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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Planting the seeds for higher education

By Nancy Hegland

“What do you want to study after high school?” “What career do you want to pursue?” As a junior high student, I clearly remember being asked to write a paper on these questions and researching the details of being a dental hygienist, which seemed very interesting at the time. That idea eventually faded, and in the years that followed, many mentors guided me, even though I wasn’t sure where I was headed and whether I could make it in college.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ways to make youth programs more inclusive

By Kathryn Sharpe

“I have a group of Muslim youth who won trips to the state fair—what kind of religious accommodations will they need?”  This is a question that I asked myself last summer. It’s an example of the kind of question all youth workers must ask themselves if they want to make their programs more welcoming to non-traditional audiences.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Reframing the politics of youth work

By Amber Shanahan

A passion for youth work is often what drives us to join this profession. We love young people and feel enriched by the rewards of helping them to become the best person they can be.

But our passions can get derailed by politics. It might be a power struggle between passionate volunteers, or the meddling of an influentially connected parent, or the fickleness of a funder attracted to another cause.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Youth programs: Powerful settings for social-emotional learning

By Kate Walker

How exactly does learning unfold in youth programs? They are a particularly rich context for young people to learn and practice social and emotional learning skills. It is critical that we understand how learning happens there, and how we as adults can support that process.

Youth in our programs often engage in real-world activities and projects, work in teams, take on meaningful roles, face challenges and experience the accompanying up and downs.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why incorporate engineering skills into an environmental program?

By Hui-Hui Wang

When you think about engineering, do you first think of machines and buildings? People rarely associate engineering with the natural world. You may think it’s hard to design a youth program that combines engineering design and environmental or nature components. It is a challenge but it’s worth doing because of the thinking skills that youth can get from these activities.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Brief programs can make a lasting impression. How can we measure that?

By Betsy Olson

Searching through childhood pictures of a clowning workshop I attended as an eight-year-old, I have strong, happy memories of our tumbling presentation, with my parents laughing in the audience. These memories resonate with me as I prepare for an upcoming youth leadership presentation, and have me thinking about how to evaluate brief programs.

Measuring impressions from them can be tricky. However, keeping a few considerations in mind can simplify the process of evaluating brief programs – defined as those lasting fewer than eight hours.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

6 critical collaborative leadership practices to engage diverse youth


Collaboration should be the way we do business for young people. We know that no one youth program can support every child’s needs and engage youth from every background. But by working in collaboration with other programs, we can bring our commitment to enriching the lives of young people to even more of them.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What do young people think about social and emotional learning?

By Cynthia Matthias

Who do young people confide in? Do they ever talk about setting goals, managing emotions, or understanding other people’s perspectives?

Young people will be most impacted by the policies concerning the teaching and assessment of SEL skills in schools and in out-of-school-time programs, yet their thoughts on the topic have not been heard. The YouthVoice project research team, an intergenerational group convened in collaboration with Youthprise, is working to remedy this situation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Paying it forward, with mentoring or mocha

By Joshua Kukowski

I had my first “pay it forward” experience at a coffee shop recently and I was confronted with a choice: should I continue the trend?   I had no scientific evidence that paying it forward to the next coffee drinker would be a good thing to do. I just knew.  I bought the next person a cup of coffee.

Mentoring is like that. There are now 15 years' worth of research proving that mentoring helps young people succeed.  But mentors do it because they just know.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ask a beautiful question

By Anne Stevenson

“What’s the most powerful question you know?” Children ask hundreds of questions a day as soon as they can speak. But in grade school, questioning “drops off a cliff,” according to data from the 2009 U.S. Nations Report Card.

Why does this innate skill fall away as we move through school and into careers?
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