Dr. Robert Blaine
Senior Executive and Director, Institute for Youth, Education and Families
About the Program
The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) 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.
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YEF 20th Anniversary
Over the course of its 20-year history, the Institute for Youth, Education & Families (YEF Institute) at the National League of Cities has transformed how municipal leaders envision their roles in improving outcomes for all children, youth, and families in their communities. For residents to thrive, we need empowered local leaders who place the well-being of children, youth, and their families at the center focus of governance. The YEF Institute, current and former local officials and partners at the heart of this important work gathered for a kick-off of our 20-year celebration, reflection and re-commitment to our communities.
Watch the video and learn about YEF through the years!
From seeding promising practices and innovative approaches to leading cross-sector initiatives, the YEF Institute supports local leaders in placing children and families at the forefront of decisions across a range of issues including education, public safety, early childhood, economy empowerment and community development.
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, and increase postsecondary success.
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.
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. Local leaders are well positioned to champion the needs of young children and families and help ensure that every child enters school ready to learn, and ultimately reaches their full potential.
Economic Opportunity & Financial Empowerment
Municipal 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 invest in assets that generate wealth and income.
Health & Wellness
Local leaders play a pivotal role in the overall health and well-being of the cities, towns and villages 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.
Strong Southern Communities Initiative
The Strong Southern Communities Initiative (SSCI) provides practical support and guidance to municipal leaders in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana, bringing together local elected officials from across the region to improve outcomes for children and families. SSCI assists in the development of tailored local action plans and connects local leaders to national experts and regional partners who turn these plans into action.