One of the areas we're exploring at the moment is how Upwards fits into the wider complex system of youth work in New Zealand, and strategic approaches to the systems issue. During my time co-running a national programme for Government, I learnt a lot about how to make changes in a complex system. Understanding and working with the full ecosystem is key.
So with complex systems in mind: it's not enough to simply deliver a programme, no matter how effective, without thinking about, "then what? What's the wider impact on all the areas they touch? What do people do next?"
We want to act as a 'funnel' to offer Upwards participants further opportunities once they've completed the programme, including scaffolding them to mentoring or courses that they might not get access to otherwise. This will both amplify the impact of Upwards, and offer our young people a next step in practicing the skills they've learnt in our courses.
We're well-placed to do this as we sometimes get asked whether we can recommend a young person for a certain course (because there's funding available for that course but the people don't know any suitable young people). To do this properly we need to be linked to, or at least aware of, what other opportunities are out there across the country, and what the criteria are. This is then coupled with a process for helping our young people work through what they'd like to try out, and then matching and directing them to these opportunities (and working with other people to follow up and make sure they get there). (If there's anyone out there doing this already, please let us know! We'd love to partner with you.) A mentor yesterday used the concept of 'no wrong door' in relation to this, which I really like.
This is going to need us to have a pretty good list of the other people out there doing cool stuff, so we can start building relationships with them - better dust off the list I made a year and a half ago....