HRIA’s BEST (Building Exemplary Systems of Training Youth Workers) Initiative was launched in 1999 as an initiative of the National Training Institute for Community Youth Work of the Academy for Educational Development initially funded by the DeWitt Wallace-Reader’s Digest Foundation. The national BEST Initiative’s aim was to develop local infrastructure for youth worker training based on the youth development approach and to support a national network of community-based efforts. HRiA’s BEST training was created from the Advancing Youth Development: A Curriculum for Training Youth Workers, produced by the AED/Center for Youth Development and Policy Research in collaboration with the National Network for Youth, Inc., and the Boston School-Age Child Care and Youth Worker Basic Competencies.
BEST is northern New England’s only region-wide professional development and credentialing system for youth workers and their supervisors. BEST provides beginning, advanced, and specialized training; follow-up support services, and technical assistance to youth agencies to help them incorporate a consistent strategic youth development approach in their programming. To date, BEST has trained more than 2,000 youth workers and provided technical assistance to their agencies, which serve more than 50,000 youth in Greater Boston, throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Ontario, Canada.