Blog Archives

New Training! Mindful Classrooms, Developing Minds

 

It’s not hard to create environments that actually spur young people’s emotional growth. In some ways, it’s simple and intuitive. But you do need to learn the basics.

That’s why Cindy Carraway-Wilson, Youth Catalytics’ Director of Training, is adding a new topic to her roster of trainings. Designed for faculty, staff and volunteers in schools, charter schools, afterschool programs, and residential and group homes, Mindful Classrooms, Developing Minds introduces participants to the ways that using mindfulness activities can benefit children, teens and young adults (as well as adult professionals) in any learning environment.

The body of research demonstrating links between mindfulness activities and social-emotional wellness, well-being and self-efficacy in both children and adults has been developing for over a decade. More recent research into the use of mindfulness in schools also suggests it can improve students’ academic performance. We at Youth Catalytics first began researching spirituality in youth programming 15 years ago by examining the kinds of spiritual practices that youth-serving organizations already offered to youth and whether they found them beneficial. Two follow-up reports explored how vulnerable young people themselves reported experiencing spiritual pursuits (both secular and religious), and how and why some agencies considered spiritually based practices to be an important component to any holistic therapeutic approach.

Our work sparked a partnership with Talk About Wellness (TAW), a Vermont-based initiative operating from 2004-2016 that brought mindfulness training to teachers throughout the state and other parts of New England. Conducting two evaluations of TAW’s impact on participants and writing their wrap-up report further convinced us of the promise mindfulness holds in promoting young people’s healthy development.

Cindy has 20 years of experience in the youth services field and is an expert trainer in positive youth development, youth engagement, asset building, LGBTQ+ issues and resilience. She’s been at the forefront of bringing the phenomenal new Youth Thrive model to audiences around the country. (She’s also a licensed Pilates instructor and trainer in her home state of Maine … just sayin’). With the release of TAW’s final report, Cindy was inspired to weave adolescent brain development, elements of Youth Thrive, and mindfulness research into a practical training for adults working with young people.

If that’s you … then this is a transformative learning experience you need.

Cindy Carraway-Wilson can be reached at (207) 319-6009 or cwilson@youthcatalytics.org.

Learn more. 

~ Jen Smith, Research & Communications Associate

Posted in adolescent biology, motivational, promising practices, trainings

Cultural Humility in Hawaii

hawaiiYT

A Youth Thrive group exercise, Honolulu, 2015.

In July, I went to Honolulu to lead a Youth Thrive training for 14 youth-service providers under the auspices of the Hawaii Youth Services Network. The providers were an amazingly diverse group. They worked with young people between the ages of 7 and 24 in middle and high schools; in reproductive health programs; and in programs for runaway and homeless youth. Among the group was someone from every Hawaiian island and three from Saipan, the largest island of the Northern Marianas.

If you’ve ever brushed up against the US Census, you know that these folks are collectively known as “Pacific Islanders.” So they’re one race, ethnicity, and culture, right? Wrong. Well, they’re essentially the same, right? Wrong.

What this training really drove home for me was how many subcultures exist within our large demographic constructs. And that’s just what demographic umbrellas are: a construct, something we make up for our own convenience. (Anybody want to weigh in on what “the white community” thinks about Donald Trump? Or what “the American community” thinks about the current refugee crisis in Eastern Europe? If you’re white or American, you know those very questions are nonsensical.) Which is why, in Hawaii, without doubt the most ethnically diverse of all American states, social service providers talk about the importance of being “culturally humble.”

Making genuine connections with young people is the basis for doing any successful work with them — as a teacher in a school, as a nurse in a health clinic, as a youthworker on the street. And no genuine connection can happen if you assume, consciously or otherwise, that your culture makes more sense than theirs.

In Youth Thrive, we combine the most recent findings of adolescent neuroscience with four decades of accrued knowledge about approaches that work — really work — to help young people realize their full potential. Youth Thrive teaches us that it’s not about changing them;  it’s about changing ourselves so that we can truly, finally “meet them where they’re at.”

Cultural humility is part of that, a change we impose on ourselves so that we can see the young people in our lives without judgment.

At the end of the three days, Claudia ‘Lala’ Fernandez (who is Director of Programs  Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii-Leeward), helped us close by arranging us in a circle. Circles, she explained to me later, symbolize the equal respect we shared and the bonds we had created during three days of work. She asked each of us to share the makana (gift) that we would take back home with us, and to offer our ko’okupu–our intention to nurture the gift back home, so it takes root and grows.

Finally, she thanked each one of us in Hawaiian, ending with this benediction: ‘Olelo no’eau, a’ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka halau ho’okahi,’ which means that not all knowledge is taught in one school or place. Another reminder of what we gain when we are humble and assume others may know something we don’t.

 ~ Cindy Carraway-Wilson, Youth Catalytics Director of Training

 

Posted in news, organizational development, promising practices, trainings, uncategorized

Rolling Out Youth Thrive in Vermont

kidswallIf you teach social service and law enforcement personnel how to develop more productive relationships with youth, will the outcomes for youth improve? As a side benefit, will the professionals feel they’re being more effective, and thus be more satisfied on the job?  We’ll be finding out in Vermont, where we’ve been hired to conduct three-day intensive cross-sector trainings in Youth Thrive™ in two communities and smaller half-day overview trainings in four more. The goal is to train professionals of all types who interact with young people involved with, or at risk of involvement with, the juvenile justice system. The project, funded by the Vt. Children and Family Council for Prevention Programs and the state Dept. of Children and Families under a grant from OJJDP, is focusing on the communities with the highest rates of school suspensions, school dropouts, youth on probation and youth in detention.

Youth Thrive is a brain science-based youth development training that teach adults how to engage with youth differently — in ways that not only won’t backfire (too often the case now), but that will actually produce better outcomes over both the short and long term. In the two high-focus areas, we will provide the full 18-hour training to professionals across disciplines, including those working in mainstream and alternative schools, law enforcement, and state and private nonprofit social services.

Outside of New Jersey and Florida, Vermont is the first state to use Youth Thrive to build capacity and knowledge in city, county and state systems. The rollout of Youth Thrive there gives us the chance to evaluate both the knowledge that participants gain and — more importantly — the changes they take back to their workplaces. We’ll be following up with the participants after six months to see what they’re doing differently and what impact those changes are ultimately making in their system and personal practice. We’ll  also, of course, be tracking selected youth outcomes to see what changed for young people, and at which levels of the system.

Looking for the new frontier of youth development? It’s here. Give us a call and we’ll let you know how we can bring this indispensable training to your community.

The Vermont work is funded in part by OJJDP grant No. 2013-MU-FX-0555.

Posted in evaluation, news, promising practices, trainings, uncategorized

The Huge Youth Thrive Surprise

Over the last 30 years, we’ve conducted hundreds of trainings for professionals who work with young people. We’ve seen every trend come and go at least twice, and we’re pretty good at predicting how the field will respond to each one. In short, not much can surprise us. But something just has. Meet Youth Thrive™, the one training that has us so busy that it’s been hard to keep up. Why?  Because Youth Thrive is PYD 2.0, the new, improved version that includes the latest information on adolescent neuroscience, trauma and resilience, plus practical help in applying what you learn to your particular setting.  Simply put, it’s the new frontier of youth development.  Want to know more? We think you need to know more. Below is one of our upcoming trainings in Maine. Join us, and find out what all the buzz is about.

Lighting the Bumpy Path to Adulthood: A Youth Thrive™ Overview

2015 Positive Youth Development Institute
& Summer Training Academy
July 20-22
University of New England
Biddeford, Maine

youth

 

 

 

 

Research conducted by The Center for Social Policy Study has identified a set of key competencies that have been shown to help young people increase protective and promotive factors while reducing risk factors. Research shows that these supports help young people move beyond trauma and under resourced environments to become more resilient in addressing their developmental needs.

This workshop will present the key components of the Youth Thrive™ Framework including adolescent brain development and the impact of trauma on young peoples’ brain development, youth resilience, the importance of social connections, helping young people better understand their own development, concrete supports in times of need, and cognitive & social-emotional competence in youth.

Participant Outcomes:

  • Become familiar with a set of guiding premises that support key practices with an application of the Youth Thrive™ Framework
  • Explore the Youth Thrive™ Protective and Promotive Framework and key research behind each of its five components
  • Learn how these promotive and protective factors, important for all youth, work together to increase the likelihood that youth develop characteristics associated with healthy adolescent development and well-being
  • Consider important connections or overlaps with other important frameworks such as the Search Institutes 40 Developmental Assets

Trainers

Cindy Carraway-Wilson, MA, CYC-P
Director of Training, Youth Catalytics
Vermont

Hector Sapien, LCSW, CYC-P
Independent Practitioner
Maine

Register here.

Learn more about Youth Thrive™. Interested in bringing this transformative training to your city or state? Contact Cindy Carraway-Wilson at 207 319-6009

Posted in adolescent biology, news, organizational development, promising practices, trainings, uncategorized

Facts aren’t Enough — to Win a Grant, You Have to Write Persuasively

Webinar


The Core of a Winning Grant Proposal: Persuasive Writing
Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2-3:15pm EST

writingLet’s face it: grant writing often seems like a formulaic exercise in making sure you have answered every question and included all attachments. Anybody can do that, right? But not everybody wins grants; far from it. First and foremost, grant writing is an exercise in teaching from a distance. Based largely on how you write your narrative, reviewers will decide whether you are creative, analytical, scattered, out of your depth, or a leader in your field. The written word is your best chance of getting into a reader’s consciousness, becoming memorable, and demonstrating that you are capable of executing the proposed project. While the funding guidelines and conventions may dictate the general style of your writing, successful grant writing tells a story and allows your agency’s voice and personality to shine through.

Through the principles of story structure and persuasive writing, as well as examples of real-life winning (and not so winning) proposals, this webinar will focus on the internal structure of the grant narrative and how to write engaging and memorable sections, paragraphs, and sentences in a way that is clear and compelling.

When: Wednesday, June 11, 2014, from 2-3:15pm EST

Fee: $65 per person

About the Trainer:   Sharon Vardatira, fund development specialist for Youth Catalytics, brings over 30 years of experience in nonprofit development and management, including as development director and executive director of several Boston-area nonprofits. Since joining Youth Catalytics in 1996, she has helped a variety of organizations develop organizational capacity through fund development, fundraising planning, grant writing, program evaluation, community needs assessment, diversity education, and board development. In the last three years, Ms. Vardatira has written over 75 grants, raising approximately $5 million from government, private foundation, and corporate funders. She has a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School. She is a member of the Foundation Center, Associated Grantmakers of Massachusetts, and the Council on Foundations. She is also included in the US Department of Education Registry of Evaluation Researchers. 

Posted in funding, trainings

Securing Grant Support for Your Existing Programs


spin strawBeing able to win grants to support existing, long-term programs is the Holy Grail for every grant writer. With more and more foundations focused on funding innovative, replicable models of innovation and creativity, it often seems as though tried and true, long-term reliable programs (however effective) are passé, doomed to rejection.

Aside from grumbling about the sad state of foundation support for critically needed programs, what can be done? As it turns out, plenty! Although we can’t change what foundations are interested in funding, we can take steps to add shine to our existing programs and reveal them to funders (and possibly even ourselves) in a whole new way. In our next fund development webinar, Turning Straw into Gold, or Making What’s New Shine Again, we’ll  examine three real-world programs to discover specific steps that can be taken to “re-vision” and write about existing programs in a way that will excite and engage grant makers as well as your entire community. Participants will also have an opportunity to share ideas about how to add “shine” to each other’s programs. This webinar – which focuses on the intersection between program development and grant writing – is appropriate for grant writers, managers, program staff, and anyone else involved in program development.

Join us May 15, 2-3:15pm EST.

See More Information

 

Posted in funding, trainings

Dotting the I’s Isn’t Enough — Grants Have to Persuade

What Impression Do Your Grants Make?

Although grant writing often seems like a formulaic exercise in making sure you have answered every question and included all attachments, it is, first and foremost, an exercise in teaching from a distance. Based largely on how you write your narrative, reviewers will decide whether you are creative, analytical, scattered, out of your depth, or a leader in your field. The written word is your best chance of getting into a reader’s consciousness, becoming memorable, and demonstrating that you are capable of executing the proposed project. While the funding guidelines and conventions may dictate the general style of your writing, successful grant writing tells a story and allows your agency’s voice and personality to shine through.

Through the principles of story structure and persuasive writing, as well as examples of real-life winning (and not so winning) proposals, this webinar will focus on the internal structure of the grant narrative and how to write engaging and memorable sections, paragraphs, and sentences in a way that is clear and compelling.

The Core of a Winning Grant Proposal: Persuasive Writing
June 11, 2014 2-3:15pm EST (Rescheduled from the original March 20 date)

Posted in funding, motivational, trainings

Federal Grants Can Seem Impossibly Complicated

 

2014 Fund Development Webinar Series

Nuts and Bolts of Applying for Federal Grants

Thursday, February 27, 2014 2:00 to 3:15 PM EST

But still, many agencies depend on them, and doing a good job with them isn’t optional. This webinar is designed for grant writers and other personnel responsible for identifying federal funding opportunities and preparing federal grant proposals. You will come away from this session with the basic “how-to’s” of federal grant writing, including:

  • Navigating the grants.gov grant application
  • Characteristics of successful proposals
  • Elements of the narrative
  • Guidelines for composing the most challenging narrative elements (needs statement, goals/objectives, workplan, staffing plan, dissemination/replication, logic model and evaluation)
  • Budget and budget narrative
  • Support letters, memoranda of understanding, and third party agreements
  • Presentation and polishing
  • Submitting the package

This webinar will provide a general overview of the process of preparing federal grants, with an emphasis on responding to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (such as ACYF, FYSB, SAMHSA, etc.) and Department of Justice (OJJDP).  It will not cover specific federal announcements.

FEE: $65 per registration

The Trainer: Sharon Vardatira, Fund Development Specialist for Youth Catalytics, brings over 30 years of experience in nonprofit development and management, including as Development Director and Executive Director of sevSVardatira_stafferal Boston-area nonprofits. Since joining Youth Catalytics in 1996, she has helped a variety of organizations develop organizational capacity through fund development, fundraising planning, grant writing, program evaluation, community needs assessment, diversity education, and board development. In the last three years, Ms. Vardatira has written over 75 grants, raising approximately $5 million from government, private foundation, and corporate funders. Sharon has a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School. She is a member of the Foundation Center, Associated Grantmakers of Massachusetts, and the Council on Foundations. She is also included in the US Department of Education Registry of Evaluation Researchers.

LEARN MORE AND REGISTER

 

See the next two webinars in our 2014 Grant Development Series:

The Core of a Winning Grant Proposal: Persuasive Writing  March 20

Turning Straw into Gold — or Making What’s Old Shine Again  May 15

Posted in funding, trainings, uncategorized

Want to be a More Effective Trainer? Take Some Tips from the Neurobiologists

 

Last month I attended a seminar in Baltimore entitled Creating Connections: A Transformation Approach to Brain-Based Presenting. This three-day seminar was presented by Frank Kros from the Upside Down Organization and hosted by The Children’s Guild. What a wonderful spin on the current neuroscience research. I knew I was in the right place when I walked in the front door and was greeted by giant Monarch butterflies. The Children’s Guild is one of the spaces where they create brain-based enriching environments, full of color, textures, displays and 3-D art work, all shown to promote learning.CWilson_staff

Over three days, we learned about the brain and just why it is that so many presenters fail to engage the whole brain during training. When we lose our audience, it isn’t because they are a distracted audience; it is because our way of presenting just kicked their brains into idle. I learned a variety of short methods for engaging the hypothalamus during presentations, among them: answering the question ‘What’s in it for me?’; using movement to stimulate the cerebellum; and providing opportunities for prediction or guessing. Can you guess what part of the brain loves to guess?

Talking about the brain this way brought clarity to some of the things that drive presenters crazy. For example, the need to repeat information—sometimes you wonder if they’re listening at all when someone asks a question you answered three sentences before! But it turns out, the brain needs repetition, it needs to be engaged through multiple senses, and it needs to process. To create memories and have an impact, presenters need to work with the brain rather than assuming adults will ‘get it’ after a single exposure.

One of my favorite quotes from the seminar was, “When the bum is numb, so is the brain.” Those of you who know me or have seen me present know that I have difficulty standing still. This quote relates to the cerebellum, the part of the brain that focuses on movement, balance, and awareness of the body in space. Many presenters have their audiences sitting (A LOT) which tends to aggravate the cerebellum. For people like me who are kinesthetic learners, it can also create tension and anxiety. So, the need to use movement in presentations was a recommendation I was happy to hear validated. The truth is: movement boosts brainpower. What is the longest period of time the average adult can tolerate sitting before you lose them?

Honestly, this was one of the best seminars I have ever attended. Frank did an awesome job presenting potentially dry information in a dynamic way that kept my brain engaged. I enjoyed making connections between this material and what I’ve learned about the impact of trauma on the brain—connections that will translate into new techniques and tools for my future presentations. Of course, it was also fascinating to see the places where my own brain traveled, including what happened in my amygdala on Day 3, when I drew a card that meant I had to stand up and be the first presenter. Yep, you guessed it, after two days of gaining knowledge, skills and techniques, we had to offer our own presentations on the topic. As you may also guess, the amygdala is your ‘palace guard,’ often known as the fear center.

Oh, and by the way, it’s the frontal lobe that loves to predict or guess answers and the amount of time the average adult can sit before zoning out is 25 minutes.

~ Cindy Carraway-Wilson, Director of Training

 

Posted in trainings, uncategorized

Got the Outcomes Blues? Watch Our New Video

 

We’ve worked with agencies on developing programs indicators and outcomes for years and years, and the questions and confusions are always the same. Finally we made this quick, light-hearted video to explain it. Show it to staff, and they’ll get it too.

We’d love to know what you think, so please leave a comment below.

Posted in evaluation, trainings

You Thought Resilience Was Just For Kids?

jumping-people-mushedup88-sxcAt the end of last month, I attended the Crime Victim Rights Week ceremony in Montpelier, Vt., an annual event that highlights the contributions of allies, survivors and state- and community-based victim advocates. It was well worth the trip—on a rural transport bus through picturesque villages with a very friendly self-appointed ‘bus greeter,’ although that’s another story!—and not only did I enjoy hearing the stories of this year’s awardees, I also came home with some great new resources and a sense of where I need to ‘build my bounce.’

The morning session with Nefertiti Bruce of Devereux Center for Resilient Children focused on fostering resiliency. However, rather than the usual presentation about how to build resilience in youth, Nefertiti turned the spotlight on us, the people who work with and support victims of trauma. Her talk was based in part on Devereux’s Build Your Bounce campaign, a resource for adults who want to live with more initiative and determination. As professionals accustomed to caring for clients, we sometimes need a reminder that we’re only able to inspire others, if we ourselves are living joyful, healthy lives. If you need a refresher (like I did, after a recent stressful move), take a minute to check out what Devereux has to offer. And if you ever get the chance to hear Nefertiti, take it; she’s warm, funny and insightful.

Most of the people at the ceremony, like you and I, already had some training in resiliency theory and trauma-informed care. But this did not stop me from taking notes. Instead it freed me to write down the phrases that inspired me or struck me as powerful images to motivate me to take good care of myself. Here are some of my favorite take-aways from Nefertiti:

  • When you’re in a bad place, it’s like carrying a suitcase full of bricks. Resilience means you’ll either build some more muscle or take some of that stuff out.
  • We should embrace a commitment to ourselves that is equal to that we dedicate to our clients.
  • Resilience has to be (and can be) nurtured.
  • Some people wish they had the problems you have.
  • Don’t let what’s going on in the world stop you from doing your best.
  • There may not be time for everything but there is enough time for the important things. Choose.

In addition to these nuggets of wisdom from the morning session, I also walked away with free resources created by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont and the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services: most notably, the updated Vermont Victim’s Resource Directory and Internet safety guides for teens and parents. The guidebooks are graphically appealing and hip to be attractive to young people; they guide teens through typical online scenarios and teach them how to pick up on potential danger. The parent’s side focuses on teaching parents some online ‘lingo’ and providing tips for talking to young people about staying safe.

So, what are you doing to build your bounce today?

~ Jen Smith, Research Associate

Posted in motivational, trainings

6 Ways to Get Off Your Social Media Duff

bear-

Is this you when it comes to social networking?

 

Nonprofits have been slow to hop on the social networking wagon. Lots of us do it, sort of. When we can think of something to say.

Well … that’s not good enough, as it turns out, because you’ve got competitors who are doing it well, and benefiting because of it.

So what do you have to be doing re: social networking, according to amazing powerhouse marketing expert David Newman? At a training in Connecticut April 22, this is some of what we learned:

 

  1. If you’re a nonprofit, stop thinking about what you don’t have or can’t do. Consider yourself the solution to a serious problem some group of individuals has. In fact, someone out there is on Google right now, looking for an organization just like yours. Will they find you? Maybe, maybe not. Are there lots of ways to find you? What goodie do they get when they do find you?
  2. You’re expert in a lot of things. So put yourself out there as an expert. Offer nuggets of wisdom all the time, particularly via your blog and Twitter.
  3. Blog? That’s right, you should have one, and be posting on it often. If you don’t post often, search engines will realize it and step checking for updates from your site.
  4. People will pay you for your information, but not necessarily in money. And that’s okay, because social networking and social media are about making new contacts and getting leads. So give away information, reports, ebooks and more, but ask for an email address first.
  5. Don’t bombard contacts with requests for help. Bombard them with information they can use.
  6. Advice to the middle-age executive crowd: if you’re not competent in social media, get competent fast. It’s not hard, and it’s not even time-consuming. Make a plan, and have everyone in the organization funnel information, videos, updates, audio, or whatever to a central person, who decides what gets uploaded and where. If you’ve picked the right central person, he or she will find this a fun task, not a drag.

 

Posted in motivational, trainings

April 22: Making Social Media Work for Your Nonprofit

Think you might be able to make more profitable use of Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and other social media platforms? Join us for a three-hour seminar in social networking with high-powered marketing dynamo David Newman.

Your Game Plan for Digital Marketing Success

April 22, 2013
Workers’ Compensation Trust Training Center
9-12 noon
47 Barnes Industrial Rd South
Wallingford, Conn

More Information & Registration

 

Posted in trainings

Beyond Training: Developing Your Direct-Care Staff

 

Feb. 14, 1-2pm
Webinar

Mary ImbornoneWe know that staff professional development is more than just scattershot training. True staff development must be organized and planned. We also know that as a generation of baby boomers retire, organizations will need talented people ready to step up into a variety of new roles.

In this webinar, Mary Imbornone, National Director of Organizational Learning & Development at Devereux, will engage participants and on what makes an effective employee development program — how to assess your current program, enhance your current system, or even start building one from scratch.

More Information and Registration

 

Posted in trainings