Ready News: May 2, 2019

Youth Development in Nature: An Interview with Karen Pittman

Richard Louv, Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Children & Nature Network, recently sat down with the Forum for Youth Investment’s CEO and Co-Founder Karen Pittman to explore her perspectives on nature and youth development. Here are a few brief excerpts. Did you have experiences in nature that helped form who you are today? As a child or an adult? Pittman: I grew up in a working class, urban neighborhood in a family that emphasized the value of sending children outdoors to play. We did not, however, do any organized outdoor activities beyond family picnics. So it wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized that you could walk the length of Washington D.C. through Rock Creek Park, or stand on the waterfront of the Potomac River. Learning this was liberating. To this day, I seek nature to calm, inspire, reflect, and marvel at the intricacy of life. Can you share any stories about the benefits of nature for opportunity youth? Pittman: I believe that there are studies on the importance of programs like the Fresh Air Fund. But I’ll quickly share a HighScope story. The camp was billed as an educational camp for teenagers. Their jobs, for about 4 hours per day, were to participate in one or two short exploratory classes and longer workshop experiences that culminated in a product or presentation. The setting for all of this learning, however, was several hundred acres that included trails, a small lake, and a working farm. In addition, all youth participated in overnight camping or canoeing trips. These were powerful experiences for all of the young people. But for young people from more distressed communities or stressful situations, the main impact was that they had the experience of learning that nature can be a safe place. One that, unlike their communities, has challenges that you can predict and prepare for. Then, as noted, the second important learning for these young people is that they could become leaders in a broader learning setting in which academics is not the main measure of success.

Read the full interview.

Come see Karen Pittman in person at the 2019 Children & Nature International Conference in Oakland, California on May 16-18.

Moving Toward Equity and Readiness in Seattle

Leaders from around the country gathered in Seattle last week to explore how to increase access to high-quality, equitable learning environments from pre-school to opportunity youth at the 8th annual Ready by 21 National Meeting. Over 650 people convened and learned from national and local experts – both practitioners and researchers – about how to improve partnerships and supports for children and youth. The mainstage plenaries focused on having frank discussions with both K-12 leaders and a broad set of advocates – representing out-of-school time, the larger community and young people themselves – about the hard changes needed to achieve this goal. Most workshop presentations from the event have now been uploaded to the national meeting website. Simply click on the workshop you are interested in, and then look for the presentation link below the presenter area. Photos from the three content-rich and fun-packed days will be loaded to our Facebook page, and videos of the plenary sessions will be posted soon. We hope to see you in 2020!! Stay tuned for details!

Using Data to Strengthen Afterschool Planning, Management, and Strategy: Lessons from Eight Cities

A new report in The Wallace Foundation’s Knowledge Center examines eight cities’ efforts to strengthen their afterschool systems by garnering reliable information for decision making, program improvement and advocacy. “Using Data to Strengthen Afterschool Planning, Management, and Strategy: Lessons from Eight Cities” describes how coalitions across public, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors worked to develop, operate and use data systems to improve afterschool programs in their communities. After completing an afterschool initiative in 2009, The Wallace Foundation sought input from leaders in the afterschool and out-of-school time community, who expressed strong interest in learning more about community-wide data systems and their uses. Out of that came the Next Generation Afterschool System-Building initiative, a multi-year effort to strengthen systems that support high-quality afterschool programs for low-income youth. The initiative looked at how communities plan, design, implement and use community-wide afterschool data systems. In the new report on the Next Generation initiative, Researchers from Gamse Partnership and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago find that establishing and operating complex data systems requires continued attention to three key foundational dimensions: ensuring that technology is in place and continues to function, that investments in human capital keep pace with system needs, and that policies and practices support-and help to routinize-data use.

Review the report.

School-Justice Partnerships and Diversion Pathways Certificate Program

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) at Georgetown University has just released a Request for Applications for the 2019 School-Justice Partnerships and Diversion Pathways Certificate Program. This new field-based version of the training will be held from September 23-27, 2019 in partnership with the National Association of Counties, American Institutes for Research and the National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice. This opportunity allows a total of seven multi-disciplinary teams, of up to eight people each, from one state to jointly apply to hold the training locally. The program will focus on creating a safe and supportive school-climate; addressing exclusionary disciplinary policies; building cross-system partnerships; school-based diversion programs; trauma-informed classrooms; the role of school resource officers; and disrupting school-justice pathways for youth with behavioral health needs. Upon approval of a Capstone Project Proposal initiating or building on local reform efforts, participants receive an Executive Certificate from Georgetown University and join CJJR’s Network of over 1,100 Fellows.

Learn more and apply by Friday, May 24, 2019

Authentic Youth Civic Engagement

One of the basics of ensuring a city is meeting the needs of its young people is to actively and authentically engage local youth in the process. A new set of youth engagement tools from the National League of Cities will help community leaders start or expand these efforts locally. Authentic youth civic engagement provides young people meaningful opportunities to contribute their experiences, knowledge and solutions to city issues. This toolkit includes resources on promoting authentic youth engagement; hosting a youth summit; starting a youth council; developing a participatory budgeting model; lowering the voting age for municipal elections; and identifying a city’s strengths in this arena with a self-perception inventory.

Explore the toolkit.