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Youth Communication helps marginalized youth develop their full potential through reading and writing, so that they can succeed in school and at work and contribute to their communities. [more]
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Customized Programs
Customized Programs—Tapping the Power of Peer-Written Stories to Meet Your Goals
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The power of peers is well-documented. The challenge, when working with teens, is to mobilize positive peer pressure. That's what our stories do. We can work with you to tap our archive of more than 6,000 stories, the expertise of our staff, and our distribution channels, to develop custom programs and products that will reach your audience. Contact Keith Hefner for more information, khefner@youthcomm.org, or 212-279-0708 x 102.

Here are examples of interventions we have developed in recent years.

Improve Teaching: Teachers are in the classroom with students every day, but they often have only partial information about what is working (or not working) for teens. If teachers are more aware of what motivates their students, they will be more effective. The College Board contracted with us to have teens research and write a 48-page booklet, "What Makes a Good Teacher?", which was distributed to school districts nationwide.

Reduce the Dropout Rate: Recognizing that peers are highly influential, America's Promise launched the My Idea program to engage teens in developing customized dropout prevention strategies. America's Promise supported Youth Communication's program to have teens who had struggled in school write about the programs and personal changes that helped them get back on track, and distribute those stories to 75,000 peers.

Increase Summer Reading: Youth Communication produced a reading-based summer work readiness program (Real Jobs), and a reading-based neighborhood involvement program (Strong Teens, Strong Neighborhoods). An evaluation of the work readiness program showed that 77% of the participants did additional, voluntary summer reading while in the program.


Reduce Teen Pregnancy: Several foundations and agencies have contracted with Youth Communication to develop and distribute stories on sexual decision-making and teen pregnancy, and to conduct focus groups with pregnant and parenting teens. (In annual surveys of our readers, a substantial percentage consistently report that they "delayed sexual activity" after reading the stories.)

Improve Writing Skills: Youth Communication has developed writing modules for schools and community-based programs, including the Harlem Children's Zone. We have also licensed our stories to many publishers that have included the stories in their their textbooks.

Help Teens Transition Out of Foster Care: We worked with New York City's child welfare agency to develop a website the combines true stories by teens and resources they need for succeeding after they age out of the foster care system.

Support Teen Mental Health: We have worked with the New York City Department of Health, the Partnership for After School Education, and other groups to created and distribute stories and resources designed to reduce the stigma of seeking mental health services, model effective use of those services, and direct teens to good programs.

Increase Census Turnout: In 2000 and 2010, a consortium of New York City foundations wanted to insure that all New Yorkers were counted, especially recent immigrant. Recognizing that teenaged children are often the point where immigrant families interface with official agencies, the consortium contracted with Youth Communication to develop and distribute stories through our teen magazines explaining why teens should help their parents return the forms.


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