Serving Youth Remotely

Strategies for Practitioners

Posted April 19, 2021
By Urban Institute
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Programs that serve youth ages 16 to 24 can play a critical role in improving education and employment outcomes, especially for youth of color and youth from low-income families. Although there is an emerging body of evidence about what works for these youth, little is known about how to best deliver services remotely.

Enter the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced programs — including those with no prior experience providing services remotely — to adapt to remote service delivery.

This resource guide shares creative and promising ways that organizations are delivering education, training, employment, and mental health services to young people. It also singles out efforts aimed at helping all youth — regardless of their race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status — access and benefit from remote services.

To create the guide, researchers interviewed staff members at 21 youth-serving organizations, including community-based nonprofits, national nonprofit intermediaries, universities and colleges, public agencies, and education and training institutions.

The final document presents six core strategies and identifies key issues, challenges, promising practices and tips for each approach. These strategies are:

  1. create the foundation for success — meet basic needs first;
  2. strengthen organizational and staff capacity to meet new demands;
  3. provide services that support mental and emotional health;
  4. build community;
  5. ensure instruction is engaging; and
  6. adapt experiential and work-based learning to the virtual environment.

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations

Key Takeaway

Delivering services remotely can be challenging — and carry real benefits

Embracing remote programming can be tough, but it’s also an opportunity to connect more youth and young adults to important services. For instance: The remote model has the potential to introduce different learning formats to youth who are grappling with emotional trauma, rigid work schedules, parenting demands, resource constraints or other factors that can make it difficult to pursue in-person support.