Meeting District Needs News in Brief

‘Ready by 21’ Aims to Prepare Youths

By Scott J. Cech — February 28, 2008 1 min read
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A nonprofit organization this week launched “Ready by 21,” a national campaign aimed at better preparing youths for college, work, and life.

Run by the Washington-based Forum for Youth Investment, the initiative is intended to help state and local leaders improve education and social services in the first two decades of children’s lives.

Thaddeus Ferber, the Forum for Youth Investment’s program director, said young Americans are too often unprepared for college, work, and civic responsibilities.

One part of the solution, he said, is Ready by 21’s goal: to erase artificial boundaries that keep officials from working together on such interrelated problems as drug use, teenage pregnancy, and dropping out of school.

“It’s about how do we get all people to work together on one agenda,” Mr. Ferber said in an interview.

Former U.S. Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, a Missouri Democrat, and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, a Republican, helped kick off the effort.

The forum is partnering with six other nonprofit groups in the initiative: the Alexandria, Va.-based United Way of America; the Washington-based Corporate Voices for Working Families; the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures; the Washington-based National Collaboration for Youth; the Arlington, Va.-based American Association of School Administrators; and the Alexandria, Va.-based America’s Promise Alliance.

“Improving young lives means changing old strategies,” Mr. Gephardt said in a statement. “Increasing funding for one program while decreasing funding for another generates political wins, but it fails children and youth.”

The organizations pledged to facilitate summits on preventing dropouts and contribute Web-based seminars to the effort, and set a five-year goal of creating a critical mass of leaders in all 50 states dedicated to furthering Ready by 21’s goals.

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A version of this article appeared in the March 05, 2008 edition of Education Week


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