America’s Moment: Investing in Positive Youth Development to Transform Youth and Society


  • Mary E. Arnold National 4-H Council



positive youth development, COVID-19, youth investment, civic engagement


As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, America’s youth are suffering in unprecedented ways as their journey to adulthood is interrupted by multiple societal effects. This thought leader piece explores the power of positive youth development in a time of national crisis. The paper outlines the effects of COVID‑19 on youths’ mental health, educational engagement, and workforce opportunities, all of which have been profoundly affected by the pandemic. The paper makes the case for increasing investment in positive youth development programs and people and highlights key areas where such programs can help support and transform youth, and in-turn society writ large. These areas include increasing equitable access to youth development programs, addressing gaps in opportunities for youth, creating a workforce pipeline, elevating youth voice, and promoting civil discourse and engagement.


Author Biography

Mary E. Arnold, National 4-H Council

Professor I 4-H Youth Development Specialist
Program Research and Evaluation
School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences
College of Public Health and Human Sciences
Oregon State University


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