A Conversation with Camille Farrington on the Foundations for Young Adult Success Framework

Academic skills are not the only thing a child needs to succeed in life. What else is necessary and how can it be cultivated? How do we strengthen adult capacity and commitment? How do we address the power imbalances that keep us tethered to old definitions of learning?

Recently, the Forum’s President & CEO Karen Pittman spoke with Camille Farrington, one of the chief architects of the Foundations for Young Adult Success Framework, explore how the framework remains critical to our efforts to put children and youth at the center and address equity.

The framework from the Chicago Consortium on School Research looks beyond the cacophony of language (grit, persistence, etc.) to provide us with an elegant statement of the determinants of the end goal: young adult success (outer circle), the critical components that youth build and combine to achieve competence, agency, identity (green circle) and the fundamental ways that youth build these skills – through action and reflection.


The Evolution of the Foundations for Young Adult Success Framework

Pittman: “We have been on this journey for a while and… since you introduced the Foundations for Young Adult Success framework back in 2015, that the Forum for Youth Investment has probably been one of its most sort of diligent and enthusiastic users. We use it in all of our presentations on readiness. … I’m just curious, since this started in 2015, … has this framework really proved to have lasting value? How has it evolved since it first came out?”

Hear Camille’s response.


Interpreting Agency

Pittman:  “I’m curious especially as you’re working … primarily in school settings, when we look at the wonderful words in the graphic and especially this idea of agency. How does that resonate with frontline staff, whether they’re teachers or youth workers? How do they interpret agency?”


The Importance of Action and Reflection

Pittman: “In looking at the graphic, I see how the emphasis is on action and reflection at the center.  Since you’ve been using this for a while, any specific examples of how just sort of putting those up and making them visible have helped people think about, not just the kinds of skill sets and mindsets they’re building, but how they’re actually creating opportunities for young people to act and reflect?”


Learning and Development

Pittman: “Let’s go ahead and shift gears. We were both on the SEAD commission, this National Commission for Social, Emotional and Academic Development. We’re also part of the SoLD, the Science of Learning and Development Alliance. You’ve been deeply immersed in the Science of Learning and Development … for many years, and now we have reports coming out from both of those groups. We have the National Academy of Medicine’s Report about how the brain science in adolescence and how we should be building that into policy. How do you see all of these things connect? … What should we take away from all of this energy in this space?”

Thinking about the Role of Equity in Young Adult Success

Pittman: “When you think about the Foundations for Young Adult Success and what we know about what it takes to get young people to a place of competence and integrated identity and agency, how do you explain how equity fits in?”


The Full Learning Ecosystem

Pittman: “As you’re bringing district networks together and in national convenings, will there be opportunities to involve the broader sort of set of organizations that are focused on learning and development, whether those are after school, out of school, community programs, or is your work just focused on K-12?”


Getting Young People Involved

Pittman: “You’ve talked about this sort of collective inquiry. How do you see involving young people themselves in this process?”