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Stability and Change in Afterschool Systems

March 12, 2021

Citywide systems that coordinate the work of out-of-school time (OST) providers, government agencies, private funders, and others are designed to ensure that OST programs reach children who lack access to quality programming. In 2012, The Wallace Foundation asked FHI 360 to conduct an exploratory study to determine the extent to which U.S. cities with populations over 100,000 were undertaking afterschool system-building initiatives.

Changing the Odds Thought Leader Interview: Chronic Absenteeism – Indicator and Cause of Educational Inequity

March 12, 2021

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, 1 out of 6 students were chronically absent. As data is reported out this year, we are likely to see a dramatic increase in chronic absence, especially for the populations hardest hit by Covid-19. What is the definition of chronic absence? What are the metrics? Since absenteeism is not just a cause of educational inequity, but a leading indicator, how can attendance and chronic absenteeism data be used and improved to assess barriers and the lack of positive conditions for learning that undermine students’ and families’ relationships with their schools?

The Transformative Potential of Community-Based, Learner-Centered Ecosystems

February 17, 2021

Disruption creates opportunity. COVID, and continued racial reckonings have exposed many of the inefficiencies and inequities that are baked into our public education system and, more broadly, into public conceptions of how learning happens. Every school leader is committed to “building back better.” Many, having seen the innovation and resourcefulness of families and community organizations who stepped in to fill the complex void suddenly created by school closings, are seeing the value of building forward together – thinking about how to better leverage the assets of these critical learning partners. Only a few, however, are thinking about how to use the disruption to fundamentally transform their schools to have youth empowerment, equity, and community baked into their core.

What Next? Why Now? An Interview with Karen Pittman

February 5, 2021

The time has come. The transition is upon us. Not the one in downtown D.C. The one right here at the Forum for Youth Investment. For the last several years, Karen has signaled that the day was coming when she would step out of organizational leadership and “find more time.” More time to reflect. More time to write. More time to amplify powerful ideas. On February 1st she will step down as President and CEO of the Forum and move into a Senior Fellow role. She will continue as a co-lead of the Readiness Projects – “using science-informed strategies to upend inequity and accelerate progress” – alongside coordinating partners Merita Irby (Forum Co-founder and Executive Vice President), Hal Smith (National Urban League) and Deborah Moroney (American Institutes of Research). She will also free up time and brain space to explore new ways of maximizing our our shared mission of “changing the odds for children and youth.

Merita Irby interviews Karen – her colleague for more than a quarter of a century – about where she’s been, what’s up next, and why now.

Personal Reflections from Karen Pittman on the First Week of 2021

January 11, 2021

When my phone's emergency alert alarm went off at 3 pm Wednesday, I knew it wasn't a weather emergency. The Mayor was shutting down the city. I assumed that the violence many of us dreaded had started. It wasn't until I finished my virtual meetings and turned on the news, however, that I saw the scope and seriousness of the events. It did not take long to process them: White nationalists had successfully breached the U.S. Capitol. I am still working to fully understand the motivations of the leaders - from elected officials to law enforcement - who fueled that rage and then let this happen. This was not a natural disaster. This was a man-made disgrace.

What I am really struggling with is how to respond to them. What can I do? What should I do?

Measure, Use, Improve! Data Use in Out-of-School Time

January 6, 2021

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. We have robust ways to measure and evaluate learning in school systems, but how do we measure the impact of out-of-school (OST) settings?

Changing the odds for young people has never been more important