Register for CYD Preconference at AFTA’s 2018 Annual Convention

Americans for the Arts 2018 Annual Convention graphicAll young people deserve to have equitable opportunities to reach their creative potential, live richer and fuller lives, and develop the critical life skills they need to become active contributors in their communities.

On June 14-15, join your peers from diverse communities across country for Americans for the Art’s Creative Youth Development Preconference and explore new paths forward for arts education during out-of-school time.

Creative Youth Development unifies a longstanding community of practice integrating the arts, humanities, and sciences with youth development principles, sparking young people’s creativity and building critical learning and life skills. At this hands-on workshop in Denver, CO, hear from inspiring youth leaders, adult practitioners, and dive deep into case studies on a range of topics from program development and evaluation to financial models of sustainability.

Sessions will cover:

Register Now

In Conversation: Lynn Stanley and Elizabeth Pickard

Lynn Stanley and Elizabeth Pickard

Mass Cultural Council’s Erik Holmgren invited Elizabeth Pickard from the Missouri History Museum and Lynn Stanley, Curator of Education for the Provincetown Art Association and Museum to discuss their respective institutions as a place for connecting the story of themselves, the story of their communities, and the story of now. Listen to how their own stories brought them into the museum field and how they strive to ‘lift the veil’ between their institutions and the lived experience of young people in their communities.

Hear the recording by selecting the player above, or read the transcript.

How CYD Aligns with Allied Youth Sectors

In the process of developing the Creative Youth Development National Action Blueprint, the CYD National Partnership commissioned research by the Forum for Youth Investment that maps opportunities for alignment between CYD and allied youth sectors, such as education and juvenile justice. The table they developed identifies the various points of alignment among CYD and adjacent sectors also working toward positive outcomes for youth, states levers for connection, and lists driving frameworks guiding philanthropy, policy & practice in the various systems and settings.

CYD Alignment with Allied Youth Sectors

Graphic showing CYD Alignment with Allied Youth Sectors


For additional discussion of working cross-sector, see this piece by Cynthia Campoy-Brophy.

BYAEP’s Framework and Theory of Change

To encapsulate the positive outcomes that occur for young people who participate in CYD programs, the Boston Youth Arts Evaluation Project (BYAEP), a partnership of practitioners, program evaluators, and funders, developed the following theory of change, Framework for Outcomes in Youth Arts Programs (2012):

BYAEP's Framework for Outcomes in Youth Arts Programs_framework

The BYAEP theory of change posits that:

  • If youth participate in high-quality arts programs, they will develop specific skills and competencies (I Create, I Am, We Connect),
  • which, in turn, leads to a set of intermediate outcomes (able to engage and be productive, to navigate, and to make connections with others),
  • which in turn leads to a set of long-term outcomes (resiliency, self-efficacy and personal fulfillment, and community engagement) that together constitute life success.

The BYAEP framework is consistent with other models of a theory of change for CYD, for example Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit’s Excellence on Stage and in Life: The Mosaic Model for Youth Development Through the Arts, which categorizes the key outcome areas of its CYD program as Skills, Self, and Society. Skills in the Mosaic Model includes what BYAEP calls I Create; Mosaic’s Self relates to BYAEP’s I Am; and Society in the Mosaic Model is akin to We Connect in the BYAEP framework. These theories of change reflect thoughtful deliberation of high quality CYD programs and how they support positive outcomes for young people.

There are Not Enough CYD Programs

Many youth participants in CYD programs attest that their involvement changed the trajectory of their lives. Additionally, numerous young people state that participation in a CYD program effectively saved their lives. However, there are not enough CYD programs to meet the needs and interests of young people in our communities. While creative youth development is on the rise, not every community has CYD opportunities for young people. And some outstanding programs have waiting lists of young people who never have a chance to participate because demand exceeds the number of openings.

The Afterschool Alliance documents unmet demand for afterschool programs in its report America After 3PM: Afterschool Programs in Demand (2014).

Key findings include:

  • “Although sizeable gains have been made in afterschool program quality and participation, the unmet demand for afterschool programs continues to rise.”
  • “Despite the growing call for afterschool programs, $4 billion in local grant requests have been denied due to insufficient federal funds and an increasing number of requests over the last 10 years.”
  • “Parents of 18.5 million children (38 percent) not currently participating in afterschool programs say they would enroll their children if a program were available to them.”

Clearly there is unmet demand among youth and families for high quality afterschool programs. So how do we know that there is unmet demand for CYD programs, specifically?

The Search Institute has conducted substantial research in the area of young people’s deep interests and passions, or their sparks, with compelling results about young people’s interest in creative pursuits.

Creative arts was the number one interest area cited by U.S. teens aged 12-17 among the top 10 sparks categories. In fact, creative arts was cited by 54% of teens, more than twice as often as the number two category, athletics, which was named by 25% of teens surveyed (Benson, 2008).

“…creative life…art, music, drama, dance, movement is the largest category in which sparks fall for America’s kids…that’s the area in which the most kids say, ‘I’m my best self.’ It’s the arena in which most kids will say “ is where life is the fullest and most hopeful.” (Benson, 2011)

Young people are clearly interested in opportunities for creative skill building, inquiry, and expression, which is at the heart of CYD. So policymakers, funders, youth developers, community leaders and others who value supporting young people in identifying and cultivating their sparks, or personal passions, should support increasing access to and investment in CYD. High-quality creative youth development programs are essential pathways for young people to thrive.

Youth Voice and Leadership Amplified at National Guild’s Conference

Participants in the National Guild for Community Arts Education's Emerging Young Artist Residency Perform at the Guild's 2018 Conference in San Francisco/Oakland. Attention to the role of creativity in positive youth development is growing, as evidenced by new opportunities for networking, emerging research, and a recent resolution by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. However, few opportunities exist for youth to participate meaningfully participate in national and regional forums where adults are designing programs and making policy decisions that affect young people. As the primary national convener for community arts education leaders, the National Guild’s Conference for Community Arts Education has a unique opportunity to amplify and support youth voice and leadership within the sector and deepen connections and learning between young people. In addition to a dedicated track of Creative Youth Development sessions and network meetings, this year’s conference (November 15-18 in San Francisco/Oakland) piloted an Emerging Young Artist Residency, which brought together youth, ages 16-24, and teaching artists from Destiny Arts Center (Oakland, CA), Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, and RAW Art Works (Lynn, MA) to collaboratively create an original performance piece that explored critical social issues connected to conference themes.

These young artists participated as delegates, attending conference sessions and roundtables, and then rehearsed offsite at Destiny in the afternoons. The residency culminated in a powerful performance at the Annual Awards Breakfast on Nov. 18. The impact of this experience for the youth involved—as well as for the attendees—was remarkable.

As Jai’Len Smith, a student of Mosaic Youth Theatre, put it: “This experience was truly unforgettable. I think youth are going to be vital in advancing the arts, their communities, and social change more broadly . . .  When they’re put in positions and on platforms where they’re able to voice their concerns as well as their desires and be something like a spokesperson for their communities and their generation as a whole, I believe they will be more impactful than any of us can imagine.”

2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awardees Named

2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awardees. Right: The Summer Performing Arts Company, Grand Forks Public Schools, Grand Forks, ND, Photo: Allison Peterson. Left: Confident Voices, SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young, New York, NY, Right:, Photo: Heidi Giacalone.
Last month, 12 creative youth development programs from across the country were recognized by the nation’s arts and culture agencies with the highest honor such programs can receive, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.

First presented in 1998, the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards was presented through a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in cooperation with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA).

In its 19th year, the award has recognized 285 after-school and out-of-school-time programs for achieving a wide range of outcomes in the lives of children and youth, often from underserved communities across the country. Among the outcomes generated by these programs are higher grades and graduation rates, increased college attendance rates, and skill development ranging from collaboration and critical thinking to leadership and confidence.

“These 12 creative youth development programs represent the best of the best,” said Pam Breaux, president and chief executive officer of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. “They are living proof of the power of the arts and the humanities to build the skills young people need to succeed in school and in life.”

In addition to their recognition by the nation’s arts and culture agencies, each of the 12 community-based programs will receive $10,000. For more information about the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, visit

2017 Awardees

Brick x Brick
Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
Miami, FL

Confident Voices
SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young
New York, NY

Cool Classics!
Chicago, IL

Creative Readers
Port Washington Public Library
Port Washington, NY

Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company
Destiny Arts Center
Oakland, CA

High School Apprenticeship Program
New Bedford Whaling Museum
New Bedford, MA

MAPS Media Institute
The Irwin and Florence Rosten Foundation, Inc.
Hamilton, MT

Newark Museum Explorers
Newark Museum
Newark, NJ

Phoenix Conservatory of Music’s College Prep Program
Phoenix Conservatory of Music
Phoenix, AZ

Teen Innovators at BLDG 92
Brooklyn Historical Society
Brooklyn, NY

The Penguin Project
The Penguin Project Foundation, Inc.
Peoria, IL

The Summer Performing Arts Company
Grand Forks Public Schools
Grand Forks, ND

International Spotlight Honor

MASC Awesome Arts
MASC (Multi-Cultural Arts for Schools and Communities)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

CYD National Stakeholder Meeting & Next Steps

National Stakeholder Meeting at the Boch Center in Boston, July 2017.This July, the National Partners brought together 100+ leaders from across sectors and around the country for a CYD National Stakeholder Meeting in Boston. The purpose of the meeting was to drive collective action to advance the role of creativity in positive youth development. Over two days, this community of stakeholders worked together to prioritize strategic actions to holistically support positive change in the lives of young people. Participants included youth, practitioners, researchers, funders, policy makers and other stakeholders in creative youth development and allied sectors (e.g., mental health, juvenile justice, workforce development, youth development, education, and community development). The focus of the National Stakeholder Meeting was on tapping the wisdom, experience, and diverse perspectives of the stakeholders in the room to amplify promising strategies highlighted in recent research and practice, increase investment in creative youth development nationally, and catalyze action that will bring new resources and support to CYD practice throughout the country.

Participants at the National Stakeholder Meeting identified three strategic priority areas. These areas build off the initial policy agenda drafted in 2014. Cross-sector collaboration, equity, and youth voice were central frameworks used in drafting initial recommendations for strategic action in each area.

1. Document and Communicate Impact


  • Raise Awareness & Estimation of CYD as a Solution for Positive Outcomes for Youth.
  • Collect, Aggregate, and Communicate Data on Field & Outcomes

2. Establish Pathways to Funding


  • Funder Education
  • Technical Assistance
  • Increased Investment in CYD

3. Connect to Learn


  • Networking and relationship building, including youth and alumnae, affinity groups and cross sector groups; nationally, regionally, and virtually.
  • Provide Ongoing Professional Development, Technical Assistance, and Communication Resources.

The Partnership is in the process of synthesizing the input from the National Stakeholder meeting in addition to research and other inputs to inform the CYD National Blueprint to be published this winter. Over the next few months, we are engaging Action Teams of CYD stakeholders to help us further develop these three strategic priorities and identify some early wins. These initial Action Teams will serve from September – December. The objectives of the Action Team are to: 1) Help develop the strategic priority areas of the CYD National Blueprint; and 2) Help determine early wins in 2018. The Blueprint will be published on the CYD National Partnership website, shared with the field, and will be updated to reflect progress and the ever-changing funding and policy landscape.

Mass Cultural Council Convenes International CYD Leaders

In July, as part of the Creative Youth Development National Partnership’s Stakeholder Meeting (NSM), Mass Cultural Council took the opportunity to host a cohort of international guests to spark a conversation on how the field of practice looks around the world.

With a varied roster of national and local agencies, educators, artists, and academia from South Korea, Scotland, India, Australia, Norway, and New Zealand, these guests met to distill the findings of the NSM, and, led by veteran teaching artist Eric Booth, were engaged in an incredibly fertile conversation, in which different models and approaches were presented, all unified by the importance of empowering young people and nurturing creativity as an integral part of our communities.

Read More.