Advocating for and with Minnesota Youth

Something remarkable is happening in Minnesota. It’s a groundswell of people who care about youth and who are frustrated by the inequities and gaps, the silos and blinders. And it is young people themselves taking their rightful place at the table with adults, working together to create an effective learning system for all Minnesota youth.

Youthprise is working to ensure that Minnesota invests in all our youth, especially young people who are traditionally underserved, so they have access to affordable, quality opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. Our state’s approach to youth development needs to reflect what we now know about the architecture of the maturing brain, and the influence that communities can have in directing a young person at the time that they are becoming more and more independent.

Addressing the Opportunity Gap

Research shows that our young people need access to opportunities for learning beyond the classroom that help them think before they act, build self-esteem, practice teamwork and learn to put their own needs and desires in a larger perspective. Afterschool, summer school and expanded learning opportunities are critical to Minnesota youth and families, yet the need for programs is far from being met. Over half of Minnesota parents struggle to find high-quality activities for their children to do when they are not in school, and the issue becomes significantly worse for low-income and racially diverse families. This creates a huge disparity—an opportunity gap—in the healthy development and education of our state’s young people.

  • 32% (294,354) of K-12 youth in Minnesota are responsible for taking care of themselves after school.
  • Of all Minnesota children not currently enrolled in opportunities for learning beyond the classroom, 33% (263,443) would be likely to participate IF an afterschool program were available in their community.
  • 12% (113,003) of Minnesota’s K-12 children participate in opportunities for learning beyond the classroom, including 9,307 kids in programs supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, the only federal program dedicated to afterschool.

Working together, youth and adults can raise awareness about the benefits of engaging in quality opportunities for learning beyond the classroom and advance public policies that support access to those opportunities.

Minnesota Afterschool Network

The Minnesota Afterschool Network is a collaborative alliance of leaders in practice, research and funding of youth-centered afterschool, summer and year-round learning and development opportunities.  The Network was formerly known as Youth Community Connections (YCC) and is now hosted by Youthprise.  As one of 41 statewide networks funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Network creates partnerships that actively engage key decision-makers in support of school-based/school-linked afterschool programs, particularly in underserved communities.

The vision of the Minnesota Afterschool Network is to ensure that Minnesota communities provide quality afterschool, summer and year-round learning opportunities for all children and youth to successfully learn, develop and contribute.  The Network draws on the collective power, strength, vision and wisdom that come from working together. Network partners come together to advance the availability, quality and impact of community learning opportunities in Minnesota as well as the field of non-formal learning through research, policy, programs and practice.

For more information

Visit our Advocacy Tools page for tips on how you can be an advocate or contact Karen Kingsley, Youthprise Director of Public Policy and Communications at 612-564-4858 x5 or with questions.


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