You Can't Be What You Can't See

You Can't Be What You Can't See The Power of Opportunity to Change Young Lives

Milbrey W. McLaughlin, Foreword by Arne Duncan, and Afterword by Greg Darnieder
paper, 280 Pages
Pub. Date: April 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-152-5
Price: $34.00

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You Can’t Be What You Can’t See presents a rare longitudinal account of the benefits of a high-quality, out-of-school program on the life trajectories of hundreds of poor, African American youth who grew up in Chicago’s notorious Cabrini-Green housing project in the 1980s and early ’90s.


This engaging volume provides an inside-out account of an effective youth development program, delineating and describing the key ingredients that led to success: exposure, mentoring, and true community. McLaughlin offers her seasoned and insightful analysis while allowing readers to hear the authentic voices of the program’s staff, volunteers, participants, and donors—a true epiphany. — Jane Quinn, vice president for community schools and director, National Center for Community Schools, Children’s Aid, New York City

Based on a thirty-year follow-up of an exemplary program serving youth living in poverty, McLaughlin reveals how program practices led to eye-opening outcomes in education and employment. The book provides a compelling argument for the value of positive youth development programs targeted at adolescents. — Barton J. Hirsch, professor of human development and social policy, Northwestern University

What does is it take to change the odds? You Can’t Be What You Can’t See shows us the dramatic difference a high-quality youth organization can make. As a movement is taking hold across the country to promote the quality of environments for learning and engagement, the life stories of CYCLE’s alums illuminate and inspire. — Merita Irby, cofounder, The Forum for Youth Investment

You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: The Power of Opportunity to Change Young Lives is a powerful reminder that formal education alone is not and should not be the only path to improving youths’ lives. — Thai-Huy Nguyen and Jalen Smith, Teachers College Record

For those interested in eliminating opportunity gaps, this book points the way. You Can't Be What You Can't See provides the existing proof, architecture, and core process. — Larry L. Nyland, School Administrator

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About the Author

Milbrey W. McLaughlin is the David Jacks Professor Emeritus of Education and Public Policy at Stanford University, and the founding director of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities.

Table of Contents



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