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:
create the foundation for success — meet basic needs first;
strengthen organizational and staff capacity to meet new demands;
provide services that support mental and emotional health;
ensure instruction is engaging; and
adapt experiential and work-based learning to the virtual environment.
Delivering services remotely can be challenging — and carry real benefits
Findings & Stats
Getting hardware into the hands of young people was both a priority and a critical lever for addressing equity gaps in access to remote programming, according to the majority of program staff surveyed.
A Shallower Bond
Strong communities foster a sense of belonging. Yet, video conferencing makes the work of building genuine relationships — especially with newly involved youth — more difficult, according to the staff surveyed.
Keeping Students on Track
Staff from one of the organizations surveyed, called the MOMS Partnership, had community health ambassadors text and call participants between sessions to encourage homework completion and class attendance.
Statements & Quotations
The rapid pace of technological change accelerated by the pandemic will only further the need to continue building knowledge about what it takes to effectively provide remote services to youth.
Rather than uncovering new challenges, the circumstances of the pandemic elevated youth’s existing needs and highlighted broad systemic issues that are at the root of racial and wealth inequality.