Supporting Volunteerism in Youth Development Programs: Progress and Prospects for Advancing the Knowledge Base
Keywords:Volunteerism, youth development, program evaluation
Volunteers are essential to the viability of a large segment of youth development programs. Yet, research on this topic has been relatively limited and it has not thus far congealed into a cohesive area of study. The contributions to this special issue advance our understanding of a number of important issues having to do with volunteerism in youth programs and provide a solid foundation for catalyzing both the further generation of knowledge in this area and its practical application. One priority should be to more rigorously establish and delineate suggested connections among program practices, volunteer skill development, behaviors, and experiences, and the outcomes of participating youth. There also is a need to substantially broaden the scope of programs studied in order to clarify both areas of generalizability and dynamics that may vary as a function of volunteer contexts and roles. Finally, as the knowledge base matures, translational research is needed to apply this knowledge to the design of supports for volunteerism in youth development programs and to rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies.
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