Mass Cultural Council logo
Home / Blog / Youth / Evolving Challenges Faced by Creative Youth Development Organizations

Evolving Challenges Faced by Creative Youth Development Organizations

Erik Holmgren, Program Manager

group photo of youth artists and other community members in front of a mural hanging on a brick wall in a library.
Youth artists with Elevated Thought and community members pose with a library mural they created.

Mass Cultural Council’s YouthReach is the longest continually running support program for Creative Youth Development (CYD) work in the United States. Started in 1994, this program has invested more than $15 million into more than 100 organizations in its 27-year history.

In FY22, YouthReach proudly provided $1,584,000 to 72 Creative Youth Development programs that focused on infusing youth development with creative experiences in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences.

During the previous fiscal year (July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021), CYD organizations throughout Massachusetts continued their pivot toward providing basic human services needs and implementing new practices developed during the pandemic, including:

  • Inclusion of hybrid virtual programming and access to technology
  • Diversifying curriculum – amplifying youth and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) narratives
  • Providing increased support for individuals and families
  • Engaging new artists

Mass Cultural Council has recently published findings from the FY22 YouthReach grant applicants’ final reports that describes the evolving challenges faced by CYD organizations during that year. The data in the report was provided by 69 CYD programs and represents a range of disciplines, rural and urban environments, and youth participants of various ages.

Key findings from the FY22 YouthReach Final Report:

  • The number of youth enrolled in CYD programs increased by 9.1%, after dropping by nearly 20% during the previous fiscal year.
  • CYD organizations identified three primary areas of need for their work in the near-term, including:
    • Staffing Challenges: Organizations faced numerous challenges related to the pressure of staff burnout, staff absenteeism, turnover, and leadership attrition.
    • Mental Health: Organizations faced increased pressures related to the mental health needs of the young people they served and demands on staff to increase their communication and support of families for issues of food insecurity, housing, and basic health needs.
    • A Need for Consistent Networking and Support: Organizations shared that they welcome more professional development resources to support their staff, their teens, and alums. They also desired more opportunities for networking with other CYD organizations, schools, and universities via convenings, etc.

Mass Cultural Council Support

Mass Cultural Council and several partners throughout the state are addressing these areas of need through a number of programs and convenings throughout FY23 and beyond. This work includes:

Download the FY22 Final Report Findings

Back to Top