Community Counts: How Youth Organizations Matter for Youth Development

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This report is based on a study spanning 12 years, of 12-to-18-year-olds in urban and rural communities across the country, aimed at determining the effect that involvement in after-school programs can have on life outcomes. The report finds that youth who have participated in after-school programs are more likely than their peers to be successful in terms of academics, employment, parenting, community involvement and self-esteem.

Those who had spent their after-school hours in community-based organizations (CBOs) were 26 percent more likely than American youth in general to report having received recognition for good grades, and those with high levels of participation in CBOs were more than twice as likely to report such recognition. Participants were also: almost 13 percent more likely to think that their chances of having a job they enjoyed was "very high," nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to think that it is "very important" to do community service or volunteer, and significantly more likely to report feeling good about themselves.

The study compared approximately 400 CBO participants to young American teens in general and to expected outcomes for young people in their communities, provided by statistical studies and anecdotes from local youth service providers. The report draws on work supported by grants from the Spencer Foundation.

The author is a professor of education at Stanford University. 32 pages. Free for first five copies, then $5 each plus $2.57 for shipping. Public Education Network, 601 13th St., NW, Ste. 900 N., Washington, DC 20005. (202) 628-7460.