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No matter what area you care most about, consider this: Children, teens and communities thrive when we recognize that development cuts across domains, settings, and disciplines. It's all related—a family's struggle with finances can affect a child's health; what a teen does after school has a big impact on how well he or she learns, and several longitudinal studies show that when states invest in early learning, they spend less in special education and juvenile justice services.

Concessions or a Cave-In?

June 2, 2011
Libby A. Nelson

SparkUpdate: June 1, 2011

What matters most in
your life and in your community? What would you change? And what forces
can help bring make that change true and lasting?


To answer these
questions, we need to look within at our own ideas, and look around at
our contexts --  we also need to find the right data and make sense of


We have a growing body
of data from good economic times and bad, helping us develop an
ever-stronger sense of how government decisions impact people's lives.
From last year's health care law to the 1996 welfare reform act, new
data is emerging almost daily that helps us understand how fundamental
policy change can hurt the most vulnerable children, or conversely, help children and young people. 


And I hope that we
-- whether we're advocates, leaders or just people who "give a spark" --
can help policymakers keep this data in mind as they grapple with big choices over how to balance the federal budget. We can use what we know to help us work differently.


doesn't have to be complicated. All of us have a stake in understanding
and participating in the decisions that shape our towns, our country
and our lives. It can be done. Just ask the young people behind the
inspiring Budget for Millennial America!   


this week, as the heat in much of the country ushers in the unofficial
start of summer, it's a good time for a reminder that summer can mean hard times for kids
-- no school can mean no lunch and little learning. This year's
employment picture for teens is also bleak. But it doesn't have to be
that way! Take the pledge and get to work in your community.

The Elected Official's Toolkit for Jail Reentry

June 1, 2011
Jesse Jannetta, Hannah Dodd, Brian Elderbroom