Helping Young People Succeed: Strengthening and Sustaining Relationships Between Schools and Youth Development Organizations
Although schools and youth-development groups are committed to a similar vision of positive physical, intellectual, psychological, and social development of America's children, their isolation from each other can actually hinder growth. The strong bonds among school, community, and family that sustained older generations are frayed and disjointed across all economic levels nowadays. The effects of this dysfunction make the work of education and development much more difficult. Factors that can help youth succeed, however, involve building on personal assets and providing exposure to positive experiences, settings, people, and opportunities to gain and refine life skills. Both schools and communities can provide these elements. It is eye-opening to realize that good schools look like good community settings. This paper reports on a national conversation on overcoming barriers between these two types of institutions. Follow-up action includes sustaining and deepening the collaboration at the national level, starting dialogues at other levels, setting a vision for the development of youth, building on what already exists, developing a common language between schools and youth-development organizations, identifying what should be measured, and trusting each other. The paper concludes with lists of resources for starting conversations, publications, and participants.