Youth Development Programs
Youth development is a broad category which includes social-emotional well-being, healthy decision-making, positive relationship traits, sports development, and educational and workforce training. Well-known programs include 4-H, Lions Quest, Passport to Success, and Youth Guidance. Some programs offer varying modules based on age group; however, all the programs we've listed offer specific programs for high school age youth. These programs have also been entered on the attached spreadsheet.
Several reputable, pre-compiled sources were used as a starting point in identifying youth development programs. For example, "Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development," a registry of evidence-based, youth development programs for children and teens, allows the user to filter programs based on age, scope, and purpose. Similarly, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services hosts the "Child Information Gateway", a resource for identifying positive youth development programs. We cross-referenced these sources and compiled a list of organizations that appeared on more than one list and/or provided evidence of research-based positive outcomes. Our results include several organizations that work in both the U.S. and internationally, as well as those that reach both younger children and high-school-aged youth. By eliminating organizations primarily focused on youth development in a particular sport, as well as those focusing on youth leadership development, we were able to find 11 entries that best meet your criteria.
Lions Quest is a program of the "Lions Clubs International Foundation" and the Skills for Action program is specifically designed for high school students. The specialized curriculum goes beyond the classroom to engage participants in civic duty and build critical social and emotional health, as well as strengthen academic and workplace skills. Students are empowered to make healthy choices, understand and embrace diversity, and resist negative peer pressure.
4‑H is dedicated to creating programs that help youth become responsible citizens capable of leading healthy, productive lives using critical, science-focused innovations. 4-H works with Tufts University (and has for 10+ years) to "study the effectiveness of its youth development programs". One such research study found that the program's unique hands-on approach provides youth with the opportunity build life skills through interaction.
The National Guard Youth Challenge program is available to youth ages 16–18 for whom traditional high school programs are not a good fit. Operated by state National Guard groups supported by federal funds, the program was launched in the mid-1990s and currently has 40 sites in 29 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The program includes a 5.5-month residential phase, followed by a year-long mentorship program. The stated program goal is "to intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16 to 18-year-old high school dropouts, producing program graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary to succeed as productive citizens."
Youth Build is offered in the U.S. through YouthBuild USA and globally (in 15 countries) through YouthBuild International, working with low-income 16 to 24-year-olds who are not in school and unemployed. The organization provides opportunities for education, entrepreneurship, and life skills training leading to productive and contributing livelihoods. A key element of the program is teaching construction skills to rebuild communities.
Chicago-based Youth Guidance offers several highly acclaimed, evidence-based programs for high school youth. In addition to the nationally recognized Becoming a Man® (BAM) program for high school males and sister program WOW — Working on Womanhood ™ for high school females, the organization's STRIVE program helps high school youth in the foster care system develop successful social emotional behaviors.
Offered in over 50 countries, Passport to Success has provided over 185,000 youth with life skills and workforce training to be successful as adults. The program is offered through corporations, non-profits, government agencies, and schools.
The Teen Outreach Program was created by the Wyman Center and is an evidence-based program designed to equip teens with skills to avoid high risk behaviors and "develop into healthy, thriving adults" through social-emotional learning. Wyman offers numerous programs through a variety of local and national partners, and has made a difference in 150,000 teen lives since 2010.
Project Towards No Drug Abuse serves youth ages 15-18 in a classroom setting and promotes drug awareness and prevention. The curriculum provides students with skills needed for self-control, communication, and decision-making. The program was developed by Dr. Steve Sussman and staff at the Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research, at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine.
Though not limited to high school youth, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America is a well-recognized program (founded in 1904) which matches children and teens with caring adults for mentorship and guidance. The program has demonstrated success in reducing anti-social behaviors, improving academic successes, and enhancing peer and family relationships.
Prevention Plus Wellness is an evidence-based prevention program that promotes physical well-being among youth by highlighting the positive benefits of an active lifestyle. Additionally, the program increases skills for better stress management and greater self-identity.
Quantum Opportunities is a youth development model used in several U.S. cities for at risk, minority youth. Originally developed by the Ford Foundation, it was later embraced and modified by the Eisenhower Foundation. The program is designed to improve educational success, such as higher grades and high school graduation rates.
Wrapping up, we've provided a list of 11 youth development programs on the attached spreadsheet. Youth development is a broad term which covers social-emotional well-being, healthy decision-making, educational and workforce training, and more. Well-known programs include 4-H, Lions Quest, Passport to Success, and Youth Guidance.