Youth Voices on Learning After School

July 1, 2003

Consistent and engaged participation is essential to realize the benefits of youth centers. Programs that do not appeal to young people will fail to attract and retain them or involve them to a meaningful extent. The Youth Voices study aimed to learn from young people participating in five San Francisco Beacon Centers how they felt about their involvement in the program, because youth are often the best reporters and advisors on whether and how an environment feels welcoming, safe, supportive and fun. Research was conducted over two years and included 44 focus groups, repeated case-study interviews with 21 youth and interviews from 5 teams of youth ethnographers. Our findings are organized in terms of three general categories, each with overlapping sub-sections: 1.) social atmosphere 2.) learning opportunities and 3.) physical space.