Promoting Equitable Career Opportunities Through Research-Practice Collaboration

The Equitable Futures Innovation Network, a three-year project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is bringing together youth-centered programs to advance effective practice in creating more equitable career outcomes for youth.

Career pathways that provide meaning, security and mobility for young people in the U.S. are not equally accessible. They have persistently been tied to race and socioeconomic background — despite rapid changes in opportunities and workforce demands. Most past efforts at expanding opportunity have relied on academic and skill development, job placement, and industry incentives. Fewer resources have been devoted to examining the role that identity, social capital, and cultural assets play in a young person’s future. This network is focusing on how best to tap these assets to expand career opportunities for marginalized youth, with special attention to how identity and social capital affect outcomes.

The network is creating an emerging field of study and a new approach to collaborations among scholars and practitioners in promoting career-related equity for youth. Focusing on specific programmatic strategies for building on youth assets, experiences, and voice, the network provides research into the effectiveness of these strategies and means for enhancing, refining, adapting, and sharing program models based on these strategies. Some strategies being investigated are youth-initiated and peer-to-peer mentoring, exposure to career possibilities and experiences enhanced by media and virtual platforms, and apprenticeship models and relationships. The project includes the development of techniques, tools, and guidelines for measurement of outcomes in ways suited to the objectives and workflows of partner programs.

In addition to the mutual partnerships between researchers and practitioners, the project relies on building a pipeline of early-career scholars supported through the Equitable Futures Postdoctoral Fellowship and on engagement of youth in participatory action research conducted by young people in the target programs. Direct involvement of youth in the research, mentored by the postdoctoral scholars, is central in the network’s approach to examining the lived experience of Black, Latinx, and low-income young people. Senior scholars with extensive experience working on educational equity issues support and advise the research efforts.

The network grows out of previous research on occupational identity conducted by the Connected Learning Lab, which posits the importance of exposure, engagement, and participation to career possibilities in order for young people to have meaningful, satisfying, and rewarding professional lives.

The goal of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Equitable Futures project is to build stronger connections and alignment between K-12 formal and informal education, post-secondary institutions, and employers to improve labor market outcomes and promote paths to economic opportunity and upward mobility for Black, Latinx, and low-income young people, ages 14-24.

 

Blog Posts

Apprentice of Peace Youth Organization: Supporting Wellness and Empowerment

This sixth edition of the Equitable Futures Innovation Network blog series brings into the spotlight the Apprentice of Peace Youth Organization (AOPYO), whose mission is to “develop students through a whole-person approach by integrating mentoring, enrichments, and career pathway programs.”

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YAASPA: Exemplifying Collective Power Toward Community Change

This sixth edition of the Equitable Futures Innovation Network blog series brings into the spotlight the Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism (YAASPA). YAASPA was born out of a desire for change, fueled by frustration at conversations where race was ignored or bypassed within youth-centered civic engagement programs. In this post, we highlight how YAASPA exemplifies the principle of Collective Power in the Race-Grounded Career Advising Framework and practices of Guiding and Collaborating with youth.

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A Race-Grounded Career Advising Framework

The framework and rubric is intended as a tool for reflection and design inspiration for educators and organizational leaders to have conversations with colleagues and potentially adopt new practices and approaches tailored to your context and community. It is not meant to be proscriptive or suggest that there are one-size-fits all solutions to what are a complex and interrelated set of dynamics.

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Timbuk2 Academy: Navigating Healthy Tensions to Build Partnership With Youth

In this post, the second on Timbuk2 Academy, Dr. Janiece Mackey discusses navigating healthy tensions1 in building a partnership with the youth of Timbuk2, by honoring their pre-existing context, agency, and voice, and engaging in an ethic of care for the partnership by utilizing artistic inquiry. At the end of the blog, I share an example of a poetic transcription composed from the voices of Timbuk2 youth to illustrate a combination of their reflections and statements.

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A Holistic College and Career Readiness Practice

Nestled on the western edges of Los Angeles’ Rampart Village neighborhood, the Bresee Youth Center was founded in 1982 as a small drop-in tutoring program and an after-school space for young people in Central Los Angeles. Over the years, the center has expanded its programs to include a suite of services related to youth development, academic support, and family support resources.

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Timbuk2 – Anchored in a Historical Legacy of Care and Spirituality

Ms. Ayana Abdul-Raheem, CEO and Founder of Timbuk2 Academy, recently earned the New Jersey Social Innovation Award in the award category Community Voice Impact, and has been featured on PBS. Within Ms. Ayana’s leadership, she brings the ability to anchor and honor spirit in a long legacy of Black female ways of being and ethic of care

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Responding to Race in Youth Career Development Practice

The New Door Ventures model primarily supports young people from low-income backgrounds to develop modern workforce competencies, career guidance, and internship placements. This employment program draws upon positive youth development principles by integrating mentorship and leadership opportunities. NDV serves young people aged 16-24, often referred to as transitional aged youth or TAY.

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Principal Investigators

Mimi Ito

UC Irvine

Vera Michalchik

Stanford University

June Ahn

UC Irvine

Research Team

Elizabeth Mendoza

Project Scientist

UC Irvine

Janiece Mackey

Postdoctoral Fellow

UC Irvine

Miguel N. Abad

Postdoctoral Fellow

UCLA

Phebe Chew

Graduate Student Researcher

UC Irvine

Oshin Khachikian

Graduate Student Researcher

UC Irvine