The Official Blog of the Youth Transition Funders Group

Hosted by Chris Sturgis, Strategic Advisor to YTFG

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How a District Ended Student Dropouts with Personalized Learning

This post was originally published on EdSurge. Author Roger Cook is the Superintendent of the Taylor County School District in Campbellsville, Kentucky.

Imagine, if you can, a school where students do not have specific teachers assigned to them, nor do teachers have specific students on their roster.

Imagine a school where students come each day with a list of standards to work on and accomplish--right when they walk in the door. They can go to the teacher of their choice in order to accomplish the completion of these standards. Or, they can do them on their own in any setting they wish, as long as they maintain accomplishing the minimum amount of standards in a minimum amount of time. Some students, for example, may work individually in the media center not having to go to any classroom.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Are We Laughing Yet?


Jim Lyttle
I’m often asked by friends and family, Why do you love working in the youth field? The answer is redemption. By the singular act of believing that all young people – no matter what has been done to them or what they have done – can turn their lives around, we transform lives. This core value creates a virtuous cycle that sustains the people working in the field and creating the next generation of youth workers.

This quality makes us also very earnest. After reading the article Funny Business in the Economist about the use of humor (or as the Brits spell it, humour) in public service announcements, I started to wonder, Is our strength also our weakness?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Highlighting Advances in City Policy for Disconnected Youth

Andrew O. Moore
Originally posted April 14, 2014 at CitiesSpeak.org. Author Andrew Moore is a Senior Fellow in the National League of Cities' Institute for Youth, Educaiton, and Families. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewOMoore.

The annual member’s forum of the National Youth Employment Coalition serves as a hothouse of ideas for advancing young people through work and education, in the face of the ongoing youth jobs deficit and dropout crisis.

This year, three cities’ approaches to better policy and practice for disconnected youth stand out for their breadth and inventiveness. After ten years of policy attention to disconnected youth, perhaps this marks the beginning of a solid wave of broad citywide stage-setting and improved resource allocation and alignment. Which city will “catch the wave” next?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What’s The Future of Behavioral Health?

Nick Torres, PSIJ co-founder
Last week, a New Mexico radio talk show highlighted that the biggest provider of mental health was the county jails. We know that is a sign of systemic dysfunction. The question is how to correct it.

In Philadelphia, they are starting to tackle this issue with a meeting to discuss What's the Future of Behavioral Health in Light of the Disruptive Innovation of Healthcare Reform? on April 28. The meeting is sponsored by the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal, Thomas Scattergood Foundation, City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, Public Health Management Corporation, Beck Institute of Cognitive Therapy and Open Minds. (You can register here.)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Model Legislation for Opportunity Schools

Kim Knous-Dolan
States and districts are not going to design and implement the policies, operations, and schools to  
serve over-age, undercredited students or opportunity youth without a big push from young people, advocates, and practitioners. For decades upon decades we’ve pushed students out of school or let them drift away. It’s not just about stopping the bad practices, we have to put into place intentional strategies to keep student in school.

That’s why I was thrilled to see the Opportunity Schools Pilot Initiative (SB-167) introduced to Colorado’s Senate. From what I can tell this could be used as model legislation if you are thinking about how to leverage the Youth Incentive Fund Initiative in your state. The concept was developed through a stakeholder workgroup to improve the quality of alternative schools. Colorado uses the term Alternative Education Campuses (AEC) for schools serving a population of at least 95% high-risk students.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hell’s Angel


Hell's Angel by Briana from Three Lakes High School, Albany, Oregon won the Words Unlocked competition in 2013. Entries for the 2014 competition will be accepted beginning April 14.




Not all angels go to heaven.

Sometimes angels go to hell.

I know this, cuz I watched you slip.

And loaded your pipe as you fell.

I didn’t realize at the time,

How hard you’d hit your head.

His radar tracked her damaged soul,

And led her to his bed.

But she was young, and vulnerable.

And he was thirty-six.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Words Unlocked Frees Student Expression of Boundaries

Joaquin Zihautanelo

It’s National Poetry Month, and once again, time for the Words Unlocked nationwide literary competition for young people in juvenile detention. The judges of the competition are Chelsea Clinton and R. Dwayne Betts, Josh Lefkowitz and Joaquin Zihautanelo. (An aside, I wasn’t familiar with Zihautenelo – and just spent 20 minutes listening to his words. Powerful! ) Student poets can submit their work for the competition April 14 through May 2.

This year’s theme is Boundaries, encouraging students to explore through poetry the boundaries that exist in their lives. Words Unlocked has curricular and instructional materials for a seven-day and a month-long unit in ActiveBoard, SmartBoard, Word and PowerPoint formats.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Twisted Systems

From Center for Public Integrity
I’ve been in conversation with a nephew lately about what it means to be a man. He has hit puberty and is facing the road to adulthood with very mixed feelings. He was asking me – At what age can I drive? Get a job? Drink? Vote? Go to war? We of course then stumbled into the fact that different states have different laws about when to treat teens like adults. And it reminded me just how confused we are about adolescence, adolescents, rights and responsibilities.

The story of Selina Garcia in Raleigh, NC, age 17, brings it home. This young woman is simultaneously a minor and an adult – depending on which system you are talking to.  At child welfare, Selina is a minor.  However, in the legal system, she’s an adult. In North Carolina, once you are 16, kids are automatically directed into the adult legal system if charged with a crime.

On March 7, a school police officer decided to arrest her after a disturbance on the bus. She landed in jail (Wake County School District not having gotten the news that the school-to-prison pipeline should be closed).  She ended up staying there for three weeks in adult prison. Although the judge ordered her release on March 10, seems the foster care system thought that was the best placement for her.

There are so many advancements in aligning our public systems around youth development, but when you hear a story like this, it brings it home that we, our state governments, and state legislators have a lot more work to do.  It would be an interesting study wouldn’t it – how twisted are your state systems?