This article was updated on 8/20/2019.
Clubs help to build the next generation of leaders by providing a safe place where young people can explore and develop the skills they need to be the problem-solvers and innovators who will shape our world. Our signature Youth of the Year program, supported in part by workforce readiness partner Toyota, teaches Club kids to dream big and encourages them to be leaders in their communities – just like 2018-19 National Youth of the Year, Malachi H.
Here are five ways you can help champion youth leadership:
- Help youth develop the social and emotional skills that will equip them to be fearless, resilient leaders.
As our world becomes increasingly complex and interconnected, leadership skills such as communication, goal-setting and teamwork are essential for everyone – especially young people preparing to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood.
- Create opportunities for hands-on service learning.
Service learning is a powerful experience that puts youth at the center of their own learning – whether it’s discovering personal passions, identifying community needs, designing service projects, or engaging community members to create meaningful change. Studies show that young people who engage in service do better in school, maintain positive relationships with adults and avoid risky behaviors. An added bonus? Students get the satisfaction of helping to build a better world in their own backyard.
- Provide mentorship to young people in your community.
Young people flourish when they have access to engaged, caring adults who have an interest in the development and future. Research shows that not all mentoring programs are created equally. The most effective programs include best practices like mentor screening and regular training opportunities; making matches based on shared interests; providing support and supervision on a scheduled basis before and during the match; and clear expectations for communication style and frequency.
- Build college and career readiness through workforce development training for youth.
Young people need opportunities to explore, develop, and apply the hard and soft skills that will ensure their success in the workplace. Talk with young people about jobs and pathways to the workforce, with emphasis on the social benefits and ability to help others. Provide opportunities for young people to develop and apply their skills through real-life experiences like community service, internships, pre-apprenticeships, and job shadowing.
- Support youth development organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs through giving, volunteering, and advocacy.
Our character and leadership programs help youth become responsible, caring citizens by developing skills that equip them to participate in the democratic process and have their voices heard. Program participants also develop leadership skills and gain opportunities for planning, decision-making, contributing to Club and community and celebrating our national heritage. Your generosity, passion, and advocacy will help us close the opportunity gap for young people who need us most.
Learn more about how Boys & Girls Clubs are developing solutions to close the workforce skills gap for youth in our white paper, Building Economic Opportunity: Youth Workforce Readiness, and get action steps on how to help in your local community.