Institute for Youth, Education and Families

The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families is the go-to place for city leaders seeking to improve outcomes for children and families. With expertise in early childhood success, education and expanded learning, promoting a culture of health, reengagement of disconnected youth, and family economic success, the YEF Institute reaches cities of all sizes and brings together local leaders to develop strategies via technical assistance projects, peer learning networks, leadership academies, and Mayors’ Institutes

Featured Resource

Technical Assistance: City Leadership to Reduce the Use of Jails Request for Proposals

Jail overuse constitutes a critical, under-addressed aspect of America’s mass incarceration crisis and has ongoing, destructive effects in America’s cities. A new national initiative, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, focuses on the overuse of local jails and has begun to generate alternative strategies that have the potential to remedy the problem. As a Strategic Ally in the Safety and Justice Challenge, the NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) is working to help cities that seek to apply and adapt these strategies, reaching additional sites beyond the first 40 jurisdictions chosen competitively to receive Challenge support. 

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Education and Expanded Learning

A skilled and educated workforce is increasingly vital to a community’s economic vitality. Even when city officials do not play a direct role in governing their school systems, there are numerous ways in which they can exercise leadership to support public schools, expand alternatives for students who struggle in traditional educational settings, increase high school graduation rates, and promote college access and completion.  

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Health and Wellness

Mayors and city leaders play a pivotal role in the overall health and well-being of the cities and towns they serve. With generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families at the National League of Cities (NLC) is leading an effort to educate, train and build the capacity of city leaders to address the social determinants of health and improve health outcomes where individuals live, learn, work and play.  From seeding promising practices and innovative approaches to leading cross-sector initiatives, NLC will engage mayors and city leaders in problem-solving sessions, trainings and peer-learning networks to ensure health is a key factor in their decisions across a range of issues, including education, early childhood, housing, land use, transportation and community development.

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Youth & Young Adult Connections

NLC supports and informs city leaders and stakeholders interested in improving public safety and reforming the juvenile justice system. We also provide peer learning and support to the growing number of citywide programs reconnecting young people to school.

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Early Childhood Success

Research shows a critical period of child development is birth to age 8, not just physiologically, but also cognitively, emotionally, and socially, setting the basis for future health and wellbeing. Children are cities’ future and city leaders are well positioned to champion the needs of young children and families. NLC is working with city leaders to align early childhood systems, improve quality and access, ensure every child enters school ready to learn, and ultimately reaches their full potential.

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Economic Opportunity and Financial Empowerment

City leaders can help families and neighborhoods become more economically secure by connecting children and families to public benefits and helping families learn financial skills, save for emergencies and the future and invest in assets that generate wealth and income.

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