Institute for Youth, Education and Families

The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families is the go-to place for city leaders seeking to improve outcomes for children and families. With expertise in early childhood success, education & expanded learning, promoting a culture of health, youth & young adult connections, and economic opportunity & financial empowerment, the YEF Institute reaches cities of all sizes and brings together local leaders to develop strategies via technical assistance projects, peer learning networks, leadership academies, and Mayors’ Institutes.

Featured Opportunity: Early Learning Challenge Webinar Series

Join us for a six-month webinar series about how to develop and implement a plan to support Early Learning in your community. The National League of Cities is inviting municipal leaders in cities, towns and villages nationwide to join their colleagues in prioritizing young children and their families and exploring how to expand early learning opportunities.

Local leaders have a stake in how well children in their communities are doing. Investing early will mean better academic
outcomes, less crime, better health outcomes, a more prepared workforce, increased earnings and less spending on social services long term.

Click on webinar titles to register:

Session 1: Mobilizing Leadership and Building Partnerships

January 22, 2020 2 - 3 p.m. EST

Learn how to rally elected officials to act on implementing practices and policies for young children, and how to create and strengthen partnerships with unlikely stakeholders across your community.

Session 2: Aligning and Coordinating Services for All Young Children and Their Families

February 26, 2020  2 - 3 p.m. EST

Learn How you might use data and emerging trends to bring into line city departments that deliver services and programs for young children, and how to coordinate services delivered by community organizations.

Session 3: Investing in Neighborhoods so Families Can Thrive

April 15, 2020 2 - 3 p.m. EDT

Learn how local leaders can design child and family friendly neighborhoods, ensure economic opportunities are available to all, and help residents feel a sense of hope and belonging in their communities.

Session 4: Developing Supportive and Responsive Policies

May 20, 2020 2 - 3 p.m. EDT

Learn how child care subsidy policies are being amended during this crisis in order to address the needs of essential workers, support the financial viability of the child care industry and ensure that early care and education providers can continue to provide high-quality care to young children in a safe environment.

Session 5: Identifying Where You Are and Taking Action

June 24, 2020 2 - 3 p.m. EDT

Learn how to use the Early Learning Community Action Guide to build an action plan for your community.


Featured Opportunity: Local Action Challenge for Lead Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods

NLC is challenging cities to take action on indoor environmental hazards and their impact on the health of children and families in 2019 and 2020. Pledge now to take action in your community and commit to implementing at least one policy or program. Once you've selected one or more steps to implement in your community, city leaders join together by submitting a pledge.


Education and Expanded Learning

A skilled and educated workforce is increasingly vital to a community’s economic vitality. Even when city officials do not play a direct role in governing their school systems, there are numerous ways in which they can exercise leadership to support public schools, expand alternatives for students who struggle in traditional educational settings, increase high school graduation rates, and promote college access and completion.  

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Health and Wellness

Mayors and city leaders play a pivotal role in the overall health and well-being of the cities and towns they serve. With generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NLC leads an effort to educate, train and build the capacity of city leaders to address the social determinants of health and improve health outcomes where individuals live, learn, work and play.  From seeding promising practices and innovative approaches to leading cross-sector initiatives, NLC will engage mayors and city leaders in problem-solving sessions, training, and peer-learning networks to ensure health is a key factor in their decisions across a range of issues including education, early childhood, housing, land use, transportation, and community development.

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Youth & Young Adult Connections

NLC supports and informs city leaders and stakeholders interested in improving public safety and reforming the juvenile justice system. We also provide peer learning and support to the growing number of citywide programs reconnecting young people to school.

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Early Childhood Success

Research shows a critical period of child development is birth to age 8, not just physiologically, but also cognitively, emotionally, and socially, setting the basis for future health and wellbeing. Children are cities’ future and city leaders are well positioned to champion the needs of young children and families. NLC is working with city leaders to align early childhood systems, improve quality and access, ensure every child enters school ready to learn, and ultimately reaches their full potential.

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Economic Opportunity and Financial Empowerment

City leaders can help families and neighborhoods become more economically secure by connecting children and families to public benefits and helping families learn financial skills, save for emergencies and the future and invest in assets that generate wealth and income.

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Strong Southern Communities Initiative (SSCI)

The Strong Southern Communities Initiative is designed to provide practical help and advice to municipal leaders in Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. It brings together local elected officials from across the region who want to improve outcomes for children and families, enabling them to share ideas and discuss the challenges facing their communities. In addition, SSCI helps participating mayors and city councilmembers develop local action plans based on their unique circumstances and needs, and then connects city leaders to national experts and regional partners who can help them implement those plans.

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Authentic Youth Civic Engagement

One of the basics of ensuring your city is meeting the needs of its young people is to actively and authentically engage your local youth in the process. This set of youth engagement tools will help city leaders start or expand these efforts locally.

Authentic youth civic engagement provides young people meaningful opportunities to contribute their experiences, knowledge and solutions to city issues.

The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families has developed a new set of resources elected officials from cities, towns and villages of any size can use to establish meaningful connections with the youth of their communities.

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