Engaging Youth as Researchers to Improve Systems

Guest post by Jorge Rivas. This is the third post in a series on the Every Hour Counts System-Building Institute.

So, you’re the expert. Tell us, what does “youth” mean? Is it someone younger than 18? Younger than 30? Is youth just a state of mind? How about “success”? What do the experts have to say about that? What has helped you to build success in your life?

These tasks—of defining terms and acknowledging people’s expertise—are at the heart of Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR). And in the approach of YPAR, it is young people who are the experts; they are the ones defining the terms, directing the research and making the recommendations for action—side-by-side with adults.

At the Every Hour Counts System-Building Institute in Oakland, California this March, the Youthprise Research & Design team shared our approach to YPAR with an audience of education and expanded learning leaders. Continue reading

Reflections on Out-Of-School Time System Building

Guest post by Jessica Werner. This is the second post in a series on the Every Hour Counts System-Building Institute.

On the plane coming back from a rich learning experience at the Every Hour Counts System-Building Institute in Oakland, I reflected on all of the things we have going right for youth programs in King County, and the areas we still have so much room to grow to create the ecosystem of supports all kids need to be successful in school and in life. Washington state was represented by four teams at the convening, all of which are working to foster a system of high-quality afterschool and summer programs in their region. The Institute provided the opportunity to learn from out-of-school time systems from around the country who have taken a leadership role in what trailblazer Hillary Salmons calls the “second shift” of education.

In Seattle—with investments from taxpayers through the Family and Education Levy and other public funds, private philanthropy (like the Raikes Foundation), generous individual donors, and a dedicated corporate philanthropy community—there are dozens of organizations working to enrich kids’ lives through the arts, academic supports, sports and recreation, college access, and more. There’s also a clear commitment to building high-quality programs. With help from organizations like School’s Out Washington and tools like the Youth Program Quality Assessment, programs across King County have a clear vision of what quality looks like, why it’s so important for the young people they serve, and how to pursue it. Continue reading

School and Community Partners Go Hand-in-Hand at Westlake Middle School

This is the first blog post in a series about the Every Hour Counts System-Building Institute.

Building a partnership isn’t always easy. But for an astounding 14 years, Principal Misha Karigaca (fondly known as “Mr. K”) and Eagle Village Executive Director Valorie Hutson have been working together to create a Full-Service Community School at Westlake Middle School in Oakland, California. And after a decade working together, they have become experts in making school-community partnerships last.

At the West Coast System-Building Institute that Every Hour Counts hosted in March in collaboration with the Partnership for Children and Youth, we had the opportunity to tour Westlake Middle School and view some of the Eagle Village Community Center after-school programs there. We saw students playing soccer on the blacktop, designing and drawing in art club, and heading off to a local park for lacrosse practice. And we were fortunate to learn from both Mr. K and Ms. Huston about what makes their partnership so strong: Continue reading