Every youth in the City of Alexandria thrives, regardless of circumstances, through equitable access and engagement in high-quality and meaningful out-of-school time and community-based programs.
We foster collaboration and provide coordinated supports to a network of community organizations, government agencies, schools, and other partners dedicated to improving the equity, quality, and continuous innovation of youth-serving programs in the City of Alexandria.
Equity & Inclusion
Youth need high-quality, inclusive, linguistically- and culturally-responsive opportunities. As a community and a network, we have a responsibility to change systems, policies, and resources that exacerbate disparities based on race, ethnicity, cultural background, socioeconomic background, gender, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, immigration status, ability, religion, and other dimensions of difference. We recognize culture is an essential lens through which we learn and grow.
Positive Youth Development
We embrace positive youth development and a whole child approach to learning. Youth engage with caring role models equipped to foster their social-emotional development. Youth learn best in an atmosphere of safety and belonging, where their individuality and creativity are valued, they have a voice in their engagement, and the experiences are meaningful and relevant to them.
We will be successful only when an inclusive network of youth, families, schools, organizations, and government, reflective of our diverse community, actively works together to achieve long-term results. We strive to have a cross-sector, citywide, youth-centered system that offers multiple pathways to expand opportunities for the youth of Alexandria.
Commitment to Quality & Ongoing Learning
We commit to sharing best practices. We each have something to learn and to contribute. We promote authentic youth engagement, practice-based reflection, and research-based knowledge to improve opportunities for youth. Gathering and analyzing data is critical to program improvement, accountability, transparency, and sustainability.
In 2020, ACT for Alexandria partnered with the Frank & Betty Wright Foundation, Alexandria City Public Schools, the City of Alexandria, youth-serving community organizations and other stakeholders to support the ACPS Virtual PLUS+ vision for supportive programs and services, so that all youth in Alexandria could be successful with distance learning. ACT for Alexandria hired a Network Manager to focus on building relationships and collaboration among out-of-school time stakeholders, including the Virtual PLUS+ partners, to establish the Youth Support Network. It builds on ACT’s experiences and success as the coordinator and host for the Early Care and Education Workgroup, a five-year initiative that strengthened the network of nonprofits and government entities that help young children (ages 0-5) thrive.
Last year, the Forum for Youth Investment invited the Youth Support Network to be part of the Build Forward Together initiative. Build Forward Together encourages communities to collaborate and establish “equitable learning and development ecosystems that unleash the potential of all learners, recognize the power of all committed adults, and optimize all learning settings and approaches.” The network spearheaded outreach efforts to invite youth-serving providers in the City of Alexandria to participate in the Youth Support Network. In November, more than sixty organizations attended the Youth Support Network Retreat to share their hopes for the network, as well as ideas to ground the network’s values, vision, and mission statements. In its early stages, seventy-five youth-serving organizations encompass the network and participation continues to grow.
As the Youth Support Network transitions to an expanded governance structure, two initiatives will be prioritized in 2022: middle school programming and social-emotional learning.
- The primary objective of the Middle School Programming Work Group is to identify strategies and solutions to expand middle school student engagement in out-of-school time and community-based programs.
- The primary objective of the Social-Emotional Learning Work Group is to identify strategies and practices that will support the professional learning and well-being of staff and volunteers in fostering the social-emotional learning and development of youth.
For more information, please contact Caitlin Brown, Youth Network Support Manager, at email@example.com.