Youth-serving organizations (YSOs) provide critical services and support to youth, but some lack knowledge of positive youth development (PYD) and/or view these concepts as abstract and difficult to operationalize. To help YSOs reflect on their programming and institutional practices and identify areas for improvement, SCS Global developed the Youth Programming Assessment Tool (YPAT). The tool sets standards of best practice against which YSOs can evaluate their own practices and guides YSOs through reflecting on their programming and creating actionable priorities to improve their youth programming.
In June, the YPAT was used to determine strengths and weaknesses of the SCS Zambia Youth Lead Activity. During a reflection group and subsequent assessment, many of the youth participants noted that there was room for improvement in creating an inclusive environment, especially to ensure that all aspects of the program are accessible, and that all youth (regardless of gender, religion, and sexual orientation, among others) feel included and safe.
Based on this feedback, the program added an additional ramp at a training site to ensure that all youth could reach the lunch tables, revised the Youth Lead’s civic engagement curriculum to include more sessions addressing diversity, and decided to invite parents to major Youth Lead activities, such as the youth participants’ capstone presentations. In addition to making these concrete suggestions, the youth participants remarked that they had never previously had the experience of providing direct feedback and designing solutions, and that being involved in the assessment process and seeing positive changes further motivated them in the program.
SCS Zambia, implemented by FHI 360, has two interrelated components: 1) to build youth’s civic-engagement skills through an internship and training program that culminates in grant-funded youth-led projects, and 2) to establish structures and systems for engaging youth as leaders in government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private businesses.