The Ready by 21 Quality Counts initiative was focused on improving the quality and reach of youth programs and strengthening local and state policies that guide resource allocation, accountability and workforce development. The Ready by 21 Quality Counts initiative provided community, agency and elected leaders from select cities and states across the country with a bold challenge, an infusion of national and local momentum and an accompanying suite of policy-building strategies and tools. Funding for this two-year initiative was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Atlantic Philanthropies.
In 2007, 13 places – 7 communities and 5 states – made formal commitments to use Ready by 21 tools and technical assistance to improve the quality and reach of community programs for youth. The Quality Counts sites took on this challenge with the understanding that long-term success would require not only work with programs directors, but with policy makers and the public.
The Forum for Youth Investment led the initiative and used its Ready by 21 framework to help communities engage stakeholders, assess leadership and program capacity, identify policy priorities and build momentum for quality improvement. The High/Scope Educational Research Foundation’s research-based quality improvement methodology was at the heart of the initiative, and participating sites also had access to the expertise of the AED National Training Institute for Community Youth Work in the areas of youth worker professional development and intermediary capacity building. These supports were designed to help improve the quality and reach of community programs and strengthen and align policies that guide resource allocation, accountability and workforce development.
The Ready by 21 Quality Counts sites were: Austin, TX, Columbus, IN; Georgetown Divide, CA; Grand Rapids, MI; Indianapolis, IN: Nashville, TN; St, Louis, MO and the states of Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, New York, Rhode Island and Washington.