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

Afterschool and summer learning program aren't only youth-serving organizations—often, they're youth-led, dedicated to passing the mic to young people to amplify their voices and empower them to make decisions and take action about the issues that matter most.

Watch the video to hear from our Youth Ambassadors. Below, you'll find details about our Youth Ambassador program, access our Youth Voice Story Collection portal, and explore how you can support youth voice in your own out-of-school time 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.

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, appreciate, or miss 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.

Your entry may include a response to one or more of the following questions:

  • What was your afterschool experience before the pandemic? What kinds of activities did you participate in? What did you like about about your program, and how did 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 are you looking forward to most when your afterschool program re-opens?

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 info@afterschoolalliance.org. We look forward to hearing your story!

Resources

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

Lights On Virtual Event: Youth Town Hall

10/22/20

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.

Lights On Virtual Event: Youth Entrepreneurship

10/21/20

Youth Entrepreneurship invention activity and live panel.

Virtual Town Hall: #Afterschoolworks to Support Learning & Recovery

05/28/20

The National Town Hall celebrates the many ways afterschool programs have risen to the moment to help their communities respond to the pandemic, and looks ahead toward afterschool and summer learning programs' critical role in recovery. Read the follow-up Q&A document here.

Youth Voices Blogs

There is still time to apply to be a 2021 Afterschool Alliance Youth Ambassador!
Working on afterschool program's podcast "helped me find a future for myself."
"I believe that my afterschool program had a positive effect on who I am."
My afterschool experience: Before and during the pandemic