Ready News: May 1, 2020

Partners Launch the Readiness Projects

The Forum for Youth Investment, the National Urban League, and the American Institutes for Research have united to devote our time, resources, and perspectives to stimulate equity-driven solutions and policies. With partners, we will accelerate work that demands equitable learning and development opportunities and builds on the strengths of people working at all levels to help children, youth, and young adults thrive. We’ve hit the ground running on this work, in spite of COVID-19 constraints.

Learn more about the Readiness Projects and download the brochure.

Explore videos and content from our recent launch event.

Scan the list of projects already underway.

Coronavirus Affirms the Need to Connect More Deeply with Adolescents in High Schools

Readiness Projects Blog by Winsome Waite and Karen Pittman

It’s springtime, yet rather than preparing for end-of-year assessments, graduation, prom, and summer school, educators and school personnel, along with community organizations and families, are grappling with the challenges of facilitating learning, keeping young people safe, and supporting their overall well-being when “out-of-school time is all the time.”  As educators try to find stop-gap measures to make learning accessible to every student, what are the most effective ways to engage and empower our adolescents, particularly in high school and beyond, so that they are equipped to manage change and difficulty?

Even under normal circumstances, adolescents deal with stress and anxiety as they undergo physical changes, social and academic stress, and identity development. They wonder about their worth, and try to determine who they are and how to fit in. In this time of a pandemic, some, especially high school students who are transitioning to postsecondary learning and the world of work, are worried about how this moment could change their lives for a long time to come. When will school reopen? What will it be like? Will I start college online? What about my summer job? What about a “real” job? What about my friends? Is my family going to be okay? Should I stay home to help?

Read more.

When Out-of-School Time Comes Home: Variations within an Extended Family

Readiness Projects Blog by Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom

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. But a month ago, most of those places were abruptly shut down, thrusting families into the lead coordinating role. Learning and development didn’t stop – these are natural human processes. But the unevenness of supports became a lot more apparent, even within extended families.

My own family is a microcosm of this unevenness. My husband and I are as prepared as any two parents could be. He is an educator. I am a former frontline youth worker. Both of us have extensive training in youth development and engagement methods. Between the two of us, we’ve taught in classrooms, run summer camps, staffed OST programs, and trained youth workers. We have preparation, support, and resources. We have flexible jobs and a large, well-stocked home. But our learning curve, without the familiar community and collegial supports, has still been significant. And the contrast to the stories unfolding with family members and friends just a short drive away is sobering.

Continue reading.

Prioritizing Partnerships and Navigating Change

Blog by Priscilla Little

Afterschool intermediary organizations perform the “glue functions” necessary to maximize resources, an essential role during this uncertain time. “Prioritizing Partnerships and Embracing Change,” an Every Hour Counts blog post featuring the Forum’s Priscilla Little, shares key lessons from a case study on the Denver Afterschool Alliance and offers five ingredients to support other afterschool systems.

Read the blog.

COVID-19 Resources from the Field

As we all navigate the new normal in the era of COVID-19, the Forum seeks to offer reflections, tools, and resources – both our own and those from other leading national organizations – to help us all keep children and youth at the center as we’re adjusting. For example, in a recent blog by Karen Pittman, “What Happens When Out-of-School Time is All the Time?“,  she ponders the critical questions of how we handle learning in this new age of social distancing.

We have collected a number of resources and tools that we hope will be of use to you in your work to change the odds for children and youth. If you have resources you’d like to share, please email us at

Browse the resources.

Growing the Whole Child Movement

From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope, released in January 2019 by the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, spurred a national conversation about how young people learn. The central idea of the Commission’s work deeply resonated with the experience of families, educators, and community leaders alike: that children learn best when they are treated as whole people with social, emotional, and academic needs.

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of A Nation at Hope, America’s Promise Alliance brought together thought leaders, partners, funders, and youth in January to discuss what’s next for this work. A post-convening brief and recap are now available from that event that examined the progress we’ve made in a year, and the next steps in the Whole Child movement.

Read more.