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April 2010
Engaging Young Volunteers
In This Issue
Resources for Engaging Young People
Excerpt: "Supporting Young People in Leadership Roles"
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Is your organization participating in Global Youth Service Day (April 23-25, 2010)? Are you thinking of it as just another "single day of service" where volunteers will come help out and then never be seen again? Think again. A main goal of Global Youth Service Day is "community improvement through year-round engagement of youth as leaders and problem-solvers." We've selected some resources from the Energize Online Bookstore to help you engage youth for the long-term, develop their leadership potential, and reap benefits for your organization for years to come.
Work Successfully with Young People

Children as Volunteers: Preparing for Community Service

Learn how to recruit, train and design assignments for volunteers under the age of 14. Includes real-life examples of volunteer projects accomplished by youngsters and models of successful child-adult teams.

Working Shoulder to Shoulder: Stories and Strategies of Youth-Adult Partnerships That Succeed
Stories and strategies of youth-adult partnerships that succeed, with over 20 reproducible tools to help you engage youth participants to the greatest effect in your organization.

The Youth Volunteer Audit: Best Practices for Engaging Youth as Volunteers
An assessment and planning tool for developing best practices for dealing with young people as volunteers, complete with forms to copy and use again.

Develop Youth Leadership

An Asset Builder's Guide to Youth Leadership
This guidebook starts with the premise that young people can and should be seen as potential leaders and then shows how to put that philosophy into action. Gives advice for adults who want to engage youth in meaningful volunteer roles, with how-to tips for overcoming resistance from others in the organization, recruiting youth to take administrative assignments, running intergenerational meetings, and other keys to success.
Step-by-Step: A Young Person's Guide to Positive Community Change
Use this book to help youth identify what they care about, develop a plan, and follow through successfully. Jam-packed with fill-in-the-blank forms, charts, and questions, this book will help the young people in your family, group, or organization develop leadership skills and become active citizens.
Resources Book Excerpt
Supporting Young People in Leadership Roles

Excerpted from An Asset Builder's Guide to Youth Leadership, Search Institute, 1999, page 48.

Supporting a young person in a leadership role also means being honest and constructive when he or she lets you down, either in terms of behavior or in terms of the work that needs to be done. Your options in these situations include removing her or him from the role or position (this may be impossible if the role is informal); telling her or him how disappointed you and others are; finding someone else to take over; or ignoring the situation and acting like it never happened. All of these possibilities are very deficit focused. They emphasize what went wrong and punishing the young person rather than working to fix the situation. An asset-building approach, on the other hand, turns problems into learning opportunities for everyone involved.
First, talk about what happened and why, and how the situation can be salvaged. One of the key skills of a good leader is knowing when you've make a mistake, being honest about it, and asking for help in fixing it. By encouraging young people to reflect on and be honest about their shortcomings, you help them begin to develop this important competency. You'll also probably find that young people don't usually let others down because they don't care or just don't want to work at success. Most youth want to do things well. But, like adults, they aren't always successful the first time they try something. Most will appreciate the opportunity to make the most of the situation and at the same time rescue their self-esteem.

After you've taken care of the situation, examine where you may have let the young person down. Did he or she not have enough training for the task or position? Were the expectations unreasonable? Were there things you should have done to help, but didn't? We are not suggesting that you dwell on your own failures and insecurities, but rather that you use these occurrences as opportunities to improve your own leadership and the support you offer to young people. By identifying areas where you could have done more, you improve the odds that you'll be better able to support youth leaders in the future. All leaders of all ages need the support of the people around them, especially people who have more experience. 

Permission is granted for organizations to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must provide full acknowledgment of the source, as cited here:
Excerpted from
An Asset Builder's Guide to Youth Leadership, Search Institute, 1999, page 48. Found in the Energize, Inc. Online Bookstore at
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Energize empowers and inspires leaders of volunteers worldwide. Our specialty is creating and selecting the most relevant, innovative resources in volunteer management. We're advocates for the power of volunteers and for the recognition of the leaders who unleash it.
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