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Increase demand

- for improving effectiveness, scale and sustainability, and for reducing gaps in services
August 31, 2011

In times of funding cuts or a crisis involving youth and youth services, you can count on this: Loud voices will demand better supports for young people. That’s laudable. But demanding higher quality supports for young people should not be relegated to crises. To achieve long-term, systemic change, that demand has to become part of the norm.


To make that happen, you need:

  • Public and private will (from businesses, for instance) to compel action.
  • Political and bureaucratic will to create systemic change. An ongoing conversation – one that routinely promotes public awareness and the voice of young people and the community.
  • A way to cross traditional dividing lines – such as geography, ages and outcome areas – in order to achieve a big-picture vision for all young people.

Here are resources that address common questions:

Where can we learn about using advocacy to change youth policies?

SparkAction, managed by the Forum for Youth Investment, is a resource for advocacy by and for children and youth. Its Action Center provides tips and toolkits for reaching legislators, tracking bills, communicating your message and funding your efforts.

Use the Spitfire Strategies Smart Chart to develop and communicate the value of your organization or initiative to key audiences. Go to the website, provide basic information about your work and learn how you can improve your messaging.

What is an example of joint advocacy by different sectors, such as business and community leaders?

The issue brief Building the Case for Investing in Tomorrow's Workforce, by Corporate Voices for Working Families, provides research and findings about the workforce readiness of young people, and lays the foundation for what businesses can gain by investing in workforce training programs and by participating in business and community partnerships. Community leaders can use this brief when encouraging business leaders to engage in community efforts to better prepare tomorrow's workforce while employers can use it to see how engagement in workforce readiness efforts are essential for bottom-line benefits.

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