The Forum's CEO and Co-Founder Karen Pittman kicked off the recent Ready by 21 National Meeting in Palm Beach County, Florida, with reflections on how our commitment to changing the odds for children and youth led to the development of a theory of action that has shaped the organization's efforts to-date, and how your reactions to our work are helping us plan for the future.
Karen has made it her life's work to find ways to encourage national, state and local leaders to change the odds for the children and youth in this country who need them the most. This is because, as a young adult, she recognized that it was leaders in her life who had done the same for her. School administrators and teachers who were determined to make sure every student was deeply engaged in learning writ large, regardless of family status or neighborhood wealth. Faith leaders who rallied their parishioners to make sure every child in both the church and the neighborhood had the critical supports they needed. Youth organization leaders who not only dreamed big but planned big to create world-class orchestras and choirs that actively recruited from every quadrant of the city and made sure young people had transportation, lessons and even instruments needed to develop their talents. And community leaders who did their best to ensure children had safe passage between home and school. Because of these adults, Karen felt truly ready for college, work and life, not because she was the exceptional youth who had beaten the odds, but because, unbeknownst to her, leaders had changed the odds for her and her peers.