Strategic Priority: Visibility and Impact

Strategic Priority: Visibility and Impact

As the CYD Movement works to build support and investment in CYD, increased visibility and evidence of impact are essential. Currently there is low awareness of CYD in general and very little awareness outside of select communities about the ways in which CYD contributes to youth participants’ development of life skills and learning.

The CYD Movement must boldly communicate the practice, core values, and transformative power of CYD. Because cross-sector collaboration is a strategy for CYD to expand reach and resources, and maximize impact, the CYD Movement must also demonstrate its goal alignment with other sectors and work to make CYD practice more visible to these sectors. The overall objective is to make CYD known and recognized as a powerful partner across sectors, resulting in increased support, partnerships, and funding.


  1. Support the CYD field with language and tools to support consistency, clarity, quality, and ease in communicating about CYD and its impact. Determine how to best frame the case for CYD to garner support and attention from policymakers, funders, and allied youth sectors.
  2. Document and boldly communicate national data on CYD program impact and youth outcomes to support individual youth and programs, influence policy, and garner support.

The Partners and Action Teams are actively developing plans for ensuring accountability to the core values of racial equity and social justice, youth voice, and collective action as it further develops and implements key strategies.

Key Actions
1. Create a suite of communications tools, informed by and easily accessible, to the field that convey the key characteristics of CYD and its impact.

Communications about CYD must embody the creativity and quality that are hallmarks of this work. Bold communications play an essential role in advancing the field by creating understanding of this nuanced and varied field of practice, telling meaningful stories of youth impact that resonate and stick, and humanizing the larger social issues that CYD is tackling.

Making it easier for CYD stakeholders to talk and communicate about CYD is an important function of the CYD National Movement. We must provide language that everyone, from board members to teaching artists to development staff, can embrace and use as we spread the word about this profound work. Providing communications tools will support CYD champions in advocating for CYD and will be useful in efforts to secure funding.


  • Publish a concise articulation of what CYD is with updated definition and values, who the CYD field comprises, and goals for advancing the field. Codify core language of CYD practice and principles, April 2018.
  • Collaborate with the Visibility & Impact Action Team to develop CYD communications tools [talking points, facts, quotes, and CYD advocates tip sheet] and make available on Curate what is shared as best practice.
    • With funding secured, contract with a communications agency, with expertise in framing public discourse on social issues, to research and advise on messaging and positioning.
    • Continue to publish regular eNewsletters, organizing content around the Movement’s three Strategic Priorities:  Funding, Visibility & Impact, and Field Building. Continue to incorporate the voices of youth and practitioners in each issue.


  • Lead development of professionally designed and branded communications tools, including a one-page overview of CYD, videos, and written case studies, that clearly and boldly illuminate practice, process, and impact.In collaboration with other Action Teams (Field Building and Funding), generate case studies on effective models and practices to complement the forthcoming case studies on Program Development; Artist & Educator Preparation; Program Evaluation; Working with Youth; Working in Social Justice; Funding, Sustainability, & Partnerships; and Advocacy & Policy that will be part of the AFTA CYD Toolkit (forthcoming in 2019).

2. Launch a national storytelling campaign to boldly communicate CYD as a powerful solution for positive outcomes for youth.

Real life stories of youth experiences in CYD have tremendous potential to make a real difference in awareness and support of CYD. In humanizing the obstacles and challenges of youth participants we will increase understanding and shift perceptions of youth participants’ struggles, which will lead to a more supportive community and to increased investment. We will also lift up and celebrate the work of CYD youth, enlarging perceptions of young people’s abilities and inspiring increased support.


  • Contribute to development and implementation of national storytelling campaign in concert with Visibility & Impact Action Team. The campaign will directly involve youth, practitioners and other stakeholders to surface and share stories, which then can be curated and amplified by the Partnership and partners such as Adobe Project 1324.
    • Publish and publicize stories on and via CYD social media platforms.
    • Share stories in interactions with allied youth sectors, funders, and policymakers as way to convey the essence and power of CYD.


  • Develop strategy and organize a creative storytelling campaign with youth.
    • Help facilitate the involvement of youth, practitioners and other stakeholders in the campaign. E.g., Start hashtag #CYDinAction for youth and practitioners to identify, document, and share stories which then can be curated and amplified by the Partnership in collaboration with partners and champions such as Adobe Project 1324.
    • Have youth create video stories about their work as creatives and develop strategies for publicizing their stories on social media and via other media outlets.

3. Develop and promote a shared conceptual framework for documenting and communicating the impact of creative youth development programs.

In order to build support for CYD, the Movement needs to both touch hearts and penetrate minds. By providing clear and readily usable frameworks, the CYD Movement will help practitioners discuss the impact their work with clarity and precision. In addition, clearly and consistently conveying framework-aligned practices of CYD will help support the integrity of the work and quality experiences for young people.


  • Collaborate with the Visibility & Impact Action Team and Field Building Action Team to create, adapt, and/or adopt a shared framework for understanding and communicating about CYD program impact.


  • Work with the Field Building Action Team to establish an easily, understandable framework for understanding and conveying CYD program impact.
    • Recommendation is to use or build on the widely-vetted Boston Youth Arts Evaluation Project Impact framework, which has an accompanying theory of change. March-April 2018.
    • Provide guidelines for use and context of the framework in relation to other widely used youth program frameworks. Example to reference, or perhaps adapt, is the BYAEP Handbook.

4. Collect and aggregate field-wide data on impact and outcomes through the use of a shared evaluation tool.

A large-scale, national data set that illustrates CYD program impact provides rationale for support and investment and improves the CYD field’s ability to influence policy. Broad use of a single, vetted tool will create a consistent data set, and a large sample size brings credibility to the data.

Development and management of a shared evaluation tool is a priority and opportunity for investment by a research partner and funders. Funding is needed to support development of the tool and make its usage affordable to CYD programs.


  • Identify an existing nationally normed evaluation instrument or collaborate with field to identify a potential research partner with expertise in CYD who could tailor an instrument to capture CYD-specific measures. The goal would be to aggregate and publicize data from individual CYD programs to tell a national story about CYD impact.
    • Help connect research partner with potential funders.
    • Once the research partner has secured funding, help inform the development of the tool and identify a cohort of CYD programs to pilot implementation the tool and publicize findings.
    • Promote widespread implementation and use of the tool.


  • Collaborate with the Partnership to identify a research partner and evaluation tool for widespread use.
    • Collaborate with the evaluator tailoring a tool for CYD.
    • If applicable, participate in the cohort of organizations that will launch use of the tool nationwide.
    • Encourage CYD colleagues to adopt and employ the tool to build a large data set.

5. Develop a CYD national research agenda

Building understanding and evidence are pathways to advancing the field of CYD. Currently the CYD field does not have an articulated research agenda. The act of developing such an agenda will identify and prioritize research needs and opportunities for the CYD field to best support overall field advancement and practitioners in their work.

Development of a CYD research agenda is a priority and opportunity for lead investment by a research partner and funders.


  • Seek a collaborator to work with the Partnership, National Advisory Committee, and Action Teams to identify and prioritize research needs for CYD. Direct the collaborator to solicit the input of cross-sector partners and allies to inform research agenda. We need to know what information might be compelling for potential partners and where the gaps are.
    • Create an online CYD research resource or collaborate with an existing research database, like Arts Education Partnerships’s ArtsEdSearch, to provide a vetted and annotated list of framework-aligned research.
    • Develop and implement a strategy for engaging interest in conducting CYD research among academic researchers.
      • Consider partnering with or building on the research report published by Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Arts-Based Programs and Arts Therapies for At-Risk, Justice-Involved, and Traumatized Youths. One analysis[1] of this report recommends, “The positive outcomes noted in individual programs…as well as the strong theoretical basis of such programs, points towards the usefulness of further research aimed at identifying specific outcomes of arts programs for at-risk, justice-involved, and traumatized youth. Such research could also help isolate the characteristics of effective programs. This knowledge could both inform program design, and help to justify spending on such programs in the future.”


  • Collaborate with the entity developing the research agenda, the CYD National Partnership, and practitioners to identify and prioritize research needs for CYD.

NEXT: Strategic Priority: FUNDING


[1]“Capsule Review: Arts and At Risk Youths” by Katie Ingersoll, November 21, 2016. Retrieved from on January 24, 2017.