Ready by 21: Our Key Ideas

Helping You to Improve the Odds that All Children and Youth Will be Ready for College, Work and Life.

Think Differently

Act Differently

Act Together

Ready by 21: the Forum is committed to helping leaders change the odds that all children and youth are ready for college, work and life. We provide ideas, services and networks that leaders need to make more intentional decisions that are good for young people.

READY BY 21 COMMITMENTS

Over the years, we’ve become more explicit, if not aggressive, in our belief that to change the odds we need to set our sights on providing opportunities that advance equity, not just equality; quality, not just access; and readiness, not just credential completion or “seat time.” In all of this, the focus must be not only on investing in young people but on involving and engaging them fully in the work.

EQUITY

Achieving equal outcomes requires equitable opportunities. It also requires leaders to use a equity as a lens informing all of their decisions as they move ideas to impact.

ENGAGEMENT

Young people and families are change agents, not just clients. Engage them along with all key stakeholders – within and across organizations, systems, and sectors.

QUALITY

We must assess and continuously improve quality, reach and impact across all places young people spend their time.

READINESS

Young people are ready when they can demonstrate the abilities they need to meet life’s demands. “Problem free isn’t fully prepared” and preparation for “next” is more than a diploma.

THE READY BY 21 THEORY OF CHANGE

Changing the Odds for Youth by Changing the Way We do Business

To get all young people ready to achieve better outcomes, we must improve the quality and quantity of family school and community supports.  To improve those supports, we must fundamentally change the way leaders do business for young people

THE READY BY 21 PRINCIPLES

The key ingredients that help leaders think differently, act differently and act together to achieve equity, engagement, quality and readiness.

LEADERSHIP MATTERS

Challenge champions at all levels of influence to manage complexity, take informed risks and put what is good for young people at the center of their decision-making.

FAMILIES MATTER

Recognize children grow up in families and communities, not programs and schools.

DEVELOPMENT MATTERS

Invest early and often. Take a whole child approach as young people grow socially, emotionally, cognitively, physically, civically – from early childhood through young adulthood.

EVIDENCE MATTERS

Adapt evidence-based, reality-informed policies, processes & practices. Make data-driven decisions, using disaggregated and new data to make the invisible visible.

ENVIRONMENT MATTERS

Young people spend their time in a variety of different places and spaces. The characteristics of both formal and informal environments make a difference, and experiences in one environment can have an impact on how young people respond in another.

ASSETS MATTER

Build on strengths, don’t just focus on problem-reduction.

ADVOCACY MATTERS

Inspire, inform and engage the public and policy makers with powerful stories and data.

ADULTS MATTER

Recruit, train and retain good staff and volunteers. Build their expertise in child and youth development.

IDENTITY MATTERS

Support the development of an integrated sense of identity.

PARTNERSHIPS MATTER

Forge common agendas to bridge silos and bring about systemic change. No one department, organization or sector can provide young people everything they need to succeed.

ALIGNMENT MATTERS

Coordinate efforts and align resources toward common, youth-centered goals.

AGENCY MATTERS

Support young people as agents in their own learning and development, and as powerful agents of change in their schools, community and society.

Changing the odds for young people has never been more important