Mapping Out Your Success: Using Mind Maps to Evaluate Youth Development Programs

Mary Sara Wells, Skye G. Arthur-Banning


A primary component of any youth program is documenting and promoting the results through evaluation. Frequently, however, administrators in youth development programs struggle to find meaningful ways of evaluating the impacts they have on the lives of youth. It is often difficult to capture the unique benefits these programs offer to participants, especially when traditional methods such as focus groups and interviews may be too time consuming and questionnaires may yield poor response rates. This article presents a creative form of evaluation targeted at demonstrating the success of programs in outcomes that are historically more difficult to measure. A “mind map” is designed to be a pictorial representation of the impact of programs in areas such as connections to community organization and adult role models. Employing this technique can enable administrators in youth development programs to demonstrate to stakeholders the benefits they provide in a non-traditional, but highly effective, way.

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