May Reading List
Youth-focused charities and social enterprises are no strangers to crisis and to the toll the pandemic has taken on services, and on an organisational level. In this blog, Access (who funds the Enterprise Development Programme, which supports youth organisations to develop enterprises), reflect on the evaluation of their Emergency Lending programme that launched in the early stages of the pandemic. They look into the insights and learning of the programme, including the balance of funding short-term survival and long-term growth and the need for funders to remain flexible. – Soizic, Project Manager and Equity Lead.
In this recent blog, Dartington Service Design Lab reflect on a year of trying to embed anti-racist approaches in research and design. The article discusses the challenges of moving beyond just changing the process, to embedding anti-racist practice beyond surface level change. They draw on their own experience of successfully fostering a more inclusive recruitment practice in relation to neurodivergence, whilst failing to include those from racially minoritised groups. They state that whilst process-oriented approaches like de-biased recruitment are important, they are not on their own enough, as well as the importance of distinguishing between inclusivity and anti-racism. Importantly, they discuss the tension between the need to act fast to drive action and change for those experiencing racism within the field of research and design, with the need to take time to think, digest and learn. They balance this by carving out the time for action to run in parallel with time for deep reflection. – Hannah, Qualitative Research Lead
“When students can collaborate with peers, feel calm in emotional situations and think critically about things they’re experiencing in their classrooms, hallways, lunchrooms and sports fields, they’re better equipped to succeed both in and out of the classroom and far into the future."
This article from The 74 explores how social emotional learning needs to be explored further than the practitioners who are working with them directly, and to include their wider community and families in those conversations. It states that through the development of socio-emotional skills and more awareness about the importance of young people’s development, that young people’s cognitive skills, such as managing emotions, empathy, and teamwork, will support them through not only their formal academic learning, but also their social skills that are used in the wider arena of life. – Kat, Training and Accreditation Lead
The Centre for Global Inclusion developed a set of standards to spark a world-class Diversity, Equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative. The standards were created by 112 expert panellists from around the world ensuring it is cross-cultural.
The standards are certainly comprehensive with 275 benchmarks in four groups, covering the important elements of DEI, and 15 categories, with each category in five levels. The authors are clear that level 3 is the minimum score to be able to claim DEI results. To give an example, a ‘level 3’ benchmark for vision and strategy reads as follows:
1.13 A DEI vision, mission, strategy, and business impact statement has been developed and communicated to all employees.
The statements are very practical, enabling an organisation to map its DEI strengths and weaknesses, and would easily lead to an action plan. Additional slide decks, further reading, and exercises are also presented to help engage staff in the process. Whilst the standards might seem daunting, they provide a DEI ‘health check’ for your entire organisation and, are well worth exploring as a potential DEI benchmark and development tool to help create a diverse and inclusive organisation. We’re on this journey ourselves and are considering if this is the tool for us too. – Kaz, Director of Learning
At a time when we are competing for resources in an ever increasingly atomised world, opportunities to connect in ways which are meaningful and transformative are being replaced by networks and transactions. Our interactions with others, especially those outside our close connections are becoming devoid of self-awareness and trust.
The alternative is a society in which we listen, learn, and collaborate with others. Driving this agenda is The Relationships Project in their unwavering commitment to a relationship-centered future and the resources and systems needed to make this happen. Much of what is being talked about in this blog piece by Robinson, will resonate with a range of practitioners working ‘with’ young people. Buoyed by the recent announcement of a funded Centre in Community Participation and Connectedness, Robinson and his peers see an opportunity to widen the scope of relationship centered practice bringing together practitioners, researchers, and active communities which ‘support unlikely collaborations which make us more than our sum of parts’. If you are looking to ground your appreciation of relationship centered practice and collaboration, then this article is definitively worth a read. – Simon Frost, Head of Education
This AEA365 blog on ‘Tangible Ways to Flip the Orthodoxies in Foundation and Grantee Culture Around Evaluation That Are Incongruent With Equity Work’ resonated with a lot of the work and thinking we’ve been doing within Organisational Learning at the College recently.
Learning and capacity-building initiatives can sometimes undermine equity efforts when they are informed more by ‘static evaluation reporting that is heavily focused on output numbers and prescribed outcomes’ than by those most impacted by the social change issue that an organisation is seeking to address, or by the cultural context of the work itself.
With this in mind, Ava Yang-Lewis and Mark Lewis (Co-founders of ACT Research) bring together some helpful recommendations for building learning and development opportunities in partnership with funded organisations and their funders, in ways that intentionally challenge common ‘orthodoxies’ (tightly held or widely accepted beliefs) about building capacity in evaluation. I’ll be keeping this in mind as we grow, develop, and centre equity within our capacity-building support for organisations.– Catherine, Organisational Learning and Support Lead
In this blog by Stanford Social Innovation Review, Hilary Pennington of the Ford Foundation reflects on how far we’ve come in the last twenty years with regards to reducing poverty, improving global health, and increasing socially responsible investment. She draws our attention, however, to the fact that despite this progress, advancing innovation continues to be ‘accompanied by unfair, needless and widening inequality’, citing the shocking statistic that current times have thrust 345 million people into life-threatening food shortages. Pennington stresses the Ford Foundations’ commitment to tackling this inequality via three cross-sector reforms. First, recognition that ‘intersectional problems require intersectional solutions’, and that those experiencing inequality at the intersections of race, gender, disability, class and other marginalised identities are most proficient at proposing effective solutions to bring about change. Second, a change in philanthropy away from short-term grant-making and towards long-term strategy and support for innovations shaped with foresight and principle. And third, support for the strength, visibility and power of those outside the dominant frames that shape and distort our world.– Sarah, Director of Research and Evaluation
I was really interested to see this recent blog from Inti Chomsky about collecting demographic data ethically. As service providers and evaluators, we often want to collect data about people's ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, and this can be a really important part of understanding equity, or inequity. When collecting this data about people's identities, this article highlights some of the ethical considerations. As well, it provides some tips and resources to support you. As part of our E4P project, we are talking to young people and practitioners about how demographic data is collected and used in the sector, and how it can be done better. It is great to see that some of the themes coming out of our research are reflected in this blog - including making sure that the purpose of data collection is clear, and offering open-ended and write-in options for people to define their own identities. Hopefully this means momentum is building towards more ethical data collection practices across the sector! – Sarah, Interim Qualitative Research Lead
Research by the Youth Endowment Fund in 2022 found that 14% of young people have been a victim of violence in the last 12 months, and 39% have been witnesses to serious violence in the same period (YEF,2022). This recent blog by the Peer Action Collective, responds to these findings and reveals further insights into the complexity and inequality of experiences of young people who have been involved in, victims of, or witnessed serious violence. Peer research with more than 4,600 10 to 20 year olds finds young people experiencing violence and facing discrimination in communities across England and Wales.
The Peer Action Collective turn research and actional evidence into social action to tackle the issues they view as fundamental to making the world a safer space. Research found young people worried that social deprivation, compounded by the cost-of-living crisis, will negatively impact their safety and employment prospects. Through the work of the Collective, young people have tackled issues such as school exclusion and sexual assault, and have championed positive alternatives to violence. They have also created practical and locally rooted activities and resources for young people, and have highlighted eight areas as a plan for change, where young people want support to make their communities safer and fairer. – Zunaira, Research and Projects Officer
This recent article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review explores how collaborative leadership can be used to create and implement effective systems of change and address complex social problems. It argues that top-down leadership methods and relying on one leader to create systems of lasting change, is insufficient and reinforces patterns of hierarchy and isolation. Instead, they advocate for a more collaborative approach, one that involves a diverse group and diverse perspectives. The article also presents solutions to address this and asks various questions to help you reflect on your own practice regarding change, beliefs and decision-making. Following this, the author offers five examples of how collaborative leadership can be applied in practice, such as promoting mentorship, and staying interpersonally connected – Erin, Communications and Partnerships Assistant
Each month, we’ll also spotlight valuable resource sharing insights into equity, diversity and inclusion. Here’s what our Head of Partnerships, Tim Leeman has been listening to this month:
This recent podcast from the Youth Futures’ Ethnic Disparities Youth Reference Group discusses this recent research report on ethnic disparities in youth employment, and reflects on their own lived experiences. The report found that 71% of young people from Black Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds had experienced discrimination in the workplace, and 84% of young people were concerned about the barriers and challenges they might face when they start work. The rise, and concerns about the rise, of mental ill-health are having a compounding effect, alongside the cost-of-living crisis. The lived experiences are described first-hand and demonstrate behind each statistic is a human cost. Listening to these personal accounts enables all of us to be more aware of the actors in the workplace, the culture we are shaping, and the damage that continues to happen. If you wish to understand the unaddressed issues on BAME communities with youth employment, such as zero-hours contracts, and want to hear multi-faceted solutions then add this to your playlist.