mPremium content.
registered users Learn more

Featured Sessions at the 2018 Ready by 21 National Meeting


National Meeting Homepage | National Meeting Agenda | Registration | National Meeting Pre-Meetings | Logistics | Featured Sessions | Sponsors & Partners

The meeting has already occured. Please sign up for our newsletter to get updates on the date and location for the 2019 Ready by 21 National Meeting.


Every year our keynote sessions feature inspiring presenters who are leading minds in the fields of youth development, program quality and collective impact efforts.

2018 Ready by 21 National Meeting Keynote Sessions:



Opening Plenary, April 19th:
Changing the Odds

Featured Speaker:

Karen Pittman
CEO & President
The Forum for Youth Investment

Karen Pittman 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 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.

The Forum for Youth Investment celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Karen kicked off the Ready by 21 National Meeting with reflections on how this 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.

Afternoon Plenary, April 19th:
Pursuing Equity & Healing: Hindsight, Insight and Foresight with Ruby Sales
Featured Speaker:

Ruby Nell Sales
Founder & Director
The SpiritHouse Project

There are deep and structural injustices that exist, keeping young people from leading safe, healthy and fulfilling lives. Integrating ourselves, exposing the truth, engaging in dialogue and exercising agency are where the healing can happen. In an interview with Sara Matthew, who leads the Forum’s work on opportunity youth and racial & social equity, Ruby Sales, civil rights and racial justice activist, shared her powerful reflections on the building of multi-ethnic and intergenerational coalitions, centering young people at the heart of the movement and the power of collective healing. After Sara and Ruby set the context for the conversation, they were joined by a panel of young activists who discussed how they and their peers are building hope and resilience in the face of today’s challenges. 
Morning Plenary, April 20th:
Bring Precision to Your Passion: Integrate New Tools for Supporting Social and Emotional Development into Your Ongoing Practice

Featured Speaker:

Keith Hefner
Executive Director
Youth Communication

Featured Speaker:

Stephanie Jones
Professor of Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education


Practitioners – teachers, youth workers, child-care and afterschool providers -- are passionate about their work with children and youth.  They want their work to make a difference.  They want access to new research and innovative approaches.  But they need this information to come in nuggets they can easily incorporate into their daily practice. 

We were delighted to have two innovators join us to describe the incredible work they have done to cull through mountains of information to extract different but equally compelling types of nuggets.  Stephanie Jones, Harvard Graduate School of Education, has systematically reviewed dozens of evidence-based SEL interventions to extract “kernels of practice” – menus of practices designed to teach a very specific, commonly occurring behavior (e.g. a technique for calming down) that can be quickly taught and incorporated.   Keith Hefner, founder of Youth Communications, has systematically reviewed hundreds of stories written and published by teens that demonstrate how social and emotional skills can be brought to bear to solve challenges teens face. Keith has created short facilitator guides to accompany the stories’ use.  This was a fascinating discussion with them as they explored the common space between their approaches to help adults help children and teens manage emotions, build competencies, and develop a sense of agency.

Closing Plenary, April 20th:
Busting Barriers & Changing Systems – One Leader’s Journey from Practitioner to Policymaker to Funder

Featured Speaker:

Raquel Hatter, Ed. D.
Deputy Director, Human Services
The Kresge Foundation

There’s no better way to end a meeting than with an inspirational servant-leader who is willing to share examples of the successes and failures associated with putting children first, even when others do not.  Raquel Hatter is one of these leaders.  Dr. Hatter has found and leveraged leadership opportunities in public administration, policy and philanthropy to change the odds for children and families. Formerly the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services and now serving as deputy director of the Human Services Program at The Kresge Foundation, which aims to accelerate social and economic mobility for people with low income, Raquel has made it her personal mission to change minds, change systems and change organizations, keeping children and families at the center of policy-making and funding decisions. .




2017 Ready by 21 National Meeting Keynote Sessions:


Opening Plenary, March 30th:
Equity, Opportunity, Readiness – Changing the Odds Together
Afternoon Plenary, March 30th:
Racial Healing in Schools and Communities
Karen Pittman

The Forum for Youth Investment
CEO & President




Dr. Shawn Ginwright

Cesar Chavez Institute for Public Policy
Senior Research Associate

San Francisco State University
Associate Professor of Education

Author, “Hope and Healing in Urban Education” and “Black Youth Rising, Activism and Radical Healing in Urban America” 





Morning Plenary, March 31st:
Committing to Quality, SEL and Equity: Progress Reports from School District, OST, and State Education Leaders
Closing Plenary, March 31st:
Funding Brighter Futures: Local Governments Enhancing Investments in Kids


Moderator: Merita Irby
The Forum for Youth Investment

Co-Founder & Executive Vice President
Managing Partner, Big Picture Approach Consulting

Michael Funk
California Department of Education

Director, Expanded Learning Division

Suzette Harvey
Prime Time Palm Beach County, Inc.

Executive Director

Edmund Oropez
Austin Independent School District

Chief Officer for Teach and Learning


Moderator: Elizabeth Gaines

The Forum for Youth Investment
Senior Fellow 

Sean Boyle

Children's Services Council of St. Lucie County (Florida)
Executive Director

Sheila Capestany

King County (Washington)
Strategic Advisor for Children and Youth

Todd Patterson

Public Progress