Group shot teens and adults IMG_8785More than 200 area residents gathered to learn how youth believe Itasca area communities are doing in supporting them, and how to use these insights to build and strengthen that support.

The Youth Voice Community Conversation was hosted by the Itasca Area Initiative for Student Success (IAISS), a broad group of local organizations and individuals working to create a future in which all Itasca young people and their families have the resources and support they need for a healthy future.

At the center of Thursday’s conversation were the voices of young people, collected through the first-ever survey of how youth experience their Itasca area communities.  More than 2,300 young people, grades 6-12, participated in the survey this fall.  Youth also were literally in the conversation, participating in the Community Conversation event with leaders from throughout the Itasca area as the data was unveiled and discussed.

“We want to thank all the students who took the survey. Your voice matters!” said Mindy Nuhring, member of the IAISS Core Team and executive director at River Grand Senior Living. “The data tells us that some kids in our communities are doing really well – but not all.”

Community Conversation participants had the opportunity to find others in the room who were inspired by the survey to work on specific opportunities and issues.

“The information that the community got tonight is rich and deep,” Nuhring said. “It can drive many types of community work, and we believe communities will use it to make significant changes in support of kids for several years to come.”

Youth Voice survey results are the first full-scale check-in on the Pathway to Student Success – a set of guideposts developed by local community leaders as they wrestled with the question, what does it look like when all children in our community find the success they want? The IAISS Core Team partnered with Search Institute, a research nonprofit that helps organizations all across the country learn about factors that impact young people’s lives. Search custom designed the Youth Voice survey to measure where Itasca area communities stand today on Pathway priorities.

“The survey measures the things the Itasca area has said are important,” said Gene Roehlkepartain, vice president of research and development at Search Institute. “The results are the area’s first opportunity to see how well these priorities are being accomplished currently, and are one tool to assist in future plans.”

To view the 2014 Youth Voice Survey results, visit , or contact Jaci David at 218-327-8705. Any local resident or organization interested in getting involved in the initiative are welcome. Contact Jaci for more information.