This work empowers youth development, education and human service system leaders to adopt, implement and scale management and staff policies and practices that ensure young people have access to high quality, coordinated supports they need to succeed.  We support leaders’ efforts to:

  • Emphasize the impact of learning contexts on youth belonging and success, incorporating the new research on learning and development, especially into strategies to support underserved populations.
  • Implement “right stakes” continuous quality improvement approaches to help youth programs set meaningful goals based on data and empower practitioners to achieve them.
  • Strengthen efforts to coordinate community –based programs and services with a special focus on provider networks and systems.
  • Contribute to and align efforts to assess, plan and improve youth services and youth outcomes, including the development of validated measures and trainings.



The David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality empowers youth development leaders to adapt, implement and scale best-in-class, research-validated quality improvement systems to advance child and youth development.



 Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI) is an evidence-based continuous improvement approach to improving adult interactions with young people in learning settings. In includes four key components:

  • Assessment via the Program Quality Assessment (PQA)
  • Using assessment results to engage in Planning with Data to support improvement efforts
  • Providing targeted trainings in Youth Work Methods related to areas identified for improvement and
  • Support for leaders to engage in targeted Quality Coaching at the point of service

Preparing Youth to Thrive: Promising Practices for Social and Emotional Learning was the result of a multi-year effort to study SEL practices in high quality youth programs. Resources available at

Applied research and evaluation to support program improvement, including statewide evaluation of 21st Century Community Learning Centers in Oklahoma and Arkansas.



The Forum provides support to the following field-building projects:

Changing the odds for young people has never been more important