Executive Director Letter

DSC_0980Thread passion, purpose, and precision together and powerful things begin to happen. For YDN, 2014 proved to be the year that we evolved from being merely a framework into being a critical part of the delivery, approach and language of so many youth-serving organizations. The Strengths-Based Youth Development Framework has always made rational sense due in large part to being validated through decades of convincing research. Now, the institutions, programs, and individuals that partner with us see it as a way to make them feel safer, cared for, and counted on. Our framework has become the approach that they take to ensure that their cultures and climates give them the space and permission to assist youth in living out their hopes and dreams through a strengths-based lens.

Perhaps the biggest a-ha of 2014 is that people are realizing that youth development is not a curriculum for students to learn about. It is a way, an approach, that ALL must participate in. It makes no sense for youth developers to teach about safety and positive relationships if they (the adults) do not have safety and positive relationships amongst themselves. In that lies the biggest breakthrough of 2014 – Youth Development only works when the adults in an organization get to experience what they are teaching to their youth.

With respect and admiration, let me just say with all sincerity and humbleness that we appreciate you and all that you do to make the world a better place for young people. This is the YDN 2014 Annual Report, but as you will see, it is more a celebration of people working together to reach for a common goal.

“We are more intelligent together than apart.”

In community,
Adrian Ruiz
Executive Director of a small but powerful tribe known as Youth Development Network