Empower Youth to Strengthen and Leverage their Social Capital
Empower is the fourth domain of the Social Capital Framework. It focuses on empowering youth to leverage their web of support as they pursue their life goals.
Empower Youth Agency
Young people are active agents in their own growth and development. It is important to support youth in a way that empowers them to take steps to strengthen their own skills and use their talents and assets towards their goals.
Youth-serving organizations and staff can work with youth by supporting their relational skills, helping them build confidence and self-efficacy for pursuing life goals, and fostering a commitment to paying-it-forward.
Key Principles to Empower
Youth have skills to build meaningful relationships.
Strong relationship-building and networking skills are key to building strong developmental relationships and expanding one’s network over time. These skills take practice and may not come naturally to everyone. Youth-serving organizations and staff can support young people by giving them a safe environment and opportunities to practice these skills.
Youth believe in their own strengths and have confidence to pursue goals.
When youth believe in their own abilities and have confidence in their capacity to overcome challenges and reach their goals, they are more likely to take initiative, set and achieve meaningful goals, and develop into resilient individuals.
Youth are inspired to help others.
Encouraging a commitment to paying-it-forward instills a sense of social responsibility and community engagement. When youth are inspired to give back and help others, it not only benefits the recipients but also fosters empathy, compassion, and a greater understanding of the world around them. This commitment empowers youth to be active agents of positive change, contributing to their personal development while also making a meaningful impact on their community.
Success Story from the Field
Luis felt frustrated and disheartened by his school experience, resulting in inconsistent attendance and disconnection from his coursework. The traditional academic setting failed to engage him, but his teacher, Ms. Miles recognized something unique in Luis and was determined to help him find his passion.
Ms. Miles, observing Lui’s potential, introduced him to a vocational tech afterschool program. This piqued his interest, and he decided to check it out. This afterschool program proved to be transformative for Luis, as he discovered his passion for sound engineering. As he became more involved in the program, his attendance became more consistent, and the program became a haven for his creative aspirations. Here, he spent countless hours with his friends, delving into the intricate world of sound, from capturing to mixing and reproducing audio for videos and personal projects.
While his passion for sound engineering was undeniable, Luis found himself at a crossroads. He was acutely aware of his struggles within the traditional academic structure, and the field of sound engineering was largely uncharted territory for him. This uncertainty left him feeling stuck, unsure of how to translate his passion into a viable career.
It was at this critical juncture that Luis began to connect more with Leo, a dedicated youth worker who had frequently engaged with him. Leo had a professional connection in the sound engineering industry. Upon learning about Luis’s interest in sound engineering, Leo seized the opportunity to introduce his contact to the afterschool program, shedding light on the professional journey that lay ahead.
Luis’s face lit up with excitement and hope as he absorbed the insights and advice shared by the industry professional. Inspired by the presentation, Luis expressed interest in reaching out to explore education and career possibilities in sound engineering. However, he found himself hesitating, as it felt uncomfortable to reach out to a stranger and start asking questions.
Recognizing Luis’s nervousness, Leo offered to help him prepare for an informational interview. The assistance was not exclusive; the youth in the afterschool program joined forces to practice these crucial conversations, creating a safe and supportive environment. With every role-played scenario, Luis’s confidence grew.
With the support of his peers, Luis successfully navigated the informational interview. Armed with newfound confidence, he asked insightful questions and gained invaluable insights into the field. The interview not only clarified his path but also led to an opportunity for hands-on experience with sound engineering projects.
The Youth Opportunity Checkup