Ready News: April 19, 2021

Essential Guiding Principles for Equitable Whole-Child Design

How can we design learning settings so that all students thrive? That’s the question that Pamela Cantor, M.D., Linda Darling-Hammond, Merita Irby, and Karen Pittman seek to answer with the Design Principles project announced in a new SoLD Alliance blog post.

They have worked with over 100 leaders across the fields of education and youth development to develop two companion playbooks, one for K-12 educators and one for community-based practitioners, that provide the guiding scientific principles, structures, and practices that will serve as the foundation for a new 21st-century education and learning systems.

Read more.



The Forum’s Thought Leadership Roundtables: A Spring Series

A Conversation with Merita Irby 
Wednesday, April 28, 2:00 – 3:00 PM ET

In April and May, Karen Pittman will sit down with the Forum’s three program executives and, together, they will both tell the broader story of how the Forum is changing the odds for young people and explore the future of our work to advance equity, research, policy, and practice across all the systems and settings that shape young people’s lives. Each executive leads a unit and a set of named centers and initiatives intended to drive one of the Forum’s strategic approaches.

  • Strengthening Practices & Programs: The Forum empowers youth development, education, and human service system leaders to adopt, implement, and scale management, staff policies, and practices that ensure young people have access to high quality, coordinated supports they need to succeed.
  • Improving & Aligning Policies: The Forum helps policymakers, funders, advocates, and rising leaders increase their capacity by aligning with other advocates, departments, sectors, and levels of government to use data and evidence to support the whole child and pursue racial and social equity.
  • Planning & Partnering for Impact: The Forum supports boundary-spanning leaders charged with creating or implementing plans that require a focus on the bigger picture. The team helps leaders connect the dots across complex and sometimes competing goals, services, plans, and partners.

Join Karen on Wednesday, April 28 when she’ll be interviewing Merita Irby, co-founder and Executive Vice President of the Forum and Managing Partner of Big Picture Approach Training and Consulting. Big Picture Approach is the Forum’s most visible effort devoted to planning and partnering for impact.

Register now.



Five Strategies to Build Forward Together to Upend Inequity and Accelerate Progress

In September 2020 the Readiness Projects partners posted a blog (When Everything is Different Act Different) in which they acknowledged the opportunities for bold change that could arise out of the disruption. The blog included an announcement that AASA, the School Administrators Association, was joining the efforts to launch Build Forward Together, “a new endeavor eschewing a return to ‘normal’ and encouraging all players to Act Differently.”

In November and December, the Readiness Projects team hosted a weekly series of discussions, work groups, and blog posts designed to “make the invisible visible” — to bring school and community leaders together to have honest conversations about what it would take to achieve the “together” part of the Build Forward Together vision. These discussions affirmed what was known: simple promises to “partner” might inevitably result in some things being better, but truly building forward together means taking serious steps to think and talk differently about our goals and our approaches; see and hear differently from each other and, most importantly, from young people, families, and front-line staff; and to act and react differently, not just when we’re sitting at partner tables, but when we’re behind closed doors making decisions about how to allocate the staff or resources we control.

Having spent a month with colleagues analyzing the rich discussions from 2020 and reading the growing number of reports, proposals and frameworks coming out, The Readiness Projects coordinating partners are putting a stake in the ground and introducing five broad strategies that we must attend to as we Build Forward Together. These strategies help all of us — schools, community partners, funders, government leaders, families, and youth themselves — not just do our best to build individual fortresses back better, but to truly reimagine learning and development together. They have begun to prompt leaders to think and talk differently about learning and loss, school, after-school and summer, children and adolescents, families and communities, equity, accountability, and resources. They help spark, organize, and drive action.

Read more.



Why Are So Many Kids Missing Out on Afterschool?

For the past few years, participation in afterschool programs has dropped precipitously. Families of 24.6 million children—an increase of 60 percent since 2004—are unable to access a program and many report cost as a barrier, according to a new survey from the Afterschool Alliance.

The study, America After 3pm: Demand Grows, Opportunity Shrinks, identifies trends in afterschool program offerings and shares overall parent perceptions of afterschool programs. With responses from more than 30,000 U.S. families, this survey builds on the household surveys conducted in 2004, 2009 and 2014. While it offers a pre-pandemic snapshot of how children and youth spend their afternoons, it also includes findings from a separate survey of parents conducted in fall 2020 to capture the pandemic’s impact on afterschool.

The Wallace Blog caught up with Jennifer Rinehart, Senior VP, Strategy & Programs at the Afterschool Alliance, to discuss the implications of the survey and what they might mean for a post-pandemic world.

Read the discussion.



Workshops and Sessions at the 9th Annual Ready by 21 National Meeting

We hope you’ll be one of hundreds of leaders convening virtually May 19-20 for the 9th annual Ready by 21 National Meeting! You’ll meet like-minded peers who, in order to change the odds for all children and youth, are working at the crossroads of nonprofits, education, policy, philanthropy, businesses, and intermediaries at the national, state, and local levels.

We will offer 30 learning sessions designed to support and inspire participants to do the groundwork in ensuring that all young people are ready to succeed and navigate our challenging world. We’ll be releasing the full workshop agenda soon, but here’s a sneak preview of just a few of the sessions we’re excited to offer:

  • Essentials of Quality Social and Emotional Learning Practice
  • Beyond Being a “Caring Adult”: Making Relationships With Youth Deeply Developmental
  • On Becoming an Anti-Racist Organization: Taking Step Zero and Walking the Talk
  • Belonging as Agency: Supporting Transformative Learning and Development for Youth and Young Adults
  • Launch, a Journey: How Opportunity Youth and United Way Learned Together
  • Closing the Equity Gap for LGBTQ Youth: Blueprints for Change
  • How do You Support Practitioner and Manager SEL Competency Development?

Learn more and register today!