Strategies for Evaluating and Improving Latino Youth Development Programs
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Latino students in the United States are often portrayed in a negative sense: high drop-out rates, low postsecondary education rates, and high crime rates, to name a few. Youth development programs give Latino students an opportunity to build their strengths and leadership skills to give them the motivation they need to overcome such obstacles in their lives. The purpose of this Applied Research Project is threefold. First, it describes the model of a Latino Youth Development Program through a review of literature. Next, it assesses the National Hispanic Institute's Great Debate program using practical ideal type components. Finally, the project provides recommendations based on data collected using focused interviews. Research on literature pertaining to positive youth development programs shows three major components of what programs should offer to students. The practical ideal model of a Latino youth development program includes providing a sound program structure, individual development for the student, and adult interaction. Results show that the National Hispanic Institute (NHI) provides students with a sound program structure. NHI also provides students with many opportunities to collaborate with the organization as creators of activities and curriculum for the young leaders program, which in turn seems to strengthen their resiliency and leadership abilities. Based on the model, NHI is in need of improvement in the area of adult interaction. Although there are many opportunities to lead within the organization, students are not given adequate time with their parents, with adult mentors, or even with adults in their communities.