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Planning the future of the Next Generation Youth Work Coalition

By Margo Herman

As key partners of the Next Generation Youth Work Coalition explored the next phase of this organization last week in Dallas, it's a prime time for the broader youth development field to be aware of this important organization. Its purpose is to bring together individuals and organizations dedicated to developing a strong, diverse after-school and youth development workforce that is stable, prepared, supported and committed to the well being and empowerment of children and youth. We want your opinion on our proposed action plan.

Next Gen partners (nearly 3100 now) have three primary roles:
  1. "Provide thought leadership around cutting-edge practices, research and policy.
  2. Generating lively discussion and exchange of ideas about the field of youth work.
  3. Sharing resources to inform and educate youth work professionals.
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Last week 50 people attended the opening session of the Next Gen track at the National Afterschool Association (NAA) Annual Convention in Dallas. Ellen Gannett from National Institute on Out-of-school Time (NIOST) opened the conference track of seven Next Gen workshops with a discussion about the mission, history, and accomplishments over the past several years. Dana Fusco, editor of the newly released book Advancing Youth Work, discussed the workforce trends that shaped the Next Gen conference track. The opening session was predominantly a brainstorming opportunity about the future focus of the coalition.

The key theme that emerged about future focus was "collaboration across stakeholders". Stakeholders include youth workers, youth work sectors (families of practice), youth, higher education, intermediaries, government officials, funders, and international partners. Collaborations would reinforce networking of youth workers through regional or local meetings, prompt coordination with government officials, spark interactions with students who are enrolled in youth studies programs in higher education, build upon international connections, and promote collaborations across sectors of youth work.

To move this vision forward, five actions emerged from discussions within the conference track:
  1. review the makeup and functions of the coalition's advisory board to assure representation across our stakeholder groups;
  2. build an online presence through social media and a more interactive Next Gen Website. (You can do this now! Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!);
  3. organize a fundraiser such as a Kickstarter to raise funds to support the work;
  4. advance the higher education committee work; and

  5. develop a strategy for advocacy that includes follow up on the idea of promoting youth-led media spots.

What are your thoughts? If you were at NAA in Dallas, what sparked your energy and interest throughout the workshop sessions? If you weren't, what reactions do you have to the actions identified?

-- Margo Herman, Extension educator

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  1. For me, the energy and the ideas were flowing throughout the three days! It was invigorating. The trick though is always to figure out how to keep the momentum going AFTER the conference. I hope that this blog serves as a next step.
    I am so eager to know what folks (both those who attended and those who did not but were with us in spirit), think of the FIVE action items listed above.
    Do these items make sense? Do they excite you? Do you want to get involved?
    Hoping this BLOG inspires response in each of us to further the work of Next Gen. We stand on the shoulders of the giants who stood before us.
    ~ Dana

  2. Two questions and a comment:
    - How are Next Gen partners differentiated from members? Can anyone become a "partner"?
    - How does Next Gen differentiate itself substantively from the National AfterSchool Association's work?
    - I am excited to be a part of the Facebook and Twitter social media presence. Please contact me if you are interested in being a part of these initiatives as well. I hope that they will provide a gathering space and advocacy network for youth workers and their partners across the country.

  3. Well I answered Alex's questions on FB but I will answer them here as well and on behalf of Margo as the blog author and Next Gen in general. Others might have a different response.
    1) No difference. Just a switch in language. Membership is free and as a member we hope you partner in making Next Gen what it will become.
    2) This make pre-date me but the only relationship between Next Gen and NAA is that we partner annually at the conference. NAA has graciously given Next Gen a "track" of seven sessions each year, which is allowed the Next Gen members to meet annually in one locale. I think this was our second year doing this, maybe third.
    I too am excited about the social media presence! We have 30 "likes" on FB so far but not as much dialogue (yet). All does seem QUIET this week.
    ~ Dana