Equitable Ecosystems for Youth & Young Adults
November 30, 2021
The Equitable Ecosystems for Youth and Young Adults Working Group’s exploration of what it takes to ensure all young people are engaged in environments filled with safety and belonging – and are supported to develop the skills and social capital that helps them navigate across multiple disparate settings — resulted in the following resources:
Exploring Ecosystem Narratives
Discussion resources, including sample narratives, demonstrate the power of storytelling to help us unpack the practices and policies needed to create spaces where young people develop a deep sense of belonging and opportunities for transformative development – in their own lives, in the systems that they engage in, and in their broader ecosystem. In this package of resources you will find:
- Tips for Composing Ecosystem Narratives designed to support leaders in telling their own stories as they think more deeply about the complexity and connections within and between spaces in the ecosystem.
- Six sample narratives shared by members of the working group. These narratives look at belonging and navigation for individuals in both settings and systems.
Reclaiming Belonging in a Climate of Harassment frames how Emanuelle’s experience of harassment at school, and the initial unsupportive responses from administrators, prompted a youth movement demanding the creation of safe spaces that promote belonging.
They Only Like Me When I Play Ball describes Sam’s experience as a Black young woman in a majority-white high school. It explores variations in settings throughout the school and how a caring adult from outside the school was able to influence change in this young person’s experience and the school setting more broadly.
Building a (Culture) War-Free Zone shares Jazzmen’s story of how YouthBuild’s focus on developmental relationships – in their program and in their charter schools – has helped them create a culture and systems of working collaboratively with youth to address complex issues in ways that promote belonging for all.
Loud, Outspoken, and Connected lifts up how the power of community partnerships – in this case between a community-based organization (Oasis Center) and a school system – created multiple spaces where Leo could feel he belonged and his voice and perspective could leverage systems change.
Beyond Systems to Community Care and Connection describes Jodi and Natasha’s experiences in the foster care system. It explores where they found a sense of community and connections that they lacked in their interactions with child welfare and highlights the power of relationships.
I’d Be a Sure Bet If I Weren’t Locked Out of Opportunity shares the impact of experience in the justice system on Jaleel and Terrell’s life trajectory and long-term sense of belonging. It explores the power of community supports and the need for intentional connections to those supports.
- Story Discussion Prompts to use the six sample narratives as a jumping off point for youth and adult leaders to discuss the power of young people, settings and setting quality, and systems and ecosystem change.
- Non-Negotiables Reflection Tool: Supporting Belonging & Navigation for Adolescents Adapted from the Design Principles for Community-Based Settings Reflection Tool, this can be used to help young people, practitioners and system leaders identify areas of strength and areas for action as they co-create environments to engage youth and young adults, especially those who have had negative experiences with systems.