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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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Beyond Being “Colorblind:” Talking About Race and Racism With Children and Adolescents

Since racism is part of the “air children breathe” in the United States, avoiding the topic simply reinforces the status quo. By glossing over current inequalities and the role that race plays in allocating access and opportunities, a “colorblind” approach inadvertently reinforce inequalities, hierarchies, and racial divisions. Want to know more? Continue reading about Erin Walsh's exploration into the importance of intentionally reducing racism with how we talk to our youth.  

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
  • Youth Outreach
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Real Youth Voice: What Works?

Author Deborah Fisher discusses the importance of developmental relationships.   This type of relationship is characterized by enduring emotional attachment, age-appropriate reciprocity between adults and young people, providing progressively more complex patterns of joint activity, and gradually shifting a balance of power from the developed person (i.e., the adult) to the developing person (i.e., the child and youth).  This Practice Brief goes on to help us understand how this give youth a voice.  

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Role Models
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
  • Youth Outreach
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Bullying Prevention Update

Bullying remains a problem even though in recent years there seems to be a proliferation of bullying prevention programs. In addition, cyberbullying has grown because more children and youth have cell phones or are online. The good news is that there have also been developments that can help us improve our responses to bullying.  Author Deborah Fisher takes us through the updates based on the continued research.  

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
  • Youth Outreach
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Supporting Young People to Become Financially Informed and Competent: What Works

More and more schools are integrating financial literacy into their curricula. In 2016, 22 states required that high schools offer personal finance classes and 17 states went as far as to require that students take actually them. Research finds a strong relationship between financial knowledge and the likelihood of engaging in a number of financial practices: paying bills on time, tracking expenses, budgeting, paying credit card bills in full each month, saving out of each paycheck, maintaining an emergency fund, and setting financial goals. Author Sandy Longfellow explores positive financial literacy and provides tips for parents and staff to help our youth with this important lifetime skill.  

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Role Models
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
  • Youth Outreach
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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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Empower Resilience Intervention Provides Powerful Tools Among Teens Experiencing ACEs

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), defined as abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction that vary in severity, are often chronic, and occur within a child’s family or social environment, are a key risk factor for negative health outcomes. Scores of articles have long demonstrated a relationship between exposure to childhood adversity and a range of negative outcomes throughout the life span. Maladaptive protective responses such as drinking, smoking, or having multiple partners have been shown to increase with an increase in ACEs and while they might help to relieve the experience of the immediate stressor, they too contribute to poor long-term health outcomesDespite these clear ties between childhood adversity and adult health, not all individuals who experience stressful situations suffer negative long-term consequences. Read more.....

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
  • Youth Outreach
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Getting to Calm: Trauma Sensitive De-escalation Strategies for Adolescents

Many children who have experienced toxic stress (stress that is “too much, too long, and with too little help”) develop a hyper-vigilant stress response system that is fine tuned to perceived threats in their environment. For these young people, school and youth programming can feel like a battlefield, scattered with triggers that initiate a stress response. Read more about author Erin Walsh's exploration into the research on a trauma sensitive approach to de-escalation.  

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Role Models
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
  • Youth Outreach
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Infusing Trauma Informed Practices into Our Work with Young People: Recent Research

A 14-year-old boy has experienced complex trauma including physical abuse and multiple exposures to community violence. His story is all too common. However, his path to healing holds promise for millions of teens. He started attending a YMCA youth program; this led to a paid internship with a neighborhood arts organization; now he is attending summer school to bring his grades up. What is making a difference for him? Read more...

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
  • Youth Outreach
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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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Creative, Ambitious, and Comprehensive: What Cities are Doing to Empower Youth

Across the country, young people are involved in almost every aspect of civic life through activities, programs, and leadership. Some municipalities have been actively engaging young people in civic life for decades; others are just getting started. Read the highlights of what is being done and who you can contact.

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
  • Youth Outreach
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Slowing Summer Slide: The Latest Research Findings

Summer is here, and so is the concern for many about students losing ground on their reading and math skills while they are away from their usual learning environments. In this Practice Brief, Sandy Longfellow explores the latest findings about how family, caregivers, and summer program staff can work together to “slow the summer slide.”

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
  • Youth Outreach
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Building Real Self-Esteem: Support, Don't Rescue

Does high self-esteem increase grades, career achievement or decrease substance abuse?  Author Erin Walsh looks at the latest review of the literature to answer this question. 

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
  • Youth Outreach
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National Nutrition Month: Beginning & Continuing the Conversation

Author Kiyah Duffey brings our attention to National Nutrition Month and lists multiple suggestions on where to go to keep this conversation on the front burner. 

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
  • 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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Delivering on a Promise: New Directions in Mentoring

Author Deborah Fisher, explains the success of Maine colleges and the their mentoring programs.  The result, hundreds of college students mentoring hundreds of children with outstanding impact. 

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Youth Outreach
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Young People and Self-Esteem: New Findings About the Importance of Feedback

How do we offer young people feedback that promotes the development of REAL self-esteem, self efficacy, and tenacity?  Sandy Longfellow, Bolster Collaborative contributor, gives us insight into some of the latest thinking on what can be done to improve self-esteem and  really make a difference. 

Topics Covered:

  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
  • Youth Outreach
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Bullying: The Role of the Helpful Bystander

In this Practice Brief, Bolster Collaborative contributor, Deborah Fisher, discusses how children who witness buillying are negatively effected and how a test project explored the concept of turning passive bystanders into helpful peacemakers.

Topics Covered:

  • Engagement
  • Mentoring
  • Role Models
  • Staff Development
  • Student-Teacher Relations
  • Youth Outreach
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