Leadership Symposium Early Bird Deadline Approaching | Join K-12 leaders nationwide for three days of empowering strategies, networking, and inspiration! Discounted pricing ends March 1. Register today.
Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Youth Engagement Needs Adult Commitment

May 10, 2005 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

While your On Assignment article “Leading the Way,” April 20, 2005, highlighted some important work being done by young people around the country, it missed the big picture.

Yes, logistically it can be difficult for teenagers to fit more activities into their busy schedules. But it is often even more difficult for students and adults to effectively work together to change the policies, systems, and structures in their schools and communities. The young people of the Portland, Maine, student board Youthink, and their counterparts in seven other communities around the country who are awarding grants through the Youth Innovation Fund, deserve high praise for overcoming these difficulties.

The overall goal of the fund is to create a system in which all young people have the opportunity to participate in the formal and informal decisionmaking that occurs in their communities. The Academy for Educational Development, which manages the National Service-Learning Partnership, was asked by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to design the Youth Innovation Fund because of the AED’s expertise in creating those connections between young people, adults, and local institutions.

In Portland, the partnership between the youth board of Youthink and the school district leaders, including Superintendent Mary Jo O’Connor, is a perfect example of how this work can be done well. Ms. O’Connor’s commitment to the goals of the Youth Innovation Fund has resulted in strong collaboration with students. Not only does a student sit on the school committee, but that student representative is also included in a weekly policy meeting Ms. O’Connor holds with the school committee president.

In addition, she has provided matching funds to a Youthink grantee designing new curricula for the district. Empowering young people to engage in real policy work takes that kind of multifaceted support and commitment, from both youths and adults, to be successful.

The AED and the Youth Innovation Fund are creating systemic change locally, so that all young people can become active participants in their communities. Once there are systems in place to address the opportunities—and the real challenges—of youth engagement, both young people and their adult allies can get down to work.

Kenny Holdsman

Director

W.K. Kellogg Youth Innovation Fund

Academy for Educational Development

New York, N.Y.

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: February 7, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: January 31, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: January 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education In Their Own Words The Stories That Stuck With Us, 2023 Edition
Our newsroom selected five stories as among the highlights of our work. Here's why.
4 min read
102523 IMSE Reading BS
Adria Malcolm for Education Week