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Supporting Quality in Virtual Youth Programs

June 23, 2020

With youth development programs suddenly shifting to virtual delivery, there is a need to consider what program elements and staff practices are critical to foster relationships and create experiences that support the development of young people in these spaces.

Supports for quality improvement grow in importance the longer that virtual offerings remain a fixture of youth programs. Virtual programming seems likely to be with us into the next school year due to uncertainty around COVID-19-related public health guidelines, and already programs are seeing potential benefits of continuing virtual programs to support their mission.

Summer. Learning. Loss. Leadership.

May 29, 2020

Our current system is limiting youth potential. There are four new COVID-19 induced realities that every organization and every adult is dealing with: 1) the inadequacy of current applications of and uses of virtual platforms, even when available, for virtual-only academic instruction, 2) the heightened visibility and exacerbation of many different kinds of inequities such as health, emotional wellness, family resources, food and housing insecurity (within and across families, schools, communities), 3) the certainty of traumatic effects (associated with the virus, compounded by the closings, the separations and losses, the disconnection from important communities in young people’s lives), and 4) the uncertainty of re-openings (schools, child and youth development programs, workplaces, and the economy).

Coronavirus Affirms the Need to Connect More Deeply with Adolescents in High Schools

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April 30, 2020

It’s springtime, yet rather than preparing for end-of-year assessments, graduation, prom, and summer school, educators and school personnel, along with community organizations and families, are grappling with the challenges of facilitating learning, keeping young people safe, and supporting their overall well-being when “out-of-school time is all the time.”  As educators try to find stop-gap measures to make learning accessible to every student, what are the most effective ways to engage and empower our adolescents, particularly in high school and beyond, so that they are equipped to manage change and difficulty?

When Out-of-School Time Comes Home: Variations within an Extended Family

April 17, 2020

Opportunities to support young people’s learning and development are normally shared and spread across various spaces, places, and delivery modes in schools, community organizations, and families. But a month ago, most of those places were abruptly shut down, thrusting families into the lead coordinating role. Learning and development didn’t stop – these are natural human processes.  But the unevenness of supports became a lot more apparent, even within extended families.

What Happens When Out-of-School Time is All the Time?

March 30, 2020

I spent time this past week listening to nonprofit colleagues across the country who are sharing stories about how they are helping and learning from their national staff, their affiliates, local partners or schools, and the local staff, youth, and families they serve as they all adjust to this new normal.  The stress on this sector is real, but the responses are incredible as many of these organizations scramble to help families and schools figure out what happens when out-of-school time is all the time.

Modeling Educational Excellence in Puebla, Mexico

March 20, 2020

In Puebla, a city of about 1.5 million people in central Mexico, there’s a school with a name that may only sound familiar to people from southeast Michigan. With a combination of active, experiential learning, a strong focus on social and emotional skills, and opportunities for building connections with land and community, Colegio Ypsilanti has been providing high-quality education to children and youth from preschool through high school for the past 35 years.

Opportunity Nation’s Index in Your Inbox: Looking at the Economy

December 13, 2019

The Opportunity Index uses 20 indicators across four dimensions to provide users with a numerical measurement of opportunity across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The four dimensions of community well-being are: the economy, education, health, and community. To better understand how each dimension and its indicators help to craft this unique score, the Forum will take a deep dive into each, identifying its impact on opportunity, implications for change, and policies that could help communities move forward.

Moving from Research to Implementation in Social and Emotional Learning: Exploring the Kernels of Practice with Stephanie Jones

November 5, 2019

There’s a growing consensus in the youth-serving field of the vital importance of social and emotional learning (SEL) for young people. Research over many years suggests that preparing children to be caring, ethical, contributing adults requires supporting them to develop social and emotional skills. These skills include focusing and deploying attention, understanding and managing emotions, empathizing with and respecting others, navigating social conflicts effectively, and standing up for principles of justice and fairness.

Housing Choice Vouchers: Using Research to Spur New Approaches and Greater Equity

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October 25, 2019

The City of Seattle and King County are now testing a new housing intervention called the Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) project. CMTO tests a more personalized response to the proven idea that place matters for children and that moving young people to neighborhoods of higher opportunity can lead to positive economic, health and education outcomes. This blog will examine the research that informed this project, the promising results that Seattle and King County have demonstrated so far, and how this body of research has equity implications for both program design and research.

Changing the odds for young people has never been more important