Evaluating Community Programs: Youth Voluntarism & Delinquency

In Resources by Beyond Research

The Evaluating Community Program study evaluates existing youth community programs at Beyond Social Services. Funded by the Changi Foundation, the study examines the effects of various community-based youth programs on low-income youth volunteers and participants, specifically in the curtailment of youth-related delinquency.

Taking from realist evaluative practice, and the Circle of Courage Model, the report makes assessments across five key mechanisms—the development of (i) belonging, (ii) mastery, (iii) independence, (iv) generosity, and (v) identity as well as self-esteem.

Our findings suggest that community programs can, in specific capacities, serve as useful buffers to hedge against forms of youth delinquency, as well as other community-related transgressions.

These effects can emerge in varied ways, whether by providing youth with a sense of connectedness to their communities, both persons and location, as well as a space to discuss difficult issues pertinent to their neighbourhood. In addition, programs can also support youth in the development of relevant skills across various areas of life, including scholastic performance, as well as professional trajectories. Most notably, these developments can serve to kindle feelings of achievement, often with positive effects on youth self-esteem.

Our findings however also suggest limitations to community-based programs. Because existing programs only target the community, they remain less effective in addressing extraneous variables (including financial stability and inadequate family support) that may lead to forms of youth delinquency or other community-related harms.

Thus, it is recommended that interventions aimed at minimizing youth-related delinquency in low-income communities ought to remain comprehensive, by attending to relevant motivators at all levels of the interpersonal, community, and national.

Read the report here.