As part of the Start to Finish Coalition’s effort to create a policy, funding and research agenda that supports young people to be stable, safe, healthy, educated, employable and connected, the Ahlquist Center joined Forefront to engage funders in a presentation and panel discussion titled, “Start to Finish: Investing to Improve the Well-Being of Youth and Young Adults” on April 9.

Members of the Forefront School Improvement Group and panelists engaged in a lively discussion of how the state’s funding stacks up across these six goals and how both funders and nonprofits can use a framework that includes this common language to support young people in Illinois.

The panel, which included Beth Purvis, Senior Program Officer at Kern Family Foundation; Anna Lee, Program Officer at the Chicago Community Trust; Jack Kaplan, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at United Way of Illinois; and Stefanie Polacheck, Public Policy Manager at the Ahlquist Center, shared examples of how a common language for youth development has been useful in their work.

Dr. Beth Purvis, who championed these principles during her time as Illinois’ Secretary of Education, spoke to her experience and what the framework means to her in her current role as a funder. Attendees asked important questions like how they, as funders, can be more engaged in the work and support cohesion around common goals. The group talked about the importance of advocacy, and how collective voice is essential to turning good ideas into action in government.

The panel concluded with calls to action for both the Start to Finish Coalition and the School Improvement Group. The Ahlquist Center looks forward to continued conversation on how advocates, policymakers and funders can work together to reach a common vision for success for Illinois’ youth.