The 2019 Ready by 21 Meeting helped us move ONward

by Alexander Sileo   •  

The Opportunity Nation team just returned from the Ready by 21 National Meeting in Seattle. The conference, hosted by The Forum for Youth Investment (The Forum) was held from April 23-25 and brought together over 650 leaders from across the country who are working to ensure that all youth are ready by 21 for college, work and life.

These leaders came from local government, out-of-school time programs, the K-12 system, intermediaries, research collaboratives, universities and more. Opportunity Nation was there to both learn from the impressive array of knowledge and information presented, and showcase how the Opportunity Index could be used to support the work of attendees in their own communities.

The National Meeting was organized around a series of panel discussions and keynote presentations with a range of breakout sessions for attendees to visit in between general sessions based on their own interests.

The opening general session, “Moving towards Equity,” brought together leaders from the Forum for Youth Investment, Turnaround for Children and the National Urban League to discuss how to leverage the renewed interest in social and emotional learning to support broader commitments to equity. The session focused on how community leaders can complement and blend differing strands of work in the youth development field (such as the recent National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development or the Every Student Succeeds Act) to build momentum for the partnerships and policies that will support readiness for all youth.

The second general session, “Building Adult Capacity and Commitment to Teach, Read, and Lead,” focused on what adults need to do expand access to supportive relationships and environments that are at the center of youth success. The conversation included a former city school district superintendent, the Dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education, and a researcher from the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. Each of the panelists discussed what is needed to transform adult capacity and commitment from a classroom or school concern to a community-wide concern.

Attendees then heard from youth and adult champions themselves in the third general session, “Advocating and Mobilizing for More and Better Learning Opportunities.” The conversation focused on what all stakeholders need to do to help young people and their families participate in conversations on education equity and ultimately, lead these conversations themselves.

The Forum’s CEO, Karen Pittman, closed out the National Meeting by delivering a final keynote on how community leaders can be allies in the pursuit of readiness, equity and quality.

Opportunity Nation was also on hand to present its work on the Opportunity Index, detailing how data and stories can help galvanize action around equity, and social and economic mobility. The Index features four dimensions (Economy, Community, Health, and Education) that encompass 20 key indicators, which can help policymakers, community advocates, families and youth to understand the current state of opportunity in their communities.

Check out tweets about the National Meeting by searching #rb21 on Twitter.

Alexander Sileo Alex is a Senior Research Associate and Special Assistant at The Forum for Youth Investment.

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