Ready News: September 9, 2020

The Forum for Youth Investment Announces Participation in National Evaluation to Inform the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program

The Forum for Youth Investment’s Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality is excited to announce its participation in a new national evaluation to inform the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program being undertaken by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the independent research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

The Weikart Center will support the implementation of a continuous quality improvement (CQI) system designed for use with a sample of 21st CCLC afterschool programs that vary in the activities they provide (e.g., STEM, sports, the arts) but share a commitment to improving their participants’ social and emotional skills. The Weikart Center’s success at designing, evaluating, and supporting the implementation of the Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI) with over 140 state and local afterschool systems and networks made it a logical candidate to support the CQI implementation components of this study. Mathematica is IES’s selected evaluation partner.

The Forum applauds IES’s decision to evaluate a continuous program quality improvement system versus a specific curriculum approach (e.g., STEM) designed to achieve outcomes. It reflects their desire to produce an evaluation that speaks directly to the interests of the field.

“It is important that this impact study, in contrast to the 2005 study, is not an up or down vote on the 21st CCLC program,” says Karen Pittman, the Forum’s president, CEO, and co-founder. “The verdict is in: Afterschool programs are a critical part of our country’s capacity to maximize learning and development opportunities, especially for children from low-income families. We know that quality counts, so the question isn’t whether to fund afterschool programs, but how to support program improvement.”

Read more on the CQI impact study.



Mini-CQI for Youth Programs: Keeping the Learning Going in the Midst of Disruption

Free Webinar
Thursday, September 10, 2020
1:00-2:00 PM EDT

The past six months have brought significant disruption and trauma to communities grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice. The youth field has rallied to minimize disruptions by identifying solutions for socially distanced learning and virtual programming. While the logistics for out-of-school programs have changed, youth development professionals continue to prioritize the importance of core principles such as safety, supportive relationships, opportunity, and youth voice.

As we gain clarity about how programs will likely operate this year, organizational learning fueled by continuous quality improvement is another core principle of youth programs to be mindful of. As programs face this sharp learning curve, recommitting to ongoing continuous improvement activities is critical to identify new best practices that will help youth thrive. This dynamic environment requires that we revisit our goals, metrics, and processes to align with the evolution of our program decisions, as well as adopt an iterative approach to continuous quality improvement that will allow organizations to be more agile and flexible in response to uncertainty.

In this session, Corey Newhouse (Public Profit), Krista Collins (the Weikart Center), and George Hernandez (a seasoned youth program practitioner) will discuss strategies for “mini CQI,” why continuous improvement still matters, how to keep your team focused, and learning from the data you have.

Fill out this form to join the webinar.



Behind the Numbers: What the Latest Opportunity Index Tells Us About Our Communities

The 2019 Opportunity Index, released in August 2020, is a multi-dimensional measure of opportunity that includes indicators of economic, educational, health, and civic conditions. Developed by Opportunity Nation, a campaign of the Forum for Youth Investment, and Child Trends, the Index provides data on what opportunity looks like in nearly every county in the United States.

In many places, the overall opportunity scores mask the disparities between white residents and residents of color.

Minnesota, the top-scoring state in the Index, is a good example of this challenge. George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer in late May sparked protests, which quickly spread around the country. These protests re-energized support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which demands an end to systemic racism and police brutality and made clear that for many Minnesotans the time for change was way past due.

So, how can Minnesota score so highly if long-standing inequalities there have motivated protesters around the country to stand up and ask for change? In this blog, we explore what is so often missed when data by race and ethnicity is limited: success as a whole does not always mean success for all. Without looking closely at who has access to opportunity, we can miss the structural inequalities that perpetuate disparities and which must be addressed if opportunity is truly going to be available for all.

Read more.

Explore the 2019 Opportunity Index.



Keeping a Focus on Equity as Schools Reopen During the Pandemic

Wallace Foundation Interview with Readiness Projects Core Partner Hal Smith, National Urban League

The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a harsh spotlight on the inequities that fester in almost every sector of our nation, including K-12 education. Recently, the Wallace Foundation spoke with Readiness Projects Core Partner Hal Smith, senior vice president of education, youth development & health at the National Urban League, about how districts and state departments of education can address those inequities as they move into a new school year and face the unprecedented challenge of educating students while keeping schools safe during a pandemic. Hal shares insights on how relationships, student-led inquiry, acknowledgment of young people’s growth, and sustained parent, caregiver, and community engagement are essential as schools reopen.

Read the interview.



Restarting and Reinventing School: Learning in the Time of COVID and Beyond

COVID-19 has underscored the need for schools to reinvent a century-old system of education. Now and beyond, there are significant changes that policymakers and educators can make to ensure teaching and learning are equitable and empowering. A new report from the Learning Policy Institute, Restarting and Reinventing School: Learning in the Time of COVID and Beyond, provides an overarching framework of actions policymakers and educators can take to support equitable, effective teaching, and learning whether in person or online. The framework provides research, state and local examples, and policy recommendations in 10 key areas for transforming learning and closing opportunity and achievement gaps.

Read the report.