History of the ACT Framework
The Achieve, Connect, Thrive (ACT) Skills Framework provides a common vocabulary to bridge education and youth development, as well as school, after-school and summer learning. Increasingly, the framework acts as a guide to help youth programs articulate outcomes and how they are measured.
The foundation for the ACT Framework was built nearly a decade ago. In 2008, Boston After School & Beyond, Boston Public Schools, the City of Boston, and the United Way commissioned a new citywide youth outcomes framework that would unite Boston’s growing out-of-school time sector. In 2014, the Partnership Council – a coalition of over 70 community leaders – affirmed their commitment in Boston Learns Together to advancing these skills.
In June 2017, Boston After School & Beyond released an updated ACT Framework, informed by Boston’s youth development and education community. While the framework’s focus remains the same – codifying the skills necessary for college and career success – the 2017 version incorporates a wealth of new practical experience, evidence, and resources.
Context Influences ACT Skill Development
Context plays a critical role in shaping young people’s development. Young people are both creators of and influenced by their experiences and social interactions, as well as broader factors like cultural values, linguistic norms, and the sociopolitical climate (Jones et al., 2017; Nagaoka et al., 2015). These settings and factors contribute to how young people learn ACT skills, which may manifest in different ways depending on young people’s developmental stages and multiple aspects of their identity.
Despite this complexity, the opportunity for the out-of-school time sector is clear. Young people spend 80% of their waking hours outside of school, and summer and afterschool programs are ideal settings in which to learn and practice ACT skills. These skills are all identifiable, measurable, and malleable, making them accessible and meaningful to the adults who can influence skill development.