Updated: Mar 6, 2019
Northern Middlesex YMCA Kids Korner Before and After School Programs are engaging K-5 students in Character Development activities that are giving kids valuable skills in self awareness, self compassion, empathy for others and the gift of self regulation. In 2016, the YMCA of the USA announced the establishment of the Character Development Learning Institute. For more than 30 years, the Middlesex YMCA Kids Korner Before and After School care program has implementing character development practices that can lead youth to make positive gains in school and life. In 2018, the Middlesex YMCA Kids Korner Program was chosen to be a CDLI Hub and opportunities to present at National Youth Development Conferences. In February, Melanie Carfora, Ceara LaDue and Chaelyn Lombardo traveled to Georgia to present at the Beyond School Hours National Education Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
When Kids Korner Site Directors were provided with the Y of the USA CDLI programming material, they were able to impact the lives of children at a whole new level. “Having the CDLI program has given us a framework to engage the staff to develop stronger skills in helping youth become stronger leaders who have an advanced understanding of their emotions and how to self-regulate," said MacDonough Kids Korner Site Director, Chaelyn Lombardo.
Teachers are reporting that the Kids Korner participants are standing out at recess as being leaders when it comes to behavior. Using advanced problem solving strategies has helped them develop stronger relationships with their peers, demonstrate less at-risk behavior and return to class more focused and ready to learn than their classmates who do not attend Kids Korner.
Parents are frequently commenting on how welcome they feel at Kids Korner and how impressed they are with the level of empathy for others they are noticing in their children.
Site Directors are finding that the CDLI framework has empowered the site staff to feel more confident and recognize the powerful value and opportunity to make a major impact in the lives of children in their care. Staff who previously viewed their job as babysitting now feel passionate about the importance of youth development work.
In a July 22, 2016 Press Release, the YMCA of the USA shared, – Today YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) announced the establishment of the Character Development Learning Institute (CDLI), made possible by the generous support of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation through a four year, $20 million grant. The CDLI will advance the Y’s character development efforts across its youth programs through a collaborative and deliberate process of verifying, adapting, scaling and sharing evidence-based best practices.
“We are both humbled and overjoyed by the generosity of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, and are determined to make the CDLI a world-class incubator for best practices in character development,” said Bela Moté, VP of Evidence-Based Youth Development Interventions and National Director of Character Development, YMCA of the USA. “The CDLI defines youth character development as the process through which youth develop and integrate a set of values, skills, attitudes and behaviors that allow them to navigate successfully and responsibly in learning, work and life. We’re excited to begin our work to make this a reality and engender a lifetime of personal and professional growth for the millions of youth and adults we serve.”
The Foundation’s grant will help to support the CDLI’s initial four-year launch phase, creating a comprehensive framework upon which to build an enduring institute and reinforce the organization’s 170 year history of supporting the development of people from birth though career and beyond. The CDLI will provide the training, tools and knowledge necessary to equip adult practitioners to implement character Establishment of the CDLI commences immediately.
YMCA of the USA Establishes Character Development Learning Institute
Effort aims to discover, test and disseminate best practices to positively impact millions of youth through a deepened focus on character development
The YMCA of the USA 2018 Case Study of Character Development Learning Institute (CDLI) concluded the following: As one of the largest, most experienced, and recognized OST youth-serving organizations in the nation, Y-USA and the Y network of associations are uniquely positioned to implement this project. The Y’s long-time commitment to practical program development has established both a proven methodology for testing and scaling effective practice and an extensive national network of associations well-suited to serve as learning laboratories for applying these practices in the field. This alone has the potential to change the face of youth character development at more than 800 Y associations nationwide, involving more than 800,000 staff and volunteers in serving nine million youth. We believe the CDLI is positioned to create even broader impact. Y-USA is working with researcher and practitioner partners to enhance its own learning, share CDLI learnings and activities with partner organizations, and close the gap between theory and practice. The CDLI offers local Ys and Y-USA an opportunity to study character development with youth and youth leaders at the nexus of learning. We look forward to sharing our results with the broader youth development field. - The case study is part of a series commissioned by the Susan Crown Exchange (SCE) that explores how youth-serving organizations are integrating social and emotional learning into strategy and programming. SCE is invested in shaping an ecosystem of anytime, anywhere learning to prepare youth to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing and highly-connected world. Through grantmaking programs in digital learning and social and emotional learning, SCE helps identify, codify, and promote high-quality opportunities for young people to learn and grow in out-of-school time. For more information, visit www.scefdn.org. The Character Development Learning Institute (CDLI) is made possible through funding from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, and the Susan Crown Exchange. Read the full case study here, http://www.scefdn.org/app/uploads/2017/12/YUSA_SCE-Case-Study_2018.pdf