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Youth programs

Engaging youth in positive afterschool programming is a vital part of youth development. Learn the best ways to support and improve the quality of youth programming.

Comments on this page? Curator: Rebecca Meyer, Extension educator

Youth Development Insight blog

Our faculty blog about research, issues and trends in the field. Join the conversation!

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Reports & journal articles

OST World Research Connections: Q&A with Dale Blyth

American Educational Research Association
Dale Blyth offers his reflections on some questions posed to him by the The American Educational Research Association's Special Interest Group on out-of-school time. This series is designed to connect you to each other and to the emerging and groundbreaking scholarship in the out-of-school time field. (PDF) 2014.

Rethinking Program Sustainability: A Look at the Minnesota Center for Youth Development’s Children Youth and Families At Risk Project

Produced by Extension: Joanna Tzenis and Jennifer Skuza
Grants offer exciting new resources and opportunities to Extension programs and the communities in which they take place. Sustainability must be prioritized in the program design and development of the grant-funded project or it runs the risk of garnering resentment and disappointment within communities. This poster examines the Center for Youth Development's approach with the Children Youth and Families At Risk Project. 2014.

The What, How, and Why of 21st Century Urban Youth Development

Produced by Extension: Josey Landrieu and Jessica Pierson Russo
This publication presents an overview of Minnesota's urban 4-H model for youth development. It illustrates how the model defines urban youth development, the elements of how to implement such a model, and the reasons why urban youth development can act as a vehicle to address educational disparities and provide meaningful and impactful learning opportunities to all young people. 2014.

Using Twitter to Deliver 4-H Show Announcements

Produced by Extension: Ann Nordby
Twitter, a free social media tool, can be used to help run a large Extension event. In Minnesota, beef and dairy show committees and 4-H participants are using real-time tweets delivered to participants' cell phones to keep state fair livestock shows running smoothly. 2014.

Youth in 4-H Participation Patterns

Produced by Extension: Siri Scott, Dale Blyth, Pam Larson Nippolt
Youth organizations, like 4-H, are dynamic systems with structures that grow and change over time. In the current study, we examine differences in participation across gender, race, ethnicity, and area of residence. (322K DOC) 2014.

The Positive Development of Youth

National 4-H Council
A report of the findings from the first eight years of the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, sometimes referred to as "The Tufts Study." 2013 .

Creating New Program Opportunities with Specialized Staff

Produced by Extension: Brian McNeill, Patrick Jirik, Joe Courneya and Bradley Rugg
Extension will continue to face many changes in the future. Successful staffing models will help Extension position itself for sustainability and growth. Aligning staff with their strengths is essential for success of new staffing plans. Staff can use their strengths to provide success program design and implementation. Staff in new roles will also need to collaborate in program development and offerings to assure the public and stakeholders that new models are sustaining. Journal of Extension. 2012.

Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning

RAND Education / The Wallace Foundation.
To focus attention on the potential of summer learning programs, this monograph reviews the literature on summer learning loss and the effectiveness of summer learning programs, determines key cost drivers of and available funds for summer programs, and gathers information about how such programs operate in district and city contexts, including facilitators and challenges. (PDF) 2011.

Developing and Improving After-School Programs to Enhance Youth’s Personal Growth and Adjustment: A Special Issue of AJCP

Joseph Durlak, Joseph, Mahoney, Amy Bohnert, Maria Parente
This introductory article overviews the historical and current context of ASPs and then describes a developmental ecological model to guide research in this area. 2010 .

Hours of Opportunity: Lessons from Five Cities on Building Systems to Improve After-School, Summer, and Other Out-of-School-Time Programs (Volumes I, II and III)

Susan J. Bodilly, Jennifer Sloan McCombs et al.
This three-volume report examines Wallace-supported efforts in five cities to build systems to improve the quality and accessibility of after-school, summer and other out-of-school time (OST) programs. The study concludes that the fledgling systems, which seek to coordinate the work of major OST players like schools, parks departments, and nonprofit after-school programs, hold some promise. 2010.

Minnesota 4-H Retention Study Brief

Produced by Extension: Rebecca Harrington and Trisha Sheehan
While the Minnesota 4-H Club program has been growing over the last six years, over 25% of youth do not re-enroll annually. Wanting to know how 4-H could improve its member retention rate, the Minnesota 4-H Retention Study asked 4-H members who left the program why they decided to join, stay and ultimately leave 4-H. (PDF) 2010.

Power of the Wind Pilot Project: A six-state partnership to engage youth with wind energy
Appendices B - I

Produced by Extension: Pam Larson Nippolt and Amy Grack Nelson
The process evaluation and related appendices from the Power of the Wind Pilot Project, a six state partnership to engage youth with wind energy. (PDF) 2010 .

Stewardship as a Means to Create Organizational Reform: A View into Minnesota 4-H Youth Development

Produced by Extension: Jennifer A. Skuza, Dorothy M. Freeman, Tamara J. Bremseth, Shirley A. Doering, Robert B. Quinlan, Patricia A. Morreim and James C. Deidrick
Journal of Extension. 2010 .

Afterschool Learning Opportunities Make a Difference

Produced by Extension: Ann Lochner
A fact sheet on the benefits of after-school learning. (PDF) 2008.

Economic Return of Afterschool Programs

Paul Anton
A brief report presenting return-on-investment in regards to after-school programming. (PDF) 2008.

Minnesota 4-H Youth Development Program Outcomes: Leadership and Civic Engagement

Produced by Extension: Heidi Haugen and Rebecca Harrington
Annotated bibliography on leadership and civic engagement developed to inform program outcomes for Minnesota 4-H Youth Development. 2008 .

Expanding Learning Opportunities: It Takes More than Time

Afterschool Alliance
Afterschool Alert Issue Brief from the Afterschool Alliance on expanding learning opportunities and ensuring student success in the 21st century. (PDF) 2007.

Outcomes linked to high-quality afterschool programs: Longitudinal findings from the study of afterschool programs

D.L. Vandell, E.R. Reisner, and K.M. Pierce
A report explaining that regular participation in high-quality afterschool programs is linked to significant gains in standardized test scores and work habits as well as reductions in behavior problems among disadvantaged students. (PDF) 2007.

Intentional Youth Programs: Taking theory to practice

Produced by Extension: Joyce Walker
The author puts forth a theory of developmental intentionality, proposing that "when there is a good fit between young people and the intentional supports and opportunities they take part in, engagement is high, and the chance of positive outcomes for learning and development are greatly improved." 2006.

Using Numbers to Tell 4-H Success Stories

Produced by Extension: Mary Marczak
An article showing that charts, tables, and graphs can be effectively used to tell 4-H success stories. (PDF) 2000.

Minnesota Commission on Out-of-School Time

Produced by Extension: Dale Blyth, Joyce Walker, Ann Lochner
At the request of University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks, several members of our faculty examined Minnesota youth needs and produced a blueprint for ensuring Minnesota’s young people have engaging opportunities to learn and develop during the non-school hours. (PDF) 2005.

Journeys into Community Executive Summary

Journeys into Community Full Report

Listening to Young People's Perspectives on Out-of-School Time Opportunities

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