Publications

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Youth Today: The Black Table

By Karen Pittman, May 1998

Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? This question was the theme of a paper I wrote 25 years ago for a psych class at Oberlin College — the first white college to admit blacks. It was a question I was asked frequently, as one who was not always, or even often at the “black” table. It was one of my daughter’s key queries when she came home on her first break from Oberlin three years ago, and the theme of a talk I just gave to the prospective students of color being courted by my alma mater. It is also the title of a recent book, written by a Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, a black female psychologist, teacher, trainer and advocate who happens to be my cousin. Clearly this is a longstanding question in my family. But it is not just my family.

1998-05-01
Youth Today: Who's Watching the Youth Field?

By Karen Pittman, March 1998

I used to find it comforting to say that the youth development system is a decade behind early childhood. I don’t anymore. We seem to be losing the urge to explain, expand, prove and improve what we do. There are individual efforts — single organizations, subfields — that are pushing forward. There are grand efforts like America’s Promise, The Alliance for Youth. But interest in building public understanding and public will for the goal (youth development), the profession (youth work) and the field (youth services) seems to have waned.

1998-03-01
Youth Today: Lessons Lost

By Karen Pittman, January 1998

What is it with not-for-profit youth-serving organizations? Is it we think that because we are doing sainted work we don’t need to prove, approve or improve ourselves? Are budgets so tight that we can’t afford to know if we’re spending wisely? Staff so overworked that we can’t take the time to plan and prioritize? Lessons so obvious that they are not worth sharing?

1998-01-01
Youth Today: Inequality Revisited

By Karen Pittman, November 1997

Concrete towers rising like ugly dominoes out of hard-packed dirt. Lots of kids, little else. On the edge of the row, a low-rise building with landscaping, playgrounds, basketball courts. Inside, fresh paint, plants, skylights — intact equipment, matching furniture, art on the walls. Further inside, 200-plus young people playing ping-pong, working out, doing projects, chatting — enjoying the security, space and support of the center.

1997-11-01
Youth Today: Good, Better, Best. Have We Let it Rest?

By Karen Pittman, September 1997

What is best practice? This was the question put to us by a group of South African programs recently convened to discuss the topic. It turned out to be difficult to answer.

To many abroad, the United States is known as the land of programs. “Best practice”, as exported from the United States, is often seen as synonymous with “best programs.” Defined this narrowly, the idea of promoting best practice has a right-wrong quality that sounds less about building on what works than about replacing what exists. Understandably, grass-roots programs, in the U.S. and abroad, see themselves being assessed or franchised out of business.

1997-09-01
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.

1997-07-01
Youth Today: Know Thy Neighbor's Child: Rekindling Community Responsibility for Youth Development

By Karen Pittman, May 1997

Something big has happened that, if sustained, could change the way this country thinks about, learns about and engages its young people. For three days, the Summit focused the country on its youth and on the collective responsibility individuals, neighborhoods, organizations, corporations and, yes, government has to honor its youth. The event was unprecedented — national in its reach and loud in its voice. And to be successful, the multi-year campaign, America’s Promise-the Alliance for Youth, has to be equally unique. The details are far from being worked out. But several key ideas have taken root over the past few months that, if pushed, could keep America’s Promise from becoming what many fear — a do-nothing commission, a fund-sucking intermediary, a diversion from permanent solutions. How can it become what people hope — a powerful force for change?

1997-05-01
Community Development and Youth Development: Beacons: A Union of Community and Youth Development

This report is a compilation of three case studies of New York City organizations that have started Beacons, school-based community centers that offer young people and families a wide array of opportunities to engage in youth development and community building.

1997-04-03
Community Development and Youth Development: Promises and Challenges of Convergence

This paper is a persuasive overview of theoretical and practical evidence of youth and community development as convergent goals or strategies prepared by Michele Cahill, Director of the Youth Development Institute of the Fund for the City of New York. Accompanying this piece is a case study of Youth Development, Inc., a youth-serving organization that has now established a CDC.

1997-04-02
Community Development and Youth Development: The Potential for Convergence

This paper, which builds on a presentation made at a INTRODUCTION COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND YOUTH DEVELOPMENT December 1996 Wingspread conference, is accompanied by case studies of three community development corporations that have significant youth programming and involvement.

1997-04-01