Expanding networks for young people


How to Develop Equitable Networks for Young People

What is the Resource?: The Christensen Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to improving the world by disrupting systems with new ideas and designs. To build equitable pathways for young people to succeed in their educational and career journeys, researchers at the Christensen Institute have created “5 Steps for Building and Strengthening Students’ Networks,” a new playbook for adults who support young people in their career pathways to build and strengthen students’ networks.

Why This Matters: Meaningful relationships—along with academics, skills and credentials—are an important part of young people’s ability to achieve the futures they envision for themselves. These relationships, also known as social capital, can open doors of opportunity and foster a sense of belonging in educational and employment communities. Some young people inherit social capital through the families and networks they’re born into, while others come across these relationships through chance encounters. Black and Latino young people, and young people experiencing poverty, often have fewer opportunities to access networks of individuals who can help them explore different educational pathways and career identities. Adults who support young people can help them activate the important relationships they already have in their lives, towards these same goals. 

What’s Inside: The playbook’s recommendations and activities are guided by decades of research on the power of relationships; new, innovative designs for educational systems; and emerging measures from the field. Using this roadmap, education leaders can take a systematic approach to equitably fostering positive and diverse relationships across their schools and programs.

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