While there are a number of well-documented benefits to youth engagement in afterschool activities, programs often struggle to recruit youth and sustain their participation over time. Teenagers have expressed a need for increased access, awareness, and interest in out-of-school time opportunities, and have described obstacles to long-term participation, such as safety concerns in getting to and from the program, difficulty receiving parental buy-in for participation, or trouble balancing activities with family responsibilities.
In this case study (PDF), Deepa Vasudevan and Jessica Fei provide a portrait of the Everett Boys & Girls Club (BGC) and explore what makes the Everett BGC a successful place of learning and development for young people. They show that through “intentional informality,” the program develops spaces so that teenagers feel that they have room to be themselves while also knowing there are caring adults around them when they need guidance or mentorship. The case study concludes with takeaway practices for other practitioners to consider when designing programming for adolescents.