Mapping Skill to Will: Approaches to Funding Creative Youth Development in the United States

In 2018, the Creative Youth Development (CYD) National Partnership, through grant funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, worked in concert with the broader field to drive collective action in three strategic priorities to advance creative youth development:

    • Visibility & Impact: Documenting and Communicating Outcomes and Impact
    • Funding: Building Pathways to Funding
    • Field Building: Professional Development, Networking & Technical Assistance

The research that has been conducted involves an analysis of current and potential CYD funders, the experience and attitudes of those funders through a developed Skill/Will Map, and a deep-dive set of case stories illuminating partnerships between funders and CYD programs.

The following brief is intended to provide funders with actionable tools in order to effectively partner with CYD programs.

Screen shot of the Mapping Skill to Will questionaire

We have developed a short critically reflective assessment (shown above) for funders and program officers to complete provide guidance as to which category they may currently fit.

The Categories are as follows:

Field Builders – High Skill/High Will (Skill Score: 15-30 / Will Score 15-30)
This category of funders actively funds and supports CYD and CYD-adjacent organizations and programs and identifies as part of the CYD landscape of their community or funding region.

Potential Stars – Low Skill/High Will (Skill Score: 0-15 / Will Score 15-30)
This category of funders actively funds or seeks to fund CYD and CYD-adjacent organizations and programs, but struggles with aligning those investments to existing strategic priorities.

Reluctant Allies – High Skill/Low Will (Skill Score: 15-30 / Will Score 0-15)
This category of funder actively funds and supports CYD and CYD-adjacent organizations and programs, but does not see themselves as part of the CYD ecosystem.

Potential Funders – Low Skill/Low Will (Skill Score: 0-15 / Will Score 0-15)
This category of funders does not currently fund CYD organizations or programs nor is currently knowledgeable about CYD as a field of practice.

Overall, the data suggests several interwoven trends in behavior of funders in relation to their CYD program counterparts across the four categories of skill and will. Regardless of the skill or will, individuals operating within the CYD and philanthropic sectors can improve their own abilities and successfully navigate the structures that govern their work. We recognize that funding is a complex system that only moves at the speed of the individuals within it. Thus, we applaud the funders and program officers who seek to learn, understand, and grow by reading reports like this one.

Read the report

Related case stories:

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