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Practice Briefs

Our Practice Briefs provide insight into key findings of current high-quality research on youth development topics. Writing in practical, straightforward language, contributors help distill the essential elements of these articles into immediately useable action steps. Let our research and writing strengthen your own practice without having to find and distill the information yourself! The information you find here will ensure your youth development strategies are up-to-date and based on effective practice and will help you “make your case” for the rationale behind your practice to organizational leaders and funders.

 

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Supporting Teen Employees: How Schools and Businesses Can Work Together

By the time all young adults in the U.S. reach age 22, 97 percent of them have held a job. Many teens find different pathways other than college into work.  Whatever path students take into the world of work, schools and employers can both help teen employees learn the skills they need to be successful.  Read more... 

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Youth Outreach
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Nurturing Young People’s Creative Inquiry & Expression: The Role of the Arts and Beyond

Creativity has many facets. Its hallmarks include originality, purposefulness, and communication. Creativity involves effort “to make something work, to make something better, more meaningful, or more beautiful.” Research links creative youth development programs, including those focusing on arts, humanities, and science with positive outcomes for youth.  Arts programs, both in- and out-of-school, provide important avenues for young people to find their voice and discover and hone their capacity for creative problem-solving, self-expression, and innovation. Read more....

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
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The Roots of Bullying in Early Childhood

It is clear that the old adage “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” isn’t borne out by the research. Far from being a “right of passage,” evidence demonstrates that bullying has lasting negative psychological, emotional, and health impacts well into adulthood. A more nuanced understanding of the impact of bullying has propelled a national conversation about school climate and the importance of creating safe and supportive learning environments for all students.  Is it possible to catch “mean” behaviors in early childhood before they develop into bullying? Are there factors in early childhood that either contribute to or protect from bullying behaviors later on? Author Erin Walsh explains what the research has found to answer these questions.  

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
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Peer Mentors + Social Support = Better Health for Children

Although mentoring’s positive influence on educational achievement is perhaps most widely studied, increasing evidence also shows demonstrative impacts on safety and social and emotional development.  Teen or peer mentoring has also shown to be equally effective as adult mentors in school connectedness and academic achievement.  Author Kiyah Duffey reports on the latest research on the effectiveness of teen mentoring and improving health outcomes.  Read more... 

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Mentoring
  • Staff Development
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R U Getting Lost in Books Anymore? Youth Literacy in the Digital Age

News headlines over the last ten years have consistently lamented the decline of literary reading among youth and young adults in the United States. The National Endowment for the Arts sounded one of the first warnings of this trend in 2004 with a report entitled Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America.1 Reports since then have reinforced this stark picture, pointing to steep drops in literary reading and reading for pleasure among 15-24 year olds.2 In addition to a decline over time, recent data shows that reading for fun drops precipitously from childhood to the teenage years. Read more...  

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
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Giving Voice to Youth in Foster Care

(Opening excerpt) Living on the street for many months, Lamar Campbell had ample experience with services provided to homeless youth. “I noticed a recurring theme, the lack of youth input in how services operate,” wrote Campbell in a blog for The Mockingbird Society (TMB), a Seattle-based organization that aims to reform foster care and end youth homelessness. Even when services providers asked youth for opinions in feedback sessions, Campbell noted it was typical to be told to “man up” and deal with what was offered or go find another program. “This is not an uncommon response to serious youth feedback,” concluded Campbell......

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Staff Development
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Closing the “Opportunity Gap:” Using Screen Time for Learning and Youth Development

With summer months upon us, many adults may be wondering how to limit screen time for young people during their summer break. Perhaps we need to consider this an opportunity to find ways of enriching the use of technology rather than limiting access. See what author Erin Walsh has found in recent writings on the topic in this Practice Brief!

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
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Summer Camps and Positive Youth Development

It has been believed by parents, camp staff and youth themselves that camp experiences have profound effects on the development of youth.  Until now there have not been robust studies to support that idea.  Author Erin Walsh looks at the recent research; read on to see what she found.  

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Staff Development
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LIKE! Using Social Media to Promote Positive Behaviors

Social media has been linked to many negative behaviors involving young people.  But can it have a positive effect?  Author Kiyah Duffey explores some of the research on this topic and provides hope and ideas on how it can be a positive influence.  

Topics Covered:

  • Informal Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
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Creating a Reliable World: The Critical Role of Trusting Relationships in the Development of Self-Discipline

It has been nearly fifty years since the original marshmallow experiment, launching a series of studies that have shed significant light on the important role that self-discipline plays in children's success. Author Erin Walsh looks at the newest research using marshmallows and how this informs us about trust and reliability. 

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
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The Impact of Mentoring: What Youth Have to Say

Currently, more than 5,000 mentoring programs serve an estimated three million young people in the United States. A deep dive into program evaluations finds that mentoring helps improve both promotion and prevention outcomes for youth across behavioral, social, emotional, and academic domains. But what are the youth saying about mentoring programs? Author Deborah Fisher looks at the recent research on the effectiveness of mentoring and what youth are saying. 

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
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Families Serving Together: Passing Down Traditions of Giving and Volunteering

Holidays are a time of gratitude and giving, and many Americans have a tradition of helping others, both formally and informally.  Author Sandy Longfellow looks at the latest research on family volunteering and how this time spent with family and helping others promotes thriving in young people.

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Role Models
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Youth and Older Adults as Natural Allies: The Promise of Intergenerational Programs

Young people thrive when adults value them as important, contributing members of their communities. Older adults similarly experience strong positive effects on well-being, health, and longevity when they are valued for their wisdom and contributions. In this Practice Brief, author Sandy Longfellow explores the latest findings on intergenerational programs.

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
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Bring Youth to the Table: Fostering Connections through Meals

School lunches are getting a make over but improvements in what kids are served in the school lunch line still leaves room for improvement in how they eat while at school. Author Kiyah Duffey discusses the vital role teachers and school staff can play.

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Student-Teacher Relations
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Teens Bonding With Grandparents: A Path to Positive Outcomes

The health of our society can be gauged by the strength of its inter-generational bonds and one of the strongest and most enduring bonds is the grandparent-grandchild relationship.  Author Sandy Longfellow explores the latest research on the grandparent-grandchild bond and what can be done to help make them the best they can be.

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Youth Outreach
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The Promise of Natural Mentoring for Older Youth in Foster Care: New Research Findings

Researchers note that youth in foster care, who have experienced adversity and disrupted relationships and are not able to turn to their families for assistance, are at increased risk as they attempt to make a successful transition to adulthood. Author Sandy Longfellow explores natural mentoring as a promising approach to help youth in foster care make this transition. 

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Youth Outreach
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Setting the Stage for Youth Engagement in Programs: The Role of Youth-Adult Relationships

Author Sandy Longfellow discusses the latest research in what needs to be in place for successful youth engagement in programming. 

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
  • Youth Outreach
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Increasing Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy through School Gardens

Author, Kiyah Duffey reviews the research to find a possible connection to self-esteem and gardening programs.  Read how the two are connected. 

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Informal Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Student-Teacher Relations
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