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Ready Partners: April 2011

Ready Partner
April 7, 2011

This issue of Ready Partners takes an in-depth look at Ready by 21 ideas, the connection between graduation and job skills at the Grad Nation Summit and the value of youth programs.

The Forum for Youth Investment Ready Partners
This e-newsletter from the Forum for Youth Investment shares the great work, tools and resources of our committed Ready by 21® Partners and allies to a wider audience of leaders around the country.
Partners Share Ready by 21 Experiences and Ideas Ready by 21

One of the best ways to improve your Ready by 21 work is to sit down and talk it over with other practitioners - and that's what dozens of people did at the Ready by 21 Southeast Convening last week. The two-day conference in Atlanta brought together nearly 80 people from across the country who are engaged in or learning about Ready by 21, including representatives from the Southeast Cities Challenge sites, the Ready by 21 National Partnership, corporations exploring how to support Ready by 21, and the Forum for Youth Investment.

They swapped stories of success, examined challenges and brainstormed solutions. Among the presentations by communities carrying out Ready by 21: Building partnerships and networks (Chattanooga, Tenn.), developing strategies from fiscal mapping (Louisville, Ky.), implementing the Quality Improvement and Asset Building Challenge (Asheville, N.C.), building data capacities (Northern Kentucky), using scorecards and indicators (Nashville, Tenn.), and carrying out program landscaping (Richmond, Va.) and asset mapping (Atlanta, Ga.).

Leading or contributing to discussions about such topics as education reform, building out-of-school time networks, postsecondary success and gathering data about youth were several Ready by 21 National Partners: the American Association of School Administrators, United Way Worldwide, the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, Gallup, Community Systems Group, Corporate Voices for Working Families, Search Institute and the National Collaboration for Youth.

Also contributing were representatives of several corporations interested in Ready by 21, including SAS, Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance and Scholastic.

Learn more about Ready by 21 here.  


United Way Holds National Education Town Hall

On March 31, United Way Worldwide brought students, educators and partners face-to-face with national leaders like U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes.  The National Education Town Hall, held at Trinity University in Washington, D.C, featured the release of Voices for the Common Good: America Speaks out on Education, a report of collective findings from a listening tour of communities across the country, focus groups and a national survey on the U.S. education system. United Way also announced a new effort to recruit one million tutors, mentors and readers to work with students across the country, an effort praised by Duncan and Barnes. To view a recording of the session, click here. For more information about the recruitment effort, click here.


Grad Nation Summit

Last month's three-day Building a Grad Nation Summit - hosted by America's Promise Alliance, the Alliance for Excellent Education, Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University - was a rousing success, drawing nearly 900 advocates and decision-makers from around the country and garnering significant news media coverage. Among the speakers was Vice President Joe Biden, who said, "We should expect more, but deliver more, as you are fighting to do - to get high school curricula to the point that people are literally equipped to graduate."

You can learn all about summit and watch the sessions at America's Promise website. Here are two of the significant developments from the summit:

  • Corporate Voices Study Examines the 'Great Divide'

    Despite the nation's high unemployment rate, 53 percent of business leaders have a challenging time recruiting employees with the skills and education that their companies need.

    That is among the findings in Across the Great Divide, which examines the perspectives of business and college leaders on the state of America's higher education, the skills gap and what is needed for the United States to become more competitive on the global stage. The study, released at the summit, was conducted by Corporate Voices for Working Families and Civic Enterprises, in association with the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Peter D. Hart Research Associates. The report shows how educators, businesses and policymakers can work together to build more paths for postsecondary education success to bridge the great divide.

    In addition, Corporative Voices and Year Up will host a Capitol Hill briefing on April 14 for congressional members and staff to highlight "solutions that deliver documented results for business and young adults." The message: "Rather than eliminate funding, Congress must take a hard look at workforce development programs, set guidelines to encourage true innovation and measurable results, and fund only those programs that demonstrate results." For more information, click here. RSVP by April 12.               
  • State Farm Engages Youth to Combat Dropping Out

    Every 26 seconds, a student drops out of high school in the United States. At the Building a Grad Nation Summit, State Farm announced a campaign to address the problem by tapping those who can most directly make a change: young people themselves. The 26 Seconds campaign uses such interests as music and sports to engage youth, providing them with an online venue to discuss the issue and to post writings, video and audio recordings that encourage youth to make graduation a priority.

    In addition, the State Farm Companies Foundation announced a program through which 26 scholarships will be awarded to students who are not eligible for many scholarship programs. Students will be able to use the two-year scholarships, totaling $5,000 each, to help fund attendance at a two- or four-year college or university, technical or vocational school. Information will be available at

Good Youth Development Programs Boost School Performance

Research shows that youth programs "are important agents in helping students achieve academic success," according to a new brief released by the National Collaboration for Youth.

The Impact of Youth Development Programs on Student Academic Achievement cites evaluations and profiles of diverse community-based programs that improve student performance and reduce negative outcomes. It examines the importance of a full range of developmental assets, provided through a variety of settings, which youth need to succeed. It notes that "meaningful progress in improving educational outcomes must involve multiple stakeholders and a variety of sustained efforts over time."

Click here for the report.


Social Innovation Fund is Open

The federal Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) recently announced the 2011 grant competition for the Social Innovation Fund. Through a public-private partnership, the fund and selected local and national grant makers co-invest in programs that increase the scale of community-based solutions that have evidence of impact in any of three priority areas: youth development, economic opportunity or healthy futures.

Now that the first round of grant making was completed in March, the Social Innovation Fund's 11 grantees for 2010 have awarded nearly $100 million to approximately 150 innovative community-based nonprofits.

The CNCS website posts the grant announcement along with information on other resources for potential applicants, including technical assistance calls, a webinar and access to proposals and application executive summaries from the 2010 competition. 

Ready by 21  

Ready by 21 is a set of innovative strategies developed by the Forum for Youth Investment that helps communities improve the odds that all children and youth will be ready for college, work and life.




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