Pogledaj Full Version : A Comparative Analysis of Community Youth Development Strategies

Željko Zidarić
28th-May-2012, 03:12 AM
Download PDF (http://www.civicyouth.org/PopUps/WorkingPapers/WP23Cao.pdf)

Working Paper 23: A Comparative Analysis of Community Youth Development Strategies

by Michell Alberti Gambone, Hanh Cao Yu, Heather Lewis-Charp, Cynthia L. Sipe, and Johanna Lacoe
October 2004


“Many youth-serving organizations are engaging young people in youth organizing and/or in interventions to support specific identity development in response to a need for meaningful opportunities for older and diverse youth to be civically involved in their communities. In this paper, we explore differences in developmental outcomes and supports and opportunities among youth organizing, identity-support, and traditional youth development organizations. Survey and qualitative findings suggest significant differences, particularly in developmental outcomes such as civic activism and identity development. In addition, the youth organizing agencies are characterized by youth’s experience of higher levels of youth leadership, decision making, and community involvement in comparison with other agencies in the study. This research suggests that deliberate approaches to staffing and decision-making structures can influence youth

A number of factors undermine social connectedness and civic engagement within America’s increasingly diverse society. Among these are intolerance for diversity, poorly developed civic infrastructures to accommodate our nation’s diversity, and limited opportunities for youth to critically examine their civic identities. These forces pose daunting challenges for youth, particularly those coming from poor and under-resourced neighborhoods, to see how they can contribute to their communities and find a place for themselves within the larger society (Hart & Atkins, 2002).

Concerned policy makers are calling for more meaningful opportunities for youth, particularly those who have been marginalized from the mainstream, to be involved in their local communities to address this troubling decline in civic participation (Kahne, Honig, & McLaughlin, 2002; Sullivan, 1997; Torney-Purtra, 1999). Although there is consensus that increased civic participation among marginalized youth is needed, there is no consensus as to the most developmentally appropriate and effective strategies for engendering such engagement. Some youth-serving organizations have responded by engaging young people in youth organizing and/or in interventions to support specific identity development (Ginwright & James, 2002; LewisCharp, Yu, Soukamneuth, & Lacoe 2003).

Youth within organizing groups hone their political participation and critical thinking skills by asserting their voices on the issues that most affect them. Youth organizing approaches include political education, community mapping, public protest, letterwriting campaigns, and public awareness movements. Youth have led successful campaigns to increase language access in standardized tests, lobbied against punitive California legislation that would lead to increased youth incarceration, organized against toxic waste facilities in their low- income communities, and sought to create new forms of community policing.

Identity support groups foster opportunities for marginalized young people from a specific identity group (e.g. AfricanAmerican youth, gay and lesbian youth, etc.) to build an autonomous yet socially integrated and connected sense of self. Identity support approaches include “critical” education about the history and politics of the identity group, interactive and experiential learning, support groups, and community outreach, education, and advocacy. Community engagement within these groups focuses more broadly on civic awareness and connectedness rather than organized social action.

Although youth organizing and identity support are potentially powerful strategies for youth development, research is insufficient for demonstrating how effective they are for achieving desired community engagement outcomes and at supporting the holistic development of youth (Larson & Richards, 2003; Sherrod, 2000; Michelsen, Zaff & Hair, 2002). This study compares the youth organizing and identity support approaches to traditional youth development programs, so that the effectiveness of these approaches can be investigated. Two key research questions guided this work: (1) do youth in organizing and identity-support organizations experience developmental supports and opportunities at different levels than youth in more traditional youth development organizations? and (2) are there differences in levels of key developmental outcomes between youth organizing, identity-support, and traditional youth development organizations?