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Making an Impact Through Media July 2007

Youth Worker News is published by the National Collaboration for Youth (NCY), a coalition of youth-serving agencies that collectively serves more than 40 million youth, employs over 100,000 paid staff and utilizes more than six million volunteers.


 Promising Practices

 Program Resources

 Research and Funding

Making an Impact Through Youth Media


It is a powerful process to give youth the access to the tools that they need to create media.  By doing that, you're opening up new opportunities and ideas.  - Adam Levner, Co-Director, Critical Exposure

Youth media is an exciting way for young people to express themselves and create change, especially in a time when young people are so often portrayed negatively in mainstream media.  While negative statistics and stories about young people swarm the news, youth media puts the power in the hands of young people and allows them to speak up about topics they care about.  By creating their own media, young people begin to realize that their voice matters and that they can make a difference in communities.

Youth media should be inclusive and recognize many avenues of creativity, such as video, audio, print, photography, online work, digital art, flash animation and much more according to Tony Streit of the Educational Development Center (www.edc.org).  Youth media can be considered a powerful strategy for implementing youth development.  The outcomes and impacts of youth media are as significant and broad as the variations of youth media activities and can include:2

Improved skills Improved community perception of youth Increased social action and civic engagement

While the positive outcomes of youth media programs are limitless, many organizations are intimidated to tackle the development of these programs and can be turned off by their fear of technology.  The truth is that youth media programs don't have to be complicated and they can be lots of fun!  If you would like to be more tech savvy, consider this an opportunity for you and the youth you work with to learn together.  Gaining knowledge about media and technology will allow you to expand your knowledge, connect with youth in new ways and provide new opportunities for young people to share their voices and make an impact in their communities.

In this Youth Worker News you will find case studies of organizations that have successfully implemented youth media into their programs; youth media curricula and guides; research; and funding resources for youth media programs.




Young People Express Themselves

Youth media and technology can include a broad range of programs.  Focus on engaging youth in the areas of media and technology that they are most interested in.  - Bob Cabeza, Executive Director, Long Beach YMCA

Leadership development and academic success has been the framework for the Long Beach YMCA Youth Institute.  Offered every summer, the Youth Institute engages participants in a two-part summer program that includes a wilderness retreat and a classroom experience revolving around youth created media.  With many participants of the Youth Institute coming from difficult circumstances and backgrounds, creating their own media provides an outlet for them to express themselves and is often therapeutic in dealing with struggles they may face.  Some topics from past participants' media creations have included divorce, safety in high schools, AIDS, and the struggles in immigrant youth's native countries.  At the end of the Institute, the participants' media creations are featured at a local film festival.

While starting a youth media program may seem overwhelming, integrating technology and media into your organization is possible.  Bob Cabeza offers advice to organizations that are interested in pursuing youth media and technology in their programs:

Start small, think big - Pace your self and create long- and short-term goals that will allow you time to collect the equipment and skills you need to successfully implement technology and media in your youth programs. Learn the technology - Plan to invest as much time and resources to learn the knowledge base of technology as you are investing in the actual equipment. Use youth as resources - Having been raised with media and technology as a normal part of their everyday lives, youth often have extremely strong skills in this area.  Assume you will ask youth for help and expect them to have the leadership roles they deserve in technology trainings and peer mentoring.

Click here to learn more about the Long Beach YMCA Youth Institute.


Girls Make the Message®

Analyzing and creating media gives girls an opportunity to talk about issues in a safe setting.  - Cathy Duffy, CEO, Girls Incorporated of New Hampshire

We all know that the depiction of women in the media is not always typical of the general female population.  To respond to this issue, Girls Inc. Girls Make the Message® gives young women the opportunity to analyze current media images of girls and then revise and rewrite them to fit more accurately with their own view of girls.  Specifically, Girls Incorporated of New Hampshire has found a way to deliver Girls Inc. Girls Make the Message® in a ten-week program in middle schools and in Girls Inc. of New Hampshire after-school centers.  While many girls begin the program with a general acceptance of current media messages of girls, they soon realize that not all women fit the build of those shown on TV.  At an age when girls are easily impressionable, the middle school participants quickly become media critics and learn how to write their own articles and create videos of issues they face as young women.

Breaking down media messages about women has also set the stage for an open dialogue among the program participants.  In this safe space, many have exposed their own concerns with looking "perfect;" the negative ways that they are treated by boys; and how they often have trouble speaking their own mind.  Girls Inc. Girls Make the Message® has gone beyond the typical media literacy program by giving girls the resources and space to share their thoughts and use their own creativity to speak out against today's media.  Click here to learn more about the work of Girls Incorporated of New Hampshire. 

Youth Activism through Photography

Let youth guide the process.  If you give them space, they can create things you would have never thought of.  - Adam Levner, Co-Director, Critical Exposure

In order to draw attention to the disparities among public schools, young people are using documentary photography to highlight both positive and negative aspects of their schools.  To fulfill its mission to secure quality education for all children, Critical Exposure works with youth organizations and advocacy groups through a three-pronged focus on youth development, public engagement, and policy change. Young people are trained in both photography and advocacy skills.  While using documentary photography as an outlet, young people can explore the opportunity to harness their creative energy into creating a platform for issues that are important for them.

Unique R., a Baltimore high school student troubled by issues in her school, took photographs of the disparities in her school along with photos of student-led protests for school improvements.  Her photographs and writing were included in a city-wide exhibit that led to media coverage and the chance to speak with the CEO of Baltimore Public Schools and state legislators.  Unique's documentary photography, combined with the efforts of partner organizations and other students like her, helped convince the General Assembly to nearly double the funding for Baltimore school facilities in 2006.  Click here to learn more about Critical Exposure.




A Guide to Teaching Youth Media

The failures of schools and after-school programs to address the media as the predominant language of youth today...has resulted in a profound disconnect.3  Teaching Youth Media:  A Critical Guide to Literacy, Video Production and Social Change addresses this issue and provides youth workers and teachers with the foundation to empower youth to speak their mind while developing the "critical literacy" in every form of media.  The guide is aimed for working with inner-city teenagers, but can easily be adapted to any population of young people.  Click here to order Teaching Youth Media.

Youth Powered Video Curriculum

Youth Powered Video is a hands-on curriculum focused on the specifics of teaching young people how to research, create and produce their own documentary video.  The curriculum offers best thinking and best practices in documentary production and takes young people from the first steps of developing a documentary topic to the final steps of film screening and evaluation.  This curriculum uses video and multi-media as powerful tools to develop young people's critical thinking, literacy, work preparation and civic engagement skills.  Click here to order the Youth Powered Video curriculum.




Positive Youth Outcomes through Media Making

How does youth media fit with youth development?  In collaboration with Time Warner Youth Media Grantee, YouthLearn has documented a collection of thoughts and findings on the identified impacts of youth media on youth participants.  In a series of facilitated discussions, organizations developed a draft model of youth media program outcomes based on four categories of youth media.  This model shows positive youth development as the overarching category, as it serves as an umbrella for the remaining three categories of media production, critical media analysis, and media activism.  This model is accompanied by a list of youth outcomes that result from each category.  Click here to learn more about the outcomes of media making and positive youth development.

Defining and Refining Youth Media in the 21st Century

Youth media can be confusing and is often defined in many ways.  Sticking with my Dreams:  Defining and Redefining Youth Media in the 21st Century sets the record straight and offers parameters for defining youth media.  This publication delves deeper into the definition of youth media by giving analysis of the range of youth media; the goals and philosophies behind youth media; and its future direction in this century.  Through thorough research and site visits of current youth media programs, Sticking with my Dreams provides the reader with examples of successful youth media programs and sets the stage for those who are looking to develop programs in the future.  Click here to download the publication.


Adobe Youth Voices

Adobe has launched a new global philanthropy campaign that strives to empower youth in underserved communities through the power of media and technology.  Adobe Youth Voices provides learning experiences for middle and high school youth by using multimedia and digital tools as a means of self-expression.  To support this activity, Adobe Youth Voices offers grant awards ranging between $25,000 and $50,000.  Organizations can also receive funding by becoming and Adobe Youth Voice Site.  Click here to learn more about the application process and to view past grant recipients.  Be on the lookout for the next cycle of grant opportunities!

Investing in Youth Media

Investing in Youth Media is a tool to help funders consider the importance of investing in youth media and can also be used by organizations who are looking to strategically seek funding for youth media programs.  This guide offers tips and advice when developing relationships with funders of youth media organizations and provides a series of case studies featuring specific organization and foundation partnerships that resulted in successful youth media programs.  Each case study is concluded with lessons learned in funding each program, including: know the importance of evaluation; learn the power of local media; seek out youth media champions and much more.  Click here to download the publication.


Thanks to Stephanie Artman for writing and conducting interviews for this newsletter.


1  Campbell, P., L. Hoey and L. Pedman.  2001.  Sticking with my dreams:  Defining and refining youth media in the 21st century.  Campbell-Kibler Associates, Inc. 2  Education Development Center.  2006.  Adobe youth voices:  A summary of key findings from the literature review.  Newton, MA. 3 Goodman, S.  2003.  Teaching youth media:  A critical guide to literacy, video production and social change.  New York:  Teachers College Press.