Skip to content

Starting with Self: A Collaboratively Developed Curriculum by AFATAC Learning Circles


Youth Worker Collective along with over 25 AFATAC Learning Circle participants and content experts worked together over seven months to craft and implement a diverse set of ten three-and-a-half to four hour training modules for middle managers of after school programs in San Francisco. Topics ranged from Youth Development and Asset Building to Telling Your Story. All were created based on the Youth Worker Collective Process and utilized principles in creating a quality art curriculum.

The funding for AFATAC Learning Circles came from San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families. As such, taxpayer dollars were used in the creation of this resource. We strongly believe that projects that use taxpayers’ dollars be made available FREE OF CHARGE to the community at large. So please download, use, redistribute, and remix this curriculum FREE OF CHARGE!

You can learn more about AFATAC Leadership Tracks by clicking here.

Philosophy of AFATAC Learning Circles:

The below philosophy of the AFATAC Learning Circles was put into words after the conclusion of the AFATAC Learning Circles based on the work collaboratively produced and an ongoing exploration of values. It is our vision that this philosophy guide all future developments of AFATAC Learning Circles.

Everyone is responsible for his/her own learning. We believe that the best education is education by the people and for the people. We believe that in order to develop and change our programs, our organizations, our communities, and our world we must first change and develop our selves.

Process matters as much as content. We believe that the process by which something is created and shared is as important as the content that is shared. We believe process should be structured, organic, and malleable. We believe that content should be driven by a combination of expertise and inquiry. We believe striking a balance between process and content empowers balance between outcomes and mission.

Arts is integral to education. We believe the arts (visual, literary, theater, music, media) provides a mechanism to explore content and process in new and innovative ways. We believe arts can transcend technique and enable critique, intention, and understanding. We believe arts can and does heal the world.

Community and connection are paramount for growth. We believe that everything is connected to everything and that as a result everyone is connected to everyone. We believe that community is built it doesn’t just happen. We believe that growth, positive and sustainable growth that benefits communities, is rooted in uncovering connections and creating a community that supports one another.

Values create value. We believe values, a person’s principles or standards of behavior, directly correlates to value, the material or monetary worth of something. We believe values represent a person’s highest priorities and should inform and guide decisions. We believe that those decisions impact the value placed on learning, growth, community, connection, process, arts, and programming.

Change starts with self. We believe that in order to change our programs, organizations, businesses, neighborhood, the community, and the world we must first change ourselves. We believe that by changing our selves through open dialogue, exploration of values, artistic creativity, and appreciative inquiry we change our surroundings. We believe that a better, brighter, more positive and interdependent world is possible.

A Special Note about the Curriculum

This is the beginning. Over 25 people helped pull all of the curriculum and training delivery together. As such, more than 25 unique and independent voices came together and shared ideas, resources, research, and learning. This led to a unique opportunity and challenge: how to unify pluralistic voices into a cohesive curriculum. To address this opportunity and challenge, Youth Worker Collective rewrote the entire curriculum to ensure as much consistency in the writing of instructions and formatting as possible. This led to making some decisions regarding format, content, and timeline.

First, this curriculum is in a very, very basic format. It includes only text and is devoid of graphics. It is meant as a starting point and a new way to think about professional development.

Second, all each Learning Circle module contains the following sections in the order below:

  • Goal statement
  • We will accomplish this by
  • Agenda overview
  • Materials needed
  • Context
  • Detailed Agenda
    • Welcome
    • Reflect
    • Listen
    • Inquire
    • Connect
    • Dream
    • Act
  • Handouts

Third, the only thing currently published is this overview and the Learning Circle module curriculum. It is Youth Worker Collective’s intention to roll out supplemental materials such as additional resources and research, how participants practically applied the learnings, evaluative results, and elementary-aged activities that reinforce the lessons and concepts taught in the Learning Circles over the next three months.

It is also important to note that while the curriculum published here is available free of charge to download, use, remix, and redistribute the curriculum is not the Learning Circles. It is only curriculum. Learning Circles are a holistic approach of bringing people together to co-develop, co-teach, and learn from one another. The curriculum is a by-product of a much more intensive and focused learning community.

Last, this curriculum would not be possible without the fabulous contributions of middle managers in after school programs (names below), organizations and/or consultants focused on youth development and after school (names below), copyeditor Margaret Schulze, context writer Yas Ahmed, and lead editor and writer Jason Wyman. A very special thank you is owed to the African American Art and Culture Complex and all of its staff for providing a supportive, nurturing, and welcoming FREE training space for all ten sessions.

Starting With Self: The AFATAC Learning Circle Curriculum

Learning Circle 1: Transference of Learning, Information and Knowledge

Created and facilitated by: California School-Age Consortium, Jessi Cutter, and Youth Worker Collective

Context: Adult learning principles are rooted in respect for the wisdom of all training participants. Deepening understanding of the basic principles of adult learning, expressed by leaders in the field like Malcolm Knowles,1 Eduard Lindeman2 and Stephen Brookfield3, enhances a trainers efficacy and the value of the training they provide.

Click here to download the curriculum.

Supplemental materials coming soon.

Learning Circle 2: Facilitating Equitably

Created and facilitated by: California Tomorrow, Leslie Brown, and Youth Worker Collective

Context: Middle managers are expected to fill multiple roles: supervisor, advocate, program administrator, etc. A key function to successfully executing these multiple roles is that of skillful facilitation. Facilitation – of both people or process – itself involves a complex skill set, many of which are nuanced and/or implicit. This training takes participants through a series of activities that examines the various biases (including, but not limited to, those dealing directly with identity and experience) that may inhibit and/or dilute our facilitation abilities and how to interrupt and/or redirect such dynamics.

Click here to download the curriculum.

Supplemental materials coming soon.

Learning Circle 3: Assets and Youth Development

Created and facilitated by: Stacey Daraio, Alex Vila, Jasmine Carrey, and Youth Worker Collective

Context: This training explores two models of youth development: Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets and Youth Development Strategies Inc. (YDSI) Community Action Framework for Youth Development. (For more information on Search see: For more information on YDSI see:

Click here to download the curriculum.

Supplemental materials coming soon.

Learning Circle 4: Coalition Building

Created and facilitated by: Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, Bee Moua, and Youth Worker Collective

Context: Finding ourselves in a time of constrained financial resources, it is more essential than ever to consider and implement effective ways of building strategic partnerships among organizations with similar missions and/or constituencies. This curriculum explores coalition-building as a broad strategy for supporting and augmenting both short and long-term work across issues and sectors. Additionally, specific context related to group process – such as decision-making tools and potential obstacles in moving such partnerships forward – are delved into, with opportunities for participants to compare real-life experiences.

Click here to download the curriculum.

Supplemental materials coming soon.

Learning Circle 5: Academics and Content Standards

Created and facilitated by: Kathleen Martinez, Diane Colquhoun, Leah Weitz, and Youth Worker Collective

Context: With increased emphasis placed on academic rigor and, simultaneously, a narrowing interpretation of what is essential to a successful academic career, after-school programs – especially those under the “youth development” paradigm – may find themselves at odds with the holistic nature of their programming and state or federal educational requirements. This training offers a clear and thorough examination of the accepted standards; how to integrate academics into existing after-school programming an organic way; and how the two frameworks are best suited to complement each other in supporting the development of students during both the school day and out-of-school time.

Click here to download the curriculum.

Supplemental materials coming soon.

Learning Circle 6: Rejuvenation and Self-Care

Created and facilitated by: Liane Louie-Badua, Andrea Juarez, Jonathan Owens, and Youth Worker Collective

Context: Research tells us that essential to any highly functional program are highly supported staff. Taking the concept of sustainability beyond monetary investments, this training identifies key areas of support and development in order that youth workers remain engaged and inspired. Pulling heavily from arts education as well as faith-based practices, participants are invited to explore their own internal motivations and obstacles in developing practices of wellness. This training is based on the premise that once self-care strategies are implemented as daily practice by youth workers themselves, there is a correlation to improved quality of work and programmatic outcomes.

Click here to download the curriculum.

Supplemental materials coming soon.

Learning Circle 7: Organization and Structure

Created and facilitated by: Oscar Wolters-Duran, Grace Sizelove, and Youth Worker Collective

Context: Having a working understanding of the mission, vision and values to an organization is vital to being able to support your organization’s growth. Too often, dialogue around structure can feel stilted and/or limiting; this training attempts to more clearly connect what the existing realities of participants’ organizations are with the visions for what they could be. Expanding and deepening our understanding of how organizations build infrastructure and systems is particularly relevant given the economic landscape non-profits find themselves in; we know that innovation is key for survival let alone growth, now more than ever. This training is intended to prepare participants to balance innovative thinking while considering mission alignment and integration of values.

Click here to download the curriculum. Click here to download the PowerPoint.

Supplemental materials coming soon.

Learning Circle 8: Financial Literacy

Created and facilitated by: Mission SF Community Financial Center, Christen Gray, Celina Ramos-Castro, and Youth Worker Collective

Context: Given the constrained economic realities of many organizations, the need to connect larger, sometimes abstract discourse about strategies related to sustainability with what is realistic and relevant to individual practice is vital. Youth workers, in particular, are often charged with transferring knowledge and good working practices around financial management to the young people in their programs without much regard for the implications or importance of their own learning around these same issues. The need for a training that takes into account both individual context as well as shifting socioeconomic variables (like gentrification and local economic stability) is as timely as it is critical to basic skill development of youth workers.

Click here to download the curriculum.

Supplemental materials coming soon.

Learning Circle 9: Political Astuteness

Created and facilitated by: Yas Ahmed, Laney Cline, Jonathan D’Souza, and Youth Worker Collective

Context: Frequently, middle managers are expected to navigate the pressures and politics of internal dynamics as well as those from the community in which they work. The extent to which that navigation is successful largely depends on the balance of personal and organization priorities. What we’ve discovered is that skillful negotiation of competing priorities, regardless of environment, can be distilled down to the values that are at play (implicitly or explicitly). This training takes participants through a thorough examination of the synchronicity and dissonance between organizational and personal values and how best to move forward.

Click here to download the curriculum.

Supplemental materials coming soon.

Learning Circle 10: Telling Your Story

Created and facilitated by: Streetside Stories, Leya Copper, Mai Doan, and Youth Worker Collective

Context: Organizational narratives and history have multiple uses – general marketing, fundraising, base-building, etc. Middle managers are often expected to convey the story of our work – or support youth participants in doing so – to different audience perhaps without adequate preparation. And yet we know that telling our story can be one of the most powerful methods of gaining allies in this work. This curriculum takes participants through a process of exploring our own personal narratives and the key components of each; then, practicing how to communicate the essence of an organization’s story while customizing according to audience, purpose and individual style.

Click here to download the curriculum.

Supplemental materials coming soon.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 1, 2010 7:31 pm

    THIS IS FREAKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: