Youth Advisory Board Tools
We are starting a youth advisory board at our high school program this year. We’d like it to be an application/interview process to help students with those skills as well. Does anyone have any tools they can share to help us get started?
These tools from the Strengthening Partnerships module may be helpful to your students. The Volunteer Job Description (https://www.y4y.ed.gov/tools/volunteer-job-description) is a template for creating a volunteer job description and may be a good starting point for students to brainstorm what a youth advisory board member must be willing to commit to doing. In addition, the Volunteer Skills Grid (https://www.y4y.ed.gov/tools/sample-volunteer-skills-grid) may also be a helpful template for students to collect information on what each potential candidate brings to the youth advisory board. Both of these tools can downloaded in Word and customized.
I don’t have any specific tools for interviews and applications, but I’m wondering about the work creating the youth advisory framework. Specifically, have you addressed the Setting, Structure, Strategy and Support for the program?
Eric, could you share a little more about what it looks like to address these four aspects of a youth advisory framework?
Things to think about before starting to help set up the program for success. Too often we think we’ll just get some students together and call it student advisory. But we wouldn’t do that with any other program. We need to remember intentional design. I have several resources on the topic, but here are some quick highlights to think about.
Is the culture of the community and organization ready to really listen to young people and share power? Youth advisory is a process and methodology, not a thing or an objective. While it is true that high quality advisory processes lead to great student outcomes, we can’t think “Oh good for them, they get to learn leadership skills for their future.” but instead “Oh good for us! We have better attended, higher quality, more cost efficient programs.” The best gauge of the climate is done by asking “How much power does the youth worker/teacher have in decision making in the organization?” If the answer isn’t much, then how can you expect the students to have more? So it starts with finding allies and working on creating a climate open to democratic principles.
-Is the group designated (a separate program), embedded (inside a program, like service learning), contractual (operated by a partner organization) and/or multi-jurisdictional (representatives from multiple centers across a city or school district)?
-What is the outreach plan? (The number one reason students say they don’t get involved and share their ideas is that no one asks them!) How will it be representative? Where will outreach happen? Are their current students to help recruit?
-What is the role of the young people? What will they have influence over and what won’t they? Be honest and transparent. They need to have real responsibility, tasks, and projects related to defining issues, implementing programs, and/or evaluation and improvement planning.
This is the model, typically Service, Consulting, Representative and/or Leadership.
Space - accessible and comfortable work space with access to staff
Capacity building - intentional plan for building skills and awareness
Individual supports - plan to help manage life stressors and balance commitment with friends, family, work and school.
If it is a designated program. I recommend reviewing project based learning on Y4Y (https://www.y4y.ed.gov/learn/pbl/) and think about the operations of your community learning center as a project.
Eric, it is timely that you mention Project Based Learning. An email blast was just released for a 4-part live Webinar Series combined with daily discussion boards. Space will be limited so anybody wanting to join these webinars should register as soon as possible. This would be a great start to using a learning center as the project.