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Bigger Goals Toolkit

August 5, 2011

Toby Keith earned his fame in country music, but he sure showed great insight into leadership when he sang, “If you don’t know where you’re goin’, you might end up somewhere else.”


When leaders band together to improve supports for young people, they hold enormous collective power – to do what? What, exactly, do they want to achieve? Now is the time to establish a common, action-oriented vision: A vision that conveys compelling goals and indicators for all children and youth; a vision that gets everyone going in the same direction.

In many communities that have implemented Ready by 21, the challenge has been how to do that in the face of competing priorities, fragmented services, unstable funding and low expectations. Leaders have found answers by adhering to these four standards under Bigger Goals:

  • Establish a balanced set of goals and indicators for all children, youth and young adults that includes preparation and problem-reduction in all areas of development.
  • Define supports that the full community must provide and specify high-quality standards across all systems and settings where young people spend time.
  • Create a big picture, goal-oriented action plan that establishes action strategies, stakeholder commitments and ongoing accountability mechanisms.
  • Define common terms and communicate core messages to improve communications among joint efforts and to the general public.

To learn more about setting bigger goals, check out these resources:

“Setting Bigger Goals 101” Webinar Recording: This webinar offers an introduction to the standards within Bigger Goals and provides examples. Broadcast on March 29, 2011, the webinar was led by Elizabeth Gaines, state and local policy director, and Kiley Bednar, program manager, at the Forum for Youth Investment.

Nashville, TN: Building a Big-Picture Action Plan: See how city leaders engaged their entire community to create a shared vision for their youth and a master plan to carry out that vision. Today that vision and plan provide the framework for delivering Nashville’s youth services and supports.

Massachusetts: Crafting Clear Goals for All Massachusetts Children and Youth: See how a statewide team created a shared set of desired outcomes for youth. These outcomes form the basis of an action plan for the state, focused on translating the vision into reality.


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