Over the past decade, cities and counties have risen to the forefront of national problem solving by constructing solutions to many of our toughest problems, even while the relative certainty of federal grants has wavered. The needs of vulnerable families are increasing, and opportunity gaps between rich and poor children are widening. Across the nation, more local jurisdictions are increasingly taking on the risk of understanding and coordinating local revenue to support critical children’s programs and services and acquiring better information and analysis on their collective investments in children and youth. 

In this spark session, attendees will hear about local efforts across the country to find, align, generate and evaluate funding for children’s services. This “new localism” has inspired a proactive approach to children’s funding. Attendees will dive into examples, explore tools, and provide opportunities for participants to assess where their communities might be positioned to take on one or more of these strategies for coordinating and increasing local funding supports on behalf of children, youth, and families.

Learning Objectives

  • Four funding levers that local communities are using to support children’s services in education:
    • Finding funding sources
    • Aligning resources
    • Generating new funding
    • Evaluating the effectiveness of funding sources
  • Examples of communities that have successfully mapped their resources, blended and braided resources, enacted new dedicated funding mechanisms, allocated new resources, and assessed their effectiveness
  • Introduction of a federal fiscal mapping tool developed by the Forum for Youth Investment and Collaborative Communications in partnership with Jobs for the Future and the U.S. Department of Education, which aggregates 130 federal funding streams from seven different agencies that support cradle-to-career, place-based initiatives for youth
  • Develop preliminary plans for a new more proactive approach to children’s funding

Related Reading

Presenter: Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom, senior fellow, Forum for Youth Investment, and consultant, EDGE Consulting
Connect on Twitter: @forumfyi 

Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom
Senior Fellow
Forum for Youth Investment

EDGE Consulting

Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom is a senior fellow at the Forum for Youth Investment and an affiliated consultant with EDGE Consulting in Washington, D.C. Most recently, she completed a 15-year tenure on staff at the Forum for Youth Investment, serving as the director of field research. She oversaw national and regional programmatic and policy initiatives focused on improving access, coordination, and quality of youth-serving systems. In that role, she advised community partnerships and foundations in targeted areas of strategy and program development focused on youth and education initiatives. Wilson-Ahlstrom’s portfolio includes diverse writing and research projects related to afterschool policy development, youth program quality, research-practice partnerships, and financing for children’s programs. She is author of the Funding Brighter Futures, the seminal paper used to launch the Forum’s Children’s Funding Project, and she has authored or co-authored numerous papers, articles, blog posts, and web content in support of evidence-based practice and policy. 

Prior to joining the Forum in 2002, Wilson-Ahlstrom served as a program manager in the adolescent division of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, where she managed regional youth worker and teacher training initiatives in the U.S. and United Kingdom. She has completed fellowships with the Coro Foundation for Public Affairs, the New Leaders Academy, and the Moody Exchange Fellowship for Professional Study in South Africa. She has master’s degrees in public policy and social work from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor’s in social work from Calvin College in Michigan.