Exploration of a College and Career Readiness Leadership Program for Urban Youth

Samantha Bates, Dawn Anderson-Butcher, Jera Niewoehner-Green, John Provenzano

Abstract


Urban youth living in poverty are less socially and academically prepared to access postsecondary education compared to their more affluent peers. College and career readiness (CCR) programs traditionally focus on skill-building to assist with college and financial aid applications, test taking, and career exploration. The Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) program includes these components, but also incorporates positive youth development (PYD) and leadership skill development strategies to further prepare urban youth for college and career through internship, service, and leadership opportunities. Using a mixed methods approach, this study explored youth perceptions of the YLA, evaluating the influence of the program on youth outcomes and distilling what, if any, program design components contributed to their growth and learning. Qualitative findings suggest participation in the YLA was perceived to support growth in communication skills, social skills, readiness for leadership roles, and preparation and knowledge for future college and career opportunities. Additionally, quantitative results demonstrate positive, significant increases from pre- to post-program test in leadership, communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills for youth. Program design components shown to support positive outcomes included positive relationships with peer and adults, skill-building sessions, and applied internship experiences. Findings suggest that PYD approaches with CCR and leadership skill development programming may promote positive social outcomes for vulnerable youth. Implications for intervention, practice, and future research are discussed.


Keywords


college and career readiness; leadership development, positive youth development, urban youth

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2019.664

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