Youth Voice

Now more than ever, it is vital to provide youth the opportunity to share their voices and ideas about things they care about. Afterschool is an important space for helping youth develop the confidence and skills they need to share those ideas.
Share your story
Check out our new Youth Voice Toolkit to help you elevate youth voice in your work!

Youth are at the center of quality afterschool and summer learning programs. Their voices need to be heard. Our youth voice efforts aim to amplify the perspectives of youth to inform policy and programming across the nation.

Learn about our Youth Ambassador program, how youth can share their stories, and ways to support youth voice in your own program.

Youth Ambassadors

Learn more about the Afterschool Alliance youth ambassador program and meet our current class of youth ambassadors.

Youth Voice Resources

Learn how you can better leverage and share out the voices of the youth in your program.

Share your story

Tell us your afterschool story for a chance to be featured on our website and for an opportunity to participate in our youth ambassador program.

Afterschool Alliance youth Ambassador Program

Each year, the Afterschool Alliance recruits a cohort of youth to serve as Youth Ambassadors. The cohort is trained as afterschool advocates—receiving training on how to talk about their afterschool experience in the context of the national afterschool field and guidance on how to advocate to policymakers using their afterschool story. For example, we have provided previous cohorts with training on how to write letters to their congressional representatives, op-eds to be placed in local newspapers, and blog posts to be published on the Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool Snack. As part of their ambassadorship, we bring each cohort to Washington, D.C. on an expenses-paid trip to participate in the Afterschool for All Challenge, where they meet with their congressional representatives and offer remarks at the Afterschool for All Showcase on Capitol Hill (provided that travel is allowable and safe, of course)!

Youth Ambassadors, both during and after their term of service with the Afterschool Alliance, also have additional opportunities to share their voice on our national platform. For example, we have had Youth Ambassadors serve as speakers on our webinars and national town halls. We have also featured Youth Ambassadors on promotional materials and connected them with advocacy opportunities at their individual state or local levels. Each Youth Ambassador receives a stipend for their participation in the program, which spans the course of 8 months.

Trinity Ansley

"The program is very family-oriented, and we want students to feel like they belong here while they prepare themselves for college and adulthood."

San Diego Urban League, Project Ready
El Cajon, CA

Jamora Arroyo-Jefferson

"I am excited to advocate on behalf of afterschool programs and highlight the positive impact they have on the lives of students."

PAMM (Perez Art Museum Miami) Teen Arts Council, Miami Waterkeeper Junior Ambassador Program, Breakthrough Miami, and The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade Youth Advisory Committee
Miami, FL

Spencer Harrison

"My afterschool program impacted me not only with learning social skills, but helped me grow strong friendships that are loyal and trustworthy."

Tiger Pride Clubs
Pryor, OK

Madelyn Hinkleman

"When I was in my afterschool program, it became a second home for me. A place where my friends and I felt safe and hung out. Where we got to discover who we were, take risks, and try new things."

South Dakota Afterschool Network
Summit, SD

Katelyn Miller

"I help lead coding programs at the [my afterschool program] so that other kids like me can have the same experience."

Create 205 Lab, Birmingham Public Library
Calera, AL

Avery Reisinger

"What I love the most about my afterschool experience is how it’s not just a classroom. It is being face to face with each other and being able to talk to each other. "

Kids Rank Illinois - Afterschool Club, Summer Club, Youth Advisory Board
Puyallup, WA

Nekayla Stokes

"Communicating with other youth on developing projects and activities that impact youth directly is excellent."

Black Student Union, Delaware Afterschool Network, United Way of Delaware
New Castle, DE

Kyla Anderson

"My favorite activity of my afterschool program is Gaming Club. We play games, mingle with friends, have fun and become more social."

21st century
East St.Louis, IL

Brock Brewer

"My afterschool mentors formed bonds with everyone where no one felt left out. Everyone was treated the same and it built a community of confidence and through that I could spread the feeling of being confident and make friends. "

Youth and Family Link 21st Century Afterschool Program- Huntington
Kelso, WA

Kaiya Jones

"I have a lot of ideas of what I want to do when I grow up... I want to go into the environmental science and conservation area... it's something I'm really passionate about."

Howard County Library Teen Advisory Board
Ellicott City, MD

Juliana Montell

"My favorite parts of my afterschool program are the staff and the connections I make with them."

The Boys & Girls Club of Kennebec Valley
Gardiner, ME

Belen Perez Vasquez

"My afterschool program has made an impact on so many [young] people. Opening other afterschool programs like mine can help kids out and change their point of view on school into more of a positive view."

Community Lodgings
Alexandria, VA

Naomi Porter

"My afterschool program is preparing me for the future with critical thinking skills, how to be adaptable, developing an entrepreneurship mindset, all 21st century skills that I couldn't get from a text book. It's really helped me to think about different carrer paths."

EntrepreYOUership- Boys and Girls Club
Los Angeles, CA

Noah Shaw

"I go to the Millers Family Boys & Girls Club... it's a fun place where people can talk, make conversation, build relationships. It's a great place for [students] to feel safe."

Miller Family Boys & Girls Club
Murray, UT

Ramaya Thomas

"As an apsiring lawyer, I've been able to practice the skills needed to become an attorney while attending my afterschool program. It allowed me to gain some experience and learn that failure is ok. "

VOXATL, The Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project, Mock Trial
Dallas, GA

Zhonghui Zheng

"My afterschool program is a great program for our immigrant school. We practice our English learning skills by speaking to each other, to adults, and out loud in presentations to become more comfortable and confident."

Global kids ( in NYC)
New York City, NY

Deborah Adekunle

"The most meaningful part of my afterschool program is the real life skills and experiences I get from those spaces."

PVDYoungMaker, Youth In Action
Providence, RI

Javonna Grimes

"I am graduated and I still connect with all of my afterschool teachers."

Beacons (YMCA of the North - YMCA Twin Cities)
Minneapolis , MN

Minche Kim

"Being part of my afterschool program - what I love about it is the fact that I get to work with a lot of people and its really cool how hundreds of people on my team are on my side – which is an amazing feeling to have."

Pascack Pi-oneers (FIRST Robotics program)
River Vale, NJ

Anayre Martinez

"Personally I have always wanted to go into politics and become President of the United States, which is a very ambitious goal I have been told, but through afterschool programs I have learned while it is ambitious it is not impossible."

Speech & Debate afterschool program at Miami Arts Studio (school)
Miami, FL

Angeles Mejia-Sierra

"I feel like the most meaningful part of my afterschool program would probably be the sense of community and family that I feel inside of the afterschool program."

HANDY (Youth Force – L.I.F.E. Program)
Oakland Park, FL

Aundre Smith

"One skill I think I will use after high school is connecting – socializing with other people because I used to say to myself that I am antisocial but the program, Keystone and Youth Alliance, helped me have a voice and speak to people."

Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston
Galveston, TX

Quinn Stanford

"The afterschool program has helped me in gaining confidence in talking to adults and getting my point across and also my problem solving abilities…it has taught me to come up with smarter and better solutions to a problem."

Summit Afterschool
Selinsgrove, PA

Halie Gier

"Because of my afterschool program, my siblings and I don't feel these pressures. At LEAP, positivity is a huge factor with what afterschool does for children—these hours of peak risk become hours of peak fun and opportunity."

Eldon Learning Enrichment Afterschool Program (LEAP)
Eldon, MO

Viridiana Gonzalez

"I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without my afterschool program. With my continuance in community involvement I see so many children and parents that are in the same place that my parents and I were in. It is programs like these that allow children to succeed in education and be safe."

The Afterschool Program for Forth Worth ISD
Fort Worth, TX

Tim Hall

"I encourage others to speak up and be heard no matter what their cause is. In my case it’s for afterschool programs. Afterschool works!"

Mountain Home AFB Youth Center
Mountain Home Air Force Base, ID

Ruben Balderas

"My afterschool program has helped me develop different strategies around critical thinking, problem solving, analyzing, brainstorming, time and stress managment and leadership."

WaHi FORWARD Afterschool Program
Walla Walla, WA

Maya Irvine

"When [my afterschool program] came into my life, I realized that there are so many careers and opportunities for students like me."

Missouri’s Camdenton FIRST LASER Robotics Team
Camdenton, MO

HarliJo McKinney

"Afterschool has taught me so much and given me the push to be who I am. It has helped to make me a confident and outgoing person."

C3 Afterschool Program
Stratford, OK

Kaleb Robertson

"I am comfortable in knowing, that whenever I come to the Boys and Girls Club, there is always someone i can go to for guidance, support and advice."

Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay
Green Bay, WI

Marisol Romero

"My afterschool program has made a really big difference in my life. I can't wait to share my story, because I know it's the story of so many students across the nation."

Safe Haven Community Center (21st CCLC and Summer Programs)
Toppenish , WA

Share your afterschool story!

The Afterschool Alliance wants to hear what youth think, feel, or appreciate about their afterschool programs! Youth age 13 & up who share their views in a written, video, or art piece may be featured on the Afterschool Alliance website! Youth whose work are selected to be featured will receive a $75 gift card.

Youth can submit entries online. Consider addressing one or more of the following questions:

  • What has your afterschool experience been like? What do you do, what kinds of activities, what do you like about it and how does it help you?
  • When you reflect on your afterschool experiences, how do you think they have affected who you are or what you like to do?
  • What do you miss the most about your afterschool program from before the pandemic?
  • Has your afterschool program helped you during the pandemic? How?
  • What do you love most about your program?

Submit a video, artwork, essay, or other creative piece (you can upload .doc, .pdf, .jpg or .gif files under 16MB and/or provide a link to YouTube for video or audio entries)--we encourage your creativity! Entrants must be 13 or older and have adult permission to participate. Reach out with any questions to We look forward to hearing your story!


Whether providing leadership opportunities, fostering the development of critical social and emotional competencies, or creating space where youth feel they are being heard and validated, out-of-school-time programs are helping to develop the leaders of tomorrow by turning the mic over to them today! Here are great youth voice resources!

Youth Voices Webinars

From Youth Served to Youth Led: How to build an intergenerational team for impact


The Institute for Citizens & Scholars (C&S) and Afterschool Alliance will host an online webinar moderated and led by students from the Kentucky Student Voice Team (KSVT). The students will share more about the report co-authored by C&S and KSVT, to be published Nov. 8.

Lights On Afterschool Youth Town Hall


Join us for the centerpiece event of the 22nd annual Lights On Afterschool, the nation’s celebration of afterschool programs. Youth from programs around the country will share reflections on the past year and a half and how their afterschool programs have impacted their lives, perspectives on what youth need to thrive, and hopes for the future. A special segment will be devoted to recognizing the powerful role of afterschool program staff and mentors in shaping the lives of young people.

Lights On Virtual Event: Youth Town Hall


You’re invited to our Lights On Afterschool centerpiece event: the Youth Town Hall. Starting at 6 p.m. ET, four youth leaders from afterschool programs (ages 13-16) will speak in a panel/Q&A format, sharing their afterschool experiences (pre and during COVID), and discussing what youth need to thrive.

Youth Voices Blogs

Voters, parents, and youth agree: Afterschool supports mental health
Spotlight on youth voice: What afterschool mentors did for me
Highlights from Youth Voice Week 2023
Afterschool programs expose young people to college and career opportunities