The Official Blog of the Youth Transition Funders Group

Hosted by Chris Sturgis, Strategic Advisor to YTFG

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Picture Says It All

Youth Incarceration Rate Around The World 

from No Place for Kids published by Annie E. Casey Foundation

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Forward Promise

From RWJF web
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has announced a new Call for Proposals for Forward Promise, a $9.5 million initiative that focuses on innovative, community-based projects working to strengthen health, education, and employment outcomes for middle school- and high school-aged boys and young men of color. 

According to the email I received, the Foundation will award up to 10 grants of up to $500,000 each to support projects with preliminary evidence of impact in school discipline, dropout prevention, mental health interventions, and career training.

Friday, August 24, 2012

That's Not Democracy

Photo found at
I participated in a little bit of democracy the other day (beyond sending emails and signing petittions as directed by my trusted organizations), attending the New Mexico Public Education Commission's meeting as they listened to public comments before making decisions about authorization of charter schools.  It always humbles me how much time people contribute to this type of democratic process. Among all of the stakeholders (community, business, and education advocates) wanting our voices to be heard (they only had time for about 50% of us) were four young people. One testified and held more power in his words than the rest of us combined -- "Any young person would want to be able to take advantage of the educational opportunities at a school like ACE High School". 

A new report by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE)  That’s Not Democracy.” How Out-of-School Youth Engage in Civic Life and What Stands in Their Way has gotten me thinking more deeply about the fifth youth outcome, civic engagement, around which YTFG focuses our collaborative work.  We don't talk about it as much as we see the survival outcomes (able to earn money, housing, health care) as more pressing.  In the short-run they probably are more important.  Yet it is civic engagement that is critically important for the long-run as it is our young people, with their votes and leadership, who are going to shape the future of our country. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

What’s Next for Opportunity Nation?

If you haven’t checked it out yet, you need to read up on Opportunity Nation (ON) and check out their Opportunity Index
  • Our young people are core to their mission.
  • They have the one of the best leadership councils I’ve ever seen on this type of public will effort. 
  • They’ve tested the messages of opportunity and mobility with many different listening groups and meetings with policy leadership.  
Now they are on to the next stage. Or I should say, we are on to the next stage, because success depends on us—a whole lot of us—using the ON framework to create enough noise that the folks in DC and our state capitols will hear us above the other incredibly demanding agendas.

So, what do we need to do to make sure that we, in partnership with Opportunity Nation, are successful in unleashing the public will we need to reinvest in our young people?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Why Portfolios Matter

You may think I'm talking about student portfolios, but I'm not.  I'm talking about when districts develop a portfolio of schools that are designed around their changing student needs.

Portfolio schools are focused on improving student achievement across the entire student body. In their analysis, sometimes referred to as student segmentation analysis, these districts quickly come to the decision they need to have a wider range of schools to meet the needs of over-age, under-credited students.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Community College Associate Degree Brings “Large Wage Premium”

This post is written by Gary Kaplan, Executive Director of JFYNetWorks.

A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that “students who obtain certificates/degrees from a public or not-for-profit institution receive a large wage premium. The value of an associates degree is large and statistically significant at the .05 level or better… with magnitude as large as 14 log points.”

The new data surfaced in an August 4 editorial in the New York Times. The June 2012 NBER study compared the benefits of associate degree programs at public and non-profit  colleges with programs at for-profit colleges. In contrast to the benefit of a public or non-profit degree, the study found “little evidence of a return [increased earnings] to any certificate or degree from a for-profit institution.” 

Friday, August 10, 2012

From Hoodlum to Hero

From Skoll Foundation website
Dorothy Stoneman gives it to us straight in her Huffinginton Post essay, Solutions are Obvious for  a National Emergency.

  • The crisis that we all know so well -- a huge proportion of our young people, especially low-income and youth of color, entering adulthood without a diploma, over-incarceration, barriers to entry into the labor market. 
  • The transformative stories of young people that once were labeled hoodlums, now commended as heroes in their communities. 
Dorothy adds two new twist to this story that I haven't seen described quite so clearly.  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Are Our Children Being Pushed Into Prison...and By What?

Community Coalition's infographic on the pipeline to prison is stirring up conversation about how we frame the dynamics that lead to high incarceration rates in the United States.  It's a powerful infographic...telling a powerfully disturbing story:

  • 68% of all males in state and federal prison do not have a high school diploma.
  • 70% of inmates in California state prison are former foster care youth.
It's a story about how two systems, education and foster care, are not effectively connecting youth to further education and training, the labor market or adequate supports.  It's a story about the interplay of systems -- and how we push youth into deeper end systems when systems are provide inadequate and/or ineffective services. It's how we rip away opportunities for young people to make the transition to adulthood by systematically disconnecting them from the very supports and opportunities they need.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

35 Sources for Curated Educational Videos

35 Sources for Curated Educational VideosLike explorers approaching an unfamiliar landscape, teachers who are ready to take the plunge into flipped classrooms and blended learning often approach the opportunity with a mix of excitement and trepidation.  Just dipping a toe into the virtual waters of online content can be overwhelming, and there’s a risk that even the most fearless educator can become paralyzed by the bottomless depths of content and endless pools of resources.

While many teachers begin by creating their own content and videos, most start by sifting through free online sources. The amount of available information out there is staggering.

YouTube users across the globe upload 48 hours of content every minute. And a google search for “science video” yields over 4 billion results!

Fortunately, there are some great websites and services that take the guesswork out of finding and sorting educational video content. Here is a list of some of the curated video sites we’ve come across in our work.
  1. Backpack TV: pulls from various sources to create a highly curated library of education videos organized by academic subject and detailed topic. Many of the videos are linked to topics from popular textbooks, a real bonus for finding just the right video. Videos can be user-rated.
  2. Biography.Com: Over 6000 biographies are available here on famous people throughout history and across the globe.
  3. BrainPOP: Founded in 1999, BrainPOP is one of the original sources of online education video content and today includes a number of free resources in addition to its subscriptions.
  4. BrightStorm: BrightStorm currently targets high-school aged students with videos of great teachers presenting the content. Their more than 2500 math and science videos are free.
  5. Classroom Clips: Launched in September 2007, Classroom Clips allows users to search and explore a wide range of educational content which has been correlated to the Virginia Standards of Learning, although teachers in any state will be able to find what something of use.
  6. Cosmo Learning: Designed to work as a free homeschool, Cosmo Learning provides video lectures, documentaries, and more across a range of topics and levels.
  7. CSPAN Video Library: Offered as a public service, educators can share current events, briefings, legislative sessions and more from the nation’s capitol.
  8. Curriculum21: This comprehensive website is a little different, because it provides resources for teachers related to creating the classroom of the future such as webinars and podcasts in addition to videos.
  9. Curriki: With over 6.5 million users, Curriki is a non-profit that boasts over 40,000 peer-reviewed and classroom-tested K-12 learning resources. Users may access, contribute and publish content.
  10. Discovery Education: This site offers award-winning, standard-aligned digital content, interactive lessons and virtual experiences that aim to be immersive and engaging for students.
  11. EduTube: Launched in 2008, EduTube focuses on popular and high quality educational videos that are sorted by EduTube index – a measure of quality, popularity and educational value.
  12. Educational Videos: With videos on everything ranging from Dance to Marine Life, this site offers a wide range and user-friendly interface.
  13. Edutopia Video: Edutopia’s large video library is sortable by topic and by grade level.
  14. This live and on-demand site provides coverage of events and conferences, including lectures and presentations will classroom applications.
  15. The Futures Channel: Based on the goal of using new media technologies to create a channel between scientists, enginners, explorers, visionaries and learners, The Future Channel partners with schools to provide these high-quality digital learning resources.
  16. Google Video: Follow the special instructions from the Cool Cat Teacher to use google video search to for specific educational content by topic.
  17. Gooru: Just launched in beta, Gooru Learning is a “search engine for learning” that harnesses the power of the web by organizing free, online education resources into searchable collections, accessible from any web or mobile platform. Using machine learning and human judgment, Gooru curates, auto-tags and contextualizes collections of web resources to accommodate personalized learning pathways. Gooru collections are aligned to US Common Core Standards for Math and to California Science Curriculum Standards.
  18. History Channel Online: Teachers can access full programs and videos by topic that have aired on The History Channel and its affiliate stations.
  19. KhanAcademy: While the 3,200+ videos on the Khan Academy site do not pull in educational content from outside sources, the growing content inside Khan Academy is nicely organized and searchable.
  20. Learner.Org: With support from the Annenberg Foundation, this site provides teacher resources across many content areas that is searchable by discipline and grade level.
  21. LearnersTV: This site provides free video and audio lectures of whole courses conducted by faculty from reputed universities around the world across many fields.
  22. MathTV: This site offers math video by topic and math videos that accompany textbooks in addition to coorinated homework and worksheets.
  23. MeFeedia: Now the largest independent video site on the web, this treasure chest is a resource many educators are just beginning to explore for educational applications.
  24. MentorMob: Educators and students can become their own curators using this resource to create their own learning playlists from sources all over the web, in addition to browsing the playlists of others.
  25. NeoK12: This site features free educational videos, games, lessons, puzzles and quizzes sorted by topic.
  26. NOVA Teachers: PBS’ full features and magazine-style shorter stories are available here for classrom use.
  27. SchoolTube: This site is set-up to serve students who wish to get ahead at home and at school, as well as teachers who want to access digital resources. Teachers can also create their own channels and upload their own videos.
  28. Sophia: With more than 25,000 tutorials from a range of expert teachers across many academic fields, Sophia is a first-of-its-kind social education platform created to reach 21st century students.
  29. SnagLearning: SnagLearning is a SnagFilms initiative dedicated to presenting high-quality documentary films as educational tools to ignite meaningful discussion within the learning community.
  30. SqoolTube: This site features educational videos, games, ebooks and printables for K-12 classrooms.
  31. TeacherTube: Launched in 2007 and none among fans as “the other tube,” TeacherTube allows teachers to access, upload and share educational videos.
  32. TedEd: The TED-Ed video library contains carefully curated educational videos, many of which represent collaborations between talented educators and animators nominated through the TED-ED platform. Videos can be “flipped” to create custom lessons based on the content.
  33. TeachingChannel (Tch): Teaching Channel is a video showcase of innovative and effective teaching practices in America’s schools. More than 35,000 members have registered to share ideas and inspiration on the site.
  34. WatchKnowLearn: This site organizes educational videos and for ages 3-18. WatchKnowLearn has indexed over 33,000+ educational videos, placing them into a directory of over 3,000 categories.Teachers can also add their own videos to the site.
  35. YouTube EDU: YouTube’s channel for education offers lessons, videos, lectures and more for teacher and student use on the familiar YouTube platform.
We’d love to hear how you are using these sources and more to bring high-quality digital content into your classrooms. Let us know your favorites and any sources we may have missed.

About the Author __________________

Carri Schneider is Director of Research and Policy for Getting Smart. Find Carri on Twitter @CarriSchneider.

Bundling Caring in the Bronx

Ruben Austria
The Juvenile Justice Work Group had a greatmeeting last week in NYC.  Julie Peterson shared some of the insights from the meeting in an email to me.  She outlined the challenge at the community level
 When we lock up kids, we lose the experience at the grass-roots, neighborhood level of dealing with young people who are in trouble with the law.  Small local organizations lose the capacity and resources to work with youth who are justice-involved.  Many neighborhood-based organizations are operating at extremely low capacity.  Can they handle this work?  There are people and organizations in neighborhoods that are so committed to this work that they will do it with or without funding. They will stick with kids long after the court-mandate ends.
 Julie described the work of Community Connectionsto support neighborhood organizations:
Ruben Austria, Executive Director of Community Connections for Youth (CCFY), wanted to help build the capacity of these organizations, created by people who live in neighborhoods for neighborhood youth.  With a demonstration grant from NYS, CCFY began to work with small neighborhood-based organizations within a 10- block radius in the South Bronx to engage youth who had been arrested and were diverted from the system.  CCFY wanted to grow the capacity of local organizations operating on shoestring budgets to progressively work with more young people using a strengths-based approach, allowing youth and their families to own the transformative process. 
 “The aim was not to fix people,” says Nancy Jacobs, the evaluator of the project, “but to say we are all part of the community and we all have responsibility together to work to build the strength of the community.”  She added that people don’t mentor the youth, but rather they “bundle” caring for the young people.  They are with them all the time, and they bundle with parents and others in the community.  Jacobs noted that more than 70 percent of the youth have stayed in these programs with the bundling effect way beyond their court-mandated term.  The issue is how to keep this going once the government funding ends.
Clinton Lacey was a participant at the meeting. He has worked with Friends of Island Academy and Burns Institute…and is now Deputy Commissioner at the NYC Department of Probation.
Clinton Lacey added that these neighborhoods are extremely rich in certain types of resources – knowledge, understanding and relationships -- that have been ignored or undervalued.  Systems, he noted, are not sources of solutions.  Relationships are.  The challenge is how to translate the value of community into something tangible.  A core lesson is the necessity to engage the community in a meaningful process, which is counterintuitive and threatening to systems.  If funders held systems accountable for outcomes, Lacey stated, the outcomes would be poor.  Sharing power is essential to change, and it involves, at a minimum, sharing data and recognizing and supporting capacity in local communities.
---Neighborhood organizations, bundling, relationships, sharing power. This isn’t the type of language that we hear in most policy discussions.  Are the way we are framing things causing us to not see other assets and ways of working that might be effective in helping make sure all young people are Connected by 25?