‘Our Work’ Turns Key Learnings from Youth Development, Economic Mobility Research into Actionable Ideas for Communities
NEW YORK (April 17, 2017) – How do we accelerate progress for more young people in America? To answer this question, America’s Promise Alliance, the nation’s largest network dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth, reviewed the strongest research in youth development and economic mobility, pulled from 20 years of experience, spoke directly to young people, and consulted 200 leaders from nonprofits, corporations, foundation, government, education institutions, research and policy entities, and other systems.
The end result – Our Work: A Framework for Accelerating Progress for Children and Youth in America – is a first-of-its-kind report from America’s Promise that offers a vision for how the people, organizations, and systems that surround young people can incorporate what’s been learned into sustainable, on-the-ground practices that will create greater opportunity to help more young people fulfill their American Dream.
There has been great progress over the past 20 years in the youth development sector – science and technology have opened the door to better awareness and new possibilities for young people, the country has lower infant mortality rates, high school graduation rates are up, more students are attending pre-school and college, teen pregnancy rates as well as teen alcohol and drug abuse have sharply declined.
But many young people still face enormous challenges. The child poverty rate is the same today as it was 20 years ago. While the educational achievement gap based on race and ethnicity has narrowed, it remains conspicuous. And economic mobility is increasingly limited: Of those children born to parents in the lowest income bracket, 42 percent remain there as adults.
Recent research tells us that more than one-quarter of children living in poverty (28 percent) experience three or more reported adversities in their adolescence, a rate nearly six times that of their middle and upper class peers. Multiple adversities – such as losing a parent, mental illness, violence in your community – can put young people at increased risk of performing poorly in school or dropping out, seriously curtailing their development and chances at a successful adulthood.
“We’ve seen and experienced progress, but the adversities young people face are deep and persistent. And deep and persistent adversities require smart and even more persistent responses,” said John Gomperts, president & CEO of America’s Promise. “Our Work distills our collective learnings and points the way to accelerate progress for the nation’s children and youth.
“We hope this framework will serve as a starting point for renewed conversation addressing those challenges head on by working more collaboratively, effectively, and quickly to create the conditions for success for the young people of America,” he continued.
Our Work identifies two areas of research and learning over the past 20 years – the study of child and youth development and the study of economic mobility – that provides the best view of the road to greater progress, particularly for the millions of young people currently being left behind.
The framework maps a road to the future by identifying three connected areas for focused action:
- Relationships and webs of support
- Clear, connected and responsive pathways from education into the workplace
- Engaged communities and renewed civic spirit
The framework acknowledges that youth development and economic mobility can’t fully explain if and how young people succeed, but does offer key insights for more progress. Complex and systemic inequities – based on race, class, disability, gender, ethnicity, language, religion, sexual orientation, geography and more – often block children’s path. Responses that fail to recognize and take on these realities are destined to fall short.
Our Work, released on the eve of America’s Promise’s 20th anniversary commemoration in New York City, will frame the conversations at tomorrow’s Recommit to Kids | The Summit for America’s Future. The daylong convening of business, philanthropy, nonprofit, government, education and faith leaders in New York serve to spark a renewed national push to refocus the nation on the needs of young people.
To read the full report and to learn more about the 20th anniversary events, please visit http://www.recommit2kids.org/.
Members of the media who wish to attend the Recommit To Kids Summit are encouraged to register in advance. If you would like to speak with someone from America’s Promise ahead of the 20th anniversary, please contact Daria Hall or Tonya Williams.
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About America’s Promise Alliance
America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest network dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. Together with more than 400 national organizations and thousands of community leaders, America’s Promise focuses the nation’s attention on young people’s lives and voices, leads bold campaigns to expand opportunity, conducts groundbreaking research on what young people need to thrive, and accelerates the adoption of strategies that help young people succeed. GradNation, its signature campaign, mobilizes Americans to increase the nation’s high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020. For more information visit www.AmericasPromise.org.