United Way of the Greater Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Region / Kalamazoo Youth Development Network

“What do we want?”


“When do we want it?”


This was the rallying cry at the first community-wide “Lights On Afterschool” event, coordinated by the Kalamazoo Youth Development Network (KYD Network) and attended by over 200 school-aged youth and 75 youth-development professionals on September 21, 2015. The Lights On Afterschool rally, intended to increase awareness of and support for the out-of-school time (OST) sector in Kalamazoo, provided youth with the opportunity to talk about what after-school and summer programming means to them and to receive a proclamation from the City of Kalamazoo recognizing the importance of OST programming.

The Kalamazoo Youth Development Network serves as an intermediary organization to the OST sector in Kalamazoo County. Our vision is that all Kalamazoo County youth are college, career, and community ready by 21. We achieve this by ensuring all Kalamazoo County youth have access to high quality, youth-driven, diverse, inclusive, and equitable OST programs.

Over the past 18 months, KYD Network has transformed from an information-sharing group to a collective action movement. KYD Network is dedicated to collaboratively building a sustainable OST system so that all youth have the opportunity to identify their interests and assets, explore community resources that align with their passions, and gain the skills necessary to become successful adults.

KYD Network provides training and technical assistance, along with networking opportunities, to the entire OST network in the county (approximately 45 organizations) and works directly with 20 youth-development organizations that engage in the Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI), an evidenced-based continuous quality improvement system created and managed by the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality. These 20 organizations also participate in our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) initiative, based on the Devereux Center for Resilient Children’s approach to social-emotional learning. The organizations we collaborate with include a number of Irving S. Gilmore Foundation grantees and serve children and youth, ages five to 21.

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