October Sparks: Ending Youth Prisons, Getting Real about SEL, and more

Youth Justice Action Month

There are still a few more days left in Youth Justice Action Month (#YJAM), led by our friends at the Campaign for Youth Justice and allies around the country.

This year, the focus is on urging local communities to A.C.T. to End Racism. It’s an encouragement for us all to work on the A.C.T. principles: Awakening to the damaging effects of racism; Confronting racism in our own lives and work; and Transforming ourselves, our communities, our institutions, and our values to reflect our core beliefs in equity, humanity, and justice for all.


October 30 Release: A United Vision for a World Without Youth Prisons

More than 25 young leaders, many of whom are directly impacted by the justice system, led a visioning session designed to address the root causes of the youth justice system’s deep inequities. The result is a new report from Cities United, the Youth First Initiative, Performing Statistics, and RISE for Youth that shares nine recommendations for how cities can reinvest the millions of taxpayer dollars spent each year locking up young people.


Join Us for Opportunity Week

From November 11 to November 15, join us for  Opportunity Week , a chance to engage with professionals across the nation to build better pathways for supporting Opportunity Youth. The week’s events include a Policy Day on The Hill and a chance to #AmplifyOpportunity at the Opportunity Youth Network Summit.


October 30 Audiocast: Moving from Research to Implementation in SEL

On October 30 at 2pm ET, join The Forum for Youth Investment’s CEO Karen Pittman as she sits down with Harvard Professor Stephanie Jones to discuss the report, “Kernels of Practice for Social and Emotional Learning (SEL): Low-Cost, Low-Burden Strategies” and what we know about how this more flexible, cost-effective approach to practice improvement can help adults build the confidence and skills they need to support SEL.


Ready by 21 National Meeting Workshop Request for Proposals

In April 2020, Ready by 21 National Meeting will once again bring together leaders who are committed to getting young leaders ready for college, work, and life by 21. The deadline for proposals of sessions at the convening is Friday, November 1, 2019.


Action Alert: Email Your Representatives About the Homeless Children and Youth Act

The National Network for Youth is asking community partners to reach out to their U.S. Representatives for support in cosponsoring H.R. 2001, the Homeless Children and Youth Act (HCYA). The HCYA helps children, youth and families experiencing homelessness by aligning the federal definition of homelessness, prioritization of programs that meet the priorities and goals of communities, and data collection to ensure that children, young people and families are included. Contact your representatives now to make a difference!



On October 1st, New York state ended the practice of automatically charging all 17-year-olds as adults, no matter the offense. Learn more about the “Raise the Age” law – and four priorities to continue improving youth justice in New York State.


November is National Adoption Month

In November, we’re joining the Every Child Deserves a Family campaign to advocate for an end to discrimination in adoption and child welfare. Currently, about 120,000 children are waiting to be adopted and loving homes.


Good Reads from SparkAction and Our Partners

  • “We’re All Human” – Here’s How to Remember that When Meeting with Elected Officials
    by Adam Strong

Adam Strong, who works with CIRCLE and Opportunity Youth United and frequently meets with elected officials, shares the most important lessons he’s learned. READ MORE

  • JJPDA Reauthorization: Updated Protections to Ensure Equity for Youth

To help highlight the crucial steps the nation’s federal youth justice law, the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), has taken toward improving national safety and outcomes for justice-involved youth, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice shares the history of the JJDPA and its four core protections. READ MORE

  • Juvenile Justice Reforms in Utah Showing Signs of Success  
    Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

A bill recently passed in Utah could help to expand community-based programs, standardize practices to reduce outcome disparities across racial and geographic lines, and divert youth charged with less serious offenses from formal court proceedings. READ MORE

  • New Report on Innovative Financing to Expand Programming and Services for Children & Youth
    Source: The Children’s Funding Project

A newly released report titled  Innovative Financing to Expand Programming and Services So Children Can Thrive  from the Children’s Funding Project and Harvard’s EdRedesign Lab introduces lesser-known ways of raising revenue for children’s programming. Some of these unique methods, instituted in cities and rural communities alike, include PILOT repayments, Pay for Success bonds, and community benefits agreements.  READ MORE

Updates from SparkAction

We’re delighted to welcome our new team member: Ashley Thompson, who joins us as SparkAction’s Content & Engagement Specialist. She comes to us from Human Rights Watch’s communications team. She’s particularly excited to work on LeaderStories.org and the Reconnecting Youth Campaign.

Also this month, we’re pleased that Dillon Bernard is transitioning from a consultant with us to a team member, leading our youth mobilizer outreach and engagement. Dillon is a social entrepreneur who, in addition to working with SparkAction and the Forum for Youth Investment, is helping the Future Coalition with its social media strategy and is one of the content coordinators for the Climate Strike.

This fall, we said goodbye to our former content engagement specialist and newsletter editor, Elly Belle. Elly, thank you for all you’ve done for us! We’ll keep following you as your journalism career grows.

SparkAction is a proud initiative of the Forum’s policy unit. Meet our full team here.

As always, we’re committed to bringing you inspiring stories, ideas, data, and opportunities for action. We can’t do it alone – we need you. Share your favorite resources and tools for action with us by emailing dillon@sparkaction.org .