Strategic planning is the process to identify strategies that will best advance an organization’s mission. Youth MOVE National has been in this planning process for the past several months. There are many reasons that 2021 included launching a new five-year strategic plan for us. To start with, we had accomplished all of the goals we had written in our previous strategic plans! We have also been navigating the quickly changing world around us, and it felt it necessary to question whether old strategies fit the new realities around us. Our team was very interested in deepening engagement with Youth MOVE Chapters to prioritize resources and make commitments to new work. And thus entered… the planning process!
A huge thank you to the many, many volunteers and staff who joined us on this journey. We were able to utilize data shared with us by Youth MOVE Chapters to center to center the needs of youth-run programs. Through this process, we welcomed many Youth MOVE voices to the table to enhance our vision for the future.. A special shout out to Kentucky Youth MOVE, Taking Flight: Youth MOVE Maryland, Youth MOVE Broward, Youth MOVE Colorado, Youth MOVE Detroit, Youth MOVE Georgia, Youth MOVE New Mexico, Youth MOVE Ohio, and Youth MOVE Philly representatives for engaging in interviews, focus groups, steering committees, and serving as plan facilitators, reviewers, and contributors. Thank you to the Youth MOVE Board of Directors, who provided key leadership and kept strategic planning front of mind for our organization.
The Youth MOVE National Board of Directors approved the 7 Key Strategies that we will use as our guiding light for the next 5 years. The planning work continues as we focus on yearly implementation plans to hold ourselves accountable for moving forward in these key areas.
The 7 Key Strategies can be thought of in two areas:
The first area is movement building and includes strategies to expand support of and collaboration with the existing chapter network as we invest in the community and infrastructure of youth-run programs across the country and to build a national youth movement to honor that so many more young people have voices to add to change-making. Collaboration and coalition-building are integrated throughout the plan as YMN commits to uniting young voices in more powerful ways. Youth MOVE recommitted to the strategy to work within systems to increase youth engagement and youth peer services to improve outcomes for young people. This is core work for our organization, and it is exciting to see this work continue – AND – our new plans honor the expansion of our chapter network into youth advocacy spaces in child welfare, education, and juvenile justice, and so this strategy has expanded to encompass elevating youth voices in these spaces. Youth voice AND mental health are so important in all youth-serving systems, and we are charged with elevating this.
One key strategy serves as a bridge between the two areas, and that is to cultivate an equitable organizational culture. It is priority area number one in the plan and focuses on investing in a more equitable structure for how our organization looks and operates AND focuses on how equity is centered in sustainable movement building, including developing ladders and pathways for more youth, especially youth who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color, to deepen their engagement and leadership.
The second area is a set of strategies that focus on the infrastructure, viability, and sustainability of Youth MOVE National. Our Board of Directors and National Leadership Team are committed to using financial analysis and strategic thinking to develop budgets and make decisions that support mission, staff well-being, and great work so we can engage in change-making for years to come. The final two strategies focus on resourcing youth movement work, including ensuring that Youth MOVE National has the resources needed to sustain itself and thrive and to support staff professional development and wellbeing. We are a movement led by people, and our people are important – the commitment to supporting the health and wellbeing of our team is so important to the efforts across all strategies.
The Youth MOVE team did not disappoint in the planning process! True to character, the passion for youth voice change-making was deep and clear. More and more ideas, hopes, and dreams for Youth MOVE were added to the table each time we met. The vision and belief in a better tomorrow was clear and strong. The 7 Key Strategies honor that we are not equipped to do everything we dream of immediately, but rather offer a frame that prioritizes how we decide what to do now, and what to do next. We are so excited to make moves in all of these areas and hope you will be joining us in this work.
To the future!