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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development
THE COMMITTEE CHARGE
The Committee on Community-Level Programs for Youth was es-tablished by the Board on Children, Youth, and Families and the Committee on Adolescent Health and Development (formerly the Forum on Adolescence). The specific charge to the committee was:
Review and synthesize available data on community interventions and programs to promote positive outcomes for adolescent development;
Assess the strengths and limitations of data sources and indicators commonly used to characterize youth health, development, and well-being;
Assess the strengths and limitations of methodologies and approaches used to evaluate these activities; and
Identify gaps and central questions for the design of a unified conceptual framework and research agenda to promote the healthy development of youth.
To the extent feasible, the committee was asked to identify those programs with sufficiently strong evidence to suggest that they could serve as models for communities that are enhancing their youth programs.
Support for the committee’s work came from private foundations and federal agencies. All those supporting this study share a common desire to understand more about how community programs for youth can be designed to promote the positive development of youth. Foundations seek guidance about wise investments in adolescent programming; policy makers seek guidance regarding effective prevention and youth development approaches; and program practitioners and managers seek assistance as they work to design and evaluate their programs.
The committee examined programs that target young people ages 10 to 18. While we made the decision to focus our review and analysis on programs promoting a “youth development” perspective, we rejected the often polarized view of youth programming as either “prevention/problem-centered” or “youth development” centered. Our view is that both approaches are valuable and necessary and that, in practice, the distinction between the two is often blurred.
The committee turned to multiple types and sources of information for this report—theory, practical experience, and qualitative and quanti-