The Landscape of Community Programs for Youth

A group of 20 young people meets twice a week for three hours after school with their school dance teacher and a professional dancer from the city’s local dance troupe. They spend one hour doing their homework and receiving tutoring assistance from the staff. Then they participate in an hour of rigorous stretching and calisthenics. Exhausted but exhilarated, they spend the remainder of their afternoon rehearsing for their upcoming dance performance at a school talent show.

A half-dozen teenagers meet at their local community centers with adult city council members to share the results of a survey they conducted to help the city council understand adolescent needs and how to serve young people more effectively. They leave the meeting with plans to meet again the following week with two city council members to plan a community service event for young people and their families.

Hundreds of young people in uniforms fan out to various neighborhoods across the city in one of the country’s largest urban areas. Working in teams, they participate in various community service tasks, such as tutoring children, landscaping, and cleaning a park. Between community service projects, these youth receive tutoring and assistance in preparing for a high school equivalency exam.

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