Succeeding in Reaching Teens.

YouthPlaces reaches so many youth because it understands and works with the realities of teenagers' lives and involves youth as decision makers and problem solvers. YouthPlaces is able to reach the teens who need it the most. In addition, YouthPlaces also has been able to successfully engage youth who do not attend after-school programs, teens older than 14, and young people who have already been involved in violence and the juvenile justice system.
The Sar Levitan Center indicated that YouthPlaces used several key strategies,
  • Wide array of interesting, fun, and developmental programming
  • Community based and community anchored programming
  • Caring and committed staff and volunteers
  • Youth input and ownership of the program.

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Building on Neighborhood Strengths

YouthPlaces programs are effective because they are trusted by youth and valued by the communities in which they work. At each site, YouthPlaces hires young people directly from the community who understand their neighborhood. These staff members know the kids, their families and the other organizations in the neighborhood. They know firsthand the challenges that teens face and recognize the unique assets of their communities. Most importantly, YouthPlaces staff members are committed to helping young people transition into the adult world in a healthy and productive way.

Fostering Community Partnerships

YouthPlaces brings new resources to communities, while making the most of what's already there. YouthPlaces is often invited into new neighborhoods to work collaboratively with existing programs and community resources. YouthPlaces sites are anchored in convenient local facilities like public schools and community centers. YouthPlaces operates in school buildings that are often underused after school hours, taking advantage of existing neighborhood assets and capacity and avoiding the expense of a separate facility. The YouthPlaces model is accessible, efficient and portable, and can work in any neighborhood in the region.

Enlisting Kids as Decision Makers

One key to YouthPlaces' success is that it knows its customers. YouthPlaces staff regularly asks for the teens' opinions and ideas. Youth are given the responsibility to shape the programs in which they participate. YouthPlaces encourages young people to serve on their Youth Councils, which build the leadership skills of young people and help the organization by conducting surveys, planning programs, recruiting others and recommending improvements to programs. YouthPlaces helps teens help themselves with a grassroots philosophy which makes the teens an important part of identifying problems and designing solutions.

 

Copyright 2007 YouthPlaces