YLI Program Outcomes and Evaluations

The Youth Leadership Initiative has high expectations for youth participants and mentors. They are expected to participate in all program activities, be open to being challenged, learn to work effectively with others and perhaps most importantly, believe in themselves.
At the end of each year, the Youth Leadership Initiative sends 60 young leaders out into the St. Paul community. These leaders are confident in their ability to have an impact, grounded in their identity and capable of working across cultures.
We measure the success of our program utilizing a survey instrument designed by Wilder Research. The survey includes sections that measure youth’s growth in the following areas:
  • Cultural Learning
  • Leadership Skills
  • Community Involvement
The 2009 - 2010 year-end retrospective pre and post survey indicates that YLI is impacting youth’s knowledge and attitudes about themselves and leadership. Improvement measures the percent of respondents that move from disagree to agree/strongly agree, or agree to strongly agree.
Some examples of results include:
  • 94% of respondents agree they are prepared to be a leader and 97% know how make the community a better place, 70% improving.
  • All respondents agree they think about what will happen as a result of their decisions, with about half (48%) improving.
  • All respondents agree that young people can make a difference in the community; 83% improved.
  • All respondents said that there are caring adults in their lives, with 72% improving.
  • On open-ended questions about what they had learned, youth shared some of their thoughts:
  • "I learned how to step up and not let someone distract me from achieving my goal."
  • "I learned to get involved and be more aware of the people around me.  I learned not to make assumptions and judgments."
  • "I learned that everyone has the ability in them to be a leader. It takes time and learning and team work. It takes courage, confidence, responsibility and commitment."
The Youth Leadership Initiative exemplifies many of the best practices for youth development and youth leadership programming.
  • Youth identity and culture. With a better understanding of their own identity, youth can understand how historic injustices affect them, and use this knowledge to make positive changes (Wheeler, 2006). YLI has a significant focus on culture and identity.
  • Recognition. Acknowledging the contributions of youth is a best practice for youth development programming (Weiss et al., 2005). Throughout the program and at a graduation ceremony each spring, youth are recognized.
  • Sufficient participation. To be effective, youth need to be engaged in activities that increase their knowledge and commitment to take action over a sustained period of time (Wheeler, 2006). YLI offers over 300 hours of programming. In addition, some youth engage for multiple years.
  • Sequenced activities. YLI offers a graduated series of activities, which allows youth to become increasingly involved in program planning and decision-making as their skills and abilities increase. This models best practices for giving youth leadership opportunities without overwhelming them with responsibility before they are ready (Kress, 2006).
  • Active participation. Youth need opportunities to be involved in meaningful activities (Weiss et al., 2005). Through action teams, youth actively participate in addressing community issues; and youth mentors are role models for their peers.
  • Connection to caring adults. Both youth development and youth leadership literature stress the importance of developing caring relationships between youth and adults. YLI youth build relationships with staff and adult volunteers, who care about them and whom they can trust.

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