City-Schools Youth Planning Initiative

From 2005-06, the YEF Institute helped six cities develop comprehensive youth master plans through the first phase of the MetLife Foundation City-Schools Youth Planning initiative.

In July 2005, the YEF Institute hosted a leadership academy in Baltimore for cities interested in developing city-schools youth master plans, as a prerequisite for selection for the project. Local officials from the following cities participated: Charleston, S.C.; Des Moines, Iowa; Diamond Bar, Calif.; Edmond, Okla.; Indio, Calif.; Kansas City, Mo.; Lakewood, Ohio; Minneapolis, Minn.; Nampa, Idaho; Santa Fe, N.M.; Spokane, Wash.; Tampa, Fla.; and University City, Mo.

The leadership academy provided training, peer-led opportunities for discussion and presentations from national experts, including a youth and adult trainer from Hampton, Va., and evaluation experts from Baltimore and Philadelphia. From this group of leadership academy participants, the YEF Institute selected the following six project cities based on their commitment to developing a youth master plan, effective city-school partnership, and a strong youth voice in local government:

  • Diamond Bar, California;
  • Des Moines, Iowa;
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota;
  • Lakewood, Ohio;
  • Edmond, Oklahoma; and
  • Charleston, South Carolina.

Each of the selected cities formed diverse teams that included senior city and school officials, youth leaders, community leaders, and nonprofit partners. The Institute convened cross-site meetings that allowed the six cities to discuss challenges and exchange effective strategies. While large and small cities faced different issues in creating a youth master plan, the cities were able to highlight 11 common challenges:

  • Developing effective city-school collaborations/relationships;
  • Involving more diverse young people;
  • Building relationships and connecting work between broad agencies and systems, and helping agencies/systems understand how their work is connected to a youth master plan;
  • Creating sustainable funding with resources from different systems;
  • Willingness to share resources across systems;
  • Creating an implementation mechanism;
  • Engaging the foundation community;
  • Identifying the best national youth development model/framework to create a youth master plan;
  • Identifying the best strategy for conducting assessments, with the goal of finding out what youth want;
  • Determining components within systems that need to change and convincing critical decision-makers that change is needed; and
  • Developing a strategy to more effectively market the plan and raise awareness in the community for a plan.

City and school officials attending the first cross-site meeting were able to mentor each other and brainstorm on specific strategies for overcoming these challenges. Cities also participated in monthly peer-to-peer update calls, monthly individual technical assistance calls, and scheduled site visits with YEF Institute staff.

Lessons from the project cities' experiences are incorporated in the YEF Institute action kit for municipal leaders on Creating a Youth Master Plan.