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Incorporating Youth Voice and Choice into NCLD’s Program Initiatives


The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), a pillar in the learning differences and attention issues field, is a trusted source of information and advice for educators, policy makers, people with learning differences, and their parents nationwide. Its grant supports the development of meaningful youth leadership and advisory opportunities within the organisation.

“Right now we are, in a way, an unstoppable force of thought. We are here to create a better tomorrow—and today—for students with learning attention issues.”

– Will, Young Adult who attended NCLD’s Young Adult Initiative Advisory Meeting



NCLD’s mission is to improve the lives of children and adults with learning and attention issues by empowering parents and young adults, transforming schools, and advocating for equal rights and opportunities. It is working to create a society in which every individual possesses the academic, social, and emotional skills needed to succeed in school, at work and in life. NCLD advocates for legislation at the federal and state level to protect and support the rights of the 1 in 5 children and adults with learning and attention issues. Through Understood.org, it provides information, resources and community to millions of parents. NCLD will celebrate four decades of impact when it marks its 40th anniversary in 2017.



With Oak’s support, NCLD is furthering its mission and impact by incorporating the findings of its Oak-funded Student Voices research into each of its strategic priorities. In that research, more than 1,200 young adults, two-thirds of whom had identified or unidentified, learning and attention issues were surveyed to gather firsthand information about factors that had the greatest impact on them during and after their transition from high school. The report, Executive Summary, Data Tables, Young Adult Screener, Parent Pair Screener, Full Questionnaire and Infographic are available here.

Building on that research, and working with consultants from The Bridgespan Group, NCLD conducted dozens of interviews with youth-serving organizations to better understand the current landscape for young adults with learning and attention issues and to identify potential new partners. NCLD also convened a group of young adults with learning and attention issues to ensure that they are at the table for every step of organisational strategic planning. NCLD is developing an initial set of new program opportunities for authentic youth engagement based on what NCLD learned from its research.




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