Organize a Summit: Find Staff and Partners

Adults speaking at a Youth Summit meeting. Youth Summits photo, by Beth Boland

Photo by Beth Boland

A. Identifying Partners and Assembling a Youth Summit Team
1. Identifying Partners

The first step in organizing a Youth Summit is to identify the partners who will play a vital role in presenting the event and who can maintain contact with participants. Like many efforts, Youth Summits are best presented and produced in partnership. Select partners and organizers carefully. Partners should have a commitment to cultural history and historic preservation and should demonstrate the capacity to involve youth in different activities throughout the Summit and beyond.

Youth Summits can be scaled to fit the capacity to succeed of the partners. The lead partner can range from a small local non-profit or neighborhood association staffed by volunteers to a larger professionally-staffed local, regional, state, or national non-profit; academic or educational organization; or a governmental agency.

The ideal partnership would include a lead partner that is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization with a mission relating to historic preservation, education, history, tourism, or service. Other partners might consist of both government and non-government entities at the state, regional, or local levels. They could even include education, service, and tourism organizations not typically associated or engaged in preservation activities. All partners should have sustained or potential community level involvement, so that they can help disseminate outcomes generated from the Summit.

The lead partner should be able to:

  • Provide year-round communication management, including a comprehensive communications strategy
  • Serve as the lead contact for Youth Summit communication
  • Manage financial and fiscal issues
  • Fundraise and process donations
  • Recruit friends and manage volunteers
  • Manage cash flow and process payments
  • Host and manage website
  • Facilitate application process
  • Provide and manage event liability coverage
Additional partners can expand scope and impact and may include:

  • State Historic Preservation Offices
  • National Park Service regional and other offices
  • National Park Service units (Parks, Monuments, Historic Sites, Battlefields, National Heritage Areas, National Historic Trails)
  • Local and state preservation agencies
  • Education leaders and school districts
  • Social studies or humanities organizations
  • Tourism organizations or associations
  • Service and conservation organizations
  • Conservation organizations
  • Other not-for-profit organizations
Sources for researching other organizational potential partners include:

2. Assembling a Summit Team

Partners can assemble a Summit Team to lead and undertake Summit activities. The Summit Team should include educators, preservationists, tourism advocates, and local community liaisons. Summit Team members should direct Youth Summit program and agenda development, operational oversight, outreach and impact, and strategic affiliations. Success in implementing strategy is dependent on identifying key staffing roles, the commitment of the leadership team to the effort, and the diligence of the lead agency and leadership team in ensuring appropriate resources of financial and managerial support.

3. How State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) Can Help
The SHPO can provide a common thread in every Youth Summit, and is a connection to valuable resources and organizations. The SHPO can provide:

  • Valuable information about National and State Register properties
  • Support in obtaining information about current preservation projects statewide
  • Associations with other organizations and state agencies
  • Links to partnerships in efforts statewide
  • Recruitment of young professionals for mentoring positions
  • Networks to preservation professionals and professional associations
  • Understanding of sites at risk and those that have been revitalized, which can promote different conversations around historic preservation issues
  • Connections to local projects and historic places that have unique challenges or have access to diverse cultural backgrounds/history

4. Youth Summit Staff

Youth Summits are labor intensive! Many nonprofit organizations with experience in organizing events can attest that organizing and producing events involves considerable time, energy, and resources. Youth Summits are an event, but for true sustained success, they require not only outreach and local input before, but also follow-up after the event!

Buy-in from local organizations is vital for long-term success. These organizations can help to target key groups of students and educators to recruit for the first year. Sustained contact with all groups is vital to the dissemination of information and the recruitment of new participants in the following years. Youth Summits require a variety of staffing roles, which can be undertaken by either volunteers, paid staff, or contracted consultants. Duties can be combined or consolidated but allocation needs to take into consideration the skill set needed for each role.

  • Youth Summit Director:
  • Serve as lead staff and contact on Youth Summit Program
  • Direct overall management and presentation of the Youth Summit, including helping to develop educational program development; overseeing logistics; and shaping program goals, outcomes, and curriculum
  • Shape policy initiatives to seek lasting outcomes
  • Identify Youth Summit facilitators and leaders
  • Oversee Youth Summit logistics, registration, and communication with participants
  • Develop agenda and finalize schedule
  • Provide oversight of participant selection, schedule, and agenda preparation; outreach to preservation and community leaders;, and coordination and distribution of goals and products
  • Provide connections to partners
  • Act as the program spokesperson to policy makers, funders, and partner organizations
  • Connect Youth Summit with national, state, and local preservation leaders and elected officials
  • Provide oversight and long term strategic planning for the Youth Summit Program
  • Ensure adequate funds available for Youth Summits
  • Undertake fundraising

  • Youth Summit Manager:
  • Act as key staff for logistics and arrangements, recruitment, and applications
  • Oversee application and registration; process applications; confirm and manage registration
  • Lead recruitment of students and teachers
  • Undertake logistical management and agenda development
  • Help the leadership team develop key questions and focus for students and educators at the Summit
  • Identify key themes and outcomes in association with the director and teacher liaisons
  • Manage on-site logistics for Youth Summit including meals, lodging, and transportation
  • Offer general support to participants in registration and logistical planning
  • Undertake fundraising
  • Assist in Summit communication
  • Share products and recommendations from the Summit with project partners and participants and national leaders

  • Youth Summit Educator:
  • Assist with recruitment of educators and students
  • Act as liaison to teachers and educators and coordinate the educational training for educators
  • Secure credit or continuing education hours and issue certificates for recertification for participating teachers
  • Identify key themes and outcomes in association with the Director and Manager
  • Assist with the development of the agenda and educational activities
  • Develop and deliver curriculum training to support ongoing and meaningful integration of summit work into classroom curriculum
  • Manage the student leaders in conjunction with the leadership team
  • Promote and support adult participants to actively stay involved in activities and participate in discussions while allowing students to take the lead
  • Provide on-site training in the integration of primary sources into the classroom
  • Model field experience as the foundation of discussion on how resources presented in the field pertain to standards-based learning in the classroom
  • Align Summit activities with current state educational standard
  • Support student lead initiatives and student planning with the Summit
  • Support the student dissemination of Summit outcomes and recommendations through social media, technology, and print delivery
  • Maintain ongoing follow-up with educators and mentor them to provide classroom support as well as local community support if needed

  • Financial Manager or Fiscal Agent:
  • Responsible for all financial management
  • Maintain and update budget
  • Manage grants and process grant reports
  • Process Youth Summit invoices
  • Ensure liability coverage

  • Local Coordinator:
  • Provide input on local issues
  • Identify partners
  • Identify venues
  • Serve as contact in community for Youth Summit
  • Assist with logistics and special events
  • Assist with dissemination of outcomes and recommendation

  • Youth Summit Facilitators:
  • Act as facilitator during Youth Summits
  • Lead, direct, and provide expertise for issues-oriented programming
  • Provide knowledge in historic preservation, tourism, cultural heritage, and other issues to support program
  • Mentor and inspire students in programming in day-long activities
  • Develop exercises and promote in-depth discussion and inquiry to produce useful outcomes

  • Youth Summit Leaders:
  • Responsible for breakout group management of students
  • Mentor students with preservation expertise
  • Oversee learning exercises for participants and promote the inclusion of all students in the conversations and discussions
  • Manage student activities
  • Direct students to produce recommendation

  • Communications Specialist:
  • Manage and update website
  • Manage and update social media outlets
  • Distribute recommendations

5. Volunteer and Compensated Staff

The role of volunteers is the bedrock of historic preservation and other conservation activities, and volunteers can play an important role in Youth Summit programming — especially serving as leaders during the actual Youth Summit events. Having compensated staff to undertake key roles is more likely to ensure a lasting and recurring successful program. This could include assigning or redefining the work plan of existing staff of an organization or a site for the days of the Youth Summit or contracting with consultants to undertake tasks before during and after the event. The roles of compensated staff and other budget considerations largely impact the scale of Youth Summit efforts. Partners and the Summit Team may wish to consider whether to hold multiple Youth Summit events per year which allows amortizing expenses over multiple Summits, or to start by hosting just one per year and grow as the program expands.
Click here to download the complete Youth Summits Guide and Planning Tools as a .pdf

Last updated: January 18, 2017

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