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Recent work from the Cornell Youth in Society project

May 8, 2013

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The BCTR's Cornell Youth in Society carries out research and outreach to understand and enhance community supports and opportunities for young people making the transition to adulthood in the United States and around the world. Below are some updates on this project's work.


Mentoring youth at work

Mary Agnes Hamilton and Steve Hamilton trained staff from 24 neighborhood organizations in Chicago about mentoring in April 2013. The organizations are operating summer youth employment opportunities for 16-24-year-olds in low-income neighborhoods with high levels of violence. The organizations will employ adult mentors to enable the youth to take full advantage of the work experience. Mary Agnes and Steve drew on training materials they had developed under contract with the U.S. Department of Labor to produce a training notebook and educate the staff who will in turn train and supervise the mentors.

Training emphasized that designating an adult as a mentor does not make that adult a mentor in the eyes of a youth. Mentoring relationships develop over time as youth and adults share interests, engage in activities, and learn to trust one another. The training also identified six “functional roles” that mentors perform: supporter, advisor, role model, challenger, connector, and compass. All mentors do not perform all of the roles; many youth have more than one mentor. The connector role entails connecting a youth with another adult who may become a mentor.

Steve and Mary Agnes will return to Chicago for a second round of training in July.


Multiple pathways through education to careers

Pathways to Prosperity is the January 2011 report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education advocating the creation of multiple paths through education to productive careers, including, but not limited to, four-year college. Steve Hamilton and Mary Agnes Hamilton attended the March 2013 Harvard conference on the topic, Creating Pathways to Prosperity; Steve, who contributed to the report and to planning the conference, led a panel on “Strategies for Increasing Work-based Learning.” The workshop examined some of the most promising approaches for providing students with meaningful work-based learning in high school and beyond; it took a careful look at evidence of the effectiveness of work-based learning; participants also discussed strategies for expanding the availability of work-based learning, including ways to get more employers to participate.

In response to the Pathways to Prosperity report, the New York State Department of Education has proposed that students be allowed to substitute a career and technical education examination for one of the currently-required Regents examinations. Steve Hamilton has gathered a group of experts to identify high-quality examinations that will be recommended to the Board of Regents for this purpose.

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