The National Training Institute for Community Youth Work (NTI) was established by the Academy for Educational Development in 1997 to strengthen the field of youth development through the professional development of America's youth workers. In promoting a national agenda to prepare this adult workforce, NTI's goals are to:
- Build the capacity of communities to establish local interagency youth worker professional development systems-i.e., BEST sites where BEST stands for "Building Exemplary Systems for Training Youth Workers"-and link these BEST sites through the National BEST Network.
- Develop and implement an articulated "path" of training, education, professional development, and career advancement programs for youth workers. The path includes community-based training, structured apprenticeship, certificate and degree programs, and leadership experiences that are grounded in the youth development approach and implemented through national and local partnerships among NTI, BEST intermediaries, higher education institutions, funders, and public systems such as the Department of Labor.
- Develop high quality curriculum products premised on the youth development approach, i.e., Advancing Youth Development(AYD) products that guide youth worker practice in promoting young people's sense of self-worth and positive identity; commitment to community; and development intellectually, socially, emotionally, physically, culturally, and vocationally. These AYD products form the core of BEST-sponsored training, education, and professional development programs.
- Ensure consistent, quality training experiences for youth workers across the country through a national network of NTI-certified trainers and faculty. This includes setting standards and procedures for national training of facilitators and instructors in local BEST training programs.
- Broaden the recognition and support of youth work guided by youth development principles through national leadership meetings and dissemination of research focused on youth workers and youth worker practice.