We’re excited to announce the release of Brokering Youth Pathways: A toolkit for connecting youth to future opportunity. The result of two years of collaborative research and design with members of the Hive NYC Learning Network and with support from the Spencer Foundation, Brokering Youth Pathways was created to share tools and techniques around the youth development practice of “brokering”, or connecting youth to future learning opportunities and resources.
The toolkit shares ways that various out-of-school educators and professionals have approached the challenge of brokering. We provide a framework, practice briefs and reports that focus on a range of issues and challenges related to connecting youth to opportunity.
For instance, many youth development organizations, especially those with a tech focus, are interested in connecting youth to internships. But we know that the tech sector hasn’t always been great at inclusion of youth from disinvested communities, so how can we identify an organization that would be a good internship site? We co-wrote up a brief based on research we did with Scope of Work on this, and share four characteristics to look at in potential internship sites – their mission, staff diversity and cultural competency, a youth development orientation, and a positive workplace “vibe”, as youth in our study called it.
What about if you’re a teaching artist working in a classroom for just a couple of weeks, but want youth to be able to know what kinds of institution and opportunities you might be able to connect them to? Our brief on the topic, based on work with Beam Center, gives tips on doing this, like making sure your staff have an internal understanding of what pathway opportunities your organization can offer.
Do you engage youth in things like one day hack jams or maker events, and want to think about how help them stay engaged in making practices? It’s harder than it sounds. You can read a design case we co-wrote with Mouse about the challenges associated with supporting youth to “keep making” after they leave an event.
We also highlight the results of longitudinal research we conducted with youth, which looked at the phenomenon of “interest signaling”. Interest signalling includes practices, intentional or not, that result in educators and other adults giving youth support around their interests, including brokering new learning experiences. As simple as asking for a business card or as complex as maintaining a social media presence, we highlight interest signaling as a critical factor in brokering future learning, exploring how it plays out for youth with different levels of interest, and different orientations towards help-seeking.
Whether you’re an on-the-ground educator, an organizational leader, a researcher or just someone invested in the question of how youth get connected to learning opportunities and build social capital, we hope you find something useful in this toolkit.