As key partners of the Next Generation Youth Work Coalition explored the next phase of this organization last week in Dallas, it's a prime time for the broader youth development field to be aware of this important organization. Its purpose is to bring together individuals and organizations dedicated to developing a strong, diverse after-school and youth development workforce that is stable, prepared, supported and committed to the well being and empowerment of children and youth. We want your opinion on our proposed action plan.
Next Gen partners (nearly 3100 now) have three primary roles:
- "Provide thought leadership around cutting-edge practices, research and policy.
- Generating lively discussion and exchange of ideas about the field of youth work.
- Sharing resources to inform and educate youth work professionals.
Last week 50 people attended the opening session of the Next Gen track at the National Afterschool Association (NAA) Annual Convention in Dallas. Ellen Gannett from National Institute on Out-of-school Time (NIOST) opened the conference track of seven Next Gen workshops with a discussion about the mission, history, and accomplishments over the past several years. Dana Fusco, editor of the newly released book Advancing Youth Work, discussed the workforce trends that shaped the Next Gen conference track. The opening session was predominantly a brainstorming opportunity about the future focus of the coalition.
The key theme that emerged about future focus was "collaboration across stakeholders". Stakeholders include youth workers, youth work sectors (families of practice), youth, higher education, intermediaries, government officials, funders, and international partners. Collaborations would reinforce networking of youth workers through regional or local meetings, prompt coordination with government officials, spark interactions with students who are enrolled in youth studies programs in higher education, build upon international connections, and promote collaborations across sectors of youth work.
To move this vision forward, five actions emerged from discussions within the conference track:
- review the makeup and functions of the coalition's advisory board to assure representation across our stakeholder groups;
- build an online presence through social media and a more interactive Next Gen Website. (You can do this now! Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!);
- organize a fundraiser such as a Kickstarter to raise funds to support the work;
- advance the higher education committee work; and
- develop a strategy for advocacy that includes follow up on the idea of promoting youth-led media spots.
What are your thoughts? If you were at NAA in Dallas, what sparked your energy and interest throughout the workshop sessions? If you weren't, what reactions do you have to the actions identified?