Why We’re Focusing on “Well-being” — in Addition to “Equity”
Late last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a national emergency in adolescent mental health. As educators and leaders, we knew this; we’ve lived this, and seen this in our work every day. Last year our organization focused on equity, but in light of this proclamation and the deepening polarization in our nation, we need to widen our field of vision to include well-being.
Five years ago, we changed our name to Future Focused Education. More importantly, we revised our mission to “promote the health and prosperity of communities by reengaging young people”. The shift away from school-centered work to a community-centered vision opened our eyes to the larger context of the challenges we face as burqueños and New Mexicans. In 2020 and 2021, when Black Lives Matter protests were taking place in our streets, we embraced the young people who were leading the call for change and finished the year with an Equity Report that outlined our efforts to create a more racially just community.
This year, we remain focused on anti-racism and equity, but have furthered our resolve to shape our work in response to the national emergency in mental health. Well-being and equity are intrinsically tied; by absolving the oppressive systems of racism and inequity we protect and uplift the health and well-being of our communities of color.
As we adapt to the ever present effects of the pandemic and the persistence of systemic racism, we recognize that well-being is our highest priority—well-being of families, teachers, students, and our communities as a whole. You can expect us to sharpen our critique of the systems and structures that undermine our health and prosperity, and to design responses that improve the lives of the people we are here to serve.
We will focus on well-being in four areas:
- Work Based Learning as a way to give young people purpose to their learning and connections to mentors in their community who can help them navigate this unprecedented time and prepare them for the future.
- Social and Emotional Learning as a foundational experience for all young people and the adults who serve them to cope with the trauma of our circumstance and even thrive.
- Graduation Capstone Pilot as a way to reframe young people as assets who can help build the health and prosperity of our communities and give educators an opportunity to reconnect to their passion for teaching.
- Youth Civic Infrastructure Fund which will be a prototype we launch this year to build the capacity of our non-profit partners to host interns as a way to further build the civic infrastructure of our communities.
Some of these initiatives are new and some are a continuation of our existing priorities. However, each of them has particular importance right now in regard to our collective well-being. I hope you will join us in our work this year as we dig deeper and get more clear about how we will respond to the needs of our community.
Future Focused Education