NewsFlash: Volume 1, Issue 3
Youthprise publishes a News Flash newsletter on a quarterly basis to update our community on news that impacts the work that is done here at Youthprise. Take a look at the latest edition!
Youth/adult partnerships are integral to the work done at Youthprise. PeaceJam and youthrive take these intergenerational learning opportunities very seriously. youthrive, the Upper Midwest PeaceJam affiliate, coordinated this year’s Minneapolis PeaceJam events on April 27th and 28th where they invited Nobel Laureate, Leymah Gboweee to keynote. Leymah is renowned for being a youth champion and an advocate for women and girls around the world.
Leymah Gbowee received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 in recognition of her role in the women’s peace movement that helped to end the Liberian Civil War, bringing peace and free presidential elections to the country. Her collaborator, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, was subsequently elected president, making Liberia the first African nation to have a female president.
Women were a key group that helped to usher in a period of peace to Liberia. Motherhood and the connections these women had to younger generations were a deep part of Gbowee’s work in the women’s peace movement in Liberia. These intergenerational connections have impacted the international work that Gbowee has done as a Nobel Laureate, and her participation in PeaceJam is no exception to this commitment.
A committed supporter of women’s rights, Gbowee has advocated for the support of single mothers and has highlighted the importance of investing in the intelligence and potential of girls. Through her leadership in the women’s peace movement in Liberia, and her subsequent dedication to the next generation of women leaders internationally, Gbowee brings women and girls to the forefront in current and future peace movements internationally.
Although PeaceJam is known for its public events, a big piece of their work is providing on-going educational programming for youth across the country. Nobel Laureates that participate in public events are integral to this programming that connects youth with international leaders in peace movements. Young people are given the opportunity to learn directly from Nobel Laureates themselves, and become connected to an international network of young people working as peacebuilders and peacemakers.
Gbowee, PeaceJam and youthrive embody authentic youth/adult partnerships that are crucial to peace movements across the country and internationally. They show the importance of connecting youth voices from around the world and supporting them with high-quality programming that sustains their growth as leaders. Youthprise is thrilled to partner with youthrive and PeaceJam to bring Leymah Gbowee to this year’s Minneapolis PeaceJam events, and bring this important conversation to Minnesota. For more information on Minneapolis’ PeaceJam events visit go here.
One of Youthprise’s most successful events of the year is our annual Black History Month Celebration. With a theme of Renewing Hope in the Promise of Minnesota’s Youth, Youthprise commemorates Black History Month as an opportunity to embrace the insight, resourcefulness, and energy of today’s youth, and an opportunity to reach out to the African American community – one that is disproportionately affected by the opportunity gap.
For a second year, we partnered with the Cultural Wellness Center as our co-convener and joined with Minneapolis Public Schools, Saint Paul Public Schools and Sabathani Community Center as hosts for the two-day schedule of events. These included a philanthropy breakfast, a youth circle, a radio panel, a parent summit and a community forum – all involving community- based organizations, funders, community members and stakeholders in a celebration of Black History and culture.
Recent research shows that engaging young people in pursuits that affirm racial pride and promote positive connections to their culture can have a positive impact on academic performance. Topics throughout the two-day celebration focused on the benefit of connecting youth to the relevance of the past and how we can leverage culture and history as tools to develop leadership among under-engaged youth to help them build a better future for themselves as well as the future of Minnesota.
We were fortunate to have Dr. Joseph White, “the Godfather of Black Psychology,” as our keynote speaker for this year’s events. A dynamic speaker and a luminary in the field of psychology, Dr. White connected with young people and elders alike, and laced his talks with humor and examples of cultural complexity.
Dr. White grew up in Minneapolis and experienced racial discrimination, but was also exposed to quality out-of-school time programming through the Pillsbury House community programs (currently Pillsbury United Communities). His personal experiences in Minnesota as a young black man have profoundly affected the work he has accomplished in the field of psychology, as demonstrated by his groundbreaking article “Toward a Black Psychology” that was published in Ebony Magazine in 1970.
A central speaker at all of the events, Dr. White shared his insights with younger generations of Minnesotans and stressed the importance of renewing hope and using an asset-based approach to youth engagement.
We were excited to see so many friends of Youthprise throughout the events, but for those who missed it, we thought we would share one of the key lessons Dr. White spoke about – “Seven Strengths of African Americans.”
Improvisation: The ability to be resourceful, imaginative, creative and innovative in meeting life’s challenges, and the personal realization that answers come from within.
Resilience: The capacity to rebound from setbacks and become stronger in the broken places. (Dr. White shared the poem “Still I Rise,” by Maya Angelou.)
Connectedness: To family, extended family, peers, community, etc. The necessity of looking out for each other and how that teaches one to build successful mutual relationships.
Spirituality: A spiritual and life-affirming force which runs through the Black experience and is responsible for strength in the face of adversity and hope for a brighter tomorrow.
Emotional vitality: A zest for life, high energy, exuberance and a style that fully embraces life.
Gallows humor: The ability to cry when experiencing tragedy paired with the ability to see humor in the midst of human dilemma. (As an example, Dr. White recommends Langston Hughes’ popular writings of fictional character Jesse B. Semple.)
Healthy suspicion: Not paranoia, but a healthy suspicion of “you know who” — a group who has made and broken promises since 1619.
Visit our website www.youthprise.org. to see videos shown during our two-day celebration, honoring the Cultural Wellness Center’s partnership with Maxfield Magnet School and JDAI, an initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
If lobby days are any indication, the legislative session in Minnesota is in full swing. From immigrant rights to women’s rights, organizations and advocates are rallying at the Capitol to share their concerns with policy makers.
Youth Day at the Capitol is no exception. This year’s Youth Day garnered more support than ever before. Compared to last year there was a 45% increase in participating organizations, a 53% increase in participating adults, and a whopping 67% increase in participating youth.
The 2013 Youth Day at the Capitol kicked off with a celebration of Afterschool Champions – policy makers and adults who have advocated for quality afterschool programming. Governor Mark Dayton, Chairwoman of White Earth Nation of Ojibwe Indians Erma J. Vizenor, and Mayor of Brooklyn Park Jeffrey Lunde were selected as this year’s Afterschool Champions by the Minnesota Afterschool Network, which is hosted by Youthprise.
After the award ceremony, the Minnesota Alliance With Youth, Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon announced their support of a national effort – Grad Nation with a major goal to increase Minnesota’s graduation rate from 77% to 90% by 2020. State Farm presented the Minnesota Alliance With Youth with a $50,000 check in support of the new endeavor.
Youth also took to the stage and led a rally in the Capitol Rotunda, bringing visual attention to the issues and concerns of young people across the state of Minnesota. Youth, advocates and youth-serving organizations filled the Capitol throughout the day to bring youth and their concerns front and center for policy makers.
The real work of the day happened behind the scenes, as community-based organizations and advocates helped young people schedule meetings with their legislators to discuss issues that are important to them and their communities. “Youth Day at the Capitol is an opportunity to introduce young people to the political process and to help make legislators aware of issues facing youth in their communities so that young people, too, are viewed as constituents,” explained David Kim, Youth Media Researcher and Community Builder for Youthprise.
“Even though Youth Day at the Capitol is a single day reserved for young people to lobby, it might surprise many to learn how youth are directly impacted by all legislation – not just the education policies that we often associate with young people,” said Libby Rau, Youthprise’s Director of Youth Engagement. Rau pointed out, “Youth Day is one platform young people have to advocate for ways to mobilize their community’s resources, to help them make the most of their out-of-school time experiences.”
Rau emphasized that from transportation to health and safety, it is important for policy makers to keep youth in mind when considering legislation. “It’s a learning process for both young people and for policy makers, giving legislators the chance to build meaningful relationships with their youngest constituents who are deeply impacted by the policies they create.”
Another key partner in Youth Day was the Minnesota Youth Council, a joint project of Youthprise and the Minnesota Alliance With Youth. The Youth Council is a statewide representative body of youth and their adult mentors who represent each of Minnesota’s eight Congressional districts. The Youth Council serves as an official advisory body to the Minnesota Department of Education; gathers information from youth through focus groups, surveys and community mapping; and develops policy proposals for consideration by the Minnesota Legislature. Council members are also in charge of making grant decisions through Youthprise’s Youth Philanthropy Fund.
For more information and to see a video of the day visit www.mnyipa.org.
Intermediaries are in a class of their own, literally. Though they act independently, intermediaries serve as the conduit for a field of practice – gathering best practices, convening voices in their field, and offering capacity-building support to those profesionals, leaders, and organizations doing direct-service work.
As an intermediary in the field of out-of- school time, Youthprise plays a unique role in the success of young people in Minnesota. And, as we leverage Youthprise resources to document best practices, convene organizations serving youth throughout the state, and offer capacity- building support to youth-serving nonprofits, we find ourselves in a league of remarkable peers. The Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (CBASS) invited Youthprise to join as a partner organization in June 2012. CBASS is a partnership dedicated to increasing the availability of quality after school programming by building citywide after school systems, and works in collaboration with service providers, public and private funders and policymakers to make after school an integral part of the system of essential services that support young people.
Youthprise President Wokie Weah serves as Youthprise’s representative in the Collaborative. “We were excited by the invitation to join CBASS,” said Weah. “Our affiliation with CBASS provides a forum for sharing stories of Minnesota youth with a national audience.”
Weah believes that one of the reasons Youthprise was invited to join CBASS is our focus on youth engagement and involving and engaging young people in systems building and being authentic about that level of engagement.
Through CBASS, Youthprise is given a platform for dialogue, exchange of ideas, and access to valuable research. With other significant out-of-school time intermediaries – well-developed intermediaries with long histories of best practices and reputations for producing cutting edge work – Youthprise takes a spot at the table with professionals in our field from other major metropolitan cities like Boston, Baltimore, New York, and Chicago.
CBASS offers the Youthprise team and the out-of-school time field in Minnesota a forum for talking about how we create better systems on the ground, how we can coordinate, and how to not duplicate our efforts. And, CBASS continually asks the important question: how do we cultivate a desire to significantly increase access to quality learning opportunities beyond the classroom?
CBASS also has a robust policy presence and, along with other major cities across the country who are engaged in the work of out-of-school time, CBASS leverages the strength of the partners in the Collaborative into the policy arena. They are committed to developing policies that provide incentives for building systems and the data supports that make them possible. CBASS is also working with partners to ask Congress to consider policy principles for updating and reauthorizing the 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
At the most recent meeting, CBASS members focused on two issues that are critical to the field at this moment. One of them is of great interest to Youthprise and our funders – how do we measure success? How do we measure success for youth, for programs that are serving youth, and for systems that are coordinating those programs? Right now, being able to articulate the outcomes we are achieving is a significant task.
A second issue CBASS leaders are discussing is communications – how we talk about the work of intermediaries and how, as intermediaries, can we articulate more effectively “what is an intermediary, what is an out-of-school time system, and what are the outcomes we are producing from all of this?”
We hope to bring the shared lessons of what is working back to other youth-serving organizations here in Minnesota to continue to enrich the out-of-school time experiences of Minnesota’s youth.
For more information on CBASS or Youthprise’s policy advocacy, contact Karen Kingsley, firstname.lastname@example.org.