Organizational & Programmatic Components of Effective Youth Programs


Components of Youth Development Programs

Additional Components of Youth Leadership Programs

Additional Components for Disability Focus

Organizational Level

  • Clear mission and goals
  • Staff are trained, professional, supportive, committed, and youth-friendly
  • Safe and structured environment
  • Youth involvement at all levels including administration and the Board of Directors
  • Physically and programmatically accessible
  • Staff are aware, willing, prepared, and supported to make accommodations



  • Connections to community and other youth-serving organizations


  • Knowledge of resources (national and community-specific) for youth with disabilities
  • Partnerships and collaboration with other agencies serving or assisting youth with disabilities


Programmatic Level

  • Focus on each young person’s individual needs, assets, and interests




  • Hands-on experiential and varied activities
  • Youth involvement in developing and implementing activities
  • Hands-on involvement at all programmatic levels such as planning, budgeting, implementing, and evaluating programs



  • Opportunities for success
  • Opportunities to try new roles
  • Youth leadership
  • Multiple opportunities to develop and practice leadership skills
  • Varied, progressive leadership roles for youth: small group, large group, event, program



  • Mentoring/role models


  • Ensure peer and adult role models and mentors include people with disabilities


  • Personal responsibility


  • Self-advocacy skills building
  • Independent living information and assessment (career, employment, training, education, transportation, recreation, community resources, life skills, financial, benefits planning)


  • Family involvement and support




  • Opportunities for youth to develop self-awareness, identity, and values
  • Education on community & program values and history
  • Disability history, law, culture, policies, and practices

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