November 22, 2021

The world of business offers a lot more research on the value of gut-level decision-making than the world of education, but your students may well find themselves in that world one day. Trusting your gut takes a unique kind of confidence. Young people can learn how to develop and trust their instincts by matching their cultural learning with self-awareness and self-management, social awareness, leadership opportunities, and more. Tools from Y4Y courses can help you build student intuition and confidence through a variety of strategies so they’ll be ready for times when snap judgments — and trusting those snap judgments — are a must.

It Starts With a Positive Learning Environment

Creating a positive learning environment opens the door to everything from baby steps to giant leaps in each of your 21st CCLC initiatives. Consult the Y4Y list of strategies for creating a positive learning environment to make sure that door is wide open. Simple practices around how you interact with your students and your stakeholders — like one-on-one exchanges, focused listening and appropriate personal openness — ensure the safety and trust that lead to strong work in confidence building.

The Role of Social and Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning (SEL) gives students the tools needed to become well-adjusted adults. The Y4Y research brief on this subject expands on how the emotional competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making build on one another. An effective, evidence-based SEL curriculum can help this process. It might be tempting to consider “responsible decision-making” only those decisions that have been deliberated with a textbook list of pros and cons. But researchers are finding that sometimes responsible decision-making means knowing when to abandon that method.

An effective SEL program should be “SAFE” (sequenced, active, focused and explicit) and provide (1) purposeful design that leads to skill development; (2) opportunities for practice; (3) time devoted to developing one or more social and emotional skills; and (4) a plan that targets specific skills. A few Y4Y tools to get you started are the SEL Competencies Matching Game to get to know the competencies, and the Delivery Methods for SEL and SEL Learning Activity Intentional Design Planner to implement your focused practice of those competencies. Researchers advocating for the benefits of snap decisions note, “Another interesting finding in this study is that intuition can be improved over time, suggesting that the mechanisms of intuition can be improved with practice.” Your program might consider self-awareness skills the perfect place to begin a focused practice. After all, solid self-awareness is the foundation for all emotional competencies and the best assurance of trusting your gut!

The Art of Reflection

Y4Y offers many more opportunities outside of the SEL course for students to build their self-awareness skills, and reflection is at the heart of them. The course on student voice and choice includes tools for middle and high school students to reflect on what they’re learning, how they learn and how to connect that learning with their lives. The full set of voice and choice course tools contains tools specific to grades K-1, 2-3, 4-6, middle school and high school that help connect reflection and goal setting. It’s easy to see how a lifetime of reflection and goal setting could develop a strong neurological pathway for making quick, outcome-oriented decisions!

Put Confidence to the Test

Once you’ve invested time in building student confidence on the inside, there are plenty of opportunities to put that confidence to the test in your 21st CCLC program space. Help students grow into leadership with tools from the Recruiting and Retaining High School Students Click & Go, such as the Youth Leadership Roles ideas. Group brainstorming calls for quick, free-flowing ideas, as does the Concentric Circles Discussion Format. These practices are ideal for out-of-school time to prepare students for the professional world and to exercise emotional competencies beyond self-awareness, such as social awareness and relationship skills. More broadly, these group activities are essential for design thinking (at the center of the Y4Y STEAM course) and other kinds of project-based learning.

The Future of Intuition?

The linked article suggests that “the ability to quantitively measure intuition could be a boon to many different fields, especially when it comes to workplace hiring.” It cites research on a growing ability to scientifically measure intuition, which could lead to hiring practices based more on those measurements than on candidate questionnaires that merely “test people’s opinions about their own feelings of intuition.” Your 21st CCLC programs are the perfect environment to help students develop strong intuition through self-awareness and reflection exercises, and just as important, to trust that intuition as you help them build their confidence through leadership and collaboration.


November 22, 2021

Misinformation is as old as information itself. Without a doubt, broad internet access has amplified access to both. Where students in previous generations worked hard at finding information, today’s students have all the information they could ever need, and more. Y4Y’s new Click & Go on digital literacy will help you guide students through discerning online content to become more savvy learners. Borrowing from the creative program ideas in this month’s newsletter — What was the actual first U.S. European settlement? — you can break this mystery down with new Y4Y tools, including why the answer differs from what lies on the surface at Thanksgiving.

Find and Evaluate

The mini-lesson in this Click & Go provides an overview of the cognitive and technical skills students will need. The components of find, evaluate, create and communicate are all fundamental to strong digital literacy, but within evaluate — perhaps the most important — students are asked to consider the accuracy and credibility of information. The second podcast with this Click & Go, Evaluating Information and Digital Content, lays the groundwork for this exercise. The Guide for Spotting Misinformation and Disinformation is another useful tool. So, back to that question: What was the actual first European settlement in what is now North America? Let’s scratch the surface with critical thinking questions! Are we talking about a settlement that became permanent? Were women and children along? Is there archeological evidence or only a cultural or religious story shared from one generation to another? By answering these questions, again you’ll get many different answers!

Create and Communicate

Let’s move on to the digital literacy components of create and communicate. With the Guiding Content Creation, Comparing Presentation Modalities and Presenting to Different Audiences tools in hand, you can guide students through a number of considerations to produce a digitally literate assignment. Suppose your student who claims heritage dating to the Mayflower wants to prepare a report on the first Thanksgiving and frame Plymouth as the first European settlement in America. All credible sources — such as those ending with .edu, .gov or in some cases .org — say Jamestown was earlier, and some Spanish and French settlements that don’t remain today were even earlier. Other credible sources assert that the people who were native to this part of the world were the true first settlers. After listening to the podcasts Communicating With Your Audience and Creating Content, you and your student might decide together that their plan needs some modifying.

Striking a Balance

Does your student need to abandon all plans of honoring their family’s tradition of Thanksgiving to demonstrate digital literacy? Absolutely not! They can

  • Frame Plymouth as the widely accepted first European settlement in New England. In other words, be direct about accuracy.
  • Call out any importance or relevance of the “first Thanksgiving” as a personal opinion.
  • Honor known facts and historical figures in other ways with mentions and citations.
  • Be clear with audience-appropriate tools — such as humor or illustrations — what the intention of the piece is and is not.

The world would be a very dull place if all we had access to was dry, factual information. For centuries we’ve read novels, enjoyed paintings, appreciated trick photography and told ghost stories with very little threat of mistaking facts for fiction once each new medium was understood. Young and old alike are slowly discovering how to apply the skills of scrutiny that have always been there to the brave new digital world. By appreciating that in all that color, texture and variation of digital content there is a sort of beauty, we’ll become better skilled at scratching the surface and strengthening our digital literacy at Thanksgiving and year-round. Y4Y’s new Click & Go is a great place to start!


November 22, 2021

Whether you’re a community member looking to learn more about 21st CCLCs, a potential out-of-school time grantee wanting to write a high-quality grant proposal, a new grantee hoping to design the best possible program, or a seasoned 21st CCLC program director looking for ways to improve communication with stakeholders, you’ll be better positioned for success with a firm understanding of the basics. Y4Y is proud to announce a fresh update of the Introduction to Nita M. Lowey 21st CCLC Grant Program course, complete with new, helpful features. To get past the surface for a deep dive into program development, we can all benefit from starting at square one.

As before, the Introduction section of the course takes about 2 hours to complete and provides a Basic Level certificate of completion. It provides an overview of 21st CCLC programs — including their benefits, history and community impact in Chapter 1 and legislation and grant preparation in Chapter 2. The Implementation Strategies section moves you beyond square one with an Advanced Level certificate of completion. It takes 5 to 7 hours. Through 11 key strategies, this section goes deeper into grant preparation, planning and designing a high-quality 21st CCLC program, and incorporating all the relevant legislation in these processes.

The Coaching My Staff section takes about an hour to complete. You’ll get a Leadership Level certificate of completion and a solid training plan for your staff. Important updates to this section mean that program leaders can connect with the most up-to-date Y4Y content to meet their team’s specific training needs. Be sure to check out this new training needs assessment.

A brand-new feature with this course is a recorded Training to Go that covers 21st CCLC basics for frontline staff. While Y4Y has always offered downloadable and customizable PowerPoint presentations for in-person or virtual interactive trainings, this new alternative format helps you focus on facilitating meaningful interactions rather than presenting content.

Nationwide, decisions and resource allocation are centered on learning acceleration to make up lost classroom time and teaching caused by the pandemic. Your 21st CCLC program is recognized to be a central player in this effort. By revisiting the very basis and basics of this federal funding stream at square one with Y4Y, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the work ahead.


November 11, 2021

Is an expensive university education the best assurance of success? Not necessarily! Y4Y has responded to your feedback that pathways to every kind of career success should be offered to students. The updated Career Pathways for Students course offers Basic, Advanced and Leadership certificates of completion. More important, it shows you ways to give even very young students the prompts they’ll need to draft their own successful futures. Whether students decide to pursue a trade, the military, workforce advancement or, yes, college, Y4Y’s new Career Pathways for Students course will get you thinking about the many chapters of preparing students for the future. You can help students at every grade level learn about themselves and careers to consider, and get beyond that creaky old embossed leather binding!

Table of Contents

If you’re browsing books, you’re not going to stand in the library and read entire volumes, right? Once you’ve gotten past the cover, the first thing you might do is to flip to the table of contents. The Career Pathways Approach at a Glance tool gives a nice summary of what to expect in this course, and guides you to the chapters that apply to your program. Some you can implement right away, while others may take long-range planning. Want more detail? The Career Pathways for Students Planning Checklist fleshes those steps out even more.

What Others Are Saying

Do you flip to the back cover to see what others are saying about that book in your hand? Career readiness takes many voices, so you’ll want to download the College and Career Pathways Questionnaire for Students and Families to pinpoint your program’s specific needs. Spark families’ interest in joining you on this exploration of career pathways by using Y4Y’s Tips for Families: Preparing Children and Youth for Success. You have other community partners’ voices to consider on this journey. Check out the Guiding Questions for Partnerships in College and Career Awareness, Exploration and Preparation tool. Oh, and don’t forget the students themselves! This course is chock-full of student voice tools like the Elementary Student Interest Inventory, Work Personality Evaluation and a tool for real talk with youth.

Illustrations Are Your Go-To

The child lives on in every one of us, and jumping to those illustration pages of any book is worth a thousand words and more! A comprehensive tool for your approach to including career pathway activities in your program can be found in Y4Y’s Career Pathways Activities Design Guidebook. While considering what’s age appropriate, begin by planning programming that fits in the categories of

  • Awareness activities — to provide opportunities for students to learn about themselves, real-world job expectations, and education and career options.
  • Exploration activities — to provide opportunities for students to actively explore education and career options to see what sparks their interest, and which options seem like a good fit.
  • Preparation activities — to provide opportunities for students to develop knowledge, skills and plans that will help them move toward their career goals.

So, as one illustration, even at the elementary level, students can be learning about specific jobs through guest speakers (awareness), taking a hands-on field trip to interact with professionals in action (exploration), and doing a problem-based learning project together to build their collaborative and communicating skills (preparation).

The End

Are you someone who reads the last page of a book first? Do you jump to it once you’ve gotten to know the characters? Or do you savor the ending only after you’ve read every word that comes before it? Whatever “cover” your students choose — a trade, the military, workforce advancement or college — your professional development around career pathways ends when you’re ready to train others! This course offers customizable staff trainings in building a culture and climate to support this work, planning age-appropriate activities and using self-assessment tools with students. Just remember: Trainings will be all the more rich and savory once you’ve completed the course!


The U.S. is course-correcting for decades of believing that everyone should be driven toward higher education. Trade professionals are better compensated than ever. Slowly, more resources are being provided to men and women transitioning from the military to civilian careers that their experience prepared them for. And companies everywhere are clamoring to hire young, trainable people who demonstrate 21st century skills, whether or not their education or training went beyond high school. A four-year university experience — and the expense that goes along with it — may not be the right “read” for some of your students. Armed with this new library of resources, your 21st CCLC program is the perfect place to get past those book covers and help students dive into the true substance of all genres of successful futures.