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Youth Development: The Public Benefit
Key Research

At-risk students who have access to the arts in or out of school also tend to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement, according to an NEA report, The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies. The study reports these and other positive outcomes associated with high levels of arts exposure for youth of low socioeconomic status. Among the key findings:

  • Better academic outcomes - Teenagers and young adults of low socioeconomic (SES) status who have a history of in-depth arts involvement (“high arts”) show better academic outcomes than low-SES youth with less arts involvement (“low arts”). They earn better grades and have higher rates of college enrollment and attainment.

  • Higher career goals - There is a marked difference between the career aspirations of young adults with and without arts backgrounds.

  • More civically engaged - Young adults who had intensive arts experiences in high school are more likely to show civic-minded behavior than young adults who did not, with comparatively high levels of volunteering, voting, and engagement with local or school politics. In many cases, this difference appears in both low-and high-SES groups.

Learning in 3D: Arts and Cultural Programming in Afterschool
Julia Gittleman, Ph.D., Mendelsohn, Gittleman & Associates, LLC (Fall 2007)

The Massachusetts Commission on Afterschool and Out-of-School Time, co-chaired by Senator Thomas McGee of Lynn and Representative Marie St. Fleur of Boston, released this issue brief highlighting the benefits of including arts and culture in afterschool programming statewide.

Key findings:
The brief identifies a list of best practices, finding that successful youth arts programs:

  • Recognize that art is a vehicle that can be used to engage children and youth in activities that will increase their self-esteem
  • Make the delivery of the program a collaborative effort among the artist, social service provider, teacher, agency staff, children, youth, and family
  • Recognize and involve the community in which the youth live
  • Provide a safe haven for children and youth
  • Use age-appropriate curriculum that is essential in developing appropriate activities
  • Emphasize dynamic teaching tactics such as hands-on learning, apprentice relationships, and the use of technology
  • Culminate in a public performance or exhibition in an effort to build participants’ self-esteem through public recognition
  • Have high standards and opportunities to succeed
  • Offer sustained engagement
  • Provide opportunities for active and reflective learning

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