Thought Leader Roundtables: Conversations on Readiness

thought leader roundtable
Ready by 21
March 17, 2016

Totally Unscripted. Totally Inspiring. Totally Free. Join us!

Karen Pittman
Karen Pittman

What does it mean for all young people to be “ready” for life’s demands at every stage? And what will it take to get there?  Join Karen Pittman, CEO of The Forum for Youth Investment, for lively and candid conversations with some of the most influential, boundary-pushing leaders working to improve the lives of children and young people in the U.S.

Tune in live to these free audio discussions (all you need is a phone) or listen to the recordings to get the key takeaways.  Want to suggest a topic or guest? Email

During the calls, we’ll take your questions via Twitter with the hashtag #ReadyYouth.

Past Roundtables

Click the headlines to get a summary of the key takeaways

Job Skills and Minority Youth: Putting Theory into Practice
March 16, 2016

Bart Hirsch

Most of the determinants of youth employment rates are beyond the control of youth programs.  An exception: the interview process.  Many youth programs provide tips and practice. How many actually work to improve their participants’ interview success rates?  Join Karen Pittman and researcher Bart Hirsch for a discussion of how youth development and youth employment programs can use input from professional HR interviewers to improve their participants’ chances of nailing the interview.  Hirsch deconstructed the interview process, developed tools and trainings for youth professionals, and tested their utility with Chicago high school students.

Bart Hirsch is a professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern University and author of the groundbreaking new book Job Skills and Minority Youth: New Program Directions. Dr. Hirsch, along with his co-authors Nancy Deutsch  and David DuBois, won the 2012 Society for Research on Adolescence social policy book award for his earlier book, After-School Centers and Youth Development: Case Studies of Success and Failure.  

 Listen to the discussion:



Putting Youth at the Center of Efforts to Re-Design Learning Opportunities
December 10, 2015

TJ and Norman Harris

Authentically involving young people in efforts to re-imagine learning in school and afterschool can be transformative, but it’s not easy to do.

In this Readiness Roundtable, join Karen Pittman as she talks with TJ Delahanty, manager of Out-of-School Time Initiatives at Metro United Way in Louisville, and Norman Harris, a young person from Memphis, Tennessee. Both cities’ efforts to rethink expanded learning opportunities in order to close equity gaps were featured in the recent America’s Promise report, Expanded Learning, Expanded Opportunity: How Four Communities Are Working to Improve Education for Their StudentsLearn about the impact of young people’s involvement in the work, and how to more meaningfully involve students and other youth in efforts in your community.  

We'll be using the Readiness Abilities and Readiness Practices maps to talk about some of this work, you can find these here.

Check out a blog that Norman wrote for GradNation:  If You Limit Extracurriculars, You Limit Our Purpose.

 Listen to the discussion:




Modeling the "Magic": Deconstructing Social Emotional Learning Practice
November 12, 2015

Charles Smith
Charles Smith

Karen Pittman and Charles Smith, Executive Director of the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, had an engaging conversation about the center’s work on the Susan Crown Exchange's Social and Emotional Learning Challenge: a research project, conducted in eight after-school programs around the nation, to study staff practices and youth experiences that promote social emotional learning. 

The roundtable focused on the value of creating a research-practice partnership with youth-serving organizations whose formal curricula prepare young people 

 Listen to the discussion:


Embedding Youth Development in Schools: A Thought Leader Conversation
July 31, 2015

Michele Cahill
Michele Cahill

Karen and Michele Cahill, friends and fellow trailblazers, sat down to talk about how integrating youth development practices and design thinking can transform schools and learning, and why school-community partnerships must go beyond coordinated hand-offs and focus on shared design.

Michele Cahill is a Distinguished Fellow in Education and Youth Development at the National Center for Civic Innovation and has led some of the country's most innovative high school reform initiatives, including New York City's redesigned high schools.

 Listen to the discussion:

  • Get the takeaways in this summary

Readiness and Schools: Filling the Traps and Closing the Gaps

June 9, 2015


How can schools better help young people navigate the traps and gaps that impede their readiness to meet life’s challenges? Stephanie Krauss, senior fellow with the Forum for Youth Investment and Bryan Joffe, director of education and youth development at AASA: The School Superintendents Association, sat down with Karen to explore this question. 

 Listen to the discussion:  

  • Get the takeaways in this summary



A High-Level Talk About Readiness
July 16, 2014

What does it take to get young people ready for life? John Gomperts, president and CEO of the America’s Promise Alliance and Sean Slade, director of Whole Child Programs at ASCD, sat down with Karen in Washington, D.C., to ponder that question and its spinoffs.

 Listen to the conversation:

  • Read the summary, posted on


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