Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities: Assessing Barriers, Promoting Engagement, and Identifying Leading Approaches
  • Mary Ellen Wiggins, Director of Policy and Research, The Forum for Youth Investment
  • Delbria Walton, MSW, Policy Manager, The Forum for Youth Investment
  • Jordan Pineda, Policy Manager, Children’s Cabinets, The Forum for Youth Investment

On day 1 of his administration, President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) calling for a “whole of government” effort towards greater equity. The EO charges the Office of Management and Budget (OMB, a component of the Executive Office of the President) with identifying effective methods for assessing whether agency policies and actions (e.g., programs, services, processes, and operations) equitably serve all eligible individuals and communities, particularly those that are currently and historically underserved. In follow-up, OMB is seeking input from the field on ways to assess equity, barriers to equity, and how to engage underserved or oppressed stakeholders and communities. Join us to learn about the EO and share your input! The Forum will synthesize ideas into a response to OMB.

Applying Science to Practice: Five Essentials for Learning, Development, and Thriving
  • Poonam Boorah, Senior Research & Practice Specialist, Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, The Forum for Youth Investment
  • Priscilla Little, Senior Consultant, The Forum for Youth Investment
  • Jill Young, Ph.D., Senior Researcher, Youth, Family, and Community Development, American Institutes for Research

Science findings converge on five essential guiding principles for equitable whole-child design that can be universally implemented across the learning and development ecosystem. Join us to preview a forthcoming Playbook that describes the five essentials and offers concrete strategies for how to implement them across the diversity of community-based settings where young people spend their time. Learn how your program or initiative can bring more intentionality to your work with young people by implementing science-informed practices that contribute to healthy development, learning, and thriving.

The Art of Community Revitalization: An Evidence-Informed Practice Rooted in Storytelling, Youth Culture, and Love
  • Marlén Mendoza, SparkAction Partnerships Lead, The Forum for Youth Investment
  • Dillon Bernard, SparkAction Youth Engagement Strategist, The Forum for Youth Investment/ Founder, DBC, LLC

The strength of our nation doesn’t stem from any single office, institution, or person. It lies in the center of our local communities – both big and small. Often, artists and young people are the first community members to initiate the revitalization process through art, storytelling, youth culture, and love. These qualities – although often overlooked – are necessary to ensure the success and sustainability of evidence-based practices and programs. This presentation will examine how Youth Action Hour, an entirely BIPOC youth-led campaign, is making space for youth artists, leaders, and community changemakers to share their stories, best practices, and insights for future generations to follow. By bridging policy, data, storytelling and organizing, Youth Action Hour is on a mission to capture grassroots organizing and contribute to a narrative shift around youth and young adults, and their transformative activism across our communities. Come learn about this work and be ready to ideate on how to contribute!

Beyond Being a “Caring Adult”: Making Relationships With Youth Deeply Developmental

Kent Pekel, Ed.D., President and CEO, Search Institute

When people talk about what children and youth need to succeed, connection to one or more caring adults is usually at the top of the list. But while ongoing research from Search Institute is finding that caring connections are absolutely necessary, the organization’s studies are also demonstrating that caring is not sufficient if the goal is to help young people learn, grow, and thrive. During this session, Search Institute President and CEO Kent Pekel will introduce participants to four other essential actions that – along with caring – combine to create developmental relationships that help young people be and become their best selves. Dr. Pekel will also lead participants through an exercise that will help them identify a relationship-building strength they can build upon and an area for improvement and growth.

Deconstructing YPQI Part 2: Responsive Professional Development and Coaching
  • Adrienne Bard, Senior Manager, Field Services, Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, The Forum for Youth Investment
  • Leah Wallace, Project Manager, Field Services, Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, The Forum for Youth Investment

The second session of this two-part series will bring together a panel of youth development organizations who quickly pivoted their approach to staff training and coaching in response to program changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. These networks will share details about their change management process, best practices and lessons learned around identifying and responding to current staff needs, building a tiered approach to professional development, and establishing professional learning communities for coaching and peer-to-peer learning in times of rapid change.

Equity, Quality & Partnership – Paving the Way for Children to Find Passion, Purpose & Voice
  • Katherine Plog Martinez, Consultant, The Forum for Youth Investment
  • Bibb Hubbard, Founder and President, Learning Heroes
  • Wendy Castillo, Senior Director of Equity, Data, and Impact, National Urban League

With support from The Wallace Foundation, Learning Heroes’ latest research, Finding Passion, Purpose & Voice: Out-of-School-Time as a Child-Centered Experience reveals exciting new insights about the role of out-of-school time settings in raising our young people. In this session, we’ll leverage this new research and the power of parent voice contained within to explore how it can help shape and fuel our collective work as we leverage the opportunities ahead of us as we Build Forward Together. Participants will have time to explore what the data means in their own context, considering how the data can help inform policy, practice, communication, and more related to work to strengthen equity, quality, and partnership across the learning and development ecosystem.

Fostering Authentic Youth-Adult Partnerships: Supporting Young People to Shape the Strategies and Policies That Affect Them
  • Burgundi Allison, Program Associate, Center for Civic Sites and Community Change, The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Patricia Duh, Fellow, Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative
  • Alexandra Lohrbach, Senior Associate, Center for Systems Innovation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Lamontre Randall, CEO, BeMore Environmental

Many organizations recognize the importance of engaging with young people to help guide youth-focused work, but they may not know where to begin or how to ensure those interactions are meaningful. You’ll hear from two young leaders about their experiences working with philanthropic organizations — including critical success factors and common pitfalls — and from a foundation program officer about steps you can take to begin operationalizing these approaches in day-to-day work.

The National Summer Learning Project

Catherine Augustine, Director, Pittsburgh Office and Senior Policy Researcher, RAND Corporation

Can large, urban school districts successfully run high-quality summer learning programs? If so, how can they do it? And what impact can these programs have on students? These are three of the questions the Wallace Foundation, the RAND Corporation and five urban school districts explored as part of the National Summer Learning Project, an eight-year effort to provide voluntary, district-led summer programs that offer a mix of academic instruction and enrichment-and test whether they help boost students’ success in school. This session will examine this effort and provide guidance on planning an effective voluntary, academically focused, summer learning program for elementary students.


On Becoming an Anti-Racist Organization: Taking Step Zero and Walking the Talk
  • Taylor Davis, Site Coordinator, Eastern Michigan University Bright Futures
  • Parish Halsell, Senior Training Consultant, Talent Development, Rock Central Detroit

What is an Anti-Racist Organization? What is Step Zero? How do we become ready to do this work? To continuously grow and change organizational culture, anti-racism must be at the forefront of the conversation. Eastern Michigan University’s Bright Futures anti-racism leaders will discuss their journey of implementing an anti-racist framework within their program and the characteristics of what readiness looks like. Attendees will have an opportunity to gain insight into how Bright Futures navigated this anti-racism space from beginning conversations to current work. Participants will also have the opportunity to take inventory of their readiness to implement an anti-racist framework in their organization.

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All young people reach their fullest potential - in education, work, and life.

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