Village Elders

Policy Makers, Funders, Community Leaders – Village Elders

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When it comes to educating and helping children come of age, community leaders, public policy officials and philanthropic organizations have the hardest job on the planet. There are more and more options, less and less resources and the needs are increasing and becoming more complicated.

Since 1975, the Center has worked with both public and private organizations, local, state and federal government in education, youth and human services, and community development. For fifteen years, Dr. Blumenkrantz headed up a municipal youth and human service agency and was on many legislative bodies and board of directors.

We get the issues and, as such, we offer a different approach. We believe that it takes more than a program. And it is certainly not a question of throwing more money at the issues which has proved to fail in the past. What it takes is people and meaningful, intentional relationships that are integrated within a powerful framework.

Think of the ground swell of community response after some kind of natural or human created disaster. Think of New York City and the entire country after 9/11. In all cases, dramatic and tragic events moved people into being their “best selves,” and in compassionate service to others. Every community has the potential to rise up and come together to raise their children.

As a leader within a business environment, you may be interested to know that the Swedish word for business is “närings liv”. It means nourishment for life or nurturing life. In English the word business means “to be busy” – a state of being much occupied or engaged, or what one is about at the moment.

What are we about in every moment we are in the “business” of education and child development? Yes, business. What has happened over the past 100 years is a burgeoning of business (busy-ness) in education and youth development which some have termed the “child industrial complex”… a far cry from the idea of business as “nourishing life.”

Short-phrases and single-problem-oriented solutions have been pervasive in education and social science for a long time. There’s no lack of creativity in the Madison Avenue, public relations approaches to naming and declaring war on the vast array of problems confronting us as human beings, regardless of our age, background, culture or community. Life can be challenging and inevitably hurdles can be presented that need to be surmounted.

“When we get the story RITE, we get our future right.” As “Village Elders”, you can help your community with the story. By starting conversations within your community on questions that matter and relate to helping children transition to adulthood, you can start the change. In fact, you may be in the strongest position to convene conversations amongst Providers, Youth Development Specialists, Parents/Guardians and Educators. You can guide them to our site and host dialogues that matter to youth and community development.

 And we, at the Center, can help you think about those important questions that would compel people to come together.

What can a community do to make a real, long lasting impact on raising children?

Here are some steps you can take as a “VillageElder” to start the conversation:

  • Become familiar with some of the language of rites of passage and associated activities. You will then be able to recognize where patterns, symbols and forms of initiation and rites of passage are already occurring in your school? Think clubs, athletics, the rituals surrounding induction into Honor Societies. Real, authentic rites already exist that have emerged within your own school community.
  • Ask where rites of passage exist in ways that compromise healthy development and lead to potentially devastating outcomes?
  • Become more conversant and proficient in the methods used to organize your school and community to join collaboratively in designing rites of passage. Methods such as:

Trinity of Inquiry – for assessing existing approaches and resources.

  • Asset mapping for Rites of Passage
  • Community Readiness for Rites of Passage
  • Conditions for Educating & Raising Children through rites of passage designs


Visit our Learn More section for additional resources and support.


The Swedish word for business is närings – liv. It means nourishment for life or nurturing life. Are we nourishing the lives of our children? Read more: The Busyness of Raising Children