Recommendation 1—Community programs for youth should be based on a developmental framework that supports the acquisition of personal and social assets in an environment and through activities that promote both current adolescent well-being and future successful transitions to adulthood.
Community programs are provided by many different individual organizations, each with their own unique approach and programmatic activities. They may be provided by local affiliates of large national youth-serving organizations or may be an independent organization that is affiliated with a public institution, such as a school or public library. They also may be small, autonomous grassroots organizations that exist independently in a community.
The focus of the activities may be sports and recreation, faith-based lessons, music and dance, academic enrichment, or workforce preparation. Programs may be targeted only to girls or only to boys; to a particular ethnic or religious group; or to young people with special interests. In addition, programs differ in their objectives, and some may choose to give more emphasis to particular program features.
Community-wide organizing of youth policies, as well as support for individual programs, also varies from community to community. Where there is a community infrastructure for support, the organizing body in a community might be the mayor’s office, a local government agency, or a community foundation. It might be a private intermediary organization or an individual charismatic leader, such as a minister or a rabbi of a local religious institution. However, it is often the case that there is no single person or group that is responsible for either monitoring the range and quality of community programs for youth or making sure that information about community programs is easily accessible to members of the community.
Adolescents in communities that are rich in developmental opportunities for them experience reduced risk and show evidence of higher rates of positive development. A diversity of program opportunities in each community is more likely to support broad adolescent development