Mapping Opportunities for Alignment

Mapping Opportunities for Alignment

Three girls in white T-Shirts hold blue cups and paint brushes in from of a brick wall. They are in the process of painting a mural on that wall. Photo courtesy of Mural Arts Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA.
Mural Arts Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA.

Key Areas of Outcome Offer Opportunities for Allied Youth Sectors to Partner

The challenges that young people face are not ones that any one nonprofit, school, government agency or family can face alone and that ensuring young people’s academic, professional, and personal success demands that we serve them holistically and in a coordinated way from “cradle to career.” This Blueprint is designed to activate collective action to increase equity and access for youth to high quality CYD.

CYD Outcomes

Numerous independent research studies document and illuminate positive youth outcomes through participation in CYD, including social and emotional development, academic achievement, and positive relationships with peers and adults. To encapsulate the positive outcomes that occur for young people who participate in CYD programs, the Boston Youth Arts Evaluation Project (BYAEP), a partnership of practitioners, program evaluators, and funders, developed the following theory of change:

BYAEP's Framework for Outcomes in Youth Arts Programs_framework

If youth participate in high-quality arts programs, they will develop specific skills and  competencies (I Create, I Am, We Connect), which, in turn, leads to a set of intermediate outcomes (able to engage and be productive, to navigate, and to make connections with others), which in turn leads to a set of long-term outcomes (resiliency, self-efficacy and personal fulfillment, and community engagement) that together constitute life success.

Find out More About the BYAEP Framework and Theory of Change. The BYAEP framework is consistent with other models of a theory of change for CYD, for example Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit’s Excellence on Stage and in Life: The Mosaic Model for Youth Development Through the Arts, which categorizes the key outcome areas of its CYD program as Skills, Self, and Society.

With a growing body of evidence  to support these three areas of impact, more attention is beginning to be paid to the important of creativity in positive youth development. For example, in 2017 the U.S. Conference of Mayors issued a unanimously endorsed resolution titled, “Access to Creative Youth Development for At-Risk Youth” in support of CYD in communities across the nation. The field is also coalescing towards a move to collect and aggregate larger bodies of data documenting youth outcomes via CYD. This recommendation is discussed in greater detail in the Visibility & Impact section of this Blueprint.

“The arts allow young people to engage in a way that meets them where they are…the arts allow kids to get in touch with their feelings, whatever rage might be inside, whatever socioeconomic factors they might face.”
Alex Johnson, Managing Director, Californians for Safety & Justice; Board Member, Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network. Remarks made on February 7, 2018 at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, CA at a cross-sector forum on CYD organized by the CYD National Partnership.

CYD Alignment with Allied Youth Sectors

“The arts programs are the most popular programs among teens and young adults at our community centers funded by the City of Los Angeles. They are uniquely engaging…involvement in an arts program can open the door to the acceptance of other services by youth who have been disconnected, such as employment workshops or needed mental health services. All of this can change the fundamental trajectory of young people’s lives…the arts can be a doorway or an on-ramp.”
Robert Sainz, Assistant General Manager at City of Los Angeles and head of the City’s Economic and Workforce Development Department. Remarks made on February 7, 2018 at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, CA at a cross-sector forum on CYD organized by the CYD National Partnership.

As allied youth fields such as juvenile justice, health and wellness, and workforce development increasingly take a youth development approach, leaders in these sectors and movements are building awareness and recognition of the ways in which CYD aligns with and supports mutual goals. CYD programs and organizations are forming cross-sector partnerships and alliances as strategies to connect with more young people, build engagement, and diversify and grow funding.

With this National Action Blueprint the field of CYD is poised to move forward into heightened recognition as a powerful solution for positive outcomes for young people and toward increased investment and opportunities for youth. The work of implementation of these strategic priorities is underway. Together, as young leaders and creatives, teaching artists and practitioners, funders, and policymakers, we will work to realize the vision of equitable access for all young people to creative youth development programs.

Learn More:
The CYD National Partnership commissioned the Forum for Youth Investment, a national organization providing leadership on policy and programs across the allied youth sectors to revisit its three-year research project investigating youth readiness with a CYD-specific lens:

Recent article on power of cross-sector collaboration:


Next: Strategic Priority: VISIBILITY & IMPACT