Equity & Diversity in After School and Youth Programs Initiative
The goal of the Equity & Diversity in After School and Youth Programs Initiative is to support individuals, organizations, and institutions in the after school field to incorporate equitable approaches and practices into their work and help build youth as change agents. For the next five years our work will focus specifically on:
- Supporting key leaders and stakeholders in the after school field to adopt a more holistic, equity-based approach in after school programming to address the needs of marginalized youth;
- Expanding the after school field’s understanding of and best practices for English Learners to include socio-emotional needs and supports in addition to English language development; and
- Demonstrating how to help build youth change agents rooted in our equity framework.
The Equity & Diversity in After School and Youth Programs Initiative is based on our 3-year national research study of access, equity and diversity trends and promising practices in the after school arena. We published our findings in Pursuing the Promise: Addressing Equity and Diversity in After School and Youth Programs (2003). From this study, we developed a set of key equity and diversity principles and a toolkit to support program and policy improvement in the after school and youth development fields.
At the center of the Equity & Diversity in After School and Youth Programs Initiative is a set of seven core competencies we call the Bridging Multiple Worlds (BMW) Competencies. We believe all youth need these competencies to support their academic as well as social and emotional growth in order to become thriving members of society. The Competencies were developed through an analysis of our past school reform efforts and take into account the many ways youth of color, low-income youth, immigrants, and other marginalized groups are often discriminated against and failed by our public educational system. The Competencies are:
- Strong cultural identity
- Leadership skills to act for change
- Critical thinking skills
- Cross-cultural skills
- Knowledge of history and social justice movements
- Understanding of one's community
click here for a full description of the competencies
We believe these competencies need to be actively offered to young people, both in and out of school, as a supplement to their traditional academic study so that they can grow into strong learners and leaders and comfortably navigate the diverse worlds in which we live.
The Equity & Diversity in After School and Youth Programs Initiative works to infuse these competencies into the youth development and K-12 fields by:
- offering customized technical assistance and other resources to after school and youth development programs to spark deeper understanding of the diverse constituencies that programs serve and help providers and intermediaries create more inclusive and equitable after school environments;
- providing professional development to teachers to help them create equitable, accessible, high quality learning environments for California's diverse student population;
- working directly with youth through Student Leadership Trainings to help students gain cross-cultural skills, explore their own identities, examine power structures in society, and teach them strategies to work towards social justice; and
- partnering with allies on urgent policy and advocacy efforts, particularly in California, to advocate for the incorporation of equity and diversity concerns in the development of state and local policy and technical assistance agendas.