Youth Development

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What is Youth Development?

Excellent programs in youth development should provide participants with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to be successful in school, in their communities and in the world at large. The National Urban League’s Signature Program in Youth Development developed the Framework and Guide (YDFG) is a research-based resource that to helps Urban League affiliates to build or enhance their youth development, out-of-school time and afterschool programs. The YDFG allows for a range of different approaches and focus areas, because affiliates work best in relation to local opportunities.

The goal of YDFG is to develop fully prepared, engaged and empowered young people with the cognitive, social and cultural skills needed to compete and succeed in the 21st century. Our approach achieves this by promoting and supporting meaningful professional development, capacity building and program development throughout the Urban League movement.

Youth success is often chiefly attributed to school-based factors, when in fact it depends on an array of educational and developmental opportunities. As experts such as Karen Pittman of the Forum for Youth Investment rightly suggest, “problem-free” does not mean “fully prepared” youth, nor does it equate to being “fully engaged.”

The National Urban League’s YDFG programs are appropriate for children in three age groups: elementary school, middle school and high school. YDFG describes skill-building programs in three areas:


  • Early & Sustained Literacy
  • Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM)
  • Postsecondary Success (Project Ready)
  • Artistic Expression & Literacy
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Media Literacy


  • Social & Cultural Identity
  • Service Learning
  • Environmental Advocacy

Physical & Relational

  • Health & Wellness
  • Fitness & Recreation

Each content area connects across age-spans. For example, the Media Literacy content area will have a P-5th grade component, a 6th-8th grade component and a 9th-12th grade component that can link together to form a developmentally appropriate 13-year pathway.


How big is it?

More than 1,200 youth were served in 2010.


What have YDFG participants achieved ?

Youth Development success stories abound throughout the movement. Click here to read just a few, from a two-year-old who became a classroom leader in Houston to 22-year-olds who went from high school dropouts to college students in Akron.


Who sponsors it?

Sprint / Nextel
U.S. Army
Verizon Foundation

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Success Stories

NEW ORLEANS - Yesterday, the Urban League of Louisiana's Women's Business Resource Center (WBRC) received the Region VI Women's Business Center of Excellence Award during the Louisiana Small...
Malika M. came to the Urban Youth Empowerment Program at the Fort Wayne Urban League in 2018. Malika was a quiet and shy 15-year-old who was a student with good grades at Concordia Lutheran High...