empowers youth development leaders to adapt, implement and scale best-in-class, research validated quality improvement systems to advance child and youth development.
Our training and technical assistance in quality improvement system design, effective performance data and right-stakes accountability have helped OST networks across the country to be successful, scale-able and sustainable. The Weikart Center is a critical part of the Forum for Youth Investment’s overall effort to build leadership capacity to advance readiness and equity.
Using an approach grounded in positive youth development research and practice, we support out-of-school time (OST) networks and youth programs to create safe, supportive and productive learning environments for young people. We believe that it must be a youth worker’s job to foster an environment for youth where needs are met, learning is encouraged and young people can thrive.
The Weikart Center assists programs in enhancing the experiences of participating youth in three ways:
Both the Forum’s overall approach to youth development and the Weikart Center’s approach to quality improvement are grounded in work that began in 1963 at the HighScope Summer Camp, later called the Institute for IDEAS. Karen Pittman, The Forum’s CEO, was one of the original camp counselors trained by David Weikart and later became a board member. Charles Smith was the Director of Youth Development at High Scope and became the Weikart Center’s first director. Many other current and former Forum staff, including Joe Bertoletti, Dave Martineau, Laenne Thompson, Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom, and Nicole Yohalem began their youth development careers at HighScope.
The Weikart Center launched in January 2008 as a joint venture of the Forum for Youth Investment and the HighScope Educational Research Foundation. The Weikart Center formally became a unit of the Forum for Youth Investment in 2010.
Now in its second decade, the Weikart Center is proud to support over 140 networks across North America and the United Kingdom.
Lasting quality improvement requires more than just training. That’s why the Weikart Center helps youth programs establish quality improvement systems to support staff. This improvement approach is based on the assess-plan-improve sequence. It begins with assessment in order to build on youth workers’ existing strengths and identify areas to address. Those areas then go into an improvement plan as goals, with clear steps and benchmarks for success. That is followed up with powerful supports for youth leaders to manage improvement, and the high quality Youth Work Methods series of workshops for staff. As a whole, the assess-plan-improve sequence establishes a supportive system for continuous improvement.
The Weikart Center has partnered with numerous intermediary organizations that serve networks of youth programs, ranging from a handful of local sites to full statewide networks. Intermediaries provide a variety of training and technical assistance services and often are involved in accountability messages, policies, and funding decisions. By providing evidence-based tools, training, and expert consulting, the Weikart Center helps enhance the supports these critical organizations can provide.
The Weikart Center’s Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI) is specifically designed to be effective in large-scale deployments. This is achieved through ramping up stages that enable a network to build local intermediary capacity. The Weikart Center provides comprehensive services for building local capacities—in data collection, training, system building consulting, and technical assistance—to support large-scale systems that operate with fidelity.