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Real Opportunity

Imagine U

Building on the principles of social emotional learning, Imagine U helps youth develop the mindsets, skills, future orientation, knowledge, and agency they will need for successful futures in the 21st century.

Finding the Future

What do children want to be when they grow up? Often, it’s a career they see in popular culture. Teachers, doctors, nurses. Police officers and firefighters. Rock stars and football players. But many of the most promising careers are not on TV: they are in science labs, technology studios, engineering facilities, and spreadsheets.

The best career opportunities today are invisible for too many young people and their families: software engineers and scientists, data analysts and researchers, financial strategists and managers.

Imagine U helps students grasp their purpose in the world, see realistic future opportunities, and develop the knowledge, mindsets, and skills they need to someday transform opportunity into reality.

Important Insights

Imagine U is a comprehensive, strategic and scalable model for sustainable change comprised of four mutually reinforcing components:

  • research-based content that helps develop student agency, which is defined as the capacity and propensity to take purposeful action
  • a delivery system that includes a professional learning community grounded in principles of community-centered design, aimed at enriching the practice of youth development professionals
  • an integration strategy, including a professionally designed resource toolkit, to move PLC content and practice into broader action and impact
  • data mining that drives understanding of how youth are situated and their growth over time.

The direct practice curriculum of Imagine U included four learning quadrants as shown below, all designed to foster student agency.


Coming soon… a digital toolkit of research, resources, and student activities for youth-serving providers, created by the Imagine U Professional Learning Community, Extended Learning Opportunities Network, and Believe 2 Become. To receive a note when the toolkit launches, submit an Imagine U toolkit request here.

Expert Resources

  • Strategic framework: Chaná Edmond-Verley, Believe 2 Become
  • Research: Ronald F. Ferguson, Ph.D., Harvard University
  • Integration and practice: Lynn Heemstra, Our Community’s Children, City of Grand Rapids; Urban Curry Consulting; Evolve!; ELO Network