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Understanding Youth Leadership Development: An Examination of the YELL Program


Created in the fall of 2000, Youth Engaged in Leadership and Learning (YELL) was launched as the inaugural project of the Gardner Center. The afterschool program was initially a pilot project to engage youth in an inquiry process that would assess the needs and strengths of Redwood City middle school students. The program evolved into a unique youth development program in Redwood City and West Oakland with training and experiences in leadership and civic action. Gardner Center research have studied YELL since its inception in an effort to better understand youth leadership development. A synthesis of the literature as well as an analysis of YELL's evolution has resulted in a definition of leadership development along three interconnected dimensions: 1) communications and interpersonal skills, 2) critical reflection, and 3) positive involvement in the community. This research brief summarized analyses conducted by Gardner Center researchers in collaboration with graduate student research assistants. The analysis relies primarily on qualitative data in the form of observations and interviews, and also includes findings from small-scale survey analyses. The analysis also draws on documents written by YELL directors including their program updates, annual reports, funding proposals, and foundation reports.

Suggested Citation:

Strobel, K., and Nelson, I. (2007) Understanding Youth Leadership Development: An Examination of the YELL Program. Stanford, CA: John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities.

Understanding Youth Leadership Issue Brief.pdf

Karen Strobel
Ingrid Nelson
Publication Date