Community Youth Outreach
Community youth outreach programs use a variety of activities and curricula to attract adolescents. They often operate daily or at least several evenings a week in locations that youth frequent.
Some programs have strict eligibility criteria to maintain safety and respect. Some directors make difficult decisions to deny participation to youth with consistent records of failure.
Creating a Vision
Many community youth outreach programs offer activities designed to help adolescents acquire a variety of skills. These may include community service, adventure and outdoor activities, art, music, religious instruction, academic improvement, cultural awareness, and career preparation.
The development of a meaningful youth-adult partnership is a critical component of community youth outreach. Developing this relationship requires a commitment of time and resources from both adults and youth. This collaboration is crucial in reducing barriers and undoing adultism that prevent youth from participating.
One way to promote youth-adult partnerships is by establishing a meeting schedule that works for all participants. Ideally, these meetings will occur at times when youth and young adults are free from school or work responsibilities. This allows them to focus on a topic that is important to them. For example, the Ripley Youth Philanthropy program brings teens together to discuss the current system of funding and grant making. The group also discusses what they want the ideal system to look like.
Developing a Mission
Programs for youth need to develop a clearly defined mission and objectives. They should also describe their target audience and what activities will be offered. This information can help programs better understand how their program can serve the needs of the community.
Some community organizations are using a community-wide approach to reach out to young people. Others are targeting specific groups of youths, such as at-risk teenagers or the youth from poor families. These organizations can work in partnership with the schools and social service agencies.
Many community-based youth outreach programs focus on a heterogeneous group of youth participants in order to foster tolerance and understanding. However, maintaining an atmosphere of safety may require denying some young people participation. Directors at one organization, for example, are careful to scrutinize school records and do not accept youth with a history of failure in school. This can prevent them from eroding the spirit of entrepreneurship and responsibility that is the organization’s trademark.
Developing a Strategic Plan
Community youth programs vary in many significant ways. For example, they may focus on a heterogeneous group of participants to build understanding and tolerance. Other programs target a particular subgroup in order to provide specific support, cultural awareness, and a sense of belonging.
The City’s Youth Development Strategic Plan represents a new vision of collaboration among multiple City departments and community organizations that will create pathways for youth and emerging adults to thrive in Long Beach. The plan is designed to ensure that all youth have access to opportunities for mental, physical and spiritual well-being, as well as safe, stable places to live, learn, work, and play.
The strategic plan includes a youth advisory council that will bring a youth-led perspective to the City’s decision making processes and create opportunities for youth to participate in the design, implementation, and oversight of youth services. The advisory council will also serve as a bridge to the community for City department representatives and youth-serving organizations.
Developing a Budget
Creating a budget helps you detail all the costs associated with your program. It also helps you justify those expenses as essential to achieving your objectives. A good budget should be clear and concise and reflect the amount of time you expect to spend on your program.
Community youth programs often engage a group of young people who are considered at risk or vulnerable in some way. These programs may provide social activities and mentoring, or they may support family and community involvement. Some programs have a specific focus on issues such as substance use or domestic violence.
Street outreach programs are another type of community youth outreach that provides resources, mentorship and support to youth living in poverty or isolated communities. These programs send staff members by foot or van to reach out to young people in urban, suburban and rural areas. Many of these organizations offer educational and career resources, and connect youth with global changemakers.