In 2018, Adam was the subject matter expert and a principal consultant on a team with The Athena Group contracted with the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families, or DCYF. His efforts contributed to a statewide examination of resources for youth transitioning from state systems of care, including foster youth, formerly incarcerated youth, and youth involved with behavioral health care.
Supported by a team of data analysts, Adam’s specific tasks focused on gathering systemwide feedback and ideas. Advertising through regional DCYF offices, Adam planned, facilitated and analyzed findings from ten regional gatherings for youth and adults affected by state systems of care. Participants included young people, birth parents, foster parents, systems workers, community based workers, healthcare and mental health professionals and advocates. Facilitated as dynamic, interactive workshops, these gatherings produced more than 5,000 data points for DCYF officials to draw from as they informed policymakers about the issues in the field.
Additionally, Adam also crafted a 20-page summary report incorporating data analysis, process evaluation and policy recommendations. There were also multiple original data studies included that focused on the emergency care available to youth transitioning from state care, as well as additional resources they need to move from state care into successful adulthood.
In 2015, City of Lincoln workforce development staff approached me about more successfully reaching the youth they served. Committed to enriching their youth engagement strategies, the City contracted with me to deliver a variety of services.
Between 2015 and 2016, Adam facilitated evaluation and training events for city staff and nonprofit partners, and worked with City staff to redesign and implement a dynamic strategy to engage young people under 25 inworkforce development activities. Focusing on client voice, Adam’s strategy created responsive, interactive opportunities for youth and adults to partner together for continuous improvement and extensive community engagement. Activities including program assessment, event facilitation and staff consultation.
Since 2006, I have contracted with Seattle Public Schools Service Learning program. My activities have included project planning, program design and delivery, evaluation, training, technical assistance, speaking, and professional development services. I’ve provided large and small group facilitation; communication and public relations; project management; and other consulting services, too.
Some of the schools I’ve partnered with in Seattle have included:
West Seattle High
Rainier Beach High
Aki Kurose Middle
Following are descriptions of some related activities.
The GEAR UP program fosters college awareness and readiness for low-income middle and high school students by providing a variety of programs targeted to educators. The University of Washington state GEAR UP program serves 5,700 students in 36 schools and 29 school districts throughout Washington state.
The state’s major GEAR UP program was faced with normalized student disengagement among their target participants, including low-income, students of color, and migrant/bilingual students. They needed to increase facilitator effectiveness, and decided that modeling and intensive professional development were the best avenues for action.
The University of Washington State GEAR UP program contracted with me from 2005 to 2007 to facilitate several training activities for almost 300 middle and high school students. In 2007, I facilitated a week-long professional development retreat for local coordinators focused on Meaningful Student Involvement.
I facilitated a 36-hour intensive program designed to increase program efficacy and outcomes. Participants reported their work would be transformed, their approaches would refocus on student engagement, and that they had the resources they needed to take strategic steps.
“Adam works tirelessly to create environments and cultures where youth develop and wield the knowledge and power to positively impact not only their lives but also society. He is one of the most knowledgeable, innovative, and effective facilitators, writers, educators, and thinkers in the field. Adam brings theory and reality together in praxis that reveals how utopic visions can become a reality.” – Christin Chopra, former Manager, University of Washington GEAR UP
For three years, Adam contracted with the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to facilitate professional development sessions for more 100 educators involved in the 21st Century Community Learning Centers across the state. Held as annual events in different locations across the state, he focused on three subjects.
Student Voice 101 – Understanding the basics of student voice can be challenging for 21CCLC programs. In this session, Adam Fletcher uses his The Guide to Student Voice to teach participants Who student voice is for, What student voice can do, Why student voice matters, Where and When student voice happens, and How student voice can transform their activities. This session is very hands-on, interactive, and practical, and uses reflection, group work, and examples to show how student voice can improve learning, teaching, and leadership for all students.
An Introduction to Youth-Driven Programming – Focused on practical action, this workshop teaches 21CCLC programs how to take Youth Voice and Choice to the next level! Focusing on Adam’s Youth-Driven Programming Guide, this workshop shares powerful tools, meaningful tips and hints, and substantive planning tools. Practitioners utilizing this approach consistently claim the highest levels of success with voice and choice, and this workshop will show why.
SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum – Working with educators who were committed to adapting and facilitating the curriculum in their classrooms, Adam conducted train-the-teacher sessions. Walking through the facilitator’s guide, teaching different approaches for using the curriculum and otherwise preparing educators for different things that may come up in the curriculum was the goal.
As a young man, I was taught the art of storytelling by one of Omaha’s greatest, Idu Maduli. His graceful, courageous work brought me into neighborhoods throughout my area of the city where most people would never go, fearful of poverty or people of different races. Idu went though, over and over, to teach kindergarten through twelfth graders about acting by combining his storytelling abilities with techniques he’d learned from Augusto Boal.
He brought me along for three summers to help him teach, and along the way sparked the imagination of his journeyman. Since then I have strove to become half the teacher and storyteller I remember Idu being.
In his distinct way, I remember the gritty naturalness of the stories Idu shared. Many of them were focused on Anansi, the trickster spider of many West African cultures. Others were draw from European folklore, and others from other places. Wherever they were from, all these stories conveyed a sense of connection, dependence, and interaction with the Earth and all our relatives.
Its from this place that I originally conceived the “Tree of Engagement”.This model is a metaphor meant to illustrate the sustained connections that drive all of our lives. Its made of three sections, each of which represents an area of engagement in our lives.
Adam Fletcher’s Tree of Engagement
The sustained connections between all things, everywhere, all the time is best summarized by the term Universal Engagement. It is what the seemingly unrelated things around us depend on in order for the world to go around. Universal engagement allows people to see how the most minute thing affects the grandest, and vice versa.
The butterfly effect echoes this idea. Each of us demonstrate Universal Engagement through the things we create and share outside ourselves, including our work, our children, our cooking, and our conversations. We acknowledge Universal Engagement in all we consume, including food and clothing, others’ feelings and ideas.
As humans, we are constantly surrounded by other people, places, and identities. The community around us includes our families, friends, work, neighborhoods, cultures, and other things we identify with.
Community Engagement is any sustained connection we have with those people, places, and identities. We express these connections every time we see the people, places, emotions, ideas, wisdom, and things around us. We foster these connections through all that we sustain outside ourselves, including families and friendships, forests and gardens. Shared values, built structures, and other creation we share with our immediate circles are all forms of Community Engagement.
Personal Engagement / Self Engagement
Within each of us is a unique configuration of blood, guts, and soul reflecting a singular engagement of everything in the Universe within one creation. Within our selves are infinite connections that are lastingly established in order to personify Universal engagement. Each one of us, individually, creates, builds, demolishes, nurtures, sustains, expands, and explores the universe in our own ways, thereby justifying our existence.
The sustained connections of each self are what I call Personal Engagement: the sustained connection we have to the worlds within ourselves. Anything we do to connect with ourselves shows this, including knowing, nurturing, examining, and deconstructing ourselves. Personal Engagement is our root, the tap root of which digs deep into the Earth for inspiration, dedication, and health; the smallest of which roots contribute to the health and well-being of our whole selves.
The Tree of Engagement is a metaphor for all these things. How does it grow in your life? Where has it fallen over? Since its impossible to be truly disengaged from everything, all the time, what would you say is your weak spot of engagement?
Reflect on the tree and let me know what you think, please! Thank you, and get to climbing- if you want to.
A national movement towards rallying similar organizations supporting similar young people in schools and during out-of-school time led ESD 113 to convene a similar coalition. Without a concise action plan or engaging facilitator, the ESD was concerned their coalition may not succeed. Searching for a premier leader with similar experience, the ESD called on Adam to inform and guide this effort.
Starting in spring 2012, Adam provided leadership to the Pacific Mountain Regional Youth Alliance through a contract with Educational Service District 113 in Tumwater, Washington. Adam consulted a planning team including representatives from five organizations focused on developing a collective impact strategy to affect change in southwest Washington. He also facilitated Alliance gatherings for up to 125 participants, as well as planning team meetings.
The Alliance, including Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Thurston, and the northern part of Pacific Counties, is planning, convening, and supporting youth agencies, individuals, and other partnering organizations as they engage, collaborate and activate the advancement of culturally relevant family and community roles for student success from early childhood through college. Focused on establishing a collective impact model, the Alliance convenes meetings, shares resources, and holds other events on the regional and county levels.
Adam helped the Alliance develop short- and long-term strategic plans, provided event facilitation for up to 125 people as well as small leadership team meetings with several organizational representatives, and consulted the ESD on future activities.
Results included a sustainable long-term action plan for the Alliance; new countywide coalitions affecting up to 250,000 youth throughout the region; and increased determination and motivation among participants into the future.
In 2011, the Center wanted a nationally-respected, research-driven motivating keynote speaker focused on youth engagement to address their annual gathering called the Rural Partners Forum, with 750+ attendees from economic, academic, social, and political backgrounds. They also needed a facilitator to drive a conversation focused on youth engagement for the state’s mayors gathered at the forum.
The following year, the Center sought to publish a chapter about youth engagement for a forthcoming handbook they were creating for a statewide initiative.
After crafting a dynamic address for the forum and leading the mayor’s gathering effectively, Adam was contracted to draft a knowledge-sharing, skill-building publication for the Center called the New Generation Initiative Youth and Young Adult Engagement Guide. After providing more than 100+ pages of original content in less than three weeks, the Center then contracted with Adam to facilitate a statewide training workshop focused on the Guide’s contents in November 2012.
By providing motivational speeches, facilitation, technical assistance and professional development, Adam’s work drove a successful program launch and influenced ongoing action in North Carolina.
The Youth Engagement Practitioners Cadre (YEPC) was a dynamic professional development program promoting organizational and community transformation. YEPC members were adults with three or more years of youth engagement experience who together form a learning community that met once monthly during the 2012-13 school year. Members developed community collaborations, shared expert knowledge and experiences, and deepened youth engagement practices in their settings and throughout King County, including Seattle and its suburbs.
Throughout the year, Cadre members engaged in projects to deepen, apply and share their knowledge, including individual presentations, job-shadowing, research papers, and public presentations. At the end of the year, Cadre members were recognized for their commitment to their professional development at a countywide youth engagement event. Cadre findings were compiled in a best practices manual for distribution.
The Cadre was managed and facilitated by Adam Fletcher, an internationally-recognized youth engagement expert; along with Teddy Wright, a seasoned youth engagement practitioner and expert facilitator; and Kyla Lackie, a community organizer and program manager for SOAR.