National Action Blueprint

National Action Blueprint

Before coming here, I felt like I did not have a place in the world. After being involved here, I realized that I can be whoever I want and that no one can stop me. This program is like when you take a bite of cold watermelon on a blazing hot summer day. The refreshing feeling takes over your body, and you forget the sun beaming at you with hot rays.
Louisa, age 17, artist, RAW Art Works, Lynn, MA

Youth. Creativity. Now.
Building Opportunities and Support for Creative Youth Development

Detroit, Michigan - Mosaic Singers in concert. The Mosaic Singers are part of Mosaic Youth Theatre, which provides free, professional quality theater and music training for teenagers in the Detroit area. Copyright Jim West.
 Mosaic Singers of Detroit, MI in concert. Photo copyright Jim West.

Executive Summary of the National Action Blueprint (PDF)


All young people will have equitable access to opportunities to develop their creative potential, to live richer, fuller lives and develop the critical learning and life skills they need to become active contributors to their communities.

By 2023:

  • Creative Youth Development (CYD) will be a broadly known, well-researched, deeply respected and richly funded field of practice that reaches communities throughout the United States to provide life-changing opportunities to youth through the arts, humanities, and sciences.
  • Educators, funders, and community leaders will collaborate across sectors to implement Creative Youth Development programs in a variety of context in schools and communities.
  • Youth will have increased access to CYD programs.
  • A broad array of funders will be familiar with Creative Youth Development as a strategy for supporting the development of young people, extending beyond arts-specific funders to include those focused on education, health and well-being, juvenile justice, and workforce development. More funders will be investing in CYD.
  • Creative Youth Development practitioners will have a shared understanding of the defining characteristics and principles of CYD practice as well as shared language, models, research, and tools to help build a case for programs.
  • A robust community of practitioners across the globe will be connected and work to continually refine and improve the practice of Creative Youth Development to best serve young people and their communities.

This National Action Blueprint identifies and prioritizes actionable strategies for increasing equitable access to creative youth development (CYD) for children and youth in the United States. The purpose is to drive collective action to advance the role of creativity in positive youth development.

Stakeholders identified three strategic priorities for advancing CYD:

Hundreds of stakeholders across the country have worked together to prioritize actions in these three strategic areas to holistically support positive change in the lives of young people. Participants include youth, practitioners, researchers, funders, policy makers, and other stakeholders in creative youth development and allied sectors (e.g., mental health, juvenile justice, workforce development, youth development, education, and community development).

This plan represents a shared vision for amplifying promising strategies highlighted in recent research and practice, increasing investment in CYD nationally, and catalyzing action that will bring new resources and support to CYD practice throughout the country. Woven throughout the Blueprint are the core values of the CYD Movement: racial equity and social justice, youth voice, and collective action.

Just as the field of CYD is dynamic, this Blueprint is dynamic and will continue to be revised to reflect shifting landscape, context, needs, opportunities, and resources. To start, we have outlined strategic action for the next 1-3 years. The Blueprint will evolve as implementation unfolds and will be updated online to reflect progress toward goals.

The Blueprint was written by Denise Montgomery of CultureThrive with input from nearly 650 stakeholders and key input from Heather Ikemire of the National Guild for Community Arts Education.

Next: What is CYD and its Impact?