Using the Web of Support Framework
By Shannon M. Varga and jonathan f. zaff
Every day young people attend schools, participate in after school programs, show up for jobs, and navigate their neighborhoods filled with adults and peers who have the potential to help them as they pursue their education, work, life, and health goals. Yet, too often, the potential power of these relationships remains unfulfilled, leaving young people without the full impact social supports and capital resources can provide.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing inequities in young people’s access to resources they need to thrive in school and throughout their lives. These inequities were most evident in places where young people spend the most time, school and work, and illustrate the essentiality of relationships to young people’s (and all people’s) well-being. As schools rapidly change and test models for the fall after a year of continuous disruption, designing programs, policies, and curricula that acknowledge the power of relationships has never been more important; with designs that appreciate the need to align these emerging strategies with the relationships and resources already available to young people and their families.
Informed by decades of research from multiple fields (psychology, sociology, anthropology, network systems, economics), we developed the Web of Support framework to offer a systems approach to understanding and visualizing how the constellation of of social relationships and social, cultural, and financial capital in a young person’s life facilitates or impedes their opportunities to achieve their goals and live happy, healthy, purposeful lives.
Using the Web of Support Framework is a tool designed for use by youth-serving professionals and by youth, themselves, to:
- define and visualize current and potential supports in a young person’s life in an interconnected web
- identify areas where greater support or more coordinated support or intervenion efforts would be more effective
- brainstorm improving individual relationships and building connections across relationships for young people
- organize programs, policies, and research from a perspective that centers relationships and networks for young people
Welcome to Episode One of Re-engaging & Re-connecting With Students: A conversation with researchers and administrators on successes in the face of adversity. This web series, co-presented...
In partnership with MENTOR (the National Mentoring Partnership), CERES Institute is working with a set of school districts on how they can develop a “relationships strategy” for their schools. CERES Institute will serve as a research and evaluation partner for MENTOR during this three-year initiative.
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The CERES Institute for Children & Youth is examining how the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Youth Services’ Youth Engaged in Services Initiative – the YES Initiative – provides voluntary individualized supports to youth involved with the juvenile justice system and the impact of the YES Initiative on youth recidivism rates.
The Center for Promise is the applied research institute of America’s Promise Alliance, housed at Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. Its mission is to develop a deep understanding of the conditions necessary for young people in the United States to succeed in school and life.