Youth Development: OST, Mentoring, & Education Equity

Funder: The Wallace Foundation 
Project Time Period: 2014-2023

Project Category: Youth Development/Education & STEAM/Formative Evaluation/Summative Evaluation 

About YAI: MAI, in partnership with Research for Action (RFA), was commissioned to conduct an external evaluation of YAI, a partnership between the Wallace Foundation and Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). The initiative provides innovative, high-quality arts programming for underserved youth, with the aim to stimulate learning, inspire creativity, and encourage self-expression.

The Work: The evaluation was designed to both support BGCA’s continuous improvement efforts and to generate knowledge about their approach that can help strengthen field practice. In the early stages of the initiative, the evaluation team focused on the implementation of YAI in local Clubs, documenting how YAI’s Ten Principles for Success, derived from community art organizations, were implemented at a youth organization that provides a variety of drop-in programming. The formative nature of the evaluation meant that the evaluation team was reporting back timely and actionable information to the local Clubs, BGCA, and the Wallace Foundation, which the organizations used to strengthen the initiative and model. 

What We’re Learning: Download our report on the implementation of YAI, "Raising the Barre and Stretching the Canvas: Implementing High-Quality Arts Programming in a National Youth Serving Organization." 

Download our report on youth experiences in YAI, "Designing for Engagement: The Experiences of Tweens in the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Youth Arts Initiative."

Download the final YAI report in this series, "Setting the Stage: Practical Ideas for Implementing High-Quality Afterschool Arts Programs," which finds that while creating high-quality arts programming does require an investment of resources, Clubs identified strategies to cut costs and learned lessons about what works and what doesn’t work in providing high-quality arts experiences.

Learn about four Boys & Girls Clubs implementing high-quality art skill development classes for tweens and teens who experimented with five different virtual approaches that hold promise for expanding programming. The "Virtual Approaches Hold Promise for Expanding Afterschool Art Programming" brief describes three approaches that reach young people when they can’t be at the programming location and two that expand the reach of on-site art programs. It also shares six key lessons about implementing virtual art programs.