Forum for Youth Investment
By Karen Pittman, January 1997
Youth — Community — Civic. Development — Engagement — Involvement — Renewal. These are words that increasingly find their way into similar phrases as professionals from different disciplines arrive at the same conclusion: To succeed in their primary work (educating youth, strengthening communities, engaging citizens) they have to take on some of the goals and approaches of the other fields.
By Karen Pittman, March/April 1997
Voluntary action. Organizations, associations, corporations across the country are being called upon to make significant, new commitments toward ensuring that more children and youth in the United States have a caring adult, a healthy start, safe places to learn and grow, education for marketable skills and opportunities to give back through services. LensCrafters will give one million eye exams to low-income citizens, many of them children and youth. Kimberly Clark, in partnership with Kaboom, has committed to build playgrounds.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?