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Ready News: November 29, 2012

Ready News
November 29, 2012

Youth Master Plans, Improving STEM Programs

A "Best" City Makes Plans to Get Better
Five times, America's Promise Alliance has named Alexandria, Va., one of the nation's 100 Best Communities for Young People. That's not good enough for Tammy Mann.

Mann - chair of the city's Children, Youth and Families Collaborative Commission - recently stood before a crowd at City Hall to accept the annual award, and pledged that the city will not rest on this laurel: It will win again, she said, and will do even better by creating "a blueprint for action that will improve outcomes for youth for countless years to come."

That blueprint is a child and youth master plan. Read about why Alexandria joined a growing number of communities that are using such plans to fundamentally improve services and supports for young people. (Includes links to resources to learn more.)

Ready by 21 Webinar Series   

Defining Community Supports


Tuesday, Dec. 18, 3 p.m. ET

Raising ready children and youth requires a steady stream of supports from the full community to ensure that young people are not only problem-free, but also fully prepared and fully engaged. We'll discuss what leaders can do to identify performance measures to ensure that young people are receiving adequate supports across the systems and settings where they spend their time, as well as how to establish a system of accountability to measure progress.


Register here >>  

Supports Dashboard Facilitator's Packet
Use this facilitator's guide and sample in a community meeting to help think about the variety of settings and supports that youth have access to and how the community's goals for young people fit into the bigger picture.

View the guide>>

Improving STEM Programs
A new tool is available to help improve the quality of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programming. The STEM Program Quality Assessment (PQA) is an observation-based measure of instructional practices to support continuous improvement.
The David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, a division of the Forum, developed the tool through its work with the Providence After School Alliance and its AfterZone Summer Scholars program. The center also conducted a preliminary analysis of the tool's reliability and validity based on data collected during that program.  Read more about the STEM PQA and download it here.
Soft Skills Movement Grows
The "soft skills" that many out-of-school time (OST) programs build in young people are getting more and more valuable to educators. A recent Education Week story says more schools "are incorporating the softer, noncognitive skills into college-readiness efforts. The ability to solve problems and be resourceful are viewed by some experts as being as important as mastering mathematics and reading."

One challenge, however, is measuring the impact of soft skills. A recent report from the Forum, From Soft Skills to Hard Data: Measuring Youth Program Outcomes, reviews eight youth outcome measurement tools that are appropriate for use in after-school and other settings. For each tool, it provides sample items and crucial information about usability, cost, and evidence of reliability and validity.
Collective Ideas to Collective Impact
The shared collection and use of data is central to collective impact efforts, but it can be one of the most difficult steps to accomplish. Collective Ideas to Collective Impact, a new guide from nFocus Solutions™, taps the experience of successful community-wide initiatives in Boston and Omaha to provide advice about planning, developing, launching and using a collaborative data system.
The guide includes tips on setting goals, deciding what to measure, securing funding and making the most of the data collected. nFocus is a member of the Ready by 21 National Partnership, launched in 2008 to help communities implement Ready by 21's collective impact strategies.

"Community leaders who are implementing collective impact efforts will find this guide invaluable," said Forum CEO Karen Pittman.
Click here to download the guide and access the tools.

Do Dropout Prevention Summits Work?  
With more and more communities holding public discussions about how to prevent students from dropping out, a new study says that well-done summits have a positive effect.
An evaluation of the America's Promise Alliance Dropout Prevention Summits say the summits served as the catalyst for the creation of new programs and collaborative efforts around ending the high school dropout crisis, and strengthened existing work, political and public awareness, and funding at the state, local and school levels. Read more here. The Alliance is a Ready by 21 National Partner.  
National Community Schools Awards for Excellence
Individual Community Schools Awards ($2,500) go to schools that have been operating as community schools for at least three years and have demonstrated success. Community School Initiative Awards ($5,000) go to initiatives with joint efforts between schools and community stakeholders that have organized multiple community school sites. These awards are sponsored by the Coalition for Community Schools. Deadline: Dec. 15. Find out more here.

Youth Leadership Grants 
The Starbucks Foundation will support organizations that equip young people (ages 15 to 24) in the areas of "business savvy," "social conscience" and "collaborative communication." Letters of intent are accepted through Dec. 15. Find out more here.

Christopher Columbus Awards  
Middle schools and community groups are eligible for this competition for students and teachers looking to make a difference in their communities. Working in teams, students identify a problem in the community and apply the scientific method to create an innovative solution. Maximum award: $25,000. Deadline: Feb. 4. Find out more here.  

Unemployed and Disconnected Youth Forum 
The Annie E. Casey Foundation will hold a forum in conjunction with the release of its new report, Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity. The report finds that a large number of teens and young adults are neither in school nor working, missing crucial opportunities to develop the skills and experience necessary to launch a career - and to meet the needs of 21st-century employers. Join the panel of experts, including Forum CEO Karen Pittman.

When & Where: Dec. 3, 9-11 a.m. ET, Washington, D.C.
Join the live webcast here.

Getting Better Every Day: Improve With Camp Program Quality Assessment  
This free webinar will explain a self-assessment process conducted with the Camp Program Quality Assessment (Camp PQA), an instrument developed by the American Camping Association and the Forum's David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality. Experts will share how the Camp PQA can be used in camp programs and provide related training resources. A program administrator from the Camp Fire national headquarters will share insights from recent implementation of the Camp PQA.

When: Dec. 11, 1:00-2:30 ET
Register here  

National League of Cities Annual Conference, Boston, Nov. 28 - Forum Policy Director Elizabeth Gaines and Nashville Councilman Ronnie Steine, co-chair of the Ready by 21 Leadership Council, conducted a day-long training on using Ready by 21 strategies for youth master planning and collective impact.
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