Youth Development: Issues, Challenges and Directions Youth ...
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Youth Development: Issues, Challenges and Directions Youth ...

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Youth Development: Issues, Challenges and Directions Youth Development: Issues, Challenges and Directions A publication of Public/Private Ventures Youth Development: Issues, Challenges and Directions Youth Development Directions Participants Academy for Educational DevelopmentPublic/Private Ventures is a 1875 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. national nonprofit organization Washington, DC 20009 whose mission is to improve the 202-884-8000 www.aed.orgeffectiveness of social policies, programs and community initia- Center for Youth Development and Policy Research tives, especially as they affect Academy for Educational Development 1825 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.youth and young adults. In carry- Washington, DC 20009 ing out this mission, P/PV works 202-884-8267 philanthropies, the public and business sectors, and non- Chapin Hall Center for Children profit organizations. University of Chicago 1313 East 60th Street Chicago, IL 60637 773-753-5900 IYF-US, International Youth Foundation 7014 Westmoreland Avenue Takoma Park, MD 20912 301-270-6250 Community Action for Youth Project 308 Glendale Drive Toms River, NJ 08753 732-288-2737 Juvenile Law Center 1315 Walnut Street, 4th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19107 215-625-0551 National Youth Employment Coalition 1836 Jefferson Place, N.W. Washigton, DC 20036 202-659-1064 Public/Private Ventures 2005 Market Street, Suite 900 Philadelphia, PA 19103 215-557-4400 Search Institute 700 South Third Street Suite 210 Minneapolis, MN 55415-1138 612-376-8955 Acknowledgments This volume is the major product of the Youth Development Directions (YDD) project. YDD was set up in response to issues raised by members of the Youth Development Funders Group at a meeting held at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City in the summer of 1997. The project’s purpose is to examine the state of the emerging “youth development” field, to lay out key challenges it faces, and suggest directions to advance its growth and effectiveness. Financial support for YDD was provided by The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The DeWitt Wallace- Reader’s Digest Fund, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman The Surdna and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Beyond their financial support, sev- eral foundation staff actively partici- pated in the YDD discussions: Mike Bailin and Pamela Stevens of The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation; Talmira Hill and Deborah Delgado of The Annie E. Casey Inca Mohamed and Perrin Wicks of The Ford Foundation; Barbara Haar of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; and Robert Sherman of The Surdna Foundation. Gary Walker of Public/Private Ventures coordinated the YDD proj- ect. The papers were edited by Natalie Jaffe; design work was by Malish & Pagonis. Jenifer Marquis assisted with the chapters’ revisions. The volume’s production process was overseen by Maxine Sherman, Communications Manager at Public/Private Ventures. The authors want to thank all of the above for their support in making this volume possible. We hope it is useful to those individuals and institutions working to make “posi- tive youth development” a reality for American adolescents. 4 Youth Development: Issues, Challenges and Directions Contents Introduction and Overview 7 The Context for Moving Forward Unfinished Business: 17 Further Reflections on a Decade of Promoting Youth Development Karen Pittman, Merita Irby and Thaddeus Ferber IYF-US, International Youth Foundation The Policy Climate for Early Adolescent Initiatives 65 Gary Walker Public/Private Ventures A Matter of Money: 81 The Cost and Financing of Youth Development Robert P. Newman, Stephanie M. Smith and Richard Murphy Center for Youth Development and Policy Research, Academy for Educational Development What We Know—and Don’t The Scientific Foundations of Youth Development 125 Peter L. Benson and Rebecca N. Saito Search Institute Measuring Deficits and Assets: 149 How We Track Youth Development Now, and How We Should Track It Gary B. MacDonald and Rafael Valdivieso Academy for Educational Development Institutional Challenges History, Ideology and Structure Shape the Organizations That Shape Youth 185 Joan Costello, Mark Toles, Julie Spielberger and Joan Wynn Chapin Hall Center for Children, University of Chicago Juvenile Justice and Positive Youth Development 233 Robert G. Schwartz Juvenile Law Center Youth Development in Community Settings: 281 Challenges to Our Field and Our Approach James P. Connell, Michelle Alberti Gambone and Thomas J. Smith Community Action for Youth Project (A cooperative project of Gambone & Associates/Institute for Research and Reform in Education) The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same: 301 The Evolution and Devolution of Youth Employment Programs Alan Zuckerman National Youth Employment Coalition Introduction and Overview 8 Youth Development: Issues, Challenges and Directions The last several decades have witnessed a growing skepticism in America about the capacity of social programs—especially publicly funded social programs—to address the problems and prospects of American youth. This skepticism is especially strong once youth reach the pre-teen years and beyond. Thus interest in early childhood pro- grams continues and grows—while support for teenage employment programs declines and dwindles. The body politic seems to be in the process of deciding that a young person’s life course is set in concrete after the onset of puberty. This trend is disturbing in itself, and is exacerbated by other trends: First, in the opening decade of the new millennium the sheer number of adolescents in America will increase enormously—more teenagers than we have had since the early 1970s. Second, the past few years there has been a growing number of high- profile events involving young people and deadly violence. The young people involved were not poor; not minority; not from central cities. Third, the demands of the new “global economy” are more rigorous, and less forgiving of individual shortcomings and early mistakes, than was the American economy from the postwar period to the present. In short, there will soon be more young people making the transition to adulthood in America than ever before—and the requirements for their success economically will be stricter and greater. These trends together pose difficult challenges for our society—and especially for our young people. They make it an odd time for American society to be drifting into a “What will be, will be...” policy stance toward its adolescents. Increased interest in early childhood programs is sensible and important, and will no doubt help increase the capacity of some young people to meet life’s later challenges—but to see a child’s life as if its later, ongoing challenges can be neutralized by an early inoculation is to ignore what common sense and science tell us about human development, especially in an age of such rapid and basic social and economic change. It is also to ignore the evidence from the last two decades of social programming: that short-term inter- ventions bring only short-term improvements. There are counter-trends. The recent incidents of youth violence in noncentral city schools have acted as a wake-up call to many Americans, and, although some see the solution in metal detectors and security guards, for others these incidents have stimulated increased interest in what is going on in the minds and lives of young people— and in what adult society can do to promote the healthy development of those minds and lives. The increase in support for after-school pro- gramming is a prominent example of this renewed interest. Introduction and Overview 9 There is also a growing body of evidence about the positive relation- ship between the number of supports and opportunities children experience while growing up—their “assets” or “social capital”—and the increased successes and decreased problems they have during ado- lescence. This data confirms what many think is self-evident common sense; to others it is revealing evidence that environment does have a powerful effect, one which can be broken down into practical bits. Many communities have expressed a commitment to learning how they can organize to implement a “positive youth development” approach for their young people. In addition, evidence is accumulating that individual social programs can produce the assets that increase a youth’s successes and decrease his or her problems. The most publicized example is the impact study of Big Brothers Big Sisters, which shows that mentoring significantly reduces initial drug use and school violence, and increases school performance. In short, the evidence is clear that we do not have to “give up” on youth if they experience serious problems and do not have adequate support, guidance or opportunities in their immediate environment. Lastly, there arose in the early 1990s a movement to augment the typi- cal “problem-reduction” orientation of youth policy with a new (at least new to public policy) toward “positive youth devel- opment.” The new orientation is more attuned to the basic needs and stages of a youth’s development, rather than on simply “fixing” what- ever “problem” may have arisen. It focuses on youth’s need for posi- tive, ongoing relationships with both adults and other youth; for active involvement in community life; and for a variety of positive choices in how they spend nonschool time. It aims to build strengths as well as reduce weaknesses. The movement’s fundamental assumption—one receiving increased corroboration both from the study of human behavior and program evaluations—is that enduring, positive results in a youth’s life are most effectively achieved by tending to basic needs for guidance, support and involvement, and not by surgical interventions aimed at removing problems. These counter-trends have gained in force, credibility and support throughout the 1990s, especially in the nonprofit and philanthropic sec- tors. They have not, however, supplanted skepticism about public social programs generally, and specifically about public support for programs for adolescents. Rather they have co-existed with that skepticism. These counter-trends have helped many youth organizations gain greater (and deserved) recognition and resources—both larger, nationally known groups like Boys & Girls Clubs, and smaller, local efforts like Brooklyn’s El Puente. They have also stimulated greater political and media attention to other sources of support, opportunity and guidance for young people, most notably from their families, schools, churches