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Grantee Reports and Publications

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Removing Police Officers from Chicago Schools: Trends and Outcomes Download PDF

National context: Schools across the United States have long grappled with the role and impact of school-based police officers, often referred to as school resource officers (SROs). Proponents for school-based policing believe that SROs contribute to school safety by preventing or addressing crime and violence in schools. Opponents of SROs in schools argue that the presence of SROs criminalizes students and increases the likelihood of school-based arrest, particularly for students of color. Policies around SROs vary in districts across the country.

Chicago context: In the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020, the Chicago Board of Education (CBOE) asked the district to develop a plan to phase-out the SRO program, which assigned two SROs to most Chicago Public Schools (CPS) high schools. In February 2024, the CBOE voted to remove all remaining SROs from schools starting in 2024–25. In May 2024, CPS proposed a Whole School Safety Policy that did not include SROs and focused on supports for physical safety, emotional safety, and relational trust in schools.

The research: This brief examines what happened when Chicago Public Schools (CPS) began the process of removing School Resource Officers (SROs) from its high schools during the 2020–21 school year. 

These findings can inform conversations in Chicago, and across the country, about SROs and whole school safety practices and policies—while recognizing that questions about the presence of police and the experience of safety in schools are complex and reflect differences in lived experiences and perspectives across policymakers, practitioners, young people, families, and communities.

The findings are part of a larger, ongoing study by researchers from the UChicago Consortium; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and Lurie Children’s Hospital’s Center for Childhood Resilience.

Providing a Foundation for Young Children to Succeed Download PDF

Pennsylvania’s comprehensive early care and education system spans a child’s formative years, from birth-to-age-5. This system provides an opportunity to ensure every child in the commonwealth begins their life positively. Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, a partner of Early Learning PA (ELPA), advocates for access to voluntary, high-quality early care and education and healthy development opportunities for every child in Pennsylvania. Two issue-focused advocacy campaigns within the ELPA coalition, Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA, seek to increase access to high-quality, affordable child care and high-quality pre-k programs. This report looks deeper at Pennsylvania’s child care and pre-k system complexities and recommends the improvements necessary to ensure the system functions equitably and increases access and affordability for all families in the commonwealth.

Nothing About Us Without Us Download PDF

In 2013, after more than a decade of student and parent organizing across the state, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) was signed into California law, marking an important development in the fight for equity in educational funding. In a departure from California’s long-standing method of resource allocation from categorical funding to a block grant, LCFF utilizes a weighted formula to allocate resources to districts based on the number of low-income students, foster youth and English Learners they serve. LCFF was designed to provide districts with more flexibility, and, consequently, increased opportunities to conduct transformational and equity-oriented work. Another goal of LCFF was to ensure that the voices of the district’s stakeholders, including students, guided the strategic use of state resources in the development of Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP), a three-year plan that describes the goals, actions, services, and expenditures to support positive student outcomes that address state and local priorities (California Department of Education, 2013).

Almost 9 years after its implementation, numerous studies have examined the impact of the LCFF (Humphrey et al., 2017), LCAP (Olsen et al., 2017), and the multiple lessons about educational policy and practice derived from LCFF (Koppich & Humphrey, 2018). Simultaneously, we have seen a rise in the visibility and presence of youth leadership in mainstream educational discourse. Phrases like youth empowerment, youth voice, and youth participation have quickly gathered momentum and have become more popular in the discourse around educational change and the implementation of LCFF and LCAP. However, too little is known about how LCFF has shifted cultures, everyday practices, structures, and educational outcomes across the state, especially whether it has empowered young people to take more active roles in influencing and contributing to educational policies and practices.

Most educational stakeholders believe that youth voice and leadership is generally a good idea. However, the character, quality, understanding, and degree of engagement vary significantly across the state. Often muddled by concerns over the value and purpose of including youth voices, educators and policymakers continue to grapple with several questions:

Will student voice improve outcomes?

How can we gauge if efforts to support youth

voice, power, and participation are successful?

Will engaging students engender practical and innovative solutions?

Is strengthening youth participation an effective use of our time and resources?

How will this work change the educational experiences of students and adults?

How can student voice and power work in unison and support broader educational and racial justice efforts?

This case study explores these questions and offers a detailed account of how one California school district, East Side Union High School District (ESHUSD or “The District”) in San Jose, CA, in partnership with Californians for Justice (CFJ), a youth-led educational justice organization, developed student voice, power, and participation to drive more equitable outcomes to achieve the goals of LCFF. To do so, we explore the complexities of implementing system-wide change and shifting cultures and structures of participation in decision making, which in this case, presented important and consequential challenges and opportunities.

In addition, by including the voices and the perspectives of students, families, organizers, teachers, principals, staff members, and school district leaders, we seek to highlight the successes, strengths, impacts, and the challenges that arise from efforts to create systemic and sustainable change.

This research is part of a larger set of case studies conducted by the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools highlighting the work of five districts in California that have sought to improve outcomes for students through LCFF. This effort seeks to understand how school districts are seizing the equity opportunities afforded by LCFF to deepen our understanding of how educational policy is interpreted, enacted, implemented, negotiated, and contested, particularly when young people are meaningfully involved in these processes. Through this work, we aim to inform educators, practitioners, leaders, and policymakers, thus contributing to our understanding of how educational policies, along with their guiding principles and intended impact, can be more successful.

Most of the data collection for this study was conducted in 2019. However, due to the profound impact of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter Uprisings on school communities across the country in 2020, another set of interviews and analysis was added to complete the study.

Supporting LGBTQ+ Students in California Download PDF

At least 11% of California youth identify as LGBTQ+. These youth have diverse backgrounds and identities, but one fact remains the same: LGBTQ+ youth continue to face alarming rates of systemic and interpersonal marginalization. In a 2020 national survey, the Trevor Project found that 60% of LGBTQ+ youth experienced discrimination at some point in their lifetime because of their gender or sexual identity. In 2022, this rate increased to 73%. A closer look at what California’s youth are saying themselves shows that a renewed commitment from state leaders, schools, and communities is needed to provide proactive, identity-affirming support.

Nationally, there has been a steep rise in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation targeting youth over the past several years— from bills preventing access to gender affirming care for transgender youth to the exclusion of LGBTQ+ people in sex and health education curriculum. These political acts have resulted in increased targeting and a climate of fear that affects a multitude of children and youth – those who live in LGBTQ+ families, those who may be questioning their gender or sexual orientation, and especially those who identify as LGBTQ+ themselves. The 2023 Trevor Project National Survey also found that 33% of LGBTQ+ youth said that anti-LGBTQ legislation made their mental health worse, and 41% of LGBTQ+ youth experienced suicidal ideation.

Similarly upsetting findings are also seen in California’s schools. Nearly 26% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students had attempted suicide in the 12 months prior to responding to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey. While this is an alarming statistic on its own, it is also 4 times higher than that of straight students who reported the same. This disparity is reflective of California’s conflicting sociopolitical landscape. On one hand, California has some of the strongest legal protections for LGBTQ+ children in the country—including a recently-signed law that protects children moving to California in search of safe, gender-affirming resources. On the other hand, despite these legal protections, uneven implementation of policy, a lack of awareness and accountability from school leaders, and the tolerance of interpersonal discrimination in California schools, results in high rates of LGBTQ+ youth who continue to fear for their safety. Urgent work is needed to eliminate disparities in the wellbeing of California’s LGBTQ+ youth.

Trends in Education Download PDF

This document is the latest Grantmakers for Education’s (EdFunders) study of what’s now and what’s next for education philanthropy. It aims to give insight into the priorities of the education funding community, and to help funders understand their role in supporting education innovation that benefits the nation’s learners. The findings in this report are based on survey responses representing 142 grantmaking organizations, 70% of which are EdFunders members.

The Power to Win Framework Download PDF

Throughout modern history, young people – particularly young people of color, working-class young people, young women, and queer and trans youth – have stood at the forefront of movements for justice and equality. From the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee sit-ins to the undocumented youth movement’s impact on the immigration debate to the millions of youth today who have poured into the streets to rise up against the police killing of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless others, young people time and again show themselves to be those most willing to take the actions that spark movements.

The past few decades have been a remarkable period of growth and development for the U.S. youth organizing field. During this time, organizers committed to the development and leadership of young people have passionately built a movement infrastructure that now spans the entire country. Youth organizing groups pioneered an approach that integrates holistic leadership development and political education. With these scaffolds in place, youth have achieved substantial victories for education justice, immigrant rights, health, environmental justice, the fight against mass incarceration, and more.

Despite these successes, many youth organizers realize that addressing the challenges of the current moment will require the field to make some critical shifts.

Today, both our people and planet face historic levels of crisis, including climate change, a global pandemic, mounting wealth inequality, severe voter suppression, rising white supremacy, and rampant sexual and gender-based violence. Though our organizations have won notable victories, as a whole, conditions for our communities are worsening. At the root lies centuries of an unrestrained social and economic system built on intertwined predatory capitalism, racial oppression, and patriarchy, which we call racial patriarchal capitalism.

We are now in a pivotal moment where society will either move toward greater justice and equity or greater fear and repression. Advancing justice for those who have faced the brunt force of oppression and reversing the destruction of our environment will require fundamental social and economic transformation. This can only be done through powerful social movements capable of organizing people in the millions.

And our read on history and our time in the movement makes it clear: organized young people will play a critical role in creating a movement for structural transformation.

We Need Supportive Spaces That Celebrate Us: Black Girls Speak Out About Public Schools Download PDF

Public schools should be supportive, affirming, and well-resourced places where Black girls are championed in their academic and personal growth and have every opportunity to learn and thrive. This is not the current reality for Black girls.

Inequities pervade every aspect of Black girls’ education in Pennsylvania — where they go to school, what resources their schools have, what the environment is like in their schools, and what opportunities they can access. Due to the intersection of systemic anti-Black racism, sexism, and other forces of oppression, Black girls are subjected to especially daunting educational barriers.

Black girls who attend public schools in our communities are the experts on the real-time conditions in their schools and potential solutions. With this in mind, the Education Law Center-PA (ELC) co-hosted five focus groups with leading Philadelphia-based youth-serving and youth-led partner organizations to hear directly from Black girls about the barriers they face in schools and what conditions must change so that schools are responsive to their needs.

The groups explored themes such as the school climate needed for students to thrive, how anti-Black racism and other systems of oppression show up in schools and harm students, what types of school-based academic, mental health, and social-emotional supports are needed, and what schools and communities can do to eliminate the barriers Black girls face. ELC analyzed all these conversations to identify a set of common themes and recommendations and then reconnected with the groups to review those and seek additional guidance before finalizing the recommendations in our report.

The theme of anti-Black racism was an overarching one in all our focus groups. Every group reported that anti-Black racism at their school was pervasive and impacted all facets of their school experience. Specific instances of anti-Black racism that Black girls shared included: being subjected to racial slurs directed at them and their peers, often without any response from adults; facing discriminatory discipline on the basis of their race and gender; being exposed to harmful curriculum and teaching practices; being deprived of necessary supports, resources, and access to specialized, adequately trained personnel; and being targeted or at higher risk of discipline due to racism and sexism.

Caring for Our Children Download PDF

the Spring of 2022, First Up received funding from the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation and partnered with Dr. Jennifer Pyles to conduct stakeholder engagement sessions of higher education partners (IHEs) across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Between May 2022 and August 2022, over 15 higher education participants engaged in conversations related to the 2021 report from NAEYC, Preparing a Profession: Perspectives of Higher Education Leaders on the future of the Early Childhood Education Workforce, which highlights the key themes, challenges, and recommendations from IHEs across the nation in their effort to respond to the expanded and urgent need of the early childhood education (ECE) sector to grow an educated, degreed workforce.

During that same period, individual interviews were held with IHE administrators and community organization leaders to gain further insight on the context of the early childhood ecosystem in the state. Six interviews were conducted.

The stakeholder engagement sessions and interviews started with focused questions and engaged open-ended conversations pertaining to the NAEYC Preparing a Profession report and its context in Pennsylvania. Discussion was free-flowing, leading to rich discourse about the challenges and opportunities for the field of ECE and for the future of higher education in relation to the ECE workforce within the state. Recommendations and next steps were outlined.

The partners hope that this report contributes to the ongoing discussion that is occurring in all sectors of Pennsylvania around early childhood education. The goal is to promote tangible change for this highly skilled but under-compensated field. From business, philanthropy, education, and government, communities are processing ideas about what can be done to strengthen the field of ECE so that 1) its workforce becomes stable and secure; 2) ECE is a viable career pathway for a diverse group of educators; 3) those in the field earn a comparable wage to other educators with equal experiences, credentials/degrees. In doing so, the state will ensure that high quality early childhood education and child care is equitable, accessible, and affordable for all families.

Early Childhood Educators Set Illinois Kids on Path to Sucess Download PDF

A new report from Council for a Strong America-Illinois focuses on one vital aspect of efforts to improve this picture. It notes that the most fundamental features of solid early learning programs include “highly-qualified staff who are well-trained both before and during their service and who are adequately supported and compensated.” Yet in Illinois, child care teachers earn an average of only $28,730 per year and preK teachers about $35,840, compared with $65,790 for kindergarten educators. In birth-to-3 programs, the disparities are even more bleak.

Doing Better for Black Educators Download PDF

Black educators contribute significantly to achievement of all students. However, there aren’t enough of them. One approach that appears to be solving this problem on a small scale is teacher residencies, which are community-based clinical preparation programs developed in partnership with school districts and anchored in their context. Teacher residencies are raising the bar for quality while reducing barriers to entry for teachers of color and other underrepresented groups. The National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR) is a national organization committed to building and developing teacher residencies as a lever to address the enduring and systemic inequities in school systems.

Inspired by the work and impact of our BEI-supported teacher residency programs, this report is designed to help teacher preparation programs, school districts, and states use what BEI grantees are learning in order to improve the recruitment, preparation, and support of Black educators across the country.

$122 Billion: The Growing, Annual Cost of the Infant-Toddler Child Care Crisis Download PDF

ReadyNation’s updated study finds that the nation’s infant-toddler child care crisis now costs $122 billion in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue every year. This staggering economic toll impacts working parents, their employers, and the nation’s taxpayers. Our 2018 study found that the crisis was already severely damaging the pre-pandemic economy, exacting a cost of $57 billion annually. A combination of COVID-19 and insufficient policy action have now significantly worsened the crisis.

Recruitment and Retention of Black Educators: Promising strategies at eight U.S. teacher residencies Download PDF

While the number of teachers is growing nationally, proportionally, fewer Black teachers are joining the profession than teachers from other racial groups. In addition, Black teachers leave the teaching profession at higher rates than do teachers from other racial groups (Campoli, 2017). The teaching workforce is overwhelmingly White and most Black students rarely encounter a Black teacher. In 2017-2018, just 7% of public school teachers were Black and non-Hispanic, while 79% of public school teachers were White (National Center for Education Statistics, 2022). 

To address the shortage of Black teachers, the National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR) launched its Black Educators Initiative (BEI) in 2019. Through BEI, NCTR provides grants and support to teacher residencies that dedicate the funds to recruiting, preparing, and retaining Black educators. 

Through community-based, clinical preparation that is tailored to partner school districts’ context, NCTR supports teacher residencies in their goals to increase teacher diversity, effectiveness, and retention. NCTR’s Black Educators Initiative aims to improve outcomes for Black students in particular, and for all students generally, by increasing access to effective Black teachers. Through BEI funding, NCTR invested in teacher residency programs that are committed to diversifying the teacher workforce through new and innovative strategies for the recruitment, preparation, and retention of Black educators. 

With support from the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation, NCTR partnered with Columbia University’s Center for Public Research and Leadership (CPRL) to conduct a formative evaluation of its BEI program to identify promising strategies for recruiting and retaining Black educators. This exploratory study focuses on the original eight residencies* that participated in BEI and the results they achieved in the first two years of the program: School Years 2019-—2020 (SY2020) and 2020—2021 (SY2021). 

Early Educator Engagement and Empowerment (E4) Toolkit Download PDF

Early educators are the best spokespeople about the conditions under which they work and what they need in order to thrive. Policy leaders have much to gain by actively engaging educators in identifying workable solutions to the child care crisis. At the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE), we believe educators have the right to exercise power in their profession and should be able to organize and participate in the public discourse, free from interference. Through our work and engagement with early educators over the past 23 years, we’ve learned that early educators need: the conditions to engage in good preparation; access to ongoing learning; safe and supportive working environments; and appropriate compensation, including a livable wage and benefits. We developed the solutions detailed in the Early Educator Engagement and Empowerment (E4) Toolkit based on the experiences early educators have shared and the research we have conducted. We created this toolkit to support early educators in their advocacy, power building, and engagement with stakeholders.

The information and resources included in the E4 Toolkit are meant to be talking points that can be used in a variety of settings.


Supporting Social, Emotional, & Academic Development: Research Implications for Educators Download PDF

Supporting Social Emotional-Oct2018-ConsortiumThis research synthesis is designed to help teachers and principals support equitable outcomes for all students. It suggests ways teachers, administrators, and school support personnel can use insights from research to create Pre-K-12 schools and classrooms that advance educational equity. The synthesis brings together the UChicago Consortium’s ground-breaking research on the influence of school climate on student achievement, the importance of mindsets and developmental experiences, as well as other leading education research. It draws attention to the critical role of engagement and mindsets in student success; how teachers and administrators can create strong school climates that support students and engage families as partners; and how responsive classrooms can enable all students to have strong academic engagement.

2006-07 Youth Justice Board Report & Recommendations Download PDF

Stand Up Stand Out: Recommendations to Improve Youth Participation in New York City’s Permanency Planning Process by Members of the Youth Justice Board, a program of the Center for Court Innovation Written by the 16 teenage members of the 2006-2007 Youth Justice Board, this report proposes 14 specific recommendations to improve the court experiences and outcomes for adolescents in foster care. The Youth Justice Board, which consists of New York City youth 15 to 19 years old, spent several months researching New York City’s permanency planning process, interviewing over 40 child welfare and court professionals, conducting two focus groups of youth in care and observing Family Court proceedings in Kings County, Bronx County and New York County Family Courts.

Leading School Improvement with Data: A Theory of Action to Extend the Sphere of Student Success Download PDF

This is the first in a series of three evaluations of SAM (Scaffolded Apprenticeship Model), the primary methodology New Visions for Public Schools is using with its PSO schools to build capacity for ongoing gains in student improvement. The evaluation, led by Dr. Joan Talbert of the Center for Research on the Context of Teaching at Stanford University, examines SAM’s theory of change, which posits that teams of educators can continually expand a school’s “sphere of success” by using data to identify specific skill gaps among targeted students and design interventions aimed at accelerating student learning. Dr. Talbert’s findings point to four key principles for the success of SAM’s inquiry-based approach to reform, including:

  • “keeping the focus small” by helping educators address specific, identified skill gaps in order to accelerate student learning;
  • shifting the classroom focus from what is being taught to what is being learned;
  • challenging assumptions and practices that limit student success; and
  • navigating colleague resistance and facilitating adult learning.
Learning Together: A Study of Six B.A. Completion Cohort Programs in Early Care and Education, Year 3 Download PDF

The Year 3 interviews of the Learning Together study reveal that the vast majority of students successfully graduated from their B.A. cohort program. Year 3 interviews focused on two issues of concern about higher education programs – the practicum experiences for employed students and the adequacy of attention to working with children from linguistically diverse backgrounds. The graduates overwhelmingly reported that their B.A. classes provided them with skills and strategies needed to communicate with children who speak a language other than their own. While the majority of students reported that their practicum experiences helped them do a better job at their workplace, they also identified several areas for improvement. The Year 3 study also reports on the graduates’ perspectives about support at their jobs for ongoing learning and any changes in employment and/or compensation upon completing their degree.

Staff Preparation, Reward, and Support: Are Quality Rating and Improvement Systems Addressing All of the Key Ingredients Necessary for Change? Download PDF

As quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs) increasingly become the key strategy for improving the quality of early care and education, it is critical to understand and examine how such systems define quality, the benchmarks used to indicate quality, and the opportunities in place to support improvement. This report examines the extent to which QRISs support the professional development of practitioners and include in their rating rubrics key ingredients – staff qualifications, direct compensation, and the factors related to work settings – that have been linked to quality.

Part II: Effective Teacher Preparation in Early Care and Education: Toward a Comprehensive Research Agenda Download PDF

Part II contains an in-depth review of the ECE and K-12 teacher preparation research and outlines what remains to be learned. It concludes with a set of key recommendations for research and policy.

Degrees in Context: Asking the Right Questions about Preparing Skilled and Effective Teachers of Young Children Download PDF

The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment and the National Institute for Early Education Research have jointly published a NIEER Policy Brief, “Degrees in Context: Asking the Right Questions about Preparing Skilled and Effective Teachers of Young Children.” In this Policy Brief, Marcy Whitebook and Sharon Ryan argue that too much attention has been given to debating the baseline qualifications required of preschool teachers – AA vs. BA. They contend that it is just as necessary to take into account the nature of the education teachers receive en route to a degree, supports for ongoing learning, and the effects of the workplace environment on teaching practice.

Part I: Teacher Preparation and Professional Development in Grades K-12 and in Early Care and Education: Differences and Similarities, and Implications for Research Download PDF

Part I summarizes the differences between the K-12 and the early care and education fields. The researchers found more than enough similarities to warrant a close consideration of the combined wisdom of both fields.

Preparing Teachers of Young Children: The Current State of Knowledge, and a Blueprint for the Future [Executive Summary] Download PDF

By Marcy Whitebook, Deanna Gomby, Dan Bellm, Laura Sakai, and Fran Kipnis. This two-part paper examines the early care and education (ECE) and K-12 research literature in depth to assess the current state of knowledge about the effective preparation of excellent teachers, and charts a research and policy agenda for the future.

Beyond Brochures: Practicing “Soul Care” in the Recruitment of Teachers of Color Download PDF

Drawing on interviews with four new teachers of Color in San Francisco public schools, case studies of the Seattle and Boston Teacher Residencies, and decades of research, “Beyond Brochures” identifies seven barriers people of Color face to become teachers, and offers recommendations for how teacher preparation programs and policymakers can address this growing problem.

Media in Action: A Field Scan of Media & Youth Organizing in the United States Download PDF

Media — finding your voice and determining how to tell your own story — is the first essential step in your own liberation,” said Kim McGill, an organizer with the Los Angeles-based Youth Justice Coalition. Back in 2003, Kim and some 60 other people who had been jailed, imprisoned or deported got together to build a youth, family and prisoner-led movement to end juvenile detention.

“All of us had been through the system as young people,” Kim said. “Los Angeles county was locking up more young people than anywhere else in the world. People told stories of lock-up, and coming home.”

Youth Justice Coalition is one of an estimated dozens of groups in the US that use popular education and other methods of critical inquiry to support young people from marginalized communities to become activists, conduct participatory action research, and make media in the form of videos, written reports, and radio pieces. Their goal is not only to publicize their findings, but also to reframe ideas at the level of community dialogue and in the mass-media. Ultimately, they aim to organize and inspire audiences and youth producers to take political action.

“When we first formed, there were almost no organizations where formerly incarcerated people were speaking for ourselves,” Kim said. “It was always professional advocates with graduate degrees and lawyers speaking for us. We found that in order to move policy, we needed to create our own reports. Now we speak for ourselves and make our own demands. Creating alternative media has meant a lot to people’s sense of independence.”

Youth Justice Coalition has collected stories on video and created written reports to share with community members, elected officials and law enforcement. Youth Justice Coalition members have improved conditions at juvenile detention centers, reduced the county’s use of imprisonment for youth, and challenged “war on gangs” policing policies targeting low-income youth of color. While Los Angeles’ police department was touted as a “model” for reform in the era following the Rodney King beating, young people working with Youth Justice Coalition published the county’s first report to name all victims of police killings since the year 2000.

Other youth and their allies around the country were also discovering the potential of youth-led media projects to build political organizing skills and incite action on issues that were being ignored by adults and mainstream media. In New York City’s historically queer-friendly West Village, young LGBTQ people working with the Manhattan-based youth organization, FIERCE!, used video to document the loss they felt when they were forced by new, gentrifying residents to stop meeting at the Christopher Street Pier, a longstanding destination point for queer youth who had nowhere else to go.

In rural Kentucky in 2001, in response to a growing local crisis at the time, young people made a short video documentary, “Because of Oxycontin,” to expose the dangerous side effects of the prescription painkiller that they saw ripping apart their community.

“Students are on the ground and know what’s going on,” said Ben Spangler, who worked with the young film producers at the Appalachian Media Institute in Whitesburg, Kentucky. “They tackled this issue before anyone else was talking about it. After they produced the documentary, they sent it to senators and representatives in the state. Soon after, it began being discussed, and they ended up putting regulations on the drug.”

Ready to Succeed: Kindergarten Teachers Support Investments in High-Quality Pre-K Download PDF

Children who attend a high-quality, publicly funded pre-k program enter kindergarten ready to succeed. An extensive body of research demonstrates the academic and social benefits of high-quality pre-k, including a reduced need for special education, remedial education services, decreased dropout rates and increased likelihood of graduation and college enrollment. Early learning investments have also been linked to reduced crime and incarceration rates and less reliance on public assistance programs.

Since the Pre-K for PA Campaign formed in 2013, a diverse group of supporters have articulated strong support for state funding increases in pre-k, including governors and legislators from both sides of the aisle, business and education leaders, law enforcement officials, high-ranking military officers, pediatricians and world-class athletes.

Now, kindergarten teachers are joining the ever-growing list of supporters in favor of state funding increases in pre-k because they see firsthand the impact that high-quality pre-k has on a student’s success in the classroom.

English Learners with Disabilities: Shining a Light on Dual-Identified Students Download PDF

Nearly 5 million public school students in the United States are classified as English learners (ELs), a number on the rise in recent decades. From 2000 to 2015, ELs increased from 8.1 to 9.6 percent of the total student population, according to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Within this group of EL students, nearly 15 percent also qualify for special education services. These students are commonly referred to as “dual-identified,” entitled to receive extra supports for both English language acquisition and learning with a disability.

But this subgroup of dual-identified students is not well understood or well served. Across the country, districts, schools, and educators struggle to discern whether students are lagging because of disability, language proficiency, or both, and then further struggle to provide appropriate instruction and related services that meet the comprehensive needs of each individual student.

Designing policies and practices that meet the diversity of language development and disability needs is inherently difficult work. Indeed, delivering appropriate services and supports for students with disabilities from monolingual, English-speaking families is, by itself, a complex challenge for schools. The work of appropriately identifying and serving students becomes all the more complicated when a student is learning across multiple languages. Disentangling issues of language acquisition and disability in the youngest years, when children are learning to speak, read, and write for the first time, is even more difficult.

One of the largest policy concerns is the disproportionate identification of EL students with learning disabilities. This problem cuts in both directions: Studies suggest that ELs are at risk of being both over- and under-identified for special education services. The EL student population also faces challenges beyond language acquisition. ELs are more likely than non-ELs to live in low-income families, to attend schools with high concentrations of other low-income ELs, and to experience limited or interrupted formal schooling, high mobility, low attendance, and medical problems stemming from unreliable access to health care.3 The EL population is enormously diverse, representing different races, ethnicities, nationalities, and languages spoken. It is also not a static population, as students who are classified as ELs will be reclassified as English proficient.4 These realities further complicate the process of developing equitable and effective strategies for dual-identified EL students.

The following brief provides an overview of the separate but intersecting federal policies that govern the identification of and services provided to English learners and students with disabilities. This overview will frame key opportunities to serve ELs with disabilities more equitably with the aim of helping policymakers, advocates, and practitioners take more strategic action on behalf of these students.

Deeper Learning Networks: Taking Student-Centered Learning and Equity to Scale Download PDF

Can teaching and learning practices that foster “deeper learning” among all students—not just the most advantaged—be successfully replicated across large numbers of schools? The answer is an unqualified “yes,” according to a new study released today by the Learning Policy Institute. The study examines how Internationals Network and two other school networks representing mostly students of color from low-income families have successfully taken student-centered learning and equity to scale.

Deeper learning approaches, including project-based learning, experiential work-based learning, and performance assessments, allow students to explore their interests in personalized and inquiry-based ways, learn core academic content, and develop key skills such as collaboration, communication, and critical problem solving that enable them to apply their knowledge in ways that prepare them for college, career, and citizenship. The new study, Deeper Learning Networks: Taking Student-Centered Learning and Equity to Scale, features three case studies and a cross-case report and brief that take an in-depth look at how three networks of schools successfully overcame major barriers to instituting complex teaching and learning practices in a variety of settings and enabled positive outcomes for their students. The networks—with a combined 271 schools and 90,000 students in the United States and abroad—are Big Picture Learning, the Internationals Network for Public Schools, and New Tech Network.

“Internationals Network’s approach is grounded in the premise that deeper learning is for all students, especially recent immigrant and refugee multilingual learners” said Joe Luft, Executive Director of Internationals Network. “Providing multilingual learners access to meaningful learning, and supporting teachers and leaders to implement deeper learning structures and practices has always been Internationals recipe for success. We are proud to be among three networks studied in the Learning Policy Institute reports, highlighting how we “re-create, sustain and spread” our innovative and equity-oriented approach in partnership with districts across the country.”
While each has its own distinct approach, the three networks – which work in partnership with districts, rather than as networks of charter schools — have taken common steps to re-create their deeper learning models in new settings while adapting to the challenges and opportunities in local communities. These steps include:

  • Designing whole schools with structures to personalize learning and to support equitable outcomes, including supports that address students’ academic and social-emotional needs;
  • Collaborating with district and community partners to implement network models in ways that develop a shared commitment to deeper learning and equity;
  • Providing ongoing, multifaceted, and experiential professional learning that enables teachers and leaders to develop and improve their practice;
  • Developing leaders who deeply understand and are committed to implementing network practices in new and existing sites; and
  • Maintaining a learning orientation that allows the network and its affiliated schools to continually improve their designs to ensure quality and equity.

“There is no question that deeper learning approaches are fundamental to modern education,” said Learning Policy Institute President and Stanford Professor Emeritus Linda Darling-Hammond. “And yet, far too often these approaches are only available to affluent, students attending well-resourced schools. What we have learned from studying these three exemplary school networks is that systems can be put in place in sustainable, scalable ways that ensure all students—and especially traditionally underserved students—can experience high-quality learning that prepares them to succeed in the 21st century.”

Internationals Network for Public Schools: A Deeper Learning Approach to Supporting English Language Learners Download PDF

All too often in U.S. schools, English learners are segregated into classrooms that are on the margins of our educational system. In these learning spaces, English learners are often asked to engage with remedial content and face low expectations. In addition, some educators may perceive secondary students who are English learners as being too old to “catch up.”

Whereas some schools seemingly maintain limited goals and expectations for English learners, the Internationals Network for Public Schools sees potential and has high expectations. Internationals is a network of 27 schools situated within public school districts across the nation that serves
secondary students who are recent immigrants and English learners. The network expects that all of its students will graduate ready for college, career, and life and that all students will be ready to pursue a meaningful postsecondary path.

To meet these expectations, Internationals has developed a school model that emphasizes rigorous academics, linguistic dignity, and bilingualism. Internationals schools integrate language development across content areas while engaging students in deeper learning—pedagogical approaches, including project-based learning, work-based learning, and performance assessments, that allow students to explore their interests and learn academic content in personalized and inquiry-based ways. Deeper learning approaches help students think critically and solve complex problems using mathematical, scientific, and creative reasoning. To this end, teachers engage students in learning experiences that require collaboration, effective communication, and self-directed inquiry, enabling students to “learn how to learn” and develop academic mindsets that increase perseverance and productive learning behaviors.

In addition to these pedagogical features, Internationals’ students are further supported by school structures that address their social and emotional needs, including regular access to social workers, counselors, and wrap around services. The inclusion of language and content integration, a deeper learning approach, and a focus on the whole student has allowed Internationals to provide a range of coordinated supports that produce strong outcomes for English learners.

This report highlights how Internationals has managed to re-create, sustain, and spread its complex and equity-oriented model across the country, even in the face of the challenges that arise when seeking to create substantive changes to teaching and learning. The report begins with a description of the network’s model and how it designs schools with structures—such as mixed-age classes, teaching looping, interdisciplinary team collaboration, and advisories—to bring its vision and commitments to life. In addition, it identifies the systems and structures that have enabled
Internationals to re-create its model in a high-quality manner. The report suggests that:

  1. Internationals works collaboratively with local practitioners to establish its schools, helping ensure that its deeper learning model is feasible and sustainable.

    With its clear vision for teaching and learning, Internationals instantiates its vision and values in schools through collaborative processes that ensure the model is feasible and responsive to the community. On one hand, the network maintains a set of conditions that it strives to secure so that its complex model can be implemented, including Internationals’ input on staffing, flexibility on graduation timelines and requirements, and assurances that Internationals staff can incorporate language development into their core instruction.

    At the same time, Internationals staff do not establish their schools in a top-down fashion. Instead, they engage in ongoing discussions with district leaders and local educators about student need and the feasibility and fit of the model to ensure that it is a welcomed and
    responsive addition to the local community.

    Implications for schools and districts: Internationals’ ongoing collaboration with local communities suggests that deeper learning models can be well supported when local stakeholders are involved in establishing deeper learning schools. Similarly, school and district leaders seeking to implement deeper learning approaches can develop a clear understanding of the policies and structures they need to instantiate their visions and then consider how they can intentionally and authentically partner with the local communities from the onset.

  2. Internationals cultivates a culture of professional learning in which teachers and leaders learn about and experience Internationals’ model and hone their abilities to implement the model in collaborative and ongoing ways.

    Because the Internationals model varies from traditional ways of educating English learners, the network deliberately engages teachers and leaders in immersive professional development so that teachers can effectively implement its approach. The network invests early in its educators and leaders, onboarding them with a series of learning opportunities that allow them to experience the network’s instructional model and to learn with and from their experienced colleagues. The network also engages its teachers in professional learning with their colleagues via structured collaboration time and through the network’s characteristic open-door policy, wherein teachers visit each other’s classrooms to provide feedback or to learn new techniques. This policy encourages transparency and mutual accountability. The network also hosts cross-network workshops that gather teachers and leaders around specific topics and build communities of practice. Taken collectively, these professional learning opportunities advance a culture of continuous learning in Internationals schools and provide a reinforcing system of support for educators as they implement the network’s complex model.

    Implications for schools and districts: Internationals’ approach to supporting teachers and leaders can provide lessons for those seeking to implement deeper learning for English learners in their schools. Findings suggest the importance of experiential and immersive learning for educators and the need to build and maintain multifaceted systems for professional support that emphasize continuous improvement and collaboration.

All Eyes on Us Download PDF

This report presents the findings and recommendations of the 2018-2019 Youth Justice Board, an after-school program that engages New York City teenagers in studying public policy issues that affect young people. The Board looked at the relationship between the digital lives of youth and the justice system in New York City to identify opportunities to better support youth, minimize justice system involvement, and prevent the criminalization and misinterpretation of youth social media content.

Transforming Positive Youth Development: Making the Case for Youth Organizing Download PDF

Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing commissioned a two-year study to explores the unique contribution organizing plays in a young person’s development. Findings highlight the multiple ways that youth organizing groups use, and qualitatively transform, best practices in research-based youth development to promote social emotional learning and critical consciousness among the youth of color who attend these programs.

Restart and Recovery Download PDF

Based on lessons learned from the leaders on the front lines, CCSSO quickly developed a comprehensive framework to address and respond to COVID-19’s impact on the K-12 education system. The framework outlines a 12-month response and recovery work plan that includes: Phase 1 – Rapid Response to address the immediate needs of state education agencies (SEAs) across a continuum of identified critical needs. CCSSO is now launching Phase 2 of its COVID-19 response- Restart and Recovery to support states as they plan to restart schools and recover student learning loss.

Social, Emotional, and Academic Developments through an Equity Lens Download PDF

THE MAJORITY OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND DISTRICTS IN THE U.S. report they are working to support the social and emotional learning of students. But in too many places, the approach is to focus narrowly on changing student behavior rather than implementing practices that build relationships and create learning environments that support positive social and emotional growth. This is especially true in schools and districts that serve large populations of students of color and students from low-income backgrounds, exposing these students to environments that could do more harm than good.

This report calls for school and district leaders to approach social, emotional, and academic development through an equity lens. This requires shifting the focus away from “fixing kids” and toward addressing the adult beliefs and mindsets as well as school and district policies that create the learning environment. It also requires school and district leaders to consider the context in which students live. Societal realities (e.g., racism, sexism, homophobia), individual realities (e.g., socioeconomic status, family dynamics, experiences in schools, access to opportunities), and cultural background all influence social, emotional, and academic development.

This analysis is supported by existing research as well as what Education Trust researchers learned from focus groups across the country with students and families of color, primarily those from Black and Latino communities. Participants discussed the importance of social and emotional skills; what students of color need to learn other than academic subjects; and what educators and school leaders can do to support social, emotional, and academic development for students of color. As the research in this area continues to grow, and as state, district, and school leaders consider policy changes to support social, emotional, and academic development, the voices of these families and students must be heard and valued.

Barriers to Bridges: Teacher Perspectives on Accelerating Learning, Leadership, and Innovation Download PDF

THIS REPORT EXAMINES THE FRONTLINE EXPERIENCES OF EDUCATORS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. To understand these and gauge teachers’ perspectives on teaching and learning in the COVID era, Teach Plus and Teach Plus teacher leaders conducted focus groups with hundreds of teachers nationwide. We provide recommendations for education leaders and policymakers based on teachers’ guidance and input.

Who Will Care for the Early Education Workforce? COVID 19 and the Need to Support Early Childhood Educators’ Emotional Well-Being Download PDF

As calls to “reopen the economy” intensify, attention has turned to early care and education (ECE) for young children. Leaders throughout the country recognize child care as not just a parental responsibility but also a social responsibility that is foundational to the United States’ economy. For understandable reasons, a large focus has been on the ECE sector’s financial precarity, with some estimates suggesting that up to half of all child care could be lost as a result of COVID-19 pandemic-related closures and falling enrollment in a sector that is largely funded by fees that families pay. While this is a critical issue, the pandemic’s intense negative mental health effects on early childhood educators are getting far less attention, which can have serious ramifications on the well-being of the children in their care. Emerging evidence underscores that teachers’ stress (both personal and work-related) and emotional responsiveness impact children’s learning, anger, aggression, anxiety, social withdrawal, and overall social competence.2

This research brief is a follow-up to the snapshot report: Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on New York’s Early Childhood System which was based upon a survey sent to participants in the Aspire Registry, New York’s early childhood workforce data system, in early May 2020.c The purpose of this survey was to understand how New York’s ECE field was faring during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to inform planning for how to support the workforce, and therefore children and families, through the ongoing health crisis.3 Understanding the Impact provided a descriptive snapshot that raised reflective questions about the field’s needs in the areas of: (1) emotional well-being, (2) programs’ reopening and economic assistance, (3) individuals’ economic support needs, and (4) issues around developmentally meaningful remote care and instruction. This survey, along with others conducted by the Day Care Council, Raising New York, and the National and New York State Associations for the Education of Young Children provide a comprehensive portrait of the challenges facing the early care and education system throughout New York State.

Delivering Services to Meet the Needs of Home-Based Child Care Providers–Erikson Institute Download PDF

Home-based child care (HBCC) encompasses non-custodial care provided by regulated family child care (FCC) providers and family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) caregivers, who may or may not be legally-exempt from regulation. It is the most common child care arrangement for children from birth through age five, caring for approximately seven million children (NSECE Project Team, 2016). More infants and toddlers are in these setting than any other child care arrangement (NSECE Project Team, 2013; Paschall, 2019) and low-income families working non-traditional schedules disproportionately use HBCC (Laughlin, 2013).

Two issues—improving HBCC quality and maintaining supply—have emerged as pressing questions for policy makers and program administrators across the country. While there is some evidence that both FCC and FFN providers engage in quality improvement initiatives, data about the effects of these initiatives are limited and the results are mixed (Bromer and Korfmacher, 2017; Douglass, Taj, Coonan, & Friedman, 2017; Hallam, Hooper, Bargree, & Han, 2017; Tonyan, Paulsell, & Shivers, 2017). Moreover, while the number of regulated FCC providers decreased by 46% in the past decade (NCECQA, 2019), there is a lack of data on supply-building strategies.

Some research suggests that family child care networks— organizations that provide a combination of services to HBCC providers delivered by a paid staff member—may be a promising approach for improving the quality and building the supply of HBCC (Bromer & Porter, 2019; Bromer, Van Haitsma, Daley, & Modigliani, 2009; Porter & Reiman, 2016).

Restarting and Reinventing School: Learning in the Time of COVID and Beyond–Learning Policy Institute Download PDF

Across the United States, state education agencies and school districts face daunting challenges and difficult decisions for restarting schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. As state and district leaders prepare for what schooling will look like in 2020 and beyond, there is an opportunity to identify evidence-based policies and practices that will enable them to seize this moment to rethink school in ways that can transform learning opportunities for students and teachers alike.

Our current system took shape almost exactly a century ago, when school designs and funding were established to implement mass education on an assembly-line model organized to prepare students for their “places in life”—judgments that were enacted within contexts of deep-seated racial, ethnic, economic, and cultural prejudices. In a historical moment when we have more knowledge about human development and learning, when society and the economy demand a more challenging set of skills, and when—at least in our rhetoric—there is a greater social commitment to equitable education, it is time to use the huge disruptions caused by this pandemic to reinvent our systems of education. The question is: How we can harness these understandings as we necessarily redesign school? How can we transform what has not been working for children and for our society into a more equitable and empowering future?

This report provides an overarching framework that focuses on how policymakers as well as educators can support equitable, effective teaching and learning regardless of the medium through which that takes place. This framework provides research, state and local examples, and policy recommendations in 10 key areas that speak both to transforming learning and to closing opportunity and achievement gaps. It illustrates how policymakers and educators can:

  1. Close the digital divide
  2. Strengthen distance and blended learning
  3. Assess what students need
  4. Ensure supports for social and emotional learning
  5. Redesign schools for stronger relationships
  6. Emphasize authentic, culturally responsive learning
  7. Provide expanded learning time
  8. Establish community schools and wraparound supports
  9. Prepare educators for reinventing school
  10. Leverage more adequate and equitable school funding

Each of these 10 policy priorities will help schools reinvent themselves around principles of equity, authentic learning, and stronger relationships, and they require shifts from policymakers and educators alike.

Building Power and Safety Through Solidarity–DRUM Download PDF

DRUM IS AN INTERGENERATIONAL South Asian and Indo- Caribbean membership-based organization in New York City. Our members are working-class youth and adults whose lives have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. As our neighborhoods transformed into COVID-19 hotspots, DRUM reimagined how to build power and organize in the absence of in-person meetings, rallies or outreach.

We pivoted our work to meet people’s realities and began a new campaign, Building Power and Safety through Solidarity (PaSS), in which we established a framework on how to organize over the phone and online. Organizers and members conducted phone calls with community members to ensure they had access to food as well as essential information about the virus and safety protocols. We engaged with them on why the richest country in the world was unable to support working-class communities amidst a crisis. The campaign built a culture of mutuality and collective care, pushing individuals to think about the needs of other community members not solely themselves.

Through the PaSS campaign we made over 12,075+ calls to build working class power. We connected individuals to ongoing campaigns and efforts such as organizing rent strikes, building women’s power to end gender based violence, advocating for an excluded worker’s fund in New York State, criminal justice reform, and the cancellation of rent. Amidst isolation and uncertainty, the PaSS campaign allowed us to bring new people into our movements to prepare larger forces to fight upcoming struggles.

At every level, the government has spent decades slashing funding for public programs and benefits that our lives depend on while expanding police and military budgets. The pandemic has laid bare the consequences of these policies as the number of COVID-19 deaths continue to rise across the country.

New York has garnered national praise for drastically lowering the rate of COVID-19 infections. While we welcome this shift, we recognize that this so-called “success” rests upon the graves of the city’s most marginalized residents. The low death toll in nations such as Vietnam demonstrates that the deaths of low-income residents of color, particularly Black and Latinx residents, could and should have been prevented.

During the peak of the pandemic, our relatives, friends and community died in overwhelmed hospitals or at their homes because their case was not severe enough to merit hospitalization. Our communities (and even more so Black and Latinx communities) paid the price for austerity measures. For example, in the last two decades in New York City, 18 hospitals have closed. These closures created the conditions for hospitals in low-income communities of color to become overwhelmed when COVID-19 infections first spiked. 91% of DRUM members live in neighborhoods impacted by hospital closures.

Crises transform society. But first we need to transform as a people. The pandemic represents an opening to bring more people into our movements so we can fight for the world we’re trying to build on the other side of the pandemic. For those wondering whether their loved ones would have survived COVID-19 had their local hospital not been overwhelmed, the thwarted priorities of the state are clearer than ever. We’ve seen community members who would normally not support defunding the police now respond to the national uprisings in agreement that the state is far too invested in locking certain groups up in cages than they are in keeping them safe and healthy.

The bereaved relatives, the family forced to the street in the middle of the pandemic, the unemployed, the hungry, the struggling masses have to be organized together to build the power we need. As movements, we must invest in their political education and leadership development to transform their anger and consciousness, to abolish the systems that do not serve us, and to build the world we need and deserve.

Equitable Compensation for the Child Care Workforce–Bank Street College of Education Download PDF

For too long the question of equitable compensation and benefits has been the obvious, but elusive lever to sustainably improving the quality of child care in this country.

Pay and benefit parity between early childhood and elementary school educators is critical to reducing turnover, improving job quality, and achieving a more equitablechild care system. However, given the gap between current, fair, and equitable compensation, it often seems like a fantasy. We have been afraid to talk about what it might cost. The result: incremental policy change that continues to shortchange our youngest learners and their caregivers. Bank Street’s cost modeling estimates that pay parity including comprehensive benefits for all birth-to-three educators nationwide would cost $40.2 billion per year. To put this investment in context, we spend $591 billion on compensation and benefits for K-12 public school teachers.

Due to a gross underinvestment of public resources, less than 10 percent of child care programs are considered high quality. Half of the child care workforce relies on public assistance, 86 percent make less than $15 per hour, and only 15 percent receive employer-sponsored health insurance. This is a workforce made up almost entirely of women, 40 percent of whom are people of color. As a comparison, K-12 teacher salaries average $59,420 and include comprehensive benefits packages. Eighty-four percent of the K-12 workforce is White. These trends are even more significant when we examine wage disparities within the field. Nationally, on average, Black female educators working full time in settings that serve children ages 0-5 make 84 cents for every $1 earned by their White counterparts. While some states have made progress increasing the compensation of pre-K teachers, those working in child care settings are almost universally left behind; despite the fact that families pay more in monthly child care fees than for their mortgages in 35 states. As the Alliance for Early Success writes in their recently released roadmap to transform the child care sector, “instead of allocating adequate public funding for child care and providing it as a public good to all families, we have decided to run this system on the backs of families and educators, especially economically vulnerable women, and women of color.”

Improving Equity & Opportunity in Illinois’ Workforce–Ready Nation Download PDF

Workers of color represent a growing and formidable portion of the Illinois workforce, about one in three workers. Yet they bear a disproportionate share of our economic challenges, ranging from lower average pay to higher unemployment rates — factors that haven’t been helped by the COVID pandemic. Meanwhile, children of color account for 49 percent of Illinois’ youngest learners, yet similarly face outsized problems.

On average, only three out of 10 Illinois children entering kindergarten are fully prepared for school, according to the State Board of Education — a startling, overall statistic that’s even more alarming among Black youngsters (23 percent), Latino children (17 percent) and English learners (14 percent).

A new report from ReadyNation Illinois calls for ensuring greater equity in early childhood investments to help children of color off to the best start in life, a path that can also lead to better outcomes in jobs and careers. For example, research shows that investments in early education can help dramatically shrink gaps in school-entry skills seen between white children and those of color; other studies indicate particularly strong pre-literacy and math gains for Black children who’ve attended preK — foundational skills on which school and workforce success can be built.

“The stability and success of these children and their families are key to the ongoing success of our entire state,” states our report. “Helping youngsters of color to reach their full potential in learning and life is a just and smart investment in helping our entire workforce and economy to, in turn, reach their full potential.”

Among other things, the ReadyNation Illinois report recommends:

  • Boosting early childhood workforce development and compensation, especially considering this labor pool’s heavy reliance upon women — and women of color;
  • Bolstering social-emotional supports for young children, their teachers and caregivers;
  • Focusing further on meeting children’s foundational, prenatal-to-3 needs, as envisioned by Illinois PN3 plans and related coalition efforts; and
  • Taking bold steps in pursuing big-picture, systemic reforms of early childhood services, such as those represented in the unfolding work of a state commission studying adequacy, equity and governance improvements.

“Ensuring justice and fairness in society isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s a smart investment,” concludes our report. Our network of business leaders hopes to help our state make the necessary early childhood investments to benefit Illinoisans of color, in particular, and our entire workforce and economy.

2020 Early Childhood Workforce Index–Center for Study of Child Care Employment Download PDF

The Early Childhood Workforce Index provides a state-by-state look at policies and conditions affecting the early care and education workforce. This biennial report has tracked state progress since 2016.

This third, 2020 edition of the Index continues to track state policies in essential areas like workforce qualifications, work environments, and compensation. The report provides updated policy recommendations and spotlights state responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Investing in the Power of Young People: 20 Years of Philanthropic Support for Youth Organizing–Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing Download PDF

Throughout the 1990’s, young people of color around the country, many of them high-school aged, led campaigns for social change on a variety of issues, including fighting for the de-criminalization of youth and advocating for public education reform. Though their work drew upon a long tradition of youth movements for change, much of it was happening under the radar of institutional philanthropy. Barbara Tavares, president of the Edward W. Hazen Foundation at the time, recalls, “There was a lot of work that was happening on the ground from Mississippi in the South to Philadelphia to the West Coast. But it was invisible, disconnected, and underfunded.” Recognizing these challenges, a small group of funders with a commitment to youth organizing began initiating discussions about how to support and resource this work more effectively. Following a series of conversations with both funders and organizers, the idea of a funders’ collaborative began to take root.1

Launched in 2000, the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing created a space for funders to come together with practitioners to learn more about youth-led social change efforts, invest in the field in a more coordinated and strategic way, and build out the knowledge base for the field (Sherman, 2002). Moreover, this new infrastructure helped connect largely local and regional youth organizing efforts into a national conversation.

Among FCYO’s early investors were the Ford Foundation and the Surdna Foundation. Ford and Surdna’s introduction to supporting youth organizing was representative of much of the funding zeitgeist at the time, which focused on youth development. Robert Sherman, director of the Effective Citizenry program at Surdna, helped move the foundation from a paradigm of youth service to the notion of young people as civic actors who can serve as powerful agents of change in their communities. Likewise, Inca Mohamed, a program officer at Ford at the time, recalls, “Ford was not funding organizing of any kind.” With the Foundation’s investments in youth development, however, she was able to make the case among her colleagues by framing youth activism as a component of youth development. This reframe aligned with FCYO’s focus on high-school aged youth organizers, distinct from activism by college-aged young adults.

Early supporters of FCYO collectively engaged their peers in one-on-one conversations while also organizing funder briefings to help others in the philanthropic community learn the social change strategy of organizing, which was new to many funders. FCYO made sure that young people were at the center of these conversations. Nat Williams, president of the Hill-Snowdon Foundation, believes this was critically important and helped create the space within philanthropy for “young people to represent themselves in their own ways.”

In its early years, FCYO invested heavily in knowledge-building, supporting funder education and broader field-building efforts by publishing a series of reports through its Occasional Paper Series. In its first five years, FCYO produced eight reports, articulating models of youth leadership and organizing, describing the connections between youth development and youth organizing, and documenting the work of youth organizing groups across regions including the South, Southwest, and Midwest. These reports became essential resources that helped build the field by providing frameworks and documentation that could speak to the defining values and approaches embodied in youth organizing, as well as the impact of this work.

20 Years of Power: The 2020 National Youth Organizing Field Scan–Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing Download PDF

Since its inception 20 years ago, the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing (FCYO) has served to connect youth organizing practitioners, funders, and stakeholders to a wide range of resources designed to strengthen the field of youth organizing. As part of its major contributions, FCYO routinely publishes scans of the youth organizing field. FCYO Field Scans provide a wide-angled view of the youth organizing field at a particular moment in time, contextualized in the field’s history and accompanied by a forecast of where the field’s contributions might lead in coming years. Previous field scans were published in 2004, 2010, and 2013.

This year, the 2020 National Youth Organizing Field Scan comprises a series of four reports that together offer an in-depth look into a field that has grown significantly over the last two decades. This report – the largest and most comprehensive of the four – shares findings across several data sources and concludes by bringing FCYO leaders and researchers into conversation about the state of the youth organizing field. Its contents include discussions about the ways in which youth organizing groups navigate complex social and political landscapes to address pressing issues as well as the field’s spectrum of engagement models, budgets, and staffing, all of which are important indicators of the field’s growth and viability. Collectively, this report offers an understanding of how far the field has come in the past 20 years and a vision of where it is headed.

Accompanying this report are Poised to Lead, a quick and accessible snapshot of the youth organizing field in this moment; Investing in the Power of Young People: 20 Years of Philanthropic Support for Youth Organizing, a funder scan that highlights the maturity of the field of foundations supporting this work; and a third, yet-to-be-titled report offering a deeper look at youth organizing to improve the health of our nation.

Data from this report were collected through a year-long, mixed methods scan of the field of youth organizing, including a survey completed by 312 youth organizing groups as well as interviews and focus groups with 59 youth organizing leaders across 38 organizations. The survey was administered and analyzed by Dr. Veronica Terriquez with support from Jonathan Sanchez. Interviews and focus group data were collected and analyzed by the Research Hub for Youth Organizing at CU Boulder and led by Dr. Siomara Valladares and Dr. Michelle Renée Valladares with support from Matt Garcia, Kate Baca, and Dr. Ben Kirshner. Interviews with funders were collected and analyzed by Dr. Seema Shah at Comm|Veda Consulting. This report is a collaboration between FCYO and the University of Colorado Boulder; the analyses and writing in this report was led by the Research Hub in consultation with FCYO staff.

As a research team, we wish to acknowledge that it is impossible to determine how much of the increase in survey responses from groups over the years is the result of an actual increase in the number of organizations that exist in 2020 versus changes in data collection methodology or the growing credibility and networking power of FCYO as an organization. The idea that more organizations exist in more states and in better communication is backed up by interview and focus group data. Importantly, each field scan was methodologically different and led by different research teams. When we make comparisons across scans from different years, we make the best comparisons we can, but these comparisons are not perfect.

As authors, we are profoundly inspired and indebted to the youth organizing leaders who took precious time away from their organizing to respond to the survey and participate in our conversations. We humbly hope that we accurately convey the same level of urgency, commitment, and dedication demonstrated by youth leaders throughout this year.

Building the Field of Ethical, Authentic, & Youth-Led Advocacy: Key Components of a Youth Advocacy Program–Juvenile Law Center Download PDF

Since 2008, Juvenile Law Center has been promoting youth voice and expertise through its Youth Advocacy Program which includes Juveniles for Justice (J4J)*, Youth Fostering Change (YFC), and the Youth Speakers Bureau. Each program provides youth with system involvement, ages 15-22, the opportunity to develop, propose, and advocate for effective solutions to longstanding systemic problems. Through the programs, youth advocates (our youth program members) develop leadership skills, political knowledge, communication and storytelling skills, and a sense of community. By choosing to share their personal experiences to develop and advance reforms, youth advocates help influence Juvenile Law Center’s priorities by working to affect policy change through advocacy, media outreach, and public education.

Re-Engaging Multilingual Learners Post-Pandemic–Internationals Network for Public Schools Download PDF

For more than a year, we have been consumed with tracking losses. Loss of lives, loss of time, loss of students who were forced to relocate due to unemployment or to leave school due to economic pressures. In the midst of loss, we have also seen the work of educators across our network blossom with collaborative problem-solving, peer support, and creative solutions to unheard of situations that have been in constant flux. We have spent the past year listening to leaders, teachers, staff and students across our network. Our goal is to take lessons from the losses while we also harness the innovations and carry them into the year ahead in the service of our students.

In the pages that follow, we share findings from across our network to see what we can learn about shifts in engagement with school, student achievement, and the ways that schools have responded to student needs. As we look toward the future, we know that it is imperative that students, who are new to the US and are already disadvantaged in school, be centered in plans to re-engage.

This report brings together the perspectives from the 28 schools and academies in nine school districts in Internationals Network. It is our collective effort to synthesize learnings from the months since March 2020, when schools shifted to remote learning, and to share insights in order to inform re-engagement with schools for the 2021-22 school year. We hope that readers who influence decisions in districts, schools, and communities can benefit from the findings shared here. We view these findings as offering an opportunity to combine a look at the losses and the innovations in teaching and learning from multiple perspectives, framed in the context of a school network that for many years has innovated to transform secondary schools into places that support immigrant multilingual learner success. As we all prepare to open our school doors for the 2021-22 school year, we hope that our collective observations, insights, voices, examples and recommendations for re-engagement can inform continued innovation and collaboration with an eye toward equitable schooling opportunities for multilingual learners.