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. Whether providng leadership opprotunities, 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!
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.
Meet the 2020-2021 Cohort of Youth Ambassadors
Javonna Grimes, 19
"I am graduated and I still connect with all of my afterschool teachers."
Beacons (YMCA of the North - YMCA Twin Cities)
Minneapolis , MN
Anayre Martinez, 16
"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)
Deborah Adekunle, 16
"The most meaningful part of my afterschool program is the real life skills and experiences I get from those spaces."
PVDYoungMaker, Youth In Action
Aundre Smith, 15
"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
Angeles Mejia-Sierra, 15
"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."
HANDY (Youth Force – L.I.F.E. Program)
Oakland Park, FL
Minche Kim, 16
"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."
Pascack Pi-oneers (FIRST Robotics program)
River Vale, NJ
Quinn Stanford, 12
"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."