In 2019, the CYD National Partnership’s Field Building Action Team conducted interviews across the nation to understand the growth of peer learning networks—focused fully or in part on CYD—that are emerging across the country. The results were compiled in a brief written for the CYD National Partnership by Ellen Hirzy in January 2020:
Peer learning networks promote the sharing of knowledge, experiences, ideas, and promising practices among professionals. Whether formal or informal, they give people a chance to know others who are engaged in similar work with similar challenges. Close interaction with peers can be difficult to find in the nonprofit world, especially for those working in smaller organizations with limited resources. The mutual encouragement and professional growth that happens over time through a peer network can make a profound difference in individuals and their organizations, and ultimately in the youth they serve.
Looking at the broader picture, as peer networks proliferate, collectively they will help to advance the creative youth development field as a whole, including the growth of cross-sector collaboration. This paper describes the benefits of CYD peer learning networks, their structure and function, challenges they face, and attributes that contribute to success. Designed as a reference tool for practitioners, funders, and key stakeholders, it is based on interviews the CYD National Partnership conducted with 11 emergent and sustaining networks around the country. Short profiles of several networks illustrate the diversity and potential of peer learning as a catalyst to creative youth development.