Every month, America Forward is highlighting a few examples of the vital work being done by our Coalition members to support students, families, educators, workers, elected leaders, advocates, and communities across the country. If your organization has resources, an announcement, or a story that you would like to see included, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roca, Inc. understands that young people — particularly opportunity youth, who often experience high levels of trauma — require support, love, and empathy as they navigate government systems and work toward more positive life outcomes. They also know that “holistic systems change involves both structural change and cultural change.” A recent report from Roca, in partnership with the Collective Change Lab, Roca, Peacemaking Circles & Cultural Systems Transformation, explores the organization’s unique approach to both, what their cognitive behavioral work looks like in practice, and the impact they have on their communities.
Tech Goes Home
The challenges of the past year have further highlighted the barriers created by digital inequity, and left many individuals and families struggling to adjust to a world that has moved increasingly online. To help those who lack the skills to use technology effectively, Tech Goes Home is offering universally-available, step-by-step digital skills tutorials on their website, including guidance on how to copy and paste, screen share with Zoom, use Google Meet, and more.
In March of 2020, Fernando Vallejo had just joined CURYJ to lead the Homies 4 Justice (H4J) program, “a paid internship for 14–18 year olds to learn grassroots organizing skills to stop the criminalization of Black and Brown youth.” In this Medium piece, Fernando details how he and his coworkers kept their community of young people and their families engaged and supported throughout the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic by building strong, positive relationships using digital tools, instituting weekly wellness checks, giving out weekly groceries and meals, and more.
GreenLight Fund’s portfolio organizations are working across the country to break down barriers and address the most pressing issues facing their communities — and the past year was no exception. GreenLight Fund’s recent 2019 – 2020 portfolio report details how they and their portfolio organizations worked together to meet the scale and scope of the challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis, and the impact their portfolio organizations had supporting their communities throughout the pandemic.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted pathways from post-secondary education into the workforce, “only 30% of the 1.3 million low-income or first-generation college students who enrolled each year graduated and secured a strong first job or entered graduate school.” Braven, however, is committed to supporting these students as they navigate the path from college to post-graduate life. Their new 2020 Jobs Report explores the impact that working with Braven has had in helping students facing historic barriers achieve their collegiate and professional dreams.
America’s Promise Alliance
A recent report, Where Do We Go Next?, from America’s Promise Alliance surveyed over 2,400 high school students to better understand their experiences throughout the challenges, trauma, and upheaval of the past year — and learn how to best move forward and provide the support young people need. Key findings and recommendations from the report include:
- “Finding 1: High schoolers are struggling with a decreased sense of wellbeing—reporting declines in mental health and concerning levels of disconnection from peers and adults.
- Finding 2: Opportunities to learn about race and racism in the classroom vary but are associated with higher levels of critical consciousness and social action.
- Finding 3: COVID-19 has upended postsecondary planning, yet feelings of postsecondary readiness are highest among students who are most connected to teachers and peers, have opportunities to discuss race and racism in school, and feel academically interested and challenged.
- Recommendation 1: Address student mental health, now and on an ongoing basis.
- Recommendation 2: Teach a comprehensive and accurate history of race and racism in the United States.
- Recommendation 3: Prioritize postsecondary success through relevant content and pathways planning.
- Recommendation 4: Saturate young people’s environments with caring adult relationships.”
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