Ready News: August 21, 2020

New Research Synthesis: Thriving, Robust Equity, and Transformative Learning & Development: A More Powerful Conceptualization of the Contributors to Youth Success

Blog by the Readiness Projects Partners

Each and every young person has great potential to thrive. The potential for thriving is universal, but so too is the existence of adversity. Young people can overcome adversities, but the ease of doing so is not equally shared. Opportunity structures – in schools, communities, and society – make it easier for some youth to avoid or buffer the impacts of adversity than others.

COVID-19 and the renewed attention on racial injustice thrust the country into long-overdue debates about how (not whether) to dismantle systemic, institutional inequities that are literally taking the lives of Black Americans and other people of color. Systemic changes are needed in every system – not just law enforcement and education. Educational equity cannot be achieved without a focus on racial equity.

These points are made in a new foundational research paper developed by the Readiness Projects partners. Together as authors (David Osher, Karen Pittman, Jill Young, Hal Smith, Deborah Moroney & Merita Irby, representing the American Institutes for Research, the Forum for Youth Investment, and the National Urban League), the group leverages recent syntheses of the science of adolescence, the science of learning and development, and the impacts of institutionalized inequities to emphasize that children and adolescents can realize their potential and thrive.

Read more in the Readiness Projects Medium blog, Changing the Odds for Youth: A Community Dialogue on What it Will Take.



Conference Report Explores How Out-of-School-Time Programs Can Foster Social and Emotional Learning

Social and emotional skills (from working productively with a group to managing feelings well) are increasingly seen as key to success in modern life. That can help explain why efforts to integrate social and emotional learning (SEL) into the classroom and in afterschool, summer, and other out-of-school-time (OST) programs have gotten more attention in recent years.

SEL+OST=Perfect Together, a new report based on an October 2019 meeting that brought together youth development leaders, researchers, and educators, looks at two of the field’s biggest challenges: developing the ability of adults to teach social-emotional skills and communicating the importance of those skills to parents and other caregivers.

Specific topics include research on social-emotional development; ways that OST programs can help instructors develop the skills they need to foster SEL; and jargon-free language to convey how SEL benefits young people. In a preface to the report, several meeting presenters and attendees reflect on SEL and OST in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

The day-long event, which took place in Chicago, was sponsored by The Wallace Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance. It was held in conjunction with the SEL Exchange, a conference the next day on social and emotional learning hosted by CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning.

Review the report.



Virtual Youth Townhall on the Return to School

Online Event by America’s Promise Alliance and The 74
Wednesday, August 26
2:00 PM EDT

Schools and districts across the country are taking a wide range of approaches to the return to school- from starting the year virtually to beginning entirely in person. Regardless of the form that the return to school takes, the perspectives and experiences of young people can inform school, district, and community leaders’ approach to the return to school and decisions throughout this year and beyond.

In this youth townhall hosted by America’s Promise Alliance and The 74 (a nonprofit, education-focused website), middle and high school students from around the country will discuss considerations for reopening, whether or not they feel safe, ways that schools can provide meaningful learning in this context, and how schools can engage youth in decision-making as we begin the new school year. Youth panelists will also share their insights and advice for school leaders on how schools should provide opportunities to talk and learn about race and racism.

Register now.



State and Local Fiscal Maps: An Interactive Tool

The Children’s Funding Project recently released a new, interactive map of state and local children’s budget analyses from around the country. This map identifies states and localities that have taken an important first step toward better financing the supports kids need: understanding how much money is currently being invested. Also known as ‘fiscal maps,’ these children’s budget analyses help establish a clear understanding of the existing web of funding streams that fund child- and youth-focused programs and supports in a city, county, or state.

The new map highlights the 20+ communities that have prioritized kids in their budget process. For many, their fiscal map is the groundwork for better aligning current funding and generating new funds.

See the new map of children’s budget analyses here.



Re-Opening Programs and More

Learning in Action Blog by Sam Piha, Founder & Co-Director, Temescal Associates

There is a lot of discussion and debate about how and when to re-open schools and youth programs. For youth programs that are located within schools, it is important that afterschool leaders stay abreast of the current thinking on this topic and ensure that any re-opening encompasses youth development values. Because the pandemic situation is very fluid, ideas about re-opening schools are very dynamic.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has released a roadmap for re-opening schools. CASEL collaborated with over 40 leading organizations in developing four critical practices:

  1. Take time to cultivate and deepen relationships, build partnerships, and plan for SEL.
  2. Design opportunities where adults can connect, heal, and build their capacity to support students.
  3. Create safe, supportive, and equitable learning environments that promote all students’ social and emotional development.
  4. Use data as an opportunity to share power, deepen relationships, and continuously improve support for students, families, and staff.

Karen Pittman, the President & CEO of the Forum, stated: “As we sit down and really try to figure out what is going to be a long haul of reopening slowly…we’re going to need such a different approach to the traditional ‘show up and sit in your seat.’ We need all partners at the table together.”

Read more.