Partnership Council Series #1: Catalyzing collective action among Boston’s youth-focused organizations

Boston’s Partnership Council brings together a broad and varied network of organizations working to help the city’s young people succeed. Appointed by Mayor Menino in 2010, Partnership Council meetings create a venue where educators and youth development practitioners, neighborhood representatives, government officials and funders come together to address the challenges facing the youth-serving sector.

Since the beginning, Partnership Council meetings have been characterized by a flow of ideas, insights and a clear shared desire to create the best possible learning conditions for the city’s young people.  Over time it became clear that participants wanted to do more than talk. They wanted to act together, combining their different strengths to create real change.

To support this more active collaboration, Boston After School & Beyond proposed a new structure creating six working groups to drive tangible collective action. Each group represents a focused forum where motivated participants in the sector come together to collectively transform the sector’s work from a series of related programs to a cohesive and committed learning system.

Six groups emerged, each centered around an area of work where we heard both problems to be solved and an appetite for action.

Each group soon identified specific challenges and opportunities tied to their particular focus areas, and each began to build a shared agenda and identify actions to guide their initial efforts.

Despite the differing content areas, age ranges, and approaches that make the groups distinct, we witnessed common themes emerging across groups. Listening to the concerns and ambitions of the six working groups, we focused in on six sector-wide priorities which apply in and out of school, throughout the day and year, from pre-school through college completion and workforce readiness.

  • Expanding access to learning opportunities
  • Exploring creative funding partnerships and approaches
  • Building productive links across sectors
  • Offering new, focused development opportunities for staff
  • Measuring whole-child and program outcomes

This Partnership Council Blog Series will explore each of these six priorities through the lens of one working group each week.  We are excited to give you a glimpse inside the different worlds in which our members work!