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Behind the Numbers: What the Latest Opportunity Index Tells Us About Our Communities

August 27, 2020

The latest Opportunity Index is out, how does your community measure up? To get the full answer, we need to dig into the data and examine it disaggregated by race. Only then can we understand who truly has opportunity, and how well our Zip Codes are living up to the American promise of opportunity for all.

Opportunity Nation’s Delbria Walton guides us through the latest release, with an in-depth look at one state that is very much in the headlines.

New Research Synthesis: Thriving, Robust Equity, and Transformative Learning & Development: A More Powerful Conceptualization of the Contributors to Youth Success

August 13, 2020

Each and every young person has great potential to thrive. The potential for thriving is universal, but so too is the existence of adversity. Young people can overcome adversities, but the ease of doing so is not equally shared. Opportunity structures — in schools, communities, and society — make it easier for some youth to avoid or buffer the impacts of adversity than others.

Disruption Creates Opportunity: We Must Do Better Together

August 7, 2020

Every aspect of community life has been disrupted, from the economy to the family. Disruptions on multiple fronts have wreaked havoc with young people’s rhythms, relationships and responsibilities. Coordinated responses are desperately needed, especially among the people, places, and spaces where young people spend their time.

WEATHERING THE STORM TOGETHER.

August 7, 2020

One of the advantages of all of us being virtual is that we are getting really good at “warm welcomes” — ways to bring participants into a shared space with a quick exercise that asks them to think quickly and share. I loved this one, used yesterday to kick off the second day of rich discussions with members and friends of CASEL’s Collaborating States Initiative.

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.

Changing the odds for young people has never been more important