Youth are at the center of quality afterschool and summer learning programs. Their voices need to be heard. Our youth voice efforts aim to center the perspectives of youth informing policy and programming across the nation.
Learn about our work below, including the Afterschool Alliance Youth Ambassador program, the Collective for Youth Empowerment in STEM & Society (CYESS), our partnership with the Million Girls Moonshot Flight Crew program, and how you can support youth voice in your own program.
CYESS – an initiative of the Afterschool Alliance – aims to elevate youth voices, providing them with the STEM experiences and civic training they need and preparing adults in organizations to be ready to listen and engage.
Learn more about the nationwide initiative from STEM Next Opportunity Fund to bring millions more girls into STEM learning through afterschool and summer learning. Our youth voice team at the Afterschool Alliance supports this initiative as an implementation partner for the Flight Crew!
Dive into the resources below to learn more about how you can better leverage and share out the voices of the youth in your program.
Each year, the Afterschool Alliance recruits a cohort of youth from across the country to serve as Youth Ambassadors. The cohort is trained as afterschool advocates—learning how to effectively communicate about their afterschool experiences with elected officials, media, and others in leadership positions, and how to use their afterschool stories to advocate for change. 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 Afterschool Alliance virtual events, U.S. Department of Education webinars, and national town halls. We have also featured Youth Ambassadors on promotional materials and connected them with advocacy opportunities at their state or local levels, particularly connecting them with their State Afterschool Networks. Each Youth Ambassador receives a stipend for their participation in the program, which spans the course of 8 to 10 months.
Afterschool Youth Ambassadors and other young advocates take center stage during Youth Voice Week, an annual celebration of young people raising their voices in support of the programs that matter to them. This exciting week of advocacy allows us to hear directly from young people in afterschool programs about their passions and experiences, through blogs, social media content, and live events like Youth Town Halls.
IGNITE Afterschool Program
Elsik Debate Club
Broward Youth Coalition of United Way
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows
Young Voices RI
Life Pieces to Masterpieces
Gadsden City Schools 21st Century Afterschool Program
ComED Youth Ambassadors, Black Male Leadership Academy
After-School All-Stars South Florida
San Diego Urban League, Project Ready
El Cajon, CA
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
Tiger Pride Clubs
South Dakota Afterschool Network
Create 205 Lab, Birmingham Public Library
Kids Rank Illinois - Afterschool Club, Summer Club, Youth Advisory Board
Black Student Union, Delaware Afterschool Network, United Way of Delaware
New Castle, DE
The Boys & Girls Club of Kennebec Valley
Speech & Debate afterschool program at Miami Arts Studio (school)
Eldon Learning Enrichment Afterschool Program (LEAP)
The Afterschool Program for Forth Worth ISD
Fort Worth, TX
Mountain Home AFB Youth Center
Mountain Home Air Force Base, ID
WaHi FORWARD Afterschool Program
Walla Walla, WA
Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay
Green Bay, WI
Safe Haven Community Center (21st CCLC and Summer Programs)
Toppenish , WA
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 to expand youth voice efforts in afterschool programs: Use this Youth Voice Toolkit to integrate more youth voice in your work!
Youth Voice And Choice2/23/23
The March 2023 U. S. Department of Education Engage Every Student webinar, "Youth Voice And Choice," spotlighted the Every Hour Counts' Powered by Youth Voice initiative and youth survey, as well as the Afterschool Alliance's Youth Voice Toolkit. Three of our Afterschool Alliance Youth Ambassadors spoke on a panel during the webinar, sharing about their experiences in afterschool and how their programs had a positive impact on their lives.
From Youth Served to Youth Led: How to build an intergenerational team for impact12/01/21
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 Hall10/28/21
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 Hall10/22/20
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.