The New York Times recently provided an online forum for a debate about increasing the time that students spend in school – and leaders across the youth field responded with strong opinions. One was this letter by Forum CEO Karen Pittman, which focused on rethinking where learning happens, not just when. She urged greater reliance by schools on community partners to deliver services that improve educational outcomes.
Antonio Dominguez entered high school “disengaged and directionless,” as he puts it, but emerged as a community leader. Now 24, he directs programs at a youth-serving organization in California, serves on the national Ready by 21 Leadership Council and plans a lifetime of working to improve young lives.
On Saturday I joined more than 200 people who gathered in New York City to pay tribute to Richard Murphy – who died on Valentine’s Day, 23 years to the day after New York Mayor David Dinkins signed the agreement that launched the Beacon Schools, which Richard created.
Richard was the quiet fulcrum who leveraged a major change in thinking about the role of local government and public schools in creating hubs for youth development and community engagement.
Advocates for young people must often choose which issues and strategies to champion at which time, and find ourselves competing for resources and attention. Rarely do we have the opportunity to combine approaches that could fundamentally change how decision makers think about policy, practice and human potential.
That’s why what’s happening now is so notable.
Atlanta’s Ready by 21 Leadership Council is one of the strongest in the country. Leap of Reason is a powerful book about the importance (and difficulty) of building a performance management culture that is embraced by everyone from the rec room to the board room. In this blog, the leadership council meets the book. I hope the results inspire all of you who are working to make fundamental changes across systems to improve the odds for young people.
Karen Pittman, Co-Founder and CEO
The Forum for Youth Investment