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Prepared  by  

LEAPS  for  Environmental  Literacy:    
Building  Safer  Spaces  for  Tradi6onally  
Underrepresented  Youth  

June 2015

Leadership & Evaluation to Advance Program Success

Table  of  Contents  
Cluster  Study  Overview                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3

 

Par<cipant  Overview                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      9

 

What  is  Safer  Space?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    13  

Naviga<ng  and  Maintaining  Safer  Spaces                                                                                                                                                                          19                                  

Youth  Outcomes                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  26                                  

Connec<on  to  Environmental  Literacy                                                                                                                                                                                      39                                  

Organiza<on  Investment                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    46                                    
Avenues  for  Future  Evalua<on  &  Learning                                                                                                                                                                      48  

Takeaways  for  the  Field                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        50                                    
LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Cluster  Study  Overview  

The  Path  to  Cluster  Studies  
§  Seventeen  LEAPS  organiza6ons  have  engaged  in  ongoing  technical  assistance  to  
develop  their  evalua6on  capacity  since  October  2012.  During  the  first  phase  of  this  
ini6a6ve,  organiza6on  representa6ves  aKended  trainings  focused  on  founda6onal  
evalua6on  and  learning  concepts:    theories  of  change,  logic  models,  evalua6on  plans,  
tool  development,  data  analysis  techniques,  and  communica6ng  effec6veness.  They  
also  engaged  in  a  range  of  leadership  capacity  building  ac6vi6es.  
§  In  the  phase  that  followed  and  with  con6nued  support  from  the  S.D.  Bechtel,  Jr.  
Founda6on,  Learning  for  Ac6on  worked  with  clusters  of  organiza6ons  to  develop  
shared  measures  around  three  cross-­‐cuTng  areas  of  interest.  The  cluster  study  work  
arose  out  of  an  opportunity  for  the  cohort  to  begin  to  document  its  collec6ve  story  –  
which  was  further  emerging  aVer  Phase  I’s  work  –  and  the  desire  to  advance  
organiza6ons’  evalua6on  capacity  through  the  hands-­‐on,  group  learning  experience  
this  type  of  project  would  provide.  Organiza6ons  worked  together  to  define  and  form  
the  clusters,  collect  data,  and  analyze  the  emerging  stories.  

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LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Cluster  Study  Topic  
Organiza6ons  in  the  Safer  Spaces  cluster  believe  that  inten6onally  building  safer  spaces  is  cri6cal  in  
suppor6ng  youth  to  overcome  fears,  bring  their  full  selves  as  program  par6cipants,  and  as  leaders  in  
their  own  lives.  Organiza6ons  recognize  that  these  spaces  are  dynamic  and  fluid  in  a  way  not  
captured  by  binary  ideas  of  safe  and  unsafe,  which  fueled  our  use  of  the  term  “safer”  space  
throughout  this  work.  
Early  on  we  looked  at  research  on  the  topic  of  safer  spaces,  and  learned  the  following:  
§  While  safer  spaces  are  addressed  a  lot  in  the  literature,  we  did  not  come  across  a  universal  or  widely-­‐
used  defini<on  of  those  spaces.  
§  We  found  literature  specific  to  certain  topic  areas,  such  as  programming  for  women  and  girls;  
programming  for  LGBTQ  youth;  and  reports  addressing  classroom  and  school  climate.  
§  We  also  came  across  literature  that  shared  some  of  the  beliefs  that  had  come  out  of  our  early  cluster  
conversa6ons  such  as:  
o  The  importance  of  relevant  content,  materials,  supports,  and  protec6ons;1  
o  The  value  of  promo6ng  posi6ve,  trus6ng  rela6onships;2    
o  An  at  6mes  paradoxical  nature  of  safe  space,  such  as  being  simultaneously  safe  and  unsafe,  and  
inclusive  or  exclusive;  3  and,  
o  The  belief  that  safe  spaces  are  context-­‐dependent,  and  vary  on  par6cipant-­‐to-­‐par6cipant  levels.4  
1Davis,  T.  S.,  Saltzburg,  S.,  &  Locke,  C.  R.  (2009).  Suppor6ng  the  emo6onal  and  psychological  well  being  of  sexual  minority  youth:  Youth  ideas  for  ac6on.  Children  and  Youth  

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Services  Review  ,  31,  1020-­‐1041.  
2Collabora6ve  Fund  for  Healthy  Girls/Healthy  Women.  (2001).  The  New  Girls'  Movement:  ImplicaAons  for  Youth  Programs.  MS.  Founda6on  for  Women.  Cowan,  K.  C.,  
Vaillancourt,  K.,  Rossen,  E.,  &  PolliK,  K.  (2013).  A  framework  for  safe  and  successful  schools  .  Bethesda,  MD:  Na6onal  Associa6on  of  School  Psychologists.  
3The  Roestone  Collec6ve.  (2014).  Safe  Space:  Toward  a  Reconceptualiza6on.  AnApode  ,  46  (5),  1346-­‐1365.  
4The  Roestone  Collec6ve.  (2014).  Safe  Space:  Toward  a  Reconceptualiza6on.  AnApode  ,  46  (5),  1346-­‐1365.  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Cluster  Study  Organiza<ons  

Wilderness  Arts  and  
Literary  Collabora<ve  ‘s  
(WALC)  environmental  
educa6on  program  
promotes  academic  
achievement  and  
ecological  stewardship  
by  crea6ng  a  diverse  
community  of  urban  
scholars  and  ac6vists  at  
two  San  Francisco  high  
schools.  

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Pie  Ranch  cul6vates  
a  healthy  and  just  
food  system    
from  seed  to  table  
through  food  
educa6on,  farmer  
training,  and  
regional  
partnerships.  
   

Crissy  Field  Center  
(CFC)  programs  
encourage  new  
genera6ons  to  
become  bold  leaders  
for  thriving  parks,  
healthy  communi6es,  
and  a  more  
environmentally  just  
society.  

Youth  Speaks  creates    
safe  spaces  that  challenge  
young  people  to  find,  
develop,  publicly  present,  
and  apply  their  voices  as  
creators  of  societal  change  
through  the  intersec6on  of  
arts  educa6on  and  youth  
development  prac6ces,  
civic  engagement  
strategies,  and  high  quality  
ar6s6c  presenta6on.  
Seven  Tepees’  
mission  is  to  work  
with  urban  youth  
entrusted  to  our  
care  to  foster  the  
skills    they  need  to  
make  lifelong  
posi6ve  choices  and  
to  create  their  own  
opportuni6es  for  
success.  

YES  Nature  to  
Neighborhoods  
(YES).  
In  partnership  with  
nature,  YES    
nurtures  leaders  
who  champion  the  
wellbeing  of  our  
community.  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Our  Approach  
Research  Ques<ons  
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 

What  are  safer  spaces?  What  do  they  look  and  feel  like?  
What  are  staff  and  youth  doing  to  develop  these  spaces?  
What  does  that  development  look  like  over  6me?  
What  are  the  outcomes  that  result  from  being  in  safer  space?  

Methods  
• Eighteen  staff  interviews  across  five  organiza6ons  (n=18).  
• Seven  youth  focus  groups  across  six  organiza6ons  (n=60).  
• Alumni  facilitators  conducted  the  youth  focus  groups.  

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LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Strengths  and  Limita<ons  of  Our  
Approach  
Strengths  
§  Qualita<ve  tools  enabled  us  to  
explore  in  depth  how  safer  
spaces  are  created  and  in  what  
ways  people  talk  about  them.  
§  High  par<cipa<on  from  cluster  
organiza6ons  yielded  significant  
amounts  of  data  across  cluster  
organiza6ons.  

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Limita<ons  
§  Our  approach  was  heavy  in  
qualita6ve  evalua6on,  but  lacks  
the  quan<ta<ve  evalua<on  
needed  to  beKer  understand  the  
extent  to  which  youth  experience  
their  programs  as  safer  spaces.  
§  While  youth  were  incen6vized  for  
their  par6cipa6on,  we  s6ll  
an6cipate  that  to  some  degree,  
the  youth  that  aKended  focus  
groups  were  likely  the  ones  who  
felt  comfortable  speaking  up  and  
par6cipa6ng.  
LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Par6cipant  Overview  

Youth  Backgrounds  
Youth  enter  our  programs  with  a  range  of  
experiences  with  safe  and  unsafe  space.  
§  Throughout  our  interviews  and  focus  
groups,  staff  and  youth  provided  context  
about  reali<es  and  challenges  faced  by  
youth  and  their  families,  whether  it  be  
cultural  challenges,  issues  at  home,  
poverty,  hunger,  or  trauma.  Many  youth  
also  men6oned  challenges  at  school.      

You  never  know  what’s  going  on  in  other  people’s  
households  and  they  need  to  be  listened  to.    
-­‐YES  Nature  to  Neighborhoods  Par6cipant  

My  school  is  so  large,  and  I  only  know  one  teacher  
who   actually   gives   a   fuck   about   me.   There’s   only  
one  person  I  can  talk  to.  

 -­‐Youth  Speaks  Par6cipant  

Exposure   to   violence;   insecure   economic   status;   insecure  
access   to   quality   of   life   features   like   health   and   safety,  
healthcare,   regular   meals   cooked   at   home;   experience   of  
ins6tu6onal   and   personal   racism;   sexism;   hetero-­‐norma6ve  
ideals.   All   of   those   have   been   imposed   upon   folks   coming  
into  our  program  to  one  degree  or  another.    
-­‐Pie  Ranch  Staff  Member  

Photo  Credit:  Crissy  Field  Center  

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LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

…A  lot  of  these  kids  are  dealing  with  issues  of  poverty  and  hunger  
and  abuse  and  just  kind  of  different  family  related  traumas  and  
those  things  are  very  real  and  present.  Some6mes  in  stricter  
classroom  seTngs  they  seem  unfocused  or  comba<ve,  and  it’s  
because  they're  really  under  resourced,  and  they  may  not  have  had  
breakfast.  
There  are  also  other  kids  in  our  community  that  come  from  very  
economically  solid  neighborhoods  and  very  stable  families  outwardly  
but  are  also  s6ll  dealing  with  real  issues  and  really,  really  significant  
things  and  don't  feel  like  any  less  alienated  than  their  counterparts  
who  are  in  more  physically  distressed  communi6es.    
…These  kids  are  in  conversa<on  with  each  other  in  our  spaces  and  
agreeing  and  disagreeing  and  trying  to  work  stuff  out  and  coming  up  
with  a  way  to  talk  with  each  other  that  I  find  very  hopeful,  like  the  
more  of  us  there  are  in  diverse  spaces  hopefully  the  beKer  the  
conversa6on  gets.    
   

-­‐Youth  Speaks  Staff  Member  

Lack  of  Access  to  The  Natural  
Environment  
I  was  14  years  old  and  I  had  never  seen  a  sunrise.  

You  don’t  really  get  to  see  nature  out  here.  

§  Both  youth  par6cipants  and  staff  
describe  how  youth  and  families  lack  
exposure  and  access  to  the  natural  
environment  prior  to  par6cipa6ng  in  
their  programs.  

We   don’t   get   the   opportunity   to   -­‐   some   people  
don’t  get  the  opportunity  to  go  other  places,  and  
go  camping  and  travel  around.    

-­‐YES  Nature  to  Neighborhoods  Par6cipant  

-­‐Seven  Tepees  Par6cipant  

-­‐WALC  Par6cipant  

If  I  wasn’t  in  here  I  probably  would  have  no  desire  
to   go   to   Yosemite   or   even   come   all   the   way   to   the  
Presidio.  Before,  I  knew  the  Na6onal  Parks  existed  
but  didn’t  know  anything;  I  thought  it  was  just  a  
park   like,   you   know   [makes   a   liKle   round   mo6on  
with  hand].  
         

 -­‐Crissy  Field  Center  Par6cipant  

I   think   it   kind   of   feels   ‘elite’   to   go   to   camp   or   do  
nature   ac6vi6es.   You   might   feel   like   you   need   to  
buy  this  equipment,  or  need  money  to  get  there.  
You   might   need   money   for   the   space.   It   has  
become  a  very  elite  thing  to  do.    
Photo  Credit:  Crissy  Field  Center  

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-­‐YES  Nature  to  Neighborhoods  Staff  Member  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

What  is  Safer  Space?  

Safer  Space  Is…  
Acceptance/Belonging  
Acceptance;  feeling  like  you  
belong;  inclusive;  no  judgment;  
posi6ve  rela6onships;  inclusion  
of  different  cultures  &  
perspec6ves    

Ownership  
Everyone  leads;  youth  as  much  
owners  as  staff;  having  control;  
clear  roles;  inclusion  in  decision-­‐
making  
 

Authen<c  Dialogue      
Being  real;  open  and  honest;  no  
secrecy;  can  be  one  self  
 
 
 

Sharing  Culture    
Trust;  empathy;  sensi6vity;  body  
language;  good  listening;  
everyone’s  voice  is  heard;  
confiden6ality  and  structure  for  
sharing  

Being  on  the  Same  Team  
Common  agreements;  mutual  
respect;  shared  accountability;  
meet  people  where  they’re  at;  
centered  around  youth;  not  
taking  things  personally/flexing  

Adult  Mentorship  
Informal  support;  check  ins  
(formal  &  informal);  “how  are  
you?,”  help  outside  of  program;  
individual  rela6onships  
 

Rituals/Inten<on/Consistency  
Show  up  prepared;  physically  
comfortable;  food;  consistency  
over  6me;  setup  of  space;  6me;  
clear  expecta6ons/  
understanding  of  role  

Guided  Explora<on    
Exposure  to  new  things;  
encouraging  curiosity;  star6ng  
where  people  are;  different  
types  of  ac6vi6es;  open  
dialogue;  mutual  learning  

Ongoing  Development  
Progressive  responsibili6es  &  
opportuni6es;  future  in  mind;  
work  with  community;  build  
allies  and  partners;  aKach  $  to  
youth’s  6me    

Every  dimension  above  represents  a  theme  that  emerged  across  organiza6ons  

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LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Example:  One  Dimension  of  Safer  Space  –  
Acceptance  and  Belonging  
§ 

Acceptance  and  belonging  emerged  as  one  of  
nine  core  themes  throughout  our  conversa6ons  
with  youth  and  staff.  Connected  to  this  theme  
were  the  ideas  of  inclusiveness  (including  
cultural  inclusion)  and  no  judgment.    

Some6mes  in  Pie  Ranch  they  have  different  events  like  
Dia   de   los   Muertos   and   things   like   that   and   it   makes   me  
feel  like  different  cultures  are  welcome.  One  6me  they  
had   a   Na6ve   American   event.   I   like   they   include  
everyone.  They  respect  the  history  of  where  Pie  Ranch  
is.  It  makes  it  more  safe.    
                                 -­‐Pie  Ranch  Par6cipant            

I  think  something  that  makes  the  program  feel  safe  is  acceptance.  
Whenever   I’m   here   I   feel   like   I   belong   here   and   everyone   does  
their  best  to  make  you  feel  like  they  want  you  here  and  you  should  
be  here.    
-­‐Crissy  Field  Center  Par6cipant  

Honesty,   comfort,   confiden<ality   as   well,   acceptance,   a   general  
tolerance.   I   don’t   want   to   say   tolerance   –   it   sounds   so   reluctant   –  
but   general   acceptance   of   other   people   and   their   ideas   and   a   place  
where  you  can  fail  and  you  can  do  something  wrong  and  it’s  ok.    
-­‐Youth  Speaks  Par6cipant  

I  think  when  someone  is  open  to  everything  that  makes  you  more  
comfortable   because   you   know   that   anything   you   do   they   aren’t  
going  to  think  you’re  strange.    
 -­‐Crissy  Field  Center  Par6cipant  

15  

Photo  Credit:  Youth  Speaks  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

I  think  [safer  space]  can  look  like  a  lot  of  
different  things  depending  on  the  youth.  
Feeling,  it’s  more  a  youth  doesn’t  feel  like  they  
have  to  be  guarded  or  hold  back.  They  can  
bring  their  full  selves  to  the  experience  
without  feeling  judged  or  leV  out  or  like  the  
other.  They  can  fully  par6cipate  and  it’s  a  place  
they  want  to  come  to.  It’s  invi6ng.  Curiosity  is  
encouraged  and  they  feel  like  they  have  a  safe  
space  and  can  also  evolve.  

 

 -­‐Crissy  Field  Center  Staff  Member  

I  feel  like  most  of  the  families  that  we’re  
serving  oVen  …  don’t  feel  like  they’re  a  part,  
they’re  lel  out,  they’re  not  part  of  the  team.  
Making  sure  they  feel  needed  and  welcome  
and  invited  and  important  –  making  them  feel  
important  and  that  what  they’re  saying  is  
important  is  what  I  would  like  to  describe  as  a  
safe  environment  for  them.    

-­‐YES  Nature  to  Neighborhoods  Staff  Member  

Overlap  with  Posi<ve  Youth  Development  
The  culture  of  safe  spaces  described  by  youth  and  staff  overlaps  strongly  with  Posi6ve  Youth  Development  
(PYD)  –  no  maKer  which  framework  we  use  for  reference.  
Youth  Development  Prac6ces,  
CNYD  

 

§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 

Promo6ng  a  sense  of  
safety  
Encouraging  rela6onship  
building  
Fostering  meaningful  
youth  par6cipa6on  
Providing  opportuni6es  
for  community  
involvement  
Crea6ng  challenging  and  
engaging  learning  
experiences  that  help  
par6cipants  build  skills  

 

§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 

18  

     PYD  constructs,  study  for  the  US    
Dept.  of  Health  and  Human  Services  
Promotes  bonding  
Fosters  resilience  
Promotes  social  competence  
Promotes  emo6onal  competence  
Promotes  cogni6ve  competence  
Promotes  behavioral  competence  
Promotes  moral  competence  
Fosters  self-­‐determina6on  
Fosters  spirituality  
Fosters  self-­‐efficacy  
Fosters  clear  and  posi6ve  iden6ty  
Fosters  belief  in  the  future  
Provides  recogni6on  for  posi6ve  
behavior  
Provides  opportuni6es  for  prosocial  
involvement  
Fosters  prosocial  norms  

 

§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 
§ 

PYD  principles,  Na6onal  Research  
Council  and  Ins6tute  of  Medicine    
Physical  and  Psychological  Safety  
Appropriate  structure  
Suppor6ve  Rela6onships  
Opportuni6es  to  belong  
Posi6ve  Social  Norms  
Opportuni6es  to  Make  a  
Difference  
Opportuni6es  for  Skill  
Development  
Integra6on  of  Family,  School,  and  
Community  Efforts  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Naviga6ng  and  Maintaining  Safer  
Space  

Beyond  a  Set  of  Prac<ces:  Safer  Spaces  as  
a  Dynamic  Balance  
§  Interviews  and  focus  groups  reveal  a  
number  of  “tensions”  that  staff  
members  are  constantly  balancing  as  
they  create  and  maintain  safer  space:  
o  Structured  vs.  unstructured  6me  
o  Personal  vs.  professional  
o  Permissive  vs.  forceful  
o  Structure  vs.  flexibility  
o  Stepping  back  vs.  stepping  in  
Photo  Credit:  Pie  Ranch  

[You  have  to]  nego6ate  personal  and  professional  boundary.  And  the  more  professional  you  
are  the  less  genuine  rela6onship.  It’s  a  hard  duality  and  hard  balance.  
-­‐Pie  Ranch  Staff  Member  

20  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

I  feel  like  it’s  hard  to  trust  adults.  You  don’t  know  what  
I’m  going  through.  You’ve  been  youth  before  but  you  
don’t  know  what  I’m  going  through.  It’s  hard  to  find  a  
rela6onship  with  an  adult  that  seems  meaningful.  At  
Youth  Speaks  the  adults  here  have  a  strange  way  of  
making  the  perfect  amount  of  effort.  Not  “Tell  me  your  
life  story  because  I  want  to  know  and  know  your  life  
struggle  and  relate,”  but  they  find  the  perfect  way.  I  can  
go  to  a  workshop  and  be  vulnerable  and  I’ve  been  myself  
enough  to  open  up  to  them.  The  adult  staff  command  the  
safe  space  in  their  presence.  Perfect  amount  of  6me  to  be  
fun  and  be  serious.  It  helps  me  figure  out  safe  space  and  
grow  as  a  person.    

 

-­‐Youth  Speaks  Par6cipant

Example:  Structured  &  Unstructured  Time  
Youth  and  staff  highlight  value  of  both  structured  and  unstructured  
6me,  and  the  impact  it  has  for  development  in  the  space.  
Unstructured  
§  Less  structure  for  what  youth  
must  be  doing.  
§  Promotes  bonding  with  others.  
The   trip   going   to   Yosemite,   there’s   a   lot   more  
<me  to  bond  with  someone.  You’re  siTng  next  
to   someone   for   three   hours   and   there’s  
nothing  to  do  except  talk.    
-­‐Crissy  Field  Center  Par6cipant,  on  ac6vi6es  that  
help  their  group  bond  

Structured  
§  Provides  clear  rou6ne.  
§  Supports  punctuality.  
When  you  look  at  it,  it  looks  really  long,  and  you  
can’t   think   of   how   you’ll   possibly   get   everything  
done.  But  we  always  manage  to  do  it.  We  have  
everybody   checking   6mes,   and   wri6ng   things  
down,   and   we   have   people   assigned   to   clean.  
They   have   very   good   organiza<on   and   <me  
management.    
-­‐Crissy  Field  Center  Par6cipant  

22  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Example:  Permissive  vs.  Forceful  
To  provide  the  right  level  of  encouragement,  staff  have  to  balance  when  to  be  
more  permissive,  and  when  to  be  more  forceful.    
Permissive  
§  Gives  youth  more  permission  to  
develop  at  their  own  pace.  
§  Can  risk  the  youth  staying  in  their  
comfort  zone/not  wan6ng  to  do  the  
ac6vity.    
If   you   don’t   feel   comfortable   just   say   one  
word,   that’s   the   beginning.   Start   with  
something.   Olen   I   think   we   give   in   to   their  
fears.   I   don’t   want   to.   I   want   to   be   respecnul  
of   their   fears   and   the   things   they’re   feeling,  
but  it’s  like  just  one  word.  
-­‐Seven  Tepees  Staff  Member  

23  

Forceful  
§  Can  get  youth  out  of  their  comfort  
zone.    
§  More  adult-­‐focused  and  driven.  Can  
overlook  the  perspec6ve  of  a  young  
person.  
I   feel   comfortable   when   someone   respects   my  
decision.  I  don’t  want  to  have  to  be  like  “ok”  or  
forcing.   I   think   it’s   uncomfortable   when  
someone   forces   you   do   something.   For   example,  
I  don’t  want  to  run  a  race  that’s  not  relevant,  but  
then  the  teacher  would  be  like  “you  have  to  do  it  
or  else  you’re  going  to  get  a  bad  grade.”  
-­‐Youth  Speaks  Par6cipant  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Common  Strategies  for  Managing  
Disrup<on  
What  do  you  do  when  someone  does  something  that  disrupts  the  space  –  
maybe  a  conflict  comes  up  or  a  young  person  breaks  an  agreement?  

Mindsets  

§  Be  flexible  in  facilita6on.  
§  Use  disrup6on  as  a  teaching  moment.  

Staff  members  describe  a  
number  of  common  
strategies  for  managing  
disrup6on.    

Ac<ons  
Recommit  
o  Maintain  and  
demonstrate  
accountability    
o  Revisit  community  
Agreements    
o  Engage  youth  
par6cipants  to  help  
enforce  agreements.  

24  

Go  Deeper  
o  Ask  deeper  
ques6ons;  don’t  
make  assump6ons;  
don’t  judge.  
o  Address  in  the  
moment  &  follow-­‐up  
later  

Protect  the  Space  
o  If  need  be,  pull  
young  person  out  of  
the  space  to  a  more  
private  space  with  a  
leader  
o  When  necessary,  
make  referrals  and/
or  seek  support  
LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

It’s  a  place  of  vulnerability.  I  enter  a  
conversa6on  like  that  with  ques6ons  and  a  
desire  to  understand  another  person,  so  that  I  
can  find  a  solu6on  that  is  going  to  work  for  the  
other  person  and  myself.  It  takes  a  lot  of  
centering  yourself  so  the  other  person  knows  
that  you’re  not  there  to  show  your  authority  or  
put  them  down  or  anything  like  that.  I  approach  
it  with  curiosity  and  love  and  care  and  know  that  
something  is  triggering  them  to  make  them  act  
this  way….      
-­‐YES  Nature  to  Neighborhoods  Staff  Member  

Youth  Outcomes  

Trajectory  Over  Time  
Staff  illuminate  what  the  development  of  a  young  person  looks  like  over  
6me  within  a  safer  space.  Each  stage  oVen  included  sub-­‐themes  within  it.  

§  Ini6ally  guarded,  bumpy,  “incuba6ng.”    
§  Experimenta6on/risk  taking/out  of  comfort  zone.    
§  Within  groups  of  youth:  greater  comfort,  laughter,  working  
with  a  range  of  peers.  
§  Shared  responsibility  for  the  space,  bringing  that  space  to  
others.  
§  Con6nued  par6cipa6on  in  the  program  over  6me  (years).  
27  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Moving  Past  Performance  
§  Numerous  staff  and  youth  brought  up  
–  either  as  a  characteris6c  of  safe  
space  or  point  in  development  –  the  
idea  that  safer  space  is  one  where  
youth  can  stop  performing.    
It’s   also   a   space   where   you’re   not   afraid   to   be  
yourself.   You   can’t   really   grow   if   you’re  
pretending  to  be  someone  else.  And,  in  that,  
being  able  to  have  fun.  That’s  the  way  I  grow.    
-­‐Pie  Ranch  Par6cipant  

You  don’t  have  to  hide  who  you  are.    

-­‐Seven  Tepees  Par6cipant  

…So  much  of  our  6me,  our  young  peoples’  6me,  is  
spent   performing   who   we   are.   CraVing   a  
performance   and   there’s   no   room   to   fail.   And  
[failure]   is   the   founda6on   of   a   breakthrough.  
When  you  get  to  fumble  in  front  of  someone  and  
you’re  forced  to  apologize  and  it’s  so  humbling.    
-­‐Youth  Speaks  Staff  Member  

A   lot   of   kids,   especially   kids   of   color,   they   don’t  
want   to   be   seen   because   they’re   so   used   to  
geTng   in   trouble   or   people   coming   down   on  
them,  or  being  pushed  aside,  or  not  seen  as  the  
bright   star   that   they   are   because   the   focus   is  
always   on   the   nega<ve.   They   don’t   want   to  
show  their  good  side  oVen.    
-­‐Seven  Tepees  Staff  Member  

28  

Photo  Credit:  Seven  Tepees  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

I  feel  like  If  young  people  feel  comfortable,  wow  it's  such  a  broad  
gambit  of  emo6ons.  I  could  say  that  they're  expressive,  they  talk,  
they  feel  safe  enough  to  argue,  they  might  have  an  emo6onal  
outburst  because  of  you  do  that  when  you're  safe  and  you  don't  
repress  things.  They're  oVen  very  crea6ve.  They're  olen  very  
emo<onal,  but  also  I've  seen  kids  be  very,  very  quiet.    
Some  kids,  not  all,  but  a  few  kids  need  a  safe  place  to  be  quiet  and  
to  just  hang  back  and  some6mes  they  end  up  telling  the  most  
incredible  stories  when  they're  ready,  so  I  don't  know  if  there  is  a  
term  for  that,  they  kind  of  incubate.  Some  kids  need  a  safe  space  to  
incubate.  But,  I  do  know  that  if  there's  challenges  in  the  room  like  
just  kids  going  through  tough  things  and  those  tough  things  kind  of  
collide  in  a  way  that  makes  it  poten6ally  unsafe  for  people  in  the  
room,  if  as  adults  we  don't  get  in  there  and  kind  of  make  an  effort,  
that's  unsafe.        

 

-­‐Youth  Speaks  Staff  Member

With  any  program  that  a  youth  is  just  stepping  into  
even  though  there  are  community  agreements  and  
may  be  a  shared  understanding  there  are  comfort  
zones  or  boundaries  that  can  be  crossed  or  pushed  a  
liKle  bit.  At  first  things  may  feel  bumpy.  Some6mes  it  
takes  overcoming  a  conflict  to  see  a  harmonious  
balance  occur.  Those  are  helpful  conflicts  that  happen  
and  I  think  they  are  necessary  to  get  to  know  each  
other  beKer.  I’ve  seen  a  couple  of  6mes  where  the  
first  few  weeks  are  really  challenging  and  things  come  
up  and  it’s  toward  the  end  where  everyone  
understands  each  other  and  connects  to  each  other  
on  a  deeper  level.  At  first  it  isn’t  that  way.    

 

-­‐Pie  Ranch  Staff  Member

As  programs  progress  it’s  hard  to  describe  the  progression  
but  I  think  one  way  is  their  interac6ons  with  other  
par6cipants  and  with  staff.  The  youth  themselves  are  cas<ng  
a  wider  net  of  who  they  are  interac6ng  with  and  who  they  
feel  comfortable  approaching….  
Also  increasing  interac6ons  with  different  staff  …  even  if  it’s  
not  their  staff  they  directly  work  with  every  6me  they  come  
here.  Some  of  the  youth  I’ve  seen  and  known  for  over  a  year  
they  really  feel  at  home.  You  can  see  that  even  in  the  
physical  space.  Really  knowing  how  to  use  it  and  what  
resources  are  there  are  and  who’s  there  and  being  
comfortable  taking  ownership  of  that  space  and  feeling  
comfortable  using  that  space  for  whatever  reasons  or  
purposes.        

-­‐Crissy  Field  Center  Staff  Member  

Safer  Spaces  Support  a  Range  of  
Outcomes  
Youth  and  staff  describe  numerous  outcomes  
when  safer  spaces  are  developed  well.    

32  

§ 

Voice.  Youth  and  staff  consistently,  across  all  groups,  
men6oned  youth  speaking  up  more,  developing  more  
voice.  

§ 

Feeling  capable.  Numerous  youth  highlighted  feeling  
like  they  maKered,  or  capable.    

§ 

Awareness  of  others.  Youth  and  staff  both  discussed  
how  young  people  become  more  aware  of  those  around  
them  and  the  influence  of  their  ac6ons  on  those  around  
them.  

§ 

Transferring  Learning.  In  addi6on  to  holding  the  
program  space,  youth  and  staff  both  discussed  how  
youth  carry  leadership,  environmental  stewardship,  
and  ini<a<ve  forward  into  their  lives.  

Photo  Credit:  YES  Nature  to  Neighborhoods  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Without  this  program  I  don’t  think  I’d  be  able  to  speak  
right  now.  I  wouldn’t  be  able  to  speak.  Outside  of  this  
area,  at  school  before,  I  would  just  sit  in  the  back  and  
do  my  work.  Now  I’m  in  front,  raising  my  hand.    
 
Why  did  this  program  help  you  speak  up  more?  
 
This  program  wants  to  hear  your  voice.  They  don’t  
want  to  hear  just  half  of  the  people.  They  want  
everyone  to  be  involved.  It  took  me  awhile  to  realize  
that  but  when  I  did  I  took  full  advantage  of  it.      

-­‐Crissy  Field  Center  High  School  Par6cipant  

They  make  you  feel  capable.  When  you  don’t  feel  
capable  of  anything,  here  you  feel  part  of  something  
and  your  voice  actually  maqers.  I  just  look  forward  to  
being  here.  I  go  back  home  and  I’m  actually  part  of  
something  and  I  feel  good.  Some6mes  I  feel  down,  
not  capable  of  anything,  and  like  I  don’t  maKer  in  
anything.  Coming  here  makes  me  look  forward  to  
something.      

-­‐YES  Nature  to  Neighborhoods  Par6cipant  

Example:  Awareness  of  Others  
§  When  staff  and  youth  describe  how  
youth  are  different  as  a  result  of  safer  
space,  one  of  the  outcomes  over  6me  is  
a  shiV  from  focus  on  self  to  a  greater  
awareness  of  their  impact  on  others,  
and  greater  apprecia<on.  

You   also   learn   how   to   be   more   aware   of  
others.   You’re   like   wondering   what   everybody  
else   thinks,   and   how   everybody   else   is   doing.  
You   care   for   them   because   the   IYEL   team  
makes   you   talk   to   someone   different   all   the  
6me.   I   want   to   talk   to   them,   it’s   a   good   thing.  
You’re  more  aware  of  it.  
 -­‐Crissy  Field  Center  Par6cipant  

It’s   an   awareness   of   themselves   vs.   the   pack.   It’s   an  
apprecia<on  for  their  family  and  for  their  parents.  It’s  like  an  
awakening   of   sorts.   Suddenly   something   that   was   an   issue  
before   becomes   irrelevant,   in   a   sense.   Some   sort   of   peer  
pressure   that   was   prevalent   in   their   lives   before   either   camp  
or   Camp-­‐to-­‐Community   suddenly   is   like   ‘Wow   I   can’t   believe  
that   was   an   issue   for   me’   because   now   there’s   future   goals,  
there’s   people   that   listen   to   them,   there’s   their   own  
apprecia<on   of   their   family.   That   makes   a   difference.   That  
makes   them   mo<vated   to   learn   and   camp   is   all   about   goals.  
It’s   all   about   ‘What   are   you   going   to   do   to   be   a   good   ci6zen   in  
this  world’...  we’ve  seen  the  power  in  that  and  it  has  worked.  
   
-­‐YES  Nature  to  Neighborhoods  Staff  Member  

35  

AVer   I   leave   any   Youth   Speaks   mee6ng   or  
event  I  feel  good.  Regardless  of  how  I  went  in  I  
feel  good.  Even  if  not  in  the  best  spirits  I  am  leV  
thinking   of   something   posi6ve   that   happened.  
It  makes  me  want  to  bring  that  space  to  other  
people   where   I   know   they’re   not   geTng   it   or  
where   it’s   needed.   It’s   the   whole   pay   it  
forward  that  I’m  leV  with.      
-­‐Youth  Speaks  Par6cipant  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

You  see  a  transi6on  from  the  first  6me  you  meet  with  the  youth  to  
now.  One  girl,  [for  the  first  year]  her  hair  was  always  back  in  a  pony  
tail  and  she  was  quiet  and  didn’t  par6cipate  as  much.  As  the  year  
went  on  you  really  started  to  see  strong  voice  and  a  natural  
leadership  ability  and  we  gave  her  more  responsibility  we  
handpicked  her  to  do.  [The  following]  year  you’d  never  know  –  she’s  
a  whole  different  person  in  my  eyes.  Much  more  outgoing,  much  
more  posi<ve.    
 
I  think  it  goes  back  to  giving  them  something  challenging  and  really  
believing  in  them.  I  think  that  helps.  Also  this  person  in  par6cular  
really  liked  the  honesty  of  the  staff  –  she  brought  that  up  a  lot.  I  
think  high  schoolers  are  used  to  teachers  or  treat  you  like  a  young  
person  who  doesn’t  know  anything.  I  think  she  thought  of  staff  here  
as  more  like  peers  asking  her  about  her  home  life  and  interests,  etc.  
Staff  here  do  a  good  job  of  being  interested  in  hobbies  and  home  
life,  and  also  really  challenging  them  and  not  taking  less  that  what  
we  know  they  can  do.  I  think  that  makes  the  biggest  difference  in  the  
youth  I’ve  seen.  

-­‐Crissy  Field  Center  Staff  Member  

I  have  changed.  In  elementary  school  I  used  to  
be  so  hard  on  people….  If  I  saw  them  crying  I  
would  laugh.  And  be  like,  ‘oh  you’re  crying  
because  you  want  aKen6on.’  I  used  to  say  that  
and  think  that  too.  Now  since  I’ve  been  here  
I’ve  seen  that  I’ve  gone  through  hard  stuff  and  
when  I  needed  help  I  didn’t  want  that  person  
to  say  what  I  used  to  say  to  other  people.    

-­‐Seven  Tepees  Par6cipant  

For  me,  Pie  Ranch  taught  me  a  lot  of  
things  I  didn’t  know  before.  That’s  one  of  
the  goals  of  the  program.  It  has  really  
helped  me  and  it’s  made  me  want  to  get  
out  there  and  be  more  involved.  Right  
now,  I’m  usually  in  classes,  I’m  usually  
listening  to  teachers  talk.  Here  in  the  
program  it  makes  me  want  to  contribute  
to  build  up  on  ideas  and  things  like  that.  
 
 -­‐Pie  Ranch  Par6cipant  

Connec6on  to  Environmental  
Literacy  

Leveraging  the  Natural  Environment  to  
Support  Youth  Development  
§  Many  youth  and  staff  described  how  outdoor  trips  amplify  and  accelerate  growth  
and  development,  while  deepening  connec6on  to  the  natural  environment.  
I   think   the   outdoor   part   makes   the   program   a   lot  
more  alive.    
-­‐Crissy  Field  Center  Par6cipant  

Being   in   the   outdoors   together   and   experiencing   nature   brought  
them  together  more  than  two  weeks  of  classroom  6me.  
-­‐Crissy  Field  Center  Staff  Member  

That’s   the   thing   about   WALC   you   look   at   somebody   and   you  
would  think  that  you  have  anything  in  common  with  them.  And  
then,   when   you   go   on   these   trips,   because   you   do   spend   3-­‐4  
days  with  these  people,  it’s  like  you  do  grow  into  a  family.    
-­‐WALC  Par6cipant  

When   you’re   inside   it   adds   to   more   stress   and   you   feel  
trapped   in   a   box   some6mes.   Like   [another   youth]   said   it  
liberates   you   to   be   outdoors   and   have   fresh   air   and   see   all  
the   greenery.   I   really   like   that   about   being   outdoors…At   Pie  
Ranch   you   can   make   your   mistakes,   and   they   don’t   try   to   tell  
you.   Because   there’s   lots   of   different   ways   to   do   things  
outdoors.  You  can  find  your  own  way  outdoors  and  explore  
what  you  like  to  do,  and  I  really  like  that  about  being  outside.    
Photo  Credit:  YES  Nature  to  Neighborhoods  

40  

 -­‐Pie  Ranch  Par6cipant  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

I  swear  I  have  seen  more  youth  find  their  
voice  in  the  woods  than  anywhere  else.  
For  some  reason,  youth  as  soon  as  you  
take  them  out  of  the  city,  they  let  go  of  
that  person  that  lives  here  and  they  
become  this  other  individual  …  [They]  let  
go  of  all  of  that  and  start  expressing  
themselves  and  want  to  be  heard.          

-­‐Seven  Tepees  Staff  Member  

Every  trip  we  go  on,  it  always  makes  you  respect  the  
unexpected.  Every  6me  you’re  in  the  car  riding  to  the  campsite,  
you  don’t  know  what’s  going  to  happen.  Once  you  get  there  it  
becomes  an  equal  plane.  That’s  an  atmosphere  that  everyone  
is  now  equal.  You  have  no  one  greater  than  the  other  person.  
Which  is  really  difficult  when  you’re  in  the  city  because  you  
think  you’re  beKer  than  the  other  person  …  but  once  you’re  
there  you’re  a  team,  a  unit.  That  atmosphere,  coming  back  
from  the  trip  reflects  on  [youths’]  behavior  in  urban  area  
where  they  start  stepping  up  from  what  they  previously  have  
done  and  become  a  new  person.  They  change.  Its’  subtle  but  
they  change  behavior  some6mes,  their  ac6vi6es,  the  way  [they  
are]  …  It  changes  you  into  becoming  a  beqer  person  for  
humanity.    

 

-­‐Seven  Tepees  Par6cipant

Promo<ng  Environmental  Literacy:  Increasing  
Exposure,  Voice,  and  Stewardship  
§  As  youth  experienced  growth,  many  described  their  rela6onship  to  the  
environment  growing  as  well.    
Before  Pie  Ranch,  I  didn’t  know  a  lot  of  the  issues  that  
were   happening   around   me.   When   I   went   into   PR,   it  
was   just   me   opening   my   eyes   –   I   saw   my   home   and  
supermarket   in   a   totally   different   way   aVer   I   went   to  
Pie   Ranch.   I’m   really   grateful   Pie   Ranch   has   made   me  
more   aware   in   general.   It   has   mo<vated   me   to   take  
ac<on   and   change   –   however   small   that   change   may  
be.    

We   used   to   go   to   [local   park]   every   other  
Wednesday  and  we  plant  there,  and  before  I  joined  
WALC,   I   stepped   on   those   plants.   I   did   not   care;   I  
stepped   on   them.   Now   when   we   go   there,   I’m   like  
‘no,   watch   out,   I   planted   that.’   That   took   a   couple  
hours   to   do   that,   or   it   took   a   couple   tries.   Being  
more  cau<ous.    
-­‐WALC  Par6cipant  

-­‐Pie  Ranch  Par6cipant  

I  used  to  be  really  shy.  I  had  never  been  to  a  park.  AVer  
I   went   to   camp   for   the   first   6me   I   really   appreciated  
nature.   It’s   beau6ful   and   it’s   going   away.   You   have   to  
appreciate  it.  Before  Camp  I  didn’t  really  talk  much,  I’m  
s6ll  preKy  shy,  but  it  has  helped  me.  
   
-­‐YES  Nature  to  Neighborhoods  Par6cipant  

Photo  Credit:  Seven  Tepees  

43  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

I  think  that  Youth  Speaks  encourages  a  global  mindset  
thinking  about  life.  It  does  encourage  and  promote  
environmentalism,  because  if  you’re  thinking  about  a  
community  outlook,  your  community  as  an  important  
thing  in  life,  you’re  thinking  what  is  the  outside  
environment  like,  what  is  the  inside  of  my  body,  and  
what  businesses  am  I  promo6ng.  At  Youth  Speaks  
you’re  a  cool  kid  if  you’ve  got  a  metal  water  boKle  and  
your  food  packaging  is  recycled.  It’s  not  like  weird  hippy  
but  ooh  you’re  cool,  good  on  you.  In  a  lot  of  places  
people  get  made  fun  of.  When  I  first  went  into  public  
school  I  was  the  weird  kid  that  ate  real  food  and  drank  
water  not  soda.  Here  I’m  cool.      

-­‐Youth  Speaks  Par6cipant  

Before  WALC  I  didn’t  really  give  a  shit  about  the  
environment.  I  was  like  ‘fuck  it,  it’s  going  to  go  to  hell  
way  aVer  I’m  dead.  The  next  genera6on’s  going  to  
deal  with  that  shit,  not  me.’    When  I  got  to  WALC  I  
learned  how  breathtaking  the  world  is.  I  never  
thought  I’d  like  camping,  but  once  I  experienced  it,  I  
want  to  do  it  way  aVer  even  high  school.  I  want  to  do  
it  in  my  summer  in  my  free  6me.  It’s  so  breathtaking  
all  the  places  we’ve  been  things  we’ve  learned  about  
the  environment,  all  that  stuff.  Really  fun.  I  would  say  
it  changed  my  perspec<ve  on  the  world.    

-­‐WALC  Par6cipant  

Organiza6on  Investment  

Building  Safer  Spaces  Requires  Time  and  
Resources  
§  Many  staff  members  directly  
and  indirectly  highlighted  the  
<me  and  organiza<on  
investments  that  support  them  
in  building  safer  spaces,  as  well  
as  things  that  can  get  in  the  
way.    

You   have   program   goals   and   I   think  
some<mes   they   can   get   in   the   way   of  
crea6ng   a   space.   If   you   think   there’s  
something   going   on   with   youth   you  
need   to   address,   you   might   need   to  
scrap  the  program  for  the  day.    
 -­‐Crissy  Field  Center  Staff  Member,  in  
response  to  “what  can  get  in  the  way  when  
crea6ng  these  spaces?”  

47  

OVen6mes   the   kids   that   have   the   hardest   <mes  
showing   up   are   olen   the   kids   who   need   it   the   most…  
I  can’t  just  send  an  email.  At  the  end  of  that  email,  it  
says  I’m  going  to  follow  up  and  call,  and  then  follow  up  
and   call,   and   then   follow   up   and   call   again,   show   up   to  
their  house,  set  up  a  mee6ng  with  their  parent  in  the  
evening   so   that   they   feel   safe   and   comfortable.  
Literally   mee<ng   people   where   they’re   at,   like   going  
to  schools  and  the  neighborhoods.  
-­‐YES  Nature  to  Neighborhoods  Staff  Member  

Two  things  that  are  really  helpful  for  us  at  Youth  Speaks  
are  the  ideas  safe  spaces  are  built  into  the  mission  and  
vision   …   [and]   Youth   Speaks   has   a   set   of   belief  
statements  that  they  encourage…  among  them  is  they  
believe   in   love,   they   believe   in   contemporary   culture,  
they   believe   in   community.   All   of   these   things   help   us  
put  our  best  foot  forward  in  crea6ng  safe  spaces.
         
                                                                       -­‐Youth  Speaks  Staff  Member  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Avenues  for  Future  Evalua6on  &  
Learning  

Avenues  for  Future  Evalua<on  &  Learning  
Following  our  shared  evalua6on  efforts,  we  see  
the  following  opportuni6es:  
§  U6lize  data  gathered  for  staff  and  youth  training  and  development.  
§  Build  out  quan<ta<ve  tools  to  evaluate  success  in  crea6ng  safer  
space  for  all  program  par6cipants.  Organiza6ons  may  choose  to  
return  to  this  topic  in  focus  groups,  par6cularly  during  6mes  of  
change  or  if  quan6ta6ve  evalua6on  does  not  turn  out  as  expected.  
§  For  more  informa6on  on  dimensions  of  safer  space,  please  refer  to  
the  Safer  Spaces  Prezi:  
hKp://prezi.com/r8t_owatnm-­‐p/?
utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share      

49  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Takeaways  for  the  Field  

Takeaways  for  the  Field  
§  For  environmental  stewardship  organiza6ons  
seeking  to  serve  tradi6onally  underrepresented  
popula6ons  –  par6cularly  those  whose  voices  have  
been  excluded  –  building  safer  spaces  may  support  
youth  in  developing  their  voices,  a  cri6cal  
component  of  long-­‐term  stewardship.  
§  For  Posi<ve  Youth  Development  (PYD)  
organiza6ons  serving  popula6ons  that  tradi6onally  
have  less  access  to  immersive  outdoor  experiences  
(such  as  camping),  outdoor  trips  –  when  integrated  
into  ongoing  programming  –  may  serve  to  amplify  
and  accelerate  PYD  outcomes.    
51  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

Takeaways  for  the  Field  
§  Building  safer  spaces  takes  6me  and  organiza6on  
investment.  Recognizing  organiza<on  mission  
statements,  budgets,  and  program  objec<ves/
goals,  can  support  staff  members  as  they  commit  
to  crea6ng  and  maintaining  those  spaces  amidst  
many  program  priori6es.  

52  

LEAPS  Cluster  Studies:  Safer  Spaces  

For  more  informa6on  about  the  Safer  Spaces  Cluster  Study,  please  
contact  Frances  Tompkins  (Frances@TogetherBrave.com)  or  Jessica  
Xiomara  García  (Jessica.Xiomara.Garcia@learningforac6on.com).    

www.learningforac6on.com  
170  Capp  Street,  Suite  C        |        San  Francisco,  CA  94110