Fighting Poverty with Passion
It’s hard to believe that I’m already saying goodbye to my first month as a VISTA with Partnership for Youth Development (PYD). But the weeks flew by as I met my co-workers, settled into my role at the office and slowly unearthed all of the many things that PYD does.
And yes, it did take me a few weeks to fully comprehend what it is the Partnership actually does. There is no ten-second elevator speech that can encapsulate the web of PYD’s endeavors that currently spans the city of New Orleans. I can personally attest to this fact. In the months prior to my start date, I had practically memorized the PYD website. So I was pretty confident on my first day that I wouldn’t hear anything I didn’t already know. It turns out that this was not the case… The Partnership’s website reads that their mission is to “maximize learning opportunities and educational experiences for school-age children and youth in New Orleans both in and beyond school.” Cool, sounded good to me. But within the first few days on the job, the answer to the question of “how?” revealed itself as multi-dimensional, cross-sector and basically, a mouthful. As I would soon discover, there are about a trillion ways PYD works toward this mission. To boil it down to basics, the Partnership’s work is divided into three arenas:
1. Policy and advocacy: PYD drafts legislation, delivers education to decision-makers, and ultimately aims to bolster a policy environment that rewards high quality youth programming and education.
2. Continuous quality improvement: PYD works directly with schools and youth-serving providers to instill best practice approaches, provide feedback, and create operating plans that have been proven to support positive youth outcomes.
3. Innovation and knowledge generation: PYD implements model programs, supports research efforts to track impact, and disseminates these findings across the region. PYD is home to both the CP3 Afterschool Zone and the New Orleans implementation of ExpandED Schools.
Since they are widely considered the regional expert in youth and education issues, PYD offers their expertise to any entity in the city that serves youth. Over time, PYD has become the critical link between community groups, schools, government agencies and families. Personally, I think it is safe to say that New Orleans’ children rival the Saints as a topic that has the power to unite the entire city. The Partnership for Youth Development bridges the gap between all of the players in the city’s youth-serving system so that its children can tally up a better record than in previous years.