February 1, 2018

Dear Clients, Colleagues, and Friends:

After 15 years of work on the PQA/PQI line of products and services, it is time to move on to new adventures. I am writing this note to express my sincerest thanks and appreciation to the many clients, colleagues, and friends who have partnered in this work: Thank you for holding the line on a vision for positive youth development. Thank you for the opportunity to innovate and learn with you and the networks of amazing people that you bring to the table. Thank you for putting your resources on that table so we could do the work together.

Since 2002, I’ve been fortunate enough to make nearly 300 trips to visit with many different learning communities in the OST field. I am always humbled by the commitments and passion that OST people bring to the table for children and families. I’m proud to be part of our OST social movement. Your commitment of both dollars and staff time to quality improvement systems represents an important social investment. Because of your work, we know better how to use out-of-school time settings to produce more optimal and equitable outcomes – and on a grand scale. Even in the current political moment of shameful financial austerity for OST programs, your work demonstrates that the know-how is available if the political will can be found.

As important, the lower-stakes quality improvement systems that you have been building are an important example of what’s possible in the post-NCLB era: Your work exemplifies a new wave of accountability policies designed to open up staff motivation, encourage innovation, grow expertise and actually produce positive results for both staff and students. Because of your efforts at performance management, many more people know that the out-of-school time (OST) field does amazing work. More local leaders and families understand what program quality means and why it is important. More community leaders, families, and young people understand the gravity of promises implied in phrases like positive youth development and social and emotional learning. Right on.

In terms of next steps, it is my plan to spend a few months reflecting on the past decade of work and hopefully chatting with some of you, developing an exciting plan for QTurn, hanging out with my family, and planting some trees. QTurn LLC can help us stay connected. If you would like to stay in touch, please leave your contact information at the QTurn website (www.qturngroup.com/contact/). Please also feel free to drop me a line at my new e-mail, charles@qturngroup.com.

Sincerely yours,

Charles Smith