The way young people in our community learn and develop will forever be altered by the events of this year. Some say this is a year they’d like to forget. While we see the challenges and strain, at Bright Futures, we also see the glass as half full. With challenges in life, there come opportunities to learn and grow. With big trials, the change can be transformative.
The Success of Every Child
Given recent events, the importance of well-being, learning and development for all children and youth is more pressing than ever. In the face of hate, in the face of isolation at home, in the face of too few resources to connect virtually, children need our help. Bright Futures is staying the course to foster improvement in child and youth outcomes, with a sobering awareness that things have become more difficult. We stand for student success, social-emotional well-being, and belonging, and for racial equity from cradle to career, within whatever context we find ourselves.
As our community moves through the ups and downs of re-opening, as organizations re-examine themselves for evidence of systemic racism, as pervasive Covid-fear segues into measured and careful interaction, the question begs an answer – what about our young people? What have children and youth experienced, or not experienced in recent months? How have images of horrific violence towards people of color affected them? How are they changed in terms of their social awareness and their emotional well-being? What have they learned? How can we support and value their at-home experiences?
We appreciate and honor the many partners engaged in supporting children, youth, and parents in these difficult times. Looking forward, we welcome even more engagement from community members and organizations in the pursuit of collective solutions in these four strategies:
1) Resolve Racial Inequities in Education Systems
With recent calls for social justice, we see more amassed momentum to dismantle systemic racism than we have seen in decades. By harnessing this momentum to fuel our existing focus on closing racial gaps in education, we can go further, more quickly than previously imagined. We can redesign the elements of education systems that are inequitable, and in doing so, change the outcomes for children and youth of color. We are determined that, from pain and outcry, we will realize true racial equity for children and youth in our community.
To connect what you are doing to address equity gaps with others, contact Michael Applegate at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2) Support Working Families
As employers and schools continue to resume, their plans include expectations of what working families will do, with additional assumptions about access to safe childcare. In some cases, it just doesn’t add up. Some families can make all the moving parts work, while for others it is logistically impossible. The previous balance that families maintained in their lives has been disrupted by the virus. This is not their fault. We are in this together. So how can we come together as a community to support working families who are bearing the brunt of the delicate interplay between economic recovery, back- to-school and childcare, all underscored with concerns for health and safety?
Join the many organizations striving to support working families, including Building Healthy Communities, Padres Unidos, Mujeres en Accion, Salinas Mamas, Center for Community Advocacy, Mom’s for Change and many parent liaisons at schools, to name a few. Bright Futures and Bright Beginnings support their good work.
To connect with those doing this good work, contact Maria Elena Manzo at email@example.com or Sonja Koehler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3) Empower “Everywhere Learning”
With learning redirected into homes, imperfect though it may be, we are witnessing a seismic shift wherein learning is expanding out of the confines of classrooms, fixed school hours, and historic education systems. Although painful in its onset, we see this shift as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put learning into the hands of youth, families, and out-of-school programs in ways that exponentially increase their ability to support learning and to positively impact child and youth outcomes.
To join others who are creating a compelling vision for “everywhere learning”, reach out to Cynthia Holmsky at email@example.com.
4) Close Learning Gaps: Access, Recovery and Growth
We anticipate that many young people have experienced, and will continue to experience challenges with their learning. So we need specific plans and expanded solutions to meet them where they are and support their growth forward.
To share ideas and solutions pertaining to learning access and recovery, contact Josh Warburg at firstname.lastname@example.org.