“Wow,” my young colleague said, his voice echoing off the high marble walls in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. “I didn’t know what to expect when I came here, but now that I have done it, I realize this is what I have wanted to do my whole life: share my story with people who can make a difference.”
I live for these moments, working in partnership with Opportunity Youth United to help Opportunity Youth—young people ages 16 to 24 who are not connected to school or the workforce—meet with their elected officials. Of all the advocacy activities we do, these are the most likely to change hearts, minds, and policies, and have been the most important driver of the Reconnecting Youth Campaign’s greatest successes: securing a cumulative $195 million additional federal funding for Opportunity Youth programs over two years; securing $518 million in the COVID recovery packages; and potentially billions more in the Build Back Better Act making its way through Congress.
The Wallace Foundation’s Partnerships for Social Emotional Learning Initiative (PSELI) is a comprehensive, multiyear initiative exploring whether and how children can benefit from intentional partnerships between schools and out-of-school time programs focused on building social and emotional skills – and what it takes to do the work. Research has found these competencies promote success in school, career, and life.
Last week, the Forum was delighted to welcome Mishaela Durán as its new President & CEO. Durán, a recognized leader and champion in the youth development field, will continue to advance the mission of the Forum to change the odds that all young people are ready by 21 for college, work, and life.