|Shawn Wilson (CC BY-SA 1.0)|
I’m off to Detroit for the annual YouthTransition Funders Group meeting. It promises to be jam-packed with ideas and conversation to push our thinking and inform our grantmaking. Here are just a few of the highlights:
We start off at Henry Ford Academy School for Creative Studies. This academy, Detroit's art and design middle and high school, is built on the idea that learning needs to be hands-on, connected to the real world, and should develop not only students' academic knowledge and skills, but also their potential as creative thinkers and innovative problem solvers. (Check out Sir Kenneth Robertson’s fascinating (and very funny) talk about the importance of creativity, and his animated lecture on Changing Education Parameters.)
Then we stop by Plymouth Educational Center Preparatory High School. PEC distinguishes itself by catering to the diverse learning needs of its students. Its curriculum is anchored in the belief that students can and will demonstrate mastery over challenging subjects, with individualized attention and guidance from caring, supportive teachers. (We are hearing a lot about mastery-based education in Michigan. The new LEA, the Education Achievement Authority, is managing school turnaround with a strong focus on mastery-based.)
Representatives from Omaha and Newark will join us to talk about their experience in establishing Reengagement Centers. A growing number of cities are establishing these centers as a multi-systems approach, connecting young people to alternative education, credit recovery programming, tutoring, mentoring, childcare, and other supports to help them be successful in education and employment.
Then we jump into a discussion about the National Conversation on Reconnecting Youth to School, Work, and Community. We’ll be talking about the multiple efforts at the national level that are raising attention for young people including the WhiteHouse Council on Community Solutions, Opportunity Nation, and the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions. The discussion will be led by Carmen James Lane, Meyer Foundation; Yolanda Caldera-Durant, Annie E. Casey Foundation; Thaddeus Ferber, Forum for Youth Investment, and Stephen Patrick, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (soon to be leading the Aspen Forum).
Dr.James Henry, Professor, Western Michigan University School of Social Work and Dianna Walters, Associate, Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, will introduce us to What Grantmakers Need to Know about Trauma-Informed Approaches to Supporting Youth in Transition. We will learn about the key components of trauma-informed systems, how to intervene to develop resiliency in youth and families, and how urban cities can better address the cultural, economic, and inter-generational trauma that youth and their families often experience.
We’ll then dive into a Well-Being Framework for Older Adolescents and Young Adults. Research clearly shows critical links between a young person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being and their ability to form and sustain healthy relationships and succeed at school and at work. As state leaders are under increasing pressure to move the dial on narrowly constructed metrics for older youth and young adults, little attention is being paid to considering a comprehensive framework for improving the overall well-being of young people. During this session, Sue Hoag Badeau, Casey Family Programs; Annie Ellington, Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative; Brian S. Lyght, The Annie E. Casey Foundation; and Lauren B. Gates, Columbia University School of Social Work, will share efforts underway to develop a comprehensive framework of well-being for older youth and young adults and related investment strategies for public and private funders.
And that’s just the first day!