with me. I’m trying to make sense of a series of writings spread before me that speak to how race, class and culture combine to influence young people’s opportunities, as well as their perceptions about their rights to opportunities and the proper response when those rights are denied.

Youth Today: Reading Between the Lines

By Karen Pittman, April 2000

Over the past few months I have amassed a stack of newspaper articles about youth — not so much by design as by lack of cleanliness. Some of the saves, like the January 16 New York Times Magazine feature, “Schools are not the Answer,” were no-brainers. Any good youth advocate would frame the cover based on the title alone. Others, however, were less obvious:

Youth Today: Reading Between the Studies

By Karen Pittman, June 2001

“System building is slow...”

“The diversity of the field has all kinds of implications...”

“Only a modest percentage of low-income children participate...”

“Revenues to programs serving low-income children fall short — sometimes far short — of resources needed to maintain even minimal quality programs...”