As the transition to online learning first rocked our world in Spring 2020, CC+S sprung into action to transition the Y-PLAN methodology from a very hands-on in-person model to a more flexible digital learning space. Central to our ability to do so was our new higher education regional partnerships at UC Davis, San Jose State University and Cal Poly Pomona. The resulting strategy, Y-PLAN Connects: Building Community in Place, had great success and of course a few surprises along the way.
The goal of Y-PLAN Connects was to meet the changing needs of educators, civic partners and young people as they adjust to the new reality of either fully online or blended/hybrid learning environments during the pandemic. While addressing a range of community-based needs, Y-PLAN was vital during this time as it situated issues of social justice and structural racism as a central force driving all civic action and engagement projects both now and beyond (in a post COVID world).
Through Y-PLAN Connects, CC+S engaged over 1000 young people and adults in civic learning and planning projects within their communities on screen and through distance learning methods. CC+S staff developed a set of digital tools and a professional development framework to build the city planner capacity, continued to offer authentic project-based learning opportunities for K-12 students, and worked with other UC and CSU campuses to develop and leverage local university support structures for projects.
Among the many incredible outcomes and surprises of this work, we’ve chosen to highlight a few below:
- Doubled civic partner participation!! – Through Zoom, more professionals and adult allies were able to participate in the Y-PLAN action research process, bringing their expertise into the digital classroom while also learning from student lived experiences and their understandings of place and vision for the future.
- Lifted youth voice and visions for change – We participated in two statewide equity convenings with the California Department of Education (CDE), conducted two regional “Saturday Summits for Change,” and hosted fifteen local Y-PLAN Roundtables with dozens of local leaders and educators.
- Increased rigor through digital survey participation – We saw much greater engagement from the focus on digital surveys conducted by Y-PLAN students as a central part of their research and data collection. Over 2400 surveys were collected by Y-PLAN student scholars across our regional hubs!
- Y-PLAN for the public! – With bringing the Y-PLAN curriculum online and development of support materials for city planners, we were able to make Y-PLAN more accessible and increase the potential for “DIY Y-PLAN” in local communities. Stay tuned later this spring for exciting news on full Public Access to all Y-PLAN curriculum, tools and video documentaries and tutorials.
Adapting to unprecedented times, Y-PLAN Connects was an innovative strategy for Building Community in Place across California. We at CC+S are proud of the broader Y-PLAN community of practice for coming together to support one another across age and professional boundaries.