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Showing posts from May, 2023

Using the developmental relationships framework to empower volunteers

By Jeremy Freeman For the past few years, the research around developmental relationships has formed a backbone for guiding youth development practices. The research has surfaced numerous times on our Youth Development Insight blog. Yet, the five domains of developmental relationships (outlined below), have applications even beyond our work with young people. If we hold up the framework of developmental relationships to our volunteer management approaches, we'll find that many of the key elements that strengthen youth-adult relationships can also empower our volunteers. Megan Franks, a 4-H Youth Development colleague in Louisiana, notes in her article titled "Creating a volunteer program that empowers volunteers" , that empowered volunteers often become more involved in the organization and provide greater impact. However, she adds that many volunteer management practices are formal, rigid, and don’t allow for shared power.   Many of the empowerment strategies that Megan

Help volunteers have the hard conversations

By Kathryn Sharpe All of us who work with and care about young people feel the incredible weight of the issues facing them today, and we see the impact on their wellbeing. For those of us running programs with volunteers, however, we as youth workers or volunteer managers may not be the ones to actually have the conversations with young people when these topics arise. We have the unique task of trying to help other adults be prepared to engage in these conversations, even though it is unpredictable what the topic will be or when it will surface.   Our volunteers are essential caring adults in the lives of youth, and hopefully they have developmental relationships with the young people in our programs. But, our volunteers may not feel equipped to engage with young people about some of the biggest, often controversial—and most important—issues they face. The news alone can bring up issues such as mass shootings, abortion, anti-trans legislation, or racist violence. How can we help volun

Rethinking college and career readiness

By Joanna Tzenis For years I’ve been reading headlines about young people not being ready for college and careers. Some arguments for these claims are that there have not been enough college graduates qualified for a STEM career . Or college students have had to enroll in remedial college courses because they were not prepared for the rigors of college coursework. Notably, those young people who were purportedly “not ready” were disproportionately youth of color.  Since the pandemic, the headlines shifted a bit , now focusing on precipitously dropping enrollment rates. And while overall rates are slowly creeping back up, the enrollment of Black, Native and Hispanic students has continued to decline. These pre and post pandemic trends stratified by race suggest something different than a lack of readiness. They point to deeply systemic and social constraints that shape youths' sets of opportunities to achieve educational and career goals. This means that creating opportunities for