Collaborators & Funders

Planting the Seed

A brief history of UP for Learning

A committee of four principals and youth voice advocates convened at the Vermont Principals Association in the winter of 2008 to find a means to elevate student voice in decision making and learning. This group conceptualized the basic Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together model, and began a pilot year in 2008–09. Helen Beattie, a committee member, assumed the coordination and development of this effort. During the 2009–10 school year, it became clear that the scope and potential of this model, working intensely with a limited number of high schools, was inconsistent with the VPA’s mission to serve all K–12 Vermont schools. With the VPA’s blessing, YATST established itself as its own independent organization under the wing of the Vermont Rural Education Collaborative (VREC).

YATST began to significantly diversify its programming during the 2012–13 school year, and worked with a communications expert to create an organizational structure and new name that encompassed its broader scope and reach. Unleashing the Power of Partnership for Learning, or UP for Learning, was born.

Due to continued growth, UP for Learning pursued independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organizational status, which was granted in the spring of 2015.

The following describes both collaboration and funding sources which have significantly contributed to the evolving story of UP For Learning over the past eight years.

Please click on the picture to the right to view UP for Learning's Collaboration and Funding Timeline

Signature Program

Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together (YATST)

Reach: 22 high schools

YATST was our rst program and remains our signature initiative. YATST is a network of youth and adult teams committed to build- ing school communities in which learning is engaging for everyone and students are fully empowered. Teams employ an action research and dialogue-based process to build rigor, relevance, relationships
and shared responsibility in their schools. is collaborative process mobilizes all stakeholder groups, building equitable school cultures where all students contribute to shaping their learning environment. It has been supported over the years by all funding sources found in the roots of this visual. e Bay and Paul Foundations have served as the “taproot,” providing the earliest and most consistent support. YATST has also been steadily increasing its fee-for-service revenue and collaborations with a wide variety of organizations, including the Vermont Agency of Education, to ensure its sustainability. The Rowland Foundation fellows have become a major force in YATST development.

Training Initiatives
Getting to ‘Y’: Youth Bring Meaning to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (GTY)

Reach: 31 high schools; 24 middle schools

In 2009, Helen Beattie developed this initiative as an independent contractor with the Agency of Education. It was funded by a federal grant that the Agency administered from the Centers for Disease Control. GTY was replicated in 2012 by the University of New Mexico. We subsequently collaborated with the University to revamp the training materials. In 2012, the AOE lost this funding stream and the initiative was adopted by UP for Learning to ensure its viability. A new relationship was subsequently created with the Vermont Department of Health to subsidize half of the cost per school and help with program development; in concert with this, the Department identi ed GTY as one of their state-wide priorities. is program serves both middle and high school age groups. UP is currently collaborating with the Brattleboro-based Center for Health and Learning to suppor their “UMatter” initiative, essentially doubling opportunities to engage youth in shaping the health and wellness of their schools.

M3: Mindset, Metacognition, Motivation
Reach: 14 high schools; 6 middle schools

Youth become teachers, exploring how the brain learns with peers, faculty and community members. Students are empowered with an increased capacity for independent learning and con dence in their learning potential. UP is developing a three-year initiative to expand M3 to a district level, K–12 implementation model. It is funded through the general operating budget and through fee-for-service revenue. e Vermont Department of Health has authorized use of local grant funds for this purpose.

Educational Quality Review: Students Pre-Training for Integrated Field Review Piolot
Reach: 16 supervisory union/districts
In the fall of 2015, the Agency of Education began eld-testing its new accountability process, Education Quality Review. A key element of EQR is the Integrated Field Review: a site visit by Agency-trained teams of students, educators, and AOE sta , who collaborate to gather data

on school system performance through observations, document reviews, and interviews. e Agency contracted with UP for Learning to provide specialized youth training to prepare students for full partnership with adult team members. In this pilot year, UP conducted four of these ses- sions to complement regional AOE trainings. e process will expand next year after the pilot.

Programs/Graduate- Undergraduate Courses 

Communicating School Redesign through the Youth-Adult Partnership Lens

Reach: 13 high schools

This program, which began in 2013 as a small pilot, has grown to a statewide effort in collaboration with Full Frame Communications and School Project Foundation. It is funded by the Nellie Mae Foundation, the Agency of Education and the Bay and Paul Foundations. The Vermont School Board Association has also become a partner in this endeavor. The Agency of Education has committed to sustaining and expanding the work over the next several years.

Collaborative Peer Review: Reflection through Youth-Adult Observation and Dialogue

Reach: 3 high schools

In the spring of 2014, three southern Vermont high schools enlisted the help of UP for Learning to design and implement a peer review process based on youth-adult partnership and incorporating School Reform Initiative protocols as a means for observation and dialogue. The cost of this program expansion has been equally shared by UP for Learning and the three schools. UP is integrating this powerful means to involve youth in continuous improvement e orts into their YATST program and has included aspects of this model in statewide ESSA and Educa- tion Quality Assurance assessments consultation e orts.

Coaching, Advising & Consulting

UP for Learning is increasingly asked to contribute to statewide school change efforts. As an outside organization, UP is uniquely poised to identify and facilitate networking and collaboration to further the implementation of student-centered learning on a state level. Most recently, UP took a lead role in designing and facilitating a statewide conference to further the development of Extended Learning Opportunities in order to realize the full potential of exible pathways and ensure equitable access. UP is also anchoring Youth-Adult Partnership efforts in a new statewide collaborative, Vermont Learning for the Future.

International Network Development

Dr. Alison Cook-Sather, a Bryn Mawr professor and extensively published author regarding youth-adult partnership in school redesign, convened youth voice researchers and practitioners from around the world to share their work. UP for Learning has been invited to Cam- bridge, England, for the last three years as a U.S. exemplar. is has expanded the reach of the UP for Learning models and seeded oppor- tunities for peer collaboration around the world. UP is involved in the development of a new journal evolving from this group to develop this youth-adult partnership movement nationally. Most recently, when UP learned that Dr. Cook-Sather’s resources for the Cambridge convening were expended, UP initiated a collaboration with Penn State University (Dr. Dana Mitra) and the University of Vermont to bring this network- ing opportunity to the USA. e International Seminar: Amplifying Student Voice and Partnership will be meeting at UVM July 6-8, 2016, bringing lead researchers, policy makers and practitioners from around the world to further this vision.

Major Design & Skill-Building Partners

School Reform Initiative Partnership (SRI)

Reach: 12 high schools (day-long facilitator training)

YATST and UP teams are change agents and require skill building to be effective in this capacity. Facilitation skills are funda- mental to their success. Daniel Baron, national SRI founder and facilitator, has been developing student-adult training for the past five years, with support from the Bay and Paul Foundations. This model has deeded SRI interest in further developing youth facilitation training on a national level.

Full Frame Communications

Jane Feinberg, founder and director of Full Frame Communications, is a nationally recognized expert in communicating educational redesign. She has been instrumental in co-designing and teaching the Communicating School Redesign through the Youth-Adult Partnership Lens course and spearheading communications aspects of the 2014–15 state wide effort to promote public understanding and support for Act 77.

School Project Foundation

Daniel Baron’s commitment to a dialogue for change strategy and training expertise is an integral aspect of the new state wide Communicating School Redesign initiative, expanding youth- adult facilitation skill development in Vermont. 

Research & Publications

A commitment to research and publication to advance movement toward the youth-adult partnership paradigm began in 2012, with a publication in the Management in Education journal. YATST and UP for Learning have been developing a deepening relationship with the Pennsylvania State University Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, with the Vermont programs serving increasingly as a learning laboratory. A paper on the YATST model was presented at the 2013 annual confer- ence of the American Educational Research Association. e Kettering Foundation, an advocate for democratic schools, published two interviews with Helen Beattie in 2014 to showcase the e orts of UP for Learning ( e Boston Review, February 2014, The Good Society, July 2014). UP for Learning faculty submitted an article on the value of shared youth-adult responsibility to Educational Leadership that was published in the June 2015 digital edition (with a circulation of 200,000).

Map of UP for Learning Schools


UPfLmapofschools2016 draft2 picture

Number of Schools Participating in an UP for Learning Initiative

as of June 2016

UP Graph Number Schools Reached 15 16


Please click graph to enlarge

Number of Students Reached, by Program

as of June 2016

UP Graph Number Students Reached 15 16 

 Please click graph to enlarge

 Number of Students Reached

as of November 2014; data is partial for 2014-2015 school year 

Please click graph to enlarge

UPLogo with words FINAL 5-1-14

There is no greater power than a community discovering what it cares about. 
-Margaret Wheatley 


Listen UP

  • YATST Student Member

    The student-led faculty meeting was unlike anything I have ever seen in terms of students and teachers holding a discussion about a topic as sensitive as their teaching methods. I heard from a lot of teachers in the “go-around” that they were awestruck about what had just happened.

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