Terms in YD/L Glossary

Youth Development & Leadership Glossary
  • For Youth
    In this model, youth are served by a program designed, run, evaluated, and driven by adults. Youth participate in the services, but the opinions of youth are rarely if ever solicited. These are often well-established programs with a set organizational structure and programs that have been running the same way (and with some success) for years. The program structure exists as a solid core that is not penetrated by the values, opinions, creativity, and talent of the youth that participate from year to year. The model is very paternalistic in the sense that youth are “taken care of” by the program and may not be seen as capable of providing meaningful direction to the programs that serve them. These models may often have recruitment and retention problems, because adults may not understand how to make the program attractive to today’s youth. While these models can have positive outcomes in terms of employment and work related skill building, they do little to truly support the leadership potential or the full development of the participating youth. They also miss out on many creative program developments that often come from having youth more engaged in the program itself.
  • Student Ownership
    Embodies the notion that students can make important contributions to their schools and communities and thereby feel that they have a sense of belonging and a stake in their community. Such a philosophy requires efforts that demonstrate a strong student-centered approach, where young people identify problems, brainstorm, implement solutions and evaluate their projects, while the teacher or youth worker takes the role of the facilitator.
  • With Youth
    In this model, youth not only participate in the program services but their voices are also sought as a way to get a perspective on the program. This model is adult driven, but the adults are conscious of the need to listen to youth and use their input to influence the program design and services. The mechanisms for getting the voice of youth are largely informal and may not be done on a consistent basis. In this model, youth may be hired as staff, but they are generally not given supervisory or leadership roles. A hallmark of this model is that there are elements of the program that have been influenced to some degree by the voice of youth. However, while the culture of this model may draw on the opinions of youth, providing a consistent way of making this happen could strengthen the structure. The program is influenced by youth, but youth do not necessarily develop leadership skills as an intentional component of the program.
  • Youth Action
    Youth Action is youth of all ages, circumstances and backgrounds making a difference building skills, supporting people, voicing opinions, acting on issues, leading causes, advocating for change, creating solutions, organizing groups, educating others, assessing progress in their lives and others’ — their peers, families, organizations and communities — by taking on challenging, visible roles as interns, observers, volunteers, staff, advocates, educators, planners, council members, team leaders, organizers, founders with others — their peers, near peers, family members, community members, youth professionals, other adults — to address issues such as racism, poverty, homophobia, the environment or improve community housing, jobs, safety, commerce, infrastructure, human services, education, arts, culture, media, faith and ethics, civic participation, social interaction and the individual growth of residents.
  • Youth As Decision-Makers
    Refers to a variety of efforts to engage young people in any level of determining outcomes or decision-making. Decision-making can be related to an issue, a project, a program or an organization.
  • Youth As Resources
    Refers to a variety of efforts to engage young people in any level of determining outcomes or decision-making. Decision-making can be related to an issue, a project, a program or an organization.
  • Youth Centered
    Youth-centered is centered on the youth’s needs and wants and is responsive to the young person’s identity and developmental stage (pre-adolescence, early adolescence, mid-adolescence, late adolescence, youth). Young persons are conceptualized from a developmental perspective seeing adolescence and youth as a normal developmental stage in life with its problems, opportunities and possibilities.
  • Youth Civic Engagement
    This has become one of the rallying cries of the entire youth service field. Youth are typically seen as consumers or recipients of service. By providing service, young people have an opportunity to become valued partners and contributors – “resources” - in their communities.
  • Youth Directed
    Youth-directed" indicates that young people are intimately involved in designing and carrying out the civic action. Adults do not dictate or drive the project. However, they may play supportive and encouraging roles with the young people, assisting with many aspects of the project.
  • Youth Guided
    Youth Guided means that young people have the right to be empowered, educated, and given a decision making role in the care of their own lives as well as the policies and procedures governing care for all youth in the community, state and nation.  This includes giving young people a sustainable voice, being listened to, and the focus should be towards creating a safe environment enabling a young person to gain self sustainability in accordance to the cultures and beliefs they abide by.  Further, through the eyes of a youth guided approach we are aware that there is a continuum of power that should be given to the young people based on their understanding and maturity in this strength based change process. Youth guided also means that this process should be fun and worthwhile.
  • Youth Involvement
    Youth provide regular input into program decision making
  • Youth Led
    Youth Led-Youth are in all major leadership roles, including executive director, and have majority memberships on boards of directors, with appropriate support from adult allies
  • Youth Participation
    Youth input into program decision making is occasionally solicited from adult workers
  • Youth Run
    Youth fill a majority of staff positions and manage the day-to-day operations of the organization
  • Youth Voice
    "Youth voice" means the inclusion of young people as a meaningful part of the creation and implementation of service opportunities. Youth voice enables young people to build upon service-learning and to act as catalysts for social change. When youth voice is missing from a service program, young people may feel more discouraged and alienated. To them, service becomes just one more place in their lives where their ideas are not respected and their contributions are unimportant.
  • Youth as Clients
    Youth are “served” by adults and have no input into program decision-making
  • Youth-Driven
    This model may or may not be actually run by youth. When adults run these models, the voice of youth is so strong that it is often the dominant force over the influence of adults. For example, in the adult run versions of this model, adults may go along with something that they are not sure would work because the young people make a strong enough case to justify the risk. In this model, there are frequent structured opportunities for youth to evaluate the program through survey-type evaluations, focus groups, peer-to-peer interviews and other formats. Youth are frequently not only hired as staff, but become supervisors and managers. Youth are involved in the hiring and evaluation of peer and adult staff. Youth representatives can be found on the board, involved in fund raising, and serving on committees. There are many aspects of the program that can be identified as having been shaped by youth. There is a formal leadership development process using adult and peer mentors designed to create young leaders within the program and community. Strategic planning is conducted with the full involvement of youth. Economic development through youth self-employment and business creation is valued. The youth involved in this program model experience a culture that promotes and demonstrates a high degree of youth ownership of the program.
  • Youth/Adult Partnerships
    Youth/Adult Partnerships - Efforts that involve young people and adults working together, sharing power, and learning from each other to build stronger communities.

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