Youth Programs as Alternative Spaces to Be

R. Halpern
January 1, 2000

This article describes findings from a year-long qualitative study of a network of Chicago neighborhood youth programs. It documents and discusses the characteristics of youth served, the programs’ daily functioning, how staff construct and carry out their roles, the nature of youth-adult relationships, and implementation issues. By doing so, it fills an important gap in our understanding of how typical youth programs actually function on a daily basis—what activities are offered, participation patterns, the nature of youth-adult interactions, the daily challenges faced by staff. In addition to laying out the processes of how the programs work, the authors reflect on the role the programs play in the lives of youth, as well as some of the program’s strengths and weaknesses.