Community youth development (CYD) is a concept based on the mutualism of a community and its young people and is meant as a plan of action that supports relationships and partnerships between youth-based organizations and institutions and the towns, cities, or counties in which they are located. Community youth development is not a new concept, but it has become an integral consideration in community planning and development.
Community youth development programs are created and exist to provide mutually beneficial results within youth organizations and the community at large. Schools, churches, youth clubs and organizations, and libraries are examples of institutions that can partner with local governments to create initiatives that provide a host of services to the community’s youth. Services may be designed to address any number of issues.
Examples of issues that CYD initiatives may address include health and wellness, community involvement, character building, at-risk youth, college readiness, violence and crime, and any other community issues that may be prevalent or deemed necessary for area young people. Initiatives are basically a way to help solve issues and create opportunities for young people, with the reasonable assumption that the community as a whole will benefit.
Many community youth development programs and initiatives are adapted to the community, but some are more universal. For example, initiatives that address health and wellness such as community fitness centers or after-school sports and fitness programs may be part of every community. Conversely, areas where youth crime and violence is especially high may develop initiatives to reduce occurrences by introducing programs that encourage participation, personal development and involvement with community youth leaders and volunteers. Many communities employ youth volunteers from area schools to help community leaders identify programs and initiatives that would be both beneficial and appealing to its young people.
The ideas for community youth development can be compared to the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.” Communities who participate in and foster CYD initiatives by building connections between themselves and the area’s youth-based organizations are attempting to invest in its youth with the expectation that the results will yield an increase in future productive members of society. Typically, educators and community leaders must work hand in hand in order for community youth development initiatives to succeed. Funding is another issue faced by many communities, but sources include local and state money as well as federal grants and may occasionally be obtained through private non-profit organizations and corporate donations.