Fighting Poverty with Passion
Life has been busy!
I have been behind on my blogging duties. Here is an update from the past couple months.
Following the release of the Call for Connection, the YouthShift Steering Committee made a public call to the community to join in the five community Action Teams. From parents and youth to all who work with and on behalf of youth everyday, we know in order for this work to be successful, all voices need to be heard. We cannot create the community we want if we work independently instead of together.
Action teams, created for each of the five recommendations, are charged with creating recommendations for action on how to move the recommendations into reality.
The Engagement and Inclusion Action Team is focused on addressing the meaningful engagement between leaders of youth-serving organizations, young people, and parents themselves. On April 7th, the inaugural meeting worked to catch everyone up on what youthshift is, how it came to be, and set the frame of where we hope to go.
These seventeen organizations represent higher education, girls empowerment nonprofits, government agencies, juvenile justice nonprofits, and more. This team will seek to address questions like how can the community integrate youth and family voice across the cities existing committees and task forces that benefit children and youth? How can youth and families be involved in governance and decision making so that those who are directly impacted by decisions have a voice in them? How can we mobilize resources, both technical assistance and financial, to be used by organizations or coalitions seeking to authentically engage with youth and community members? How can we increase the participation faith-based, people of color, and parents and children that our research has shown to be under represented in decision making bodies?
The Data Collection and Dissemination Action Team is focused on Increasing what we know about the well-being of children and youth in our community and what efforts there are to address priorities outlined above. Then Disseminating this information to the general public.
These seventeen organizations represent arts based nonprofits, community health centers, government agencies, and criminal justice organizations, and more. The teams broad experience allows them to address questions like how do we support the Data Center’s Annual Youth Index and other efforts to routinely collect and report on data that tracks outcomes for New Orleans youth? Can we create a platform that can be accessed by multiple audiences, sorted or browsed by topic, priority area, etc., and accessed via the Internet or mobile device?
The Program Quality Improvement Action Team is focused on improving the quality of programs that serve children and youth in New Orleans by reinforcing the continued efforts of the K-12 school system, youth development programs and early childhood sectors to define, measure and support quality improvement on an ongoing basis.
This team of thirty nonprofit organizations and government agencies work with children and youth in areas ranging from mental health and job training to sports development and arts education. This group is well equipped to address questions like how can New Orleans develop a culture of continuous quality improvement among children and youth serving organizations? What is the best way to expand the number of organizations participating in the New Orleans Youth Program Quality Initiative pilot launched in 2015? How can we support ongoing efforts of the New Orleans Early Education Network to provide professional development, technical assistance, and peer support opportunities needed to increase the number of high quality early childhood programs in the city?
The Public Policy and Advocacy Action Team is focused on Developing youth-centered public policies and strategies to ensure that young people come first in New Orleans.
The team of twenty two nonprofit and government agencies work in areas of research, local and national lobbying efforts, foundations, K-12. The group is experienced to address questions like what existing collaboration or organizations can lead efforts to map existing public policy initiatives and priorities so like-minded programs or initiatives can align for greater impact? How can we routinely identify funding and policy barriers for young people to centralize information like the Public Funding for Out of School Time in New Orleans Report? How can we develop a campaign to nurture champions for New Orleans among local, state, and federal government representatives and other influential leaders? How do we provide them with necessary information to help inform and prioritize efforts for better outcomes for all children?
The Intermediary Action Team is focused on Identifying and supporting an organization (or multiple organizations) to provide staffing, technical assistance, resources and expertise to help support organizations seeking to execute these goals.
The team of twenty one cross sector partners represent youth workforce organizations, sports based foundations, local intermediaries, and government agencies. The group will be addressing questions like what are national best practice examples of intermediary organizations that manage the functions needed to support the implementation of YouthShift’s recommendations? How can we provide technical assistance and training for youth and child workers and program staff to improve quality on research based domains like providing a safe environment, quality engagement, youth centered policies and practices, ensuring access for families, and more? What is the best way to convene and ensure coordination of collaborative and organizations focused on improving youth outcomes and public policy? How can we mobilize resources for youth serving organizations?
The current timeline for the Action Team’s is to take the next six months to create recommendations for action and present them to the YouthShift Steering Committee, the Children and Youth Planning Board, and other interested entities, for them to be acted on.
The convenient thing for me is how my term of service ends August 15th and in line with this iteration of the work. I drove down from Michigan two years ago specifically to work on YouthShift. I have been lucky in my VISTA service to be a part of this ambitious process and am excited to be around to see it grow its legs to stand on. Seeing a collective impact process from the inside for nearly two years has given me access to new skills and resources, great people and experiences that will stay with me long after this VISTA life.
This picture says it all. Wouldn’t you want to meet and know these cool people just looking at them? Part of my love for AmeriCorps service is getting to work with and developing relationships with amazing and accomplished people. All of my post graduation work life has been AmeriCorps Service. I could not ask for a better support system for the past year and a half. I know before my term is out I will share what they have taught me.
New Orleans brought 35 youth advocates to the Ready by 21 National Meeting and were featured in four different workshop presentations including
There is a national movement in cities, including New Orleans and Baltimore to use cross-sector collaboratives of government agencies, service providers, educational institutions, employers, and non-profits to build supports for Opportunity Youth in order to connect them back into education and employment opportunities. Opportunity Youth are 16-24 year olds who, due to contextual and life factors, are not connected to education or employment. These young adults often face barriers that hinder their ability to be prepared for the workforce and connected to pathways that lead to living wage careers.
The organization I worked for in my first year of service served as the co backbone for the collaborative and exposed me to what goes into this work. In our trip to Baltimore, I was able to meet Paulo Gregory, an expansive thinker and artivist, who in his many roles, works with Baltimore Opportunity Youth. He introduced me and others to a board game he created called Cohado. Cohado is a flexible design structure, and a tool to understand collaborative and sustainable design. Quickly you realize Cohado is more than a board game but a lens to view and live life. The few hours we spent with Paulo in a Baltimore speakeasy were a highlight of my service year. Cohado’s idea about how, “we are all connected and responsible for each other’s wellbeing, we have a responsibility to utilize our resources, our connections, our energy, our voices, and out power to usher in this age of relationships, understanding and connectedness,” synch well with what our YouthShift Action Teams hope to do over the next six months through our community Action Teams.
I am lucky to be a part of this movement here in New Orleans, and slowly in small parts, in other cities across the country.
Shout out to Tulane VISTA superstar and friend Sarah rocking the D.C. world with her work around Juvenile Justice who I got to visit during the trip.
Key Ingredients – Orange
Team RED Funder and OST
Setting: YouthWork Professionals and Supervisors
Manufacturing quality control
Given what our Task is here, what are our implications
Check In and Wrap Up
Next Meeting: MAY 6th