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Community Youth Engagement in East Palo Alto: A Study of the Youth Arts and Music Center Initiative

Jamila Henderson, Francine Biscocho, and Amy Gerstein
Publication Date: 
September, 2016

The Youth Arts and Music Center Initiative is a community-wide effort to design and build an arts center In East Palo Alto. The six-year process, supported by the Goldman Foundation, centered on youth leadership and the arts, and engaged a cross-sector collaborative of partner organizations in an attempt to address the city’s shortage of existing arts programming. This case study analysis of the Youth Arts and Music Center Initiative contributes to the existing literature of community youth engagement; that is, the process of engaging youth in efforts to improve their community. Previous research highlights the range of benefits resulting from leveraging the many assets of youth and facilitating opportunities for them to contribute to their community. Contributing to existing research, this study describes the characteristics of community youth engagement and provides examples of how they are manifested in the case of the Youth Arts and Music Center Initiative. We also consider the factors that helped propel the Initiative forward, as well as important considerations for similar initiatives.

Suggested citation: 

Henderson, J., Biscocho, F., & Gerstein, A. Community Youth Engagement in East Palo Alto: The Story of the Youth Art and Music Center Initiative. Stanford, CA: John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities.

Related Researcher(s): 
Bay Area
Policy area: 
Families, Communities, and Schools