Building Ecosystems Statewide for Thriving (BEST) Youth Initiative

The BEST Youth Initiative is an opportunity for states to create enabling environments for true system alignment that comprehensively and equitably meet the needs of youth and their families.  The BEST Youth Initiative is a three-year effort to facilitate state-based, cross-system, cross-sector collaboration to improve outcomes for youth ages 5-24 in up to five states. Teams from selected states will co-design and implement an outcomes-based plan to generate cross-system reforms and innovations towards a more effective and nimble youth development ecosystem while informing policymakers about how to create a supportive policy environment to advance and sustain these efforts.

The BEST Youth Initiative is a three-year pilot led by the Forum for Youth Investment with key partners, comprising a National Steering Committee.  The activity period will kick-off with a National Launch convening July 30-31, 2024, in Washington, D.C. and culminate in the summer of 2027.

National Steering Committee members:


Application Information and Guidance

To create enabling environments for true system alignment that comprehensively and equitably meets the needs of youth and their families across the youth development ecosystem .

All U.S. states are welcome to apply. Only one application will be accepted per/state with a team that includes:

  1. At least three public sector youth-serving systems (education, workforce development, human services, behavioral health, child welfare, and/or juvenile justice).
    At minimum, there needs to be one upstream system that affects all youth, such as education and workforce development.

  2. A minimum of one youth with lived experience from each represented system and a family/caregiver from one of those systems.
  1. Determine the lead state system and representative who will fill out and submit the application materials.
  2. Review the application questions in the Invitation to Apply and coordinate among your state agencies, departments, and with any partners, if applicable, to answer all application questions. Applicants are strongly advised to draft application responses in a separate document before filling out the application online.
  3. Register and attend the informational webinar to learn more about the BEST Youth Initiative and application process on April 8, 2024, at 1:00 p.m. EST.
  4. Complete the application by 8:00 p.m. EST on Friday, May 3, 2024. An executed Letter of Participation will need to be uploaded & submitted as part of the application.
  5. If unable to complete the application digitally – please scan and submit all documents, including the Cover Page, Narrative, and Letter of Participation, to BESTYouth@forumfyi.org by 8:00 p.m. EST on Friday, May 3, 2024.

Invitation to Apply opens: March 26, 2024

Invitation to Apply closes: May 3, 2024

Throughout the 3-year Initiative, states will:

  1. Participate in a national launch convening.
  2. Attend virtual and in-person initiative-wide peer learning community.
  3. Participate in a state Action Laboratory to co-design and implement an outcomes-based plan to generate cross-system reforms and innovations toward a more effective and nimble youth development ecosystem.
  4. This is not a grant.
    State Teams will receive in-kind support throughout the Initiative, and costs associated with identified technical assistance needs will be covered by the Forum.

  5. Connect with a National Steering Committee and relevant subject matter experts and thought leaders.
  6. Raise the visibility of state work and help influence decision makers in Washington, D.C.
  7. Travel and lodging expenses will be covered for up to 7 members to attend the National Launch on July 30-31, 2024, in Washington, D.C. and three additional convenings of the Initiative Wide Peer Learning Community throughout the Initiative.
  8. The Forum will also provide compensation to participating youth and family/caregivers and cover childcare costs related to their in-person and virtual engagement.

The Forum and its national public sector partners will invite up to five states to participate. States will be notified by June 28, 2024.

July 30-July 31, 2024, in Washington, D.C.

BEST Youth Initiative Contact

BESTYouth@forumfyi.org


Jason Callahan
Executive Vice President, Cross Systems Consulting

Jason Callahan is Executive Vice President, Cross Systems Consulting & leads capacity-building efforts for state systems change to improve outcomes for youth.

Dana Kunzman
Senior Director, Cross-Systems Consulting

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

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