Youth Development Champions Program
GOAL OF THE PROGRAM
The Youth Development Champions Program is a year-long fellowship for passionate out-of-school time supporters from across Arizona to lead the public discourse on the value of out-of-school time programming and advocate for increased public and private investment in proven practices.
STATING THE ISSUE
Nationwide, Arizona has the highest rate for percentage of children birth to 17 years who have experienced two or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs are traumatic events that take place in children’s lives before age 18 that harm their developing brains and bodies.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation 2018 Kids Count report showed that Arizona ranked 45th in the U.S. when it comes to children’s well-being. The report, which found that 24 percent of the state’s children live in poverty, shows Arizona lacking when it comes to services for children.
A 2019 report from the Afterschool Alliance found that in Arizona, 72% of parents agree that afterschool programs help to give parents peace of mind abut their children when they are at work and 61% agree that afterschool programs help to keep kids safe and out of trouble. Yet, for every student in an afterschool program, 2 more would participate if a program were available. With 318,223 students in Arizona waiting to get into an afterschool program, increased investment in afterschool programs is needed.
Protective factors for youth such as positive relationships and social and emotional competences can prevent children from experiencing adversity and can protect against many of the negative health and life outcomes even after adversity has occurred. Out-of-school time programs provide these strong tools and spaces for youth development that helps in addressing this issue.
In a series of future leaders town halls in partnership with Arizona Town Hall , we asked several groups of middle and high school youth “What role do afterschool programs play in creating strong families and thriving children?”
This was the consensus statement from the discussions at our Lights On Afterschool Future Leaders Town Halls and what we learned directly from our youth:
“Afterschool programs can make or break our children and families. They provide safe spaces and opportunities for children to learn and grow. They provide opportunities that prepare youth for further education, including both formal education as well as life and communication skills.
Out-of-School time programs allow children and youth to make friends and to have additional emotional support in a safe environment where they can share challenges that may be facing them or their families. They create structure, discipline and additional opportunities.
Afterschool programs allow parents who need to work the security of knowing their children are well cared for, and they provide children with additional educational support such as tutoring and homework assistance.”
BUILDING AWARENESS INITIATIVE
In response to addressing the issue stated above, AzCASE will launch the Youth Development Champions Program designed to recognize powerful community leaders in their support of out-of-school time programming in Arizona with an emphasis to promote equity and increase access for youth development and expanded learning opportunities at any position within an organization.
Driven by their local needs and personal and professional interests, Champions work with AzCASE to define their year-long goals and strategies. Each champion will serve as a catalyst for fostering partnerships and promoting collaboration to increase awareness and support intentional high-quality out-of-school time programming in their communities.
In addition to monthly calls, Champions are required to participate in the following events (tentative dates/months in italics):
- Welcome and Orientation Session – January
- Youth Development Advocacy Day at the Capitol – February
- Attend AzCASE Spring Professional Development Training
- Participation in Summer Learning Week – July
- Attend School’s Out, Make It Count Conference – October
- Participation in Lights On Afterschool – October
Champions are also encouraged to attend the following national conferences/conventions:
- Afterschool for All Challenge – March
- NAA Annual Convention – March
BENEFITS OF BEING A CHAMPION
AzCASE envisions a 2020 Class of Youth Development Champions that will represent a broad cross-section of advocates, from afterschool providers to nonprofit leaders and elected officials. Each Champion is a leader within their organization and/or community interested and committed to sharing their experiences and content knowledge with community partners, influential stakeholders, and other afterschool advocates.
- Belonging to a network of professionals that are confident in their ability to implement personal and organizational changes to advance equity for accessible learning opportunities within school-age and youth programs.
- Advocacy and public speaking workshops and participation on a Day of Advocacy at the Capitol.
- Free registration to the School’s Out, Make It County Conference.
- Free registration to Spring Professional Development Workshops
- AzCASE also provides ongoing organizational and technical assistance and support, where possible, to support the Champions’ goals and strategies.
- Opportunities AzCASE Leadership Reception as well as other national youth development events and conferences such as NAA and the Afterschool for All Challenge in Washington, DC.
If you are interested in becoming or nominating someone for our Youth Development Champions Program, click here: Nominate a Youth Champion