Newark, NJ and New York City: Re-engaging Disconnected Youth and Expanding Opportunities for High School and Cross-System Collaboration

Newark, NJ and New York City: Re-engaging Disconnected Youth and Expanding Opportunities for High School and Cross-System Collaboration
Newark, NJ and New York City: Re-engaging Disconnected Youth and Expanding Opportunities for High School and Cross-System Collaboration

Presentation by Newark Mayor Cory Booker

Led by a dynamic, young mayor, Newark has engaged in a number of innovative reforms since Mayor Cory Booker took office in July 2006. His focus is on improving the city for all residents; in the Mayor’s own words, “Newark was numerous islands of excellence, but we are now working towards creating a continent.”  The Mayor discussed the city’s reform efforts around three critical themes: collaboration, understanding the current situation, and creating and communicating clear vision and priorities.  A hallmark of Mayor Booker’s administration is the goal of collaboration among all city agencies and community partners. In order to promote collaboration, there has been a reorganization of many city departments and restructuring of agencies in order to focus on streamlining services to residents.  Upon taking office, the mayor and his administration agreed to become an “evidence-based measurement system” in which decisions are based upon what the data demonstrates is effective, rather than political favoritism. For example, Newark learned in an analysis of their workforce training dollars that they were giving to programs that were not training workers or placing them in jobs. Therefore, they reevaluated who was receiving city contracts to ensure only programs with successful outcomes continued to be funded.  In articulating Newark’s three priority areas: safety, prosperity, and nurturing family life, Mayor Booker described the bold actions that the city has taken, including creating a Children’s Bill of Rights and the opening of the Family Success Centers. The Children’s Bill of Rights identifies the areas in which the city can provide services to ensure that all children will thrive, including responsible parents/caregivers, safe homes, schools, and neighborhoods, healthy environment, quality healthcare, guidance, and education. From this vision statement, Newark has created and opened a number of Family Success Centers, which connect Newark families to essential services. As they are strategically located within neighborhoods where families in need reside, the Family Success Centers coordinate and facilitate access to resources such as child welfare and health services, pre-school programs, and job training opportunities. Mayor Booker described the Family Success Centers as “physical manifestations of our spiritual beliefs.” Participants were able to visit a Family Success Center during the site visits in Newark as described below.

Disconnected Youth Strategies in Newark Panel with Ron Salahuddin, Deputy Mayor, Public Safety, City of Newark, Maria Vizcarrondo, Director, Department of Child and Family Well Being , and Zaid Braswell, Manager, Department of Recreation, City of Newark

Panelists, who were also members of Newark’s Disconnected Youth Workgroup, described the population of disconnected young people in the city, the challenges the city has faced in serving them, as well as some of their recent successes. Salahuddin described one of the most underserved and overrepresented portion of the disconnected youth population; those housed within the juvenile jail. At the current time, 67% are gang members, 80% are reading at the  4th grade level, 20% are illiterate, 38% are wards of the state, and 75% have been to juvenile jail three times or more. Braswell described a period of over 30 years of neglect of the disconnected youth population, which Newark currently estimates to be 80,000 young people, but stated “now is when entities that have been separate, but all saying and serving the same youth, should make use of all of the resources available and work together.”  Vizcarrondo followed up this sentiment by describing how Newark is working to bring everyone to the table to create sustained change for the city. She pointed to the Family Success Centers as one way the city has begun to centralize services as well as work on creating policy change that will promote sustainability of these efforts. Dr. Bob Johnson, co-chair of Newark’s Youth Development Committee and Dean of New Jersey Medical School, commented, “Although Newark has always had the passion of people in the city, without the municipal infrastructure, it wouldn’t work.  But we can do it now!”

YouthBuild Newark

YouthBuild Newark opened in 2003 with a goal of improving the life chances of youth by offering them opportunities to obtain a GED and job training in the construction industry as well as to pursue postsecondary education. There are approximately 65 participants served each year. The program works on a yearly cycle with students beginning in September of each year. A daily schedule features a rotation between academic instruction, leadership development, and job training from 8:00am-4:30pm. Leadership development and group sessions are extremely important to the mission of the organization and are incorporated during academic instruction. YouthBuild Newark works closely with a number of external partners, including the juvenile justice system, case managers, and a host of community service agencies. YouthBuild Newark receives support from a mix of sources, including the federal government, state and local agencies, and private funders.  Participants had an opportunity to visit with YouthBuild students who were renovating an old home to be the future site of YouthBuild Newark’s operational headquarters. Robert Clark, YouthBuild graduate and founding director of YouthBuild Newark, also met with the group to provide the history and future plans for the site.

Family Success Center at Baxter Terrace Apartments

The main focus of Newark’s effort to reconnect all residents to city services is the Family Success Centers. Created through a variety of partnerships with state funding, foundation support, and local community-based organizations, the Family Success Centers are an attempt to centralize services for Newark residents and help them navigate through bureaucratic structures that have previously prevented access to available services. According to Anthony Santiago, Vice President of Newark Now, “Family Success Centers are the on-the-ground vehicle to connect people to types of resources they need.”  The Family Success Centers (FSC) are currently focused on providing services in the following four areas: increasing family income; health (insurance); education; and child well-being (prevent neglect and abuse before it happens). Government agencies schedule time at the FSC so that as many services as possible are on site or can be provided through direct referrals. For example, referrals to a health clinic include a specific contact person in order to ensure services are provided. Participants also heard from a resident of Baxter Terrace and her positive experience with the Family Success Center and its staff in helping her gain access to the support and information she needs. She also described the comprehensive programming run through the FSC for her young son as well as the positive adult influences that the young male staff at the FSC have had on him. New York City

Cross-System Collaboration to Serve Disconnected Youth with Suzanne Lynn, Deputy Commissioner for Community Development, Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD); Kristin Morse, Director of Evaluation, Center for Economic Opportunity; and Peter Kleinbard, Youth Development Institute

This panel provided information on cross-system collaborations and city-wide initiatives to serve disconnected youth.

Suzanne Lynn of the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) described their work as overseeing community development efforts in poor communities via social services, with a special emphasis on youth. DYCD works as the nexus of economic development and social services, managing after-school programs, the Beacons program (school-based community centers for children, youth and families that are open after school, evenings and weekends), and the city’s youth employment efforts. In New York City, the responsibility for workforce-funded programs is split between Small Business Services and DYCD. Youth-focused workforce programs are the responsibility of DYCD as youth can benefit from having youth employment services aligned with afterschool programs.  In the past few years, the City’s efforts to address youth employment have increased.  For instance, DYCD offers a seven-week, paid summer program to 40,000 youth each summer, most of them in school.  Lynn acknowledged that this initiative alone cannot fill the need for jobs; last year 93,000 applications for the internship program were submitted.  Another program available to in-school youth who distinguish themselves is the Ladders for Leaders program, which provides private sector internships developed by DYCD.  Lynn shared that the presence of 107,000 disconnected youth ages 16 to 21 amounts to “a longstanding crisis that threatens the economic future of New York.”  Programs specifically for disconnected youth include: a Young Adult Internship Program (YAIP), which is available for youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who read at a sixth grade level or above, and are relatively job-ready.  Students spend two to four weeks at a job-readiness orientation and 10 to 12 weeks at the internship with the hope that they will obtain a full-time job, resume their education, or enter occupational training. Currently, 1,400 youth per year are involved in this project, which is part of the Mayor’s broad anti-poverty initiative—the Center on Economic Opportunity.  To better serve this population, DYCD is working to become more collaborative across agencies. As part of its WIA-funded Out-of-School Youth program, and in collaboration with the City University of New York (CUNY), DYCD provided seed funds for CUNY Prep, a program for dropouts who have a ninth-grade reading level to work towards a GED. Upon receipt of a GED, CUNY Prep graduates are guaranteed a slot in the CUNY community college system.   DYCD is also currently working with other city agencies such as the Fire Department and Housing Preservation and Development to identify careers with city government that would be appropriate for disconnected youth.

Kristin Morse from the Center for Economic Opportunity conveyed that the Center, in collaboration with 20 city agencies, coordinates the city’s anti-poverty strategies, which are targeted at serving the working poor, young adults and young children. This work is an integral part of the city’s new anti-poverty campaign, launched two years ago in response to a slow increase in poverty rates. Upon establishing that poverty was concentrated in specific neighborhoods, targeted programs were introduced in Upper Manhattan, South Bronx, and Central Brooklyn. In 2006, the Center was created with a $150 million annual innovations fund; $67 million in new money from the city; $11 million for multiple pathways from the Department of Education; $25 million in private money to fund incentives; $42 million from the child care tax credit fund; and $7 million from state and federal funds. The Center’s work with young adults takes three forms: preventative strategies, reengaging disconnected youth, and targeting high-risk groups, such as students emerging from detention or foster care. Preventative strategies include multiple pathways to graduation, service learning programs, and community programs with City University of New York. Reengaging youth is accomplished through CUNY Prep and CUNY Catch as well as the Young Adult Internship Program and Civic Justice Corps. High risk students are assisted by work programs that include financial literacy and individual education accounts. Currently, there are about 100 youth involved in these programs as they are all relatively new.

Peter Kleinbard spoke about The Youth Development Institute, which was established in 1991, and has assisted in the development of Beacons, small schools, and building the capacity of community organizations to serve students who have dropped out. He commented that the research conducted by the New York City Department of Education was particularly helpful in identifying different groups within the disconnected youth population and has helped the Institute focus its work. The Institute’s most effective efforts have been through community based organizations (CBOs), who have a long-standing commitment to youth. The Institute functions as an intermediary, helping schools and CBOs work together. This is a capacity that has developed over time, and the results can be seen at the transfer schools (small, academically rigorous, full-time high schools for students who have been enrolled in high school for at least one year and are far from promoting on grade level), which often have higher graduation rates than regular schools.  The Youth Development Institute has established another model, Community Education Pathways to Success, which began with three sites and now numbers 10. This program is for students who could not get into a GED program or who are reading below ninth-grade level and has three core elements: youth development, a rigorous instruction model (America’s Choice), and structured case management. While initial results are promising, the challenge of operating the program without a dedicated funding stream remains.  During the ensuing discussion participants asked about the importance of intermediaries and identification of disconnected youth. Panelists noted the challenge some intermediaries face in not having sufficient clout to assemble larger service providers and systems, while also acknowledging that intermediaries can play an important role by conducting research or holding the vision for reform. In response to the query about how disconnected youth were identified and recruited, panelists emphasized that the work is conducted by CBOs, whose staff attend basketball games, night events, and church services to reach youth, and they also use fliers on the streets and make connections with multi-service centers to identify youth. In conclusion, participants were encouraged to ruminate on the importance of public/private relations with the business community, as well as the role of intermediaries.

Panel: District Role in Establishing Multiple Pathways with JoEllen Lynch, CEO, Partnership Support Office, Department of Education; and Leah Hamilton, Director, Office of Multiple Pathways to Graduation, Department of Education

This panel discussed in greater depth the work of the New York City Department of Education in identifying and serving disconnected youth, particularly those who are over-age and under-credited.  The Office of Multiple Pathways to Graduation (OMPG) was established in October 2005 to target the over-age and under-credited (OA/UC) high school student population, those most at risk for dropping out, with a portfolio of schools and programs tailored to student need and designed to bring students to New York State graduation standards.  This work is an outgrowth of the DOE’s commitment to bring all students to graduation, as first articulated in the 2002 Children First Reform agenda.  In addition, the new Learning to Work Initiative was embedded in these schools and programs as a way to collaborate with CBOs, and leverage their youth development expertise and larger resource network on behalf of overage and under-credited students.  In order to define the target population, the Department engaged in a major research effort with the Parthenon Group. The research included profiles of the target groups and identification of effective options. The following graphic best summarizes the over-age, under-credited population, which is approximately 140,000 students in New York City:  Armed with a wide range of information about the students, including age and credit attainment, the Department was able to consider the types of models needed to serve these various student populations.  The following is a description of some of the models and programs in the portfolio created by the Office of Multiple Pathways to Graduation (OMPG):

Young Adult Borough Centers: YABCs are supportive learning environments designed for students who have been in high school for at least four years and have attained a minimum of 17 credits. The instructional model allows students to concentrate only on the credit portfolio they need for graduation through a non-traditional block schedule. Each YABC is operated through a collaborative partnership between the Department of Education (DOE) and a CBO, which provides services to students, including youth development support, career and college counseling, and assistance with job placement. Students attend YABCs through a shared instructional model and receive a diploma from their high school of origin upon completion of their credits and Regents exams, tests required to earn a high school diploma in New York State.

Transfer Schools: Transfer Schools are small, academically rigorous, full-time high schools for students who have been enrolled in high school for at least one year and are far from promoting on grade level. Essential elements include a personalized learning environment, rigorous academic standards, student-centered pedagogy, support to meet instructional and developmental goals, and a focus on connections to college.

Blended GED Programs: OMPG’s GED Programs, which are blended with a Learning to Work component, prepare students for the GED and support them in developing meaningful postsecondary connections. In September 2006, OMPG launched Access, a full-time GED program, which includes a youth development approach, integrated thematic units, developmental portfolios, innovative systems for student engagement, assessment, and progression, connections to postsecondary training, and in-depth career exploration. The Learning to Work part-time GED programs use research-based instructional practices, such as a workshop model coupled with high-quality curriculum materials.

Learning to Work: Learning to Work (LTW) is designed to help students stay engaged in school by developing the skills they need to complete high school, gain employment, and succeed in postsecondary education. LTW services are provided by CBO partners and are integrated across Multiple Pathways schools and programs, including Transfer Schools, GED programs, and YABCs. LTW students have the opportunity to participate in intensive employability skills development workshops, subsidized internships, college and career counseling, and job placement. The program also includes attendance outreach, individual and group counseling, academic tutoring, and youth development supports.

Leah Hamilton, believes in the data inquiry model created by New York City. She stated that “data is a fact base to build a case and internal advocacy tool.”  Hamilton described the available data in additional detail as the population is slightly more male and 14% more Hispanic and Black.

Data collection has demonstrated the success of the portfolio of OMPG schools and programs:

  • Transfer schools are graduating 56% of the overage, under-credited students that come to them, compared to 19% of OA/UC students in large articulated high schools. As Transfer Schools seem to be effective with this population, OMPG plans to expand them, build their capacity and find more partners.
  • Early results for the YABCs are promising.  YABCs need to be evaluated and modified for continuous quality improvement.
  • OMPG is working to recreate the GED curriculum, embedded with the Learning to Work curriculum and rigorous academics connected to postsecondary education. OMPG is committed to creating these programs, as quality options for students at risk for aging out of the system without graduating or earning a credential.

Yet, the challenge to New York City is that 140,000 students at any time are overage, under-credited. Hamilton said New York City is up to the challenge and “the recuperative and preventative strategies work together to reduce dropouts in general.”

During the question and answer period, participants quizzed the panelists on some of the mechanics of the data collections efforts, especially the funding sources. New York City was able to use funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as services from the Parthenon Group to coordinate the efforts. When asked about the role of the federal government, Hamilton stated, “There are lots of levers that you can pull locally before considering federal reforms.”  Operating with the philosophy that the unit of change was the school, small schools emerged as a preventive strategy that empowered the principal and teachers to create an educational program to serve their students. JoEllen Lynch stated, “We believe the problem is that the school does not fit the kids, rather than the kids not fitting the school.”  Number of credits earned

Site Visit to Cascades High School for Teaching and Learning

Cascades High School is a transfer school that offers the NYS Regents Courses complete with culminating Regents Exit Exams.  Currently, there are 232 students in the program and since its inception in 2005, 84 students (41%) have received high school diplomas. Principal Paul Rotondo believes Cascades has been successful because of the individualized instruction and ability to “work backwards” with the students, starting from their goals and mapping back to what they need to accomplish them. Using a model entitled “Primary Adults,” eight students and a caring adult make time to meet on a weekly basis to go over data to ensure students are working towards meeting their goals.  Cascades’ community-based partner is the Union Settlement House, which has a long history of serving the community of East Harlem through education programs and human services. Union Settlement promotes leadership development and fosters economic self-sufficiency to help individuals and families build a stronger community. Operating from 17 locations, Union Settlement annually serves more than 13,000 people of all ages with effective programs in education, childcare, counseling, senior services, nutrition, the arts, job training, and economic development. At Cascades, Union Settlement is responsible for operating the Learning to Work program, which includes life skills, job and life coaching, mentorship, community-based programs, and internship opportunities. Participants had an opportunity to see classes in action during a tour by students and engaged in a lively discussion with Cascades and Union Settlement House staff, some students, and representatives from the Office of Multiple Pathways to Graduation. As a final question, a participant asked the principal to reflect on the value of offering alternative education programs such as transfer schools like Cascades. Rotondo left the group with this thought, “I don’t want more transfer schools because then schools would be doing what they are supposed to do!” It is clear that Rotondo believes that transfer schools have the flexibility to provide the student-centered education that all schools should be providing to ensure all students are successful.

Site Visit to Center for Employment Opportunities

The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) is dedicated to providing immediate, effective, and comprehensive employment services to men and women returning home in New York City from prison and detention facilities. The highly structured and tightly supervised programs help participants regain the skills and confidence needed for a successful transition to a stable, productive life. CEO’s Young Adult Program engages 18-25 year-olds coming home from prison or jail with a specialized version of CEO’s comprehensive work program. The program, like CEO’s regular programming, offers immediate, paid transitional work concurrently with placement into permanent employment, but offers extra support and coaching, and helps young people with little work experience and less maturity ease in to the workplace. Participants are paid daily at the city’s minimum wage of $7.15/hour, and the funding comes through a contract with the New York City’s Internal Service Fund.  Participants began the site visit to CEO by visiting the transitional work site of the Young Adult Program and then were briefed by the CEO in the organization’s main offices. Young Adult Program participants come from boot camp parole, regular parole, or through a contract with the city jail at Rikers Island.  After the intensive four-day job readiness training program, participants begin their work at a transitional work site and regular meetings with a job coach and developer. Young Adult Program participants typically spend three days a week on a job site and two days in the CEO offices to meet with their job coaches and developers as well as to receive additional job coaching and life skills training. The CEO staff admitted that one of the shortfalls of the programs was they did not have a formal link with education and often had to refer students to other organizations to work on GEDs or receive additional training. Another challenge can be working with the unions as the CEO participants are not unionized, but thus far CEO has been successful in maintaining good relations.

Dinner Speaker: Michele Cahill, Carnegie Corporation of New York

Michele Cahill, who served as a pivotal player in the revamped New York City Department of Education as Senior Counselor to the Chancellor for Education Policy, and is currently at the Carnegie Corporation, framed her remarks by stressing the importance of building on the strengths and assets of young people. “We have to build a sense of optimism and resilience,” she emphasized, noting that the lens of high school reform is urgent as we are living in a different world characterized by the impact of globalization on the labor market. “Educational attainment is the currency of mobility,” she observed, noting that, while the rest of the world is experiencing rapid change in secondary education, the U.S. remains stagnant and complacent, resulting in greater social inequity.  In her work in New York City, Cahill realized that inequity had to be addressed, and everyone had to be brought to the level of college preparedness. Thus, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) consciously committed to raise the graduation rate, and set measurable outcomes. This process began by thinking of the large school system of 300,000 high school students not as a school system, but rather a system of schools – which meant that every school had to be a good school. In addition to setting high standards for all, New York City learned from the research related to small schools and youth development, which emphasized the critical importance of strong leaders, accountability, assessment, caring relationships with adults, and engaging youth in demanding activities. Thus, one of the first reforms undertaken was to phase out the 21 high schools that were graduating fewer than 45% of students and replace them by opening 200 new small schools that would be planned and developed by teams of educators and community partners. At the same time, the DOE augmented the new, small schools with expanded options, including opening new transfer schools and Young Adult Borough Centers to re-engage those students who were overage and under-credited (disconnected and seriously off-track for graduation) in planning their futures and graduating from high school, meeting the same standards for a diploma as comprehensive and small schools require. Cahill commented on the need to measure competencies over seat time, especially as the kinds of competencies that all students must now develop – high levels of communications skills, quantitative literacy and reasoning, and critical-thinking – demand new instructional and school design strategies. Cahill also spoke to the need to build systems that make the pathways to graduation more fluid. She cited the example of Finland, where the immigrant population’s needs are more successfully addressed, where one out of seven teachers is an intervention teacher, catching up those students who are falling behind, and where achievement outcomes are more important than how much time is spent in school. The impact of technology and increasing civic engagement of high school students should also drive redesign, she added.   Cahill concluded her remarks by reiterating that youth development is not a program, but a lens – and this lens needs to be driven into the federal conversation by asking questions such as: “What will this mean for a young person if we do this?” and “Does it create more or fewer supports and opportunities for the young people to reach the high levels of academic preparation and personal and social skills required for the 21st century?”  She observed that if the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) 4 year graduation accountability indicator was applied to the schools participants had visited, they would be designated as failing schools; whereas, these schools have strong graduation outcomes for their students who, however, come to these schools after already being in high school for more than one or two years and failing or disconnecting in their first high school.  Cahill made the point that she thought that school systems needed to own the kind of accountability for graduation that NCLB aimed for but that systems needed the opportunity to also create new types of schools using the successful models of transfer schools and YABCs and that this demands some revisions within the NCLB approach.  Finally, she offered advice on how to ensure ongoing systemic change: by electing a mayor who will support positive outcomes for youth, by being transparent about what that means, and by embedding the changes, so that it is hard to turn the clock back. Ultimately, Cahill stressed the importance of all youth-serving agencies valuing high school graduation, and aligning their work to ensure this outcome for many more youth.

Site Visit to Passport 2 Success at The Door

The Door’s mission is to empower young people to reach their potential by providing comprehensive youth development services in a diverse and caring environment. Each year over 8,000 young people, most referred by their peers, come to The Door for primary health care, prenatal care and health education, mental health counseling, legal services, GED, ESL, tutoring and homework help, college preparation and computer classes, career development services and training, job placement, daily meals, arts, sports and recreational activities. The Door is available to all young people ages 12-21 as long as they become a “member,” which entails a comprehensive intake process to ensure they are referred to and receive the services they need. The purpose of membership is to instill a sense of rights and responsibilities in the young person.  Passport 2 Success is part of a demonstration grant funded by the U.S. Department of Labor to serve young people aging out of the foster care system. The funding provides these young people access to a life coach as well as a structured schedule of services to ensure they can become self-sufficient adults. Services provided to Passport 2 Success participants are similar to The Door’s Career Pathways program, which is an intensive 16-week education and work readiness program. Participants receive intensive job training and job placement assistance, enroll in Pre-GED/GED preparation classes, attend Life Skills and Career Development workshops, and receive other support services including health, mental health, and counseling as needed. In addition to hearing from The Door’s Executive Director and Program Director for Passport 2 Success, participants viewed a recruiting video prepared by Passport 2 Success participants.

Lessons Learned, In Brief

Throughout the trip, participants had opportunities to debrief and reflect upon the information presented and sites visited.  As some of the sessions were shared with a group of national policymakers who were exploring the development and implementation of New York City’s Multiple Pathways to Graduation strategy, there was also an opportunity to reflect upon the role of local and federal levels to work together to address issued related to disconnected youth.  The lessons described below highlight both participant takeaways as well as strategies to consider as their work in their home cities moves forward.

Youth Development

Over and over again, presenters emphasized that the principles of youth development are what make their programs successful with disconnected youth. Presenters advocated for infusing educational and training programs with well-documented youth development practices such as relationships with caring adults, supportive environments that value youth voice, and opportunities for youth to contribute. This approach views youth as assets, rather than deficits and instills a sense of hope in young people who previously have been underserved or overlooked by the traditional system. Using youth development principles as the building blocks of education and training programs means that the fundamental method for doing business must be re-evaluated so that young people and their needs drive the organization and structure.

Education and training must be relevant

Similar to the emphasis on youth development, participants heard from panelists, site hosts, and young people that education and training needed to be relevant to their lives and provide clear pathways to additional education or jobs. Although many of the young people served by the schools and programs we visited had not been involved with a formal system for some time, they came into these programs with clear goals and wanted to ensure the services they would be receiving would help them meet these goals. It was evident that programs that were successful gave young people access to training to prepare them for available jobs in the area as well as education that was targeted towards earning a high school diploma or GED.

Systems must support the change unit as school/program

An important theme of the visits to Newark and New York City was the importance of collaboration across systems at the municipal level, but as evidenced by our visits to successful programs, it is equally important to empower the schools/programs to innovate to best serve their target populations. While systems collaborations provides schools and programs unique opportunities to combine funding streams and provide more comprehensive services, their ability to make decisions based upon the present needs of their young people allows them to continue to be successful with this often difficult to serve population.

Participant Takeaways

Here are some remarks from trip participants that summarize their lessons learned and reflections from the visits to Newark and New York City:

  • Building cross systems partnerships is the key to student success.  Networking on a national basis is simply invaluable.  We have the answers!  It is time to put all the evidence-based research practices to work and save our 16-24 year olds and their families.  We must serve as the advocates and voice for those young adults who so many have “written off” and ignored.  The time is now.  Interstate partnerships are just as important as the local ones.  We have a national crisis to deal with.  The more we learn as professionals who work with adolescents and young adults, the more successful we will all be in stopping the cycle of poverty and other negative outcomes.
  • Vision = energy; Data = power and motivation; Don’t have to do it all at once; pick a door to go through (school, re-entry, workforce) and build around it.
  • I saw a real YOUTH DEVELOPMENT program in action for the first time (The Door).  I saw a real SMALL HIGH SCHOOL for the first time (Cascades).  I have read lots about it, but now I have seen it and feel it and know it.
  • There is a lot of work to be done and the only way to do it is to form collaborations. Youth Development is an important part of education and needs to be incorporated into how the system works with students.
  • As a community, we can pool our resources and rally around an issue. Leadership can be the difference between our intent and success.
  • Reaching disengaged youth is a task that must be embraced by city officials, educators and parents to truly make a difference.



Background Material on Disconnected Youth

New York City

Other Reports of Note


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels.

AYPF’s events and policy reports are made possible by the support of a consortium of philanthropic foundations: Carnegie Corporation of New York, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WT Grant Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, C.S. Mott Foundation, and others.


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The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.