Strategic Priority: Field Building

Strategic Priority: Field Building

In order to expand and sustain high-quality CYD programs across the country and beyond, it is essential that we create systems and opportunities to develop and build the CYD field. This section of the Blueprint outlines steps to support the cross-sector development of the CYD field by providing opportunities for multiple stakeholders to connect with one another to learn, collaborate, and collectively advance CYD. Core to this strategy will be the engagement of youth, community-based organizations, funders, researchers, partners in allied youth sectors (i.e., youth development, workforce development, juvenile justice) and others that share our vision of advancing the role of creativity in positive youth development.

In summer 2018 Americans for the Arts (AFTA) will publish the findings from the first-ever Creative Youth Development Field Survey, conducted in 2017. The survey will provide insights about the nature of the CYD field. It is part of a multi-year CYD initiative led by AFTA to create a CYD Toolkit featuring 35 case studies of effective CYD programs. The Toolkit will be a major new resource to support knowledge building of innovation and excellence in CYD practice.

Without engaged, informed, connected and inspired individuals from all over the globe who consider themselves part of the CYD field, we cannot achieve our vision to make CYD a well-known and respected field frequently utilized as a strategy to support youth development.


  1. Expand and deepen opportunities for the CYD field to connect and learn
  2. Cultivate and strengthen local, regional, and national cross-sector relationships with allied youth sectors
  3. Increase & diversify funding

The Partners and Action Teams are actively developing plans for ensuring accountability to the core values of racial equity and social justice, youth voice, and collective action as it further develops and implements key strategies.

Key Actions

1. Utilize conferences and meetings hosted by National Partners as platforms to convene the CYD field nationally and internationally.

As primary national conveners for arts and community leaders, the National Guild for Community Arts Education and Americans for the Arts provide unique opportunities to amplify youth voice and leadership within the sector and deepen connections and learning between young people, teaching artists, CYD programs, and the broader field. Through these conferences, we aim to strengthen relationships across CYD practitioners and stakeholders; increase understanding of critical issues and opportunities; and increase skills. We expect greater visibility for this work among the field and increased understanding of young people’s capacity as agents of change.


  • Curate pre-conference institutes and dedicated CYD tracks that include substantive youth and cross-sector involvement.
  • Related: See Emerging Young Artists Leadership Exchange under #2.


  • Design, in collaboration with the Partnership, a Web-based survey of CYD practitioners and other stakeholders to identify their most pressing needs and topics of interest for professional development.
  • Collaborate with the Guild and AFTA to support strong involvement of CYD practitioners, youth, and cross-sector stakeholders in these conferences at multiple levels (planning, production, participation).

2. Support, catalyze, and connect local, state, and regional peer learning networks.

Arts education organizations face numerous opportunities and challenges to fulfill their missions, often with limited resources. An effective way for practitioners and other CYD stakeholders to support and learn from each other is through the development of local or regional peer learning networks.


  • The National Guild for Community Arts Education will pilot an Emerging Young Artists’ Leadership Exchange (June – December 2018), a peer learning network and creative collaboration addressing young people’s visions for the future, at the Conference for Community Arts Education which will take place November 14-17, 2018 in Baltimore, MD. This program could serve as a national model for catalyzing regional collaboration among CYD youth artists, teaching artists, administrators and community partners, increasing visibility of CYD practice, and connecting regional networks to a national movement. The Leadership Exchange will engage approx. 30 Mid-Atlantic youth (ages 14-24) plus teaching artists and administrators from 4 organizations in the formation of a regional cohort and creation of an original performance piece to be showcased for 700+ stakeholders at the Guild’s 2018 conference. Activities include site visits/rehearsals at each participating organization in advance of the conference, ongoing video chats, conference participation and 3-day onsite residency, and a performance. Afterwards, participants will lead a public video chat, sharing out lessons learned and advice for overcoming common challenges in CYD practice. This program would continue annually to generate knowledge that will increase the sector’s capacity, sustainability, and impact through increased awareness of the value of creativity in positive youth development and the importance of involving youth in leadership roles. Youth will benefit from increased social and creative capital and expanded leadership pathways.
  • Through online learning, workshops, and information resources, we will collaborate with leaders from networks across the country to examine the conditions that make local peer learning networks successful in facilitating collaboration, providing joint professional development, raising the visibility of CYD practice, and demonstrating CYD program impact. We’ll also share ways in which cities are collaborating with each other to learn. Examples of effective models include the Youth Arts Impact Network in Boston, Creative Advantage in Seattle, Thriving Minds in Dallas, and Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth, and Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network in California. CYD stakeholders will gain new tools and strategies for building and sustaining peer learning networks in their communities.
  • Establish a roster of CYD Peer Learning Networks with contact information on the CYD Partnership website to help facilitate inter-network communication and best practice sharing.


  • In collaboration with the Partnership and existing local networks, create a resource on creating local, state, and regional peer learning networks that includes case examples of effective models throughout the country.
  • Develop a strategy for supporting new and existing networks and connecting them nationally. Target communities in need of peer-to-peer connection (e.g., rural communities or cities where CYD stakeholders are active but still disparate) and work with state arts agencies to host local conversations and convenings.

3. Foster year-round online learning, information resources, and continuous communications.


  • Map current engagement and gaps based on existing participation data and develop strategies for more engagement among youth, community-based organizations and allied youth sectors. Identify and engage with local networks of culturally specific and community-based organizations to ensure their input, participation, and visibility in all field-building efforts.
  • Provide a year-round, online learning series (webinars, video chats), in collaboration with Action Teams and practitioners that supports Field Building, Funding, Visibility & Impact.
  • Produce the CYD National Toolkit and leverage both its content and our engagement with local networks to inform it. Will share out relevant research, tools and resources that drive forward the field of practice and the policies that support it. Areas of focus will be: Program Development and Design, Practitioner Training and Preparation; Working with Young People; Working in Social Justice; Funding and Partnerships; Program Evaluation; and Advocacy and Policy.
    • Use Toolkit sections as catalysts for community conversations and provide training and technical assistance that align with these areas.
    • Solicit and share out case examples for each area.
  • Disseminate effective practices, opportunities, and news aligning with the three strategic priority areas through, eNewsletter, and social media.


  • Co-produce with the Guild and CYD National Partnership the CYD online learning series. Series to begin May 2018.
  • Co-produce a monthly video chat series for stakeholder groups: youth, practitioners, funders, and specific allied youth sectors to connect across geographies to facilitate building community, providing support, and sharing best practices. Many CYD practitioners have minimal professional development budgets that can make traveling to conferences out of reach financially, yet they want to connect with peers and to access professional development opportunities. Additionally, for youth CYD participants and leader travel is typically a rare opportunity, and opportunities to connect virtually with other youth in the CYD movement have the potential to be a meaningful and valuable aspect of their experience and involvement in CYD. (Determine strategy and goals). Help to facilitate or support the facilitation of these virtual networks.
  • Create a shared social media plan as well as a corresponding #CreativeYouthDevelopment and invite CYD programs to use hashtag and post CYD content online. Collaborate with practitioners to create shared understanding of protocols / guidelines to support Internet safety for youth.

4. Cultivate and strengthen local, regional, and national cross-sector relationships with allied youth sectors.

Creative youth development and allied youth sectors share common cause in concern for young people’s well being. Even deeper than a broad commitment to supporting young people, CYD and allied youth sectors align on numerous positive outcomes for youth. The Movement is focusing on engaging across sectors because the work of CYD is holistic in nature: CYD is not just about building creativity, but also supporting young people’s identity development, connecting them to their communities, fostering agency, and the development of life skills. See the Mapping Opportunities for Alignment section for more details and resources.


  • Cultivate deeper relationships and potential partnerships with three national organizations from allied youth sectors whose goals align with the outcomes of CYD. Forming alliances or partnerships will support cross-sector work and will reinforce visibly and nationally that CYD is a solution for positive outcomes for youth.
    • Areas of strong alignment and engagement are youth development, juvenile justice, workforce development, education, and dropout prevention. The goal is to heighten awareness of CYD in these sectors and to create opportunities for collaboration.
    • Participate in a working group organized by the National Dropout Prevention Network in 2018 focused on the arts as a key strategy in engaging students and increasing graduation rates.
    • Present at least two CYD sessions at non-arts conferences yearly (e.g., Grantmakers for Education, Ready by 21) and seek greater involvement of cross-sector leaders as presenters at CYD Partnership-led conferences (AFTA Convention and Conference for Community Arts Education). Collaborate with Cross-Sector Action Team to identify, prioritize, secure opportunities, and present at cross-sector conferences.
    • Pursue collaboration with juvenile justice given the widespread use of trauma-informed practice across CYD programs, receptivity of juvenile justice to CYD, and existing local, regional, and national relationships between CYD and juvenile justice. See resources Matrix of CYD Alignment with Allied Youth Sectors and Environmental Scans Across Allied Youth Sectors, which include content on CYD alignment with juvenile justice.
  • Cultivate a deeper relationship with the Federal Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP). The 19 federal agencies that participate in this working group are far reaching in their funding and influence. Working at the federal level holds the potential for influencing allied sectors given the extensive, national reach of these agencies. IWGYP is the entity that manages, so a relationship with IWGYP will help facilitate the addition of CYD content to the website, raising visibility and growing awareness.
  • Publish content about CYD through the communications channels of at least two adjacent sector partners. This will expand the range of people and entities working on behalf of youth who are aware of and recognize the value of creative youth development, further expanding possibilities for more partnerships.
  • Spotlight cross-sector partnerships between CYD organizations and adjacent sectors in CYD eNewsletters and on website to inspire and share approaches and successes with others. Practical, nuts and bolts information about how to structure, implement, and sustain cross-sector partnerships.


The Field-Building Action Team can both be part of national cross-sector efforts and can lead the way at the local, regional, and state levels. The local and state level is where cross-sector partnerships will take root and flourish. It is also where many funding decisions are made and where CYD practitioners are and where youth are.

  • Work with the Visibility and Impact Action Team to synthesize and boldly communicate CYD alignment with allied youth sectors across the three CYD outcome areas: I Create, I Am, We Connect.
  • Create tip sheets that explain the priorities and language and work of other sectors to optimize exploration of alignment and potential collaboration and partnership.
  • Work with the Partners to generate an ongoing managed list of “in field” and “cross sector” potential partners, conferences, and associations to begin building relationships with (GIA, Afterschool Alliance, BOOST, Boys & Girls Club of America, America’s Promise Alliance, National Dropout Prevention Network, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, Forum for Youth Investment, etc).

Next: Blueprint Inputs