The Forum Announces BEST Youth Initiative State Participants

The Forum for Youth Investment is thrilled to announce that Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, and New York have been selected for the Building Ecosystems Statewide for Thriving (BEST) Youth Initiative. This exciting three-year initiative aims to boost outcomes for youth ages 5-24 through collaborative, cross-system approaches. 

These forward-thinking states stood out for their: 

  1. Commitment to enhancing youth outcomes through strategic system alignment. 
  2. Readiness to shift from reactive to proactive, cross-sector solutions. 
  3. Enthusiasm for engaging diverse voices, especially those with lived experiences. 

Each state team brings together at least three youth-serving systems, with education or workforce as a cornerstone. Teams also include four people with lived experience: three youth representing each system and one parent or caregiver. This inclusive approach ensures a rich diversity of perspectives. 

The BEST Youth Initiative was born from state-identified needs, particularly those amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. States expressed a desire for: 

  • Enhanced capacity to implement strategy. 
  • Support in engaging stakeholders for system alignment. 

The journey will unfold in three stages: Discovery (landscape analysis), Co-Design (strategic planning), and Co-Create (implementation support). Throughout the Initiative, state teams will participate in a peer learning community to share knowledge through collaborative inquiry and reflection. They will work to create an enabling environment that fosters ongoing innovation to improve life outcomes for youth, ensuring cross-system reforms are guided by the insights of people with lived experience. 

We’re excited to embark on this collaborative journey, learning alongside our state partners to inform the national conversation on improving youth outcomes in education, work, and life. 

For more information about this inspiring initiative or to explore cross-systems alignment support, please reach out to our Cross-Systems Consulting Executive Vice President, Jason Callahan, or visit the BEST Youth Initiative website.