Lab Hosts Convening of Local Children's Cabinets

On July 12-13, 2018, over 51 leaders from 22 communities in both United States and Canada convened on Harvard University’s campus in Cambridge, MA, to discuss best practices for local children’s cabinets. Jointly sponsored by the Education Redesign Lab (the Lab) and the Forum for Youth Investment (the Forum), the convening gave a space for leaders of local children’s cabinets and other community stakeholders to identify needs, analyze problems, and share best practices from their communities. 

The convening featured presentations by the Lab’s Director Paul Reville, the Forum’s Senior Fellow Elizabeth Gaines, Mayor Marc McGovern of Cambridge, MA and Mayor Shane Bemis of Gresham, OR, all of whom discussed the importance of and challenges to meeting the holistic needs of children and youth. In addition to Mayor McGovern and Mayor Bemis, we were lucky to have Mayor Kimberley Driscoll of Salem, MA in attendance. Throughout the day, expert facilitators led panels and breakout sessions that focused on three topics of interest: starting and strengthening children’s cabinets, using data to inform practice, and strategies on securing funding.

As an opportunity open to partners outside of the Lab’s By All Means initiative, the convening was a first of its kind; many participants stressed the power of being in a room of leaders with common goals and appreciated how the sessions facilitated cross-community collaboration and networking. Participant-led sessions were notable highlights of the event, such as when cabinets from different states jointly evaluated their challenges from the field, when local leaders shared best strategies on how to generate funding sources through both private and public partnerships, and when speakers from the Washington team implored all to adopt an equity lens to lift the perspectives of our most underrepresented children. A popular session, led by Dr. Lisa Piscopo of Denver team, demonstrated how local cabinets can implement online resources to synthesize data and create color-coded maps to analyze key indicators on child-wellbeing by county. As each of these examples show, the sessions covered a wide range of collaborative efforts, each with theoretical, strategic, and practical implications for implementation in the short and long-term.

Both the Lab and the Forum have been learning alongside local children’s cabinets over many years and are pleased that the event served as an opportunity to build on this knowledge and carry on the momentum. As we refine our theory on systems-wide change, we look forward to continue exploring with and learning from our partners. To see more on this convening, check out the event page. For more information on the Lab's work or how to participate in future events, please contact Raina Hall at