Training Youth Development Practitioners to Be Organizational Change Makers

Lessons Learned From the Student Success Network’s Continuous Improvement Fellowship Pilot

In the 2016-2017 school year, we launched a year-long Fellowship aimed at helping member organizations use a continuous improvement approach in their efforts to boost students’ SEL. A total of 12 Fellows from 12 different organizations participated in the pilot year. Research Alliance studied pilot to provide formative feedback and to share relevant lessons with the broader education, youth development, and continuous improvement fields.

Research Alliance for New York City School’s brief, Training Youth Development Practitioners to Be Organizational Change Makers, draws on focus groups and interviews with Fellows (as well as colleagues at their home organization) to highlight several key lessons:

  • Implementing CI requires a shift in mindset (including new ways of thinking about diagnosing problems, collecting and analyzing data, starting small, and learning from failure);
  • Creating community deepens CI learning; and
  • Gathering support from within organizations is critical to making change.

The practice guide also illuminates some of the challenges we faced during the Fellowship pilot year, as well as some of the changes we subsequently made to address those challenges. We hope this brief will provide valuable information for other initiatives that aim to teach CI to youth development practitioners, and

Lessons from the pilot and year 2 have informed our overall program model. To share the content from the Fellowship more broadly, we are infusing it in everything we do. Key continuous improvement concepts will be covered in the  Elevating Youth Voice program, Collabs, and skill-building sessions to better support members in driving change at their organizations.

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Ali Slack

Ali’s goal is to promote a culture of continuous learning and improvement among SSN organizations and practitioners. She believes that those who work closest with youth hold a wealth of knowledge and experience, and thus is passionate about empowering practitioners to be the change makers their students need. Prior to joining SSN, she taught high school as a TFA Corps Member in Atlanta, GA, and later worked as a management consultant where she learned tools and strategies to lead improvement efforts.

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