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Youth Engagement

Youth Leadership Development

Why is Youth Leadership Development important?

In order for youth to be prepared to work in partnership with adults, they need to develop and/or enhance their leadership skills. Leadership training prepares youth to manage time, work as a team, set goals, start conversations, facilitate meetings, and make effective presentations.  Promoting youth leadership development is a great way to promote positive life skills learning.

To fully participate with adults, youth also need to be informed about the adult perspective of the problem, challenge or issue being discussed: the jargon that adults use to describe their work; and strategies for approaching the work. In other words, we need to be sure the field is level for all of the players. 

How do we prepare for Youth Leadership Development?

As with any of the topical areas related to Youth Engagement, Youth Leadership Development requires preparation and planning. It is important that the organization and adults have a firm grounding in the Positive Youth Development philosophy. In addition, the purpose of the group must be clearly defined, youth and adults must be recruited and trained, and sustainability plans must be developed. NRCYD offers training and technical assistance in youth leadership development to address these issues and many others.

What are some challenges to Youth Leadership Development?

  • Organizations and adults often do not think young people are capable of demonstrating leadership
  • Goals and roles are not clearly defined
  • Youth leadership development requires time and resources
  • Youth leaders move on – sustainability and succession planning strategies are not well developed

What resources are available for Youth Leadership Development?

Youth Leadership Development Toolkit – a toolkit created to assist in the design of youth leadership development programs.

Youth Development & Youth Leadership – the National Alliance for Secondary Education and Transition website; includes Youth Development and Youth Leadership national standards and quality indicators as well as supporting evidence and research.

Freechild Project: Youth Leadership Development – this website includes an links to a number of Youth Leadership Development organizations.

The Building Partnerships for Youth Program Assessment Tool
This tool was created by the National 4-H Council and the University of Arizona to help program administrators and personnel assess their program's current capacity to address 21 elements of youth development and thus make informed decisions regarding future program directions.

Being Y-AP Savvy: A Primer on Youth-Adult Partnerships
Published in June, 2010 by ACT for Youth Center of Excellence at Cornell University, this manual guides groups in assessing attitudes about Youth-Adult Partnerships (Y-AP); determining where Y-AP should occur; and determining how to sustain quality Y-AP within the organization. Together with short summaries of current research and current thinking about Y-AP, the manual offers guided opportunities for applying research to practice.