As more is known about adolescent brain science, it’s clear that supporting positive youth development, addressing trauma, and improving executive function skills all contribute to improving outcomes such as credential attainment, job placement, and retention. The National Youth Employment Coalition has been working with youth workforce organizations in Phoenix and Indianapolis to infuse executive skill development, trauma-informed care, and positive youth development into their programming. With support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Translating Adolescent Brain Science (TABS) Project provides convening, coaching, and support as these organizations implement new tools or processes informed by adolescent brain science.
Since February 2020, NYEC has worked with the following organizations:
Intermediary: Opportunities for Youth
Workforce Development Organizations: Chicanos Por La Causa, Phoenix Indian Center, Valley of the Sun YMCA Community Initiatives
Intermediaries: Midwest Urban Strategies, Employ Indy
Workforce Development Organizations: Edna Martin Christian Center, Community Alliance of the Far Eastside (CAFE), Keys to Work Staffing
Some of these organizations have already taken steps to change their curriculum and program design to integrate positive youth development practices, while Opportunities for Youth has embarked on a series of meetings and convenings based on a youth-adult partnership model. TABS is intended to accelerate their progress by introducing them to new tools, processes, and experts to help them better serve youth.
Working with Kim Coulthurst of NYEC Member Pathways Consultants, we organized a virtual convening for the TABS cohort July 27-29. During the convening, groups collaborated on lessons learned, identified where support can be strengthened and conducted case studies. The convening included introductions to a wide variety of tools that apply the lenses of positive youth development (PYD), trauma-informed care (TIC), and executive function skills (EF). Participants have learned that trauma-informed approaches must be grounded in youth voice and choice, safety, cultural and historical relevance, trustworthiness and transparency and peer support. PYD aslo has to be rooted in outcomes and practices that foster positive relationships, trustworthy and safe settings, opportunities to contribute to their communities, and linkages across schools, work and communities.
Below are a few tools shared during the convening:
- Youth Engagement Ladder
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services Youth Engagement Toolkit
- Six Tips for Increasing Meaningful Youth Engagement in Programs
- Youth-Adult Partnership Rubric
- Trauma Informed Oregon – Roadmap
The TABS Project reflects the core principles outlined in NYEC’s We Know What Needs to Be Done publication from last fall, changing programs contexts to enable young people to thrive. It’s our hope to build on the TABS Project, involving more organizations, informing public policy with what we learn, and contributing to a growing repository of trauma-informed resources and existing work.