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Community Counts: How Youth Organizations Matter for Youth Development

Milbrey McLaughlin
Publication Date: 
April, 2000

This paper reports numerous accomplishments and successes of active young people engaged in community organizations. Over the span of ten years, the research team visited 120 youth-based organizations in 34 states that constructively involve young people in their non-school hours. Of greatest importance for society is the compelling evidence from the experiences of these youth that community-based organizations can play a critical role in meeting the needs of today’s young people. They can fill the gap left by families and schools that are stretched to capacity to provide supports to young people. The community-based organizations studied give young people the opportunity to engage in positive activities, to develop close and caring relationships, and to find value in themselves—even in the face of personal disruption, poor schools, and neighborhoods generally devoid of supports. Community-based organizations offer a means for reaching youth and they can have a significant impact on the skills, attitudes, and experiences youth need to take their places as confident, contributing adults.

Publication Type: 
Policy area: 
Families, Communities, and Schools