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Aspiring Urban Youth for Success

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Young People
Wordcount: 3241 words Published: 24th Nov 2020

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Through a series of podcast, I look to focus on how community leaders and organizations can help to bridge the negative gaps with urban youth ages 10-17, through collaboration and community partnerships.  An analysis of urban youth has shown that they have a higher probability than peer of differing groups to go down a wrong path, if they are not being engaged by positive role models at home or in their community.  The despair amongst urban youth is hard to miss when there is daily news coverage highlighting various issues that involve urban youth.

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My research indicates that by having early intervention to help youth identify barriers, they are more likely to find ways to graduate high, pursue higher education, develop career, life goals and objectives as well as put them into actions. The primary focus is finding ways, we can work together to address the common denominators and trends with youth crimes, school dropouts, teen pregnancy and drug use.  In return, the youth will gain awareness of triggers and learn how to become leader’s in their communities and promote positive change. 

It was a pleasure to interview three community-based organizations for my podcast series, 2 are located in St Louis, MO and 1 in Los Angeles, CA.  During my podcast series, I found that although the organizations have different initiatives, they are all focused on how they can help urban youth become successful.  These organizations were selected based on their strong commitment to success of urban youth.  While creating a podcast series is no easy feat, it is a convenience and free way to get a message to a wide audience of listeners.  By downloading the Anchor podcast APP from your cellphone carrier, APP Store, one will be able to use their phone or tablet to record, create and edit the podcast. One downside to a podcast is that, it is a live recording and therefore one will be unable to detect any sound or noise issues until after the recording has been completed and go back to listen at the recording.  My lesson learned was when recording a guest virtually, you must tell them to use a microphone and to not use the speakerphone option because it will cause an echo in the recording.  Although the podcast is edited to pull together a polished finish product, one cannot edit or erase background noise. What was most positive about this podcast experience was learning and being motivated by the speakers on tools and techniques they are using to reach youth in the community.  During the podcast with Mr. Scaife from United Way, mentioned that there are kids in the Ready by 21 program that have voiced a desire to learn how to conduct a podcast series.  I plan to partner with the group in the New Year to provide some training to the youth on how to create, edit and produce podcast series. I am excited about this opportunity, and look forward to putting my Master’s in Communication to work as soon as possible.  The biggest challenge of a podcast series is coordinating with guest speakers and finding a time that meet both person schedule.  By being able to conduct the interview virtually now, does save time and is more convenience.

My podcast series consist of three episodes:

Series I:  How the Community Aspire our Urban Youth | Interviewed Tony Terrell - Los Angeles Inner City Youth Program

Series II:  Ready by 21 | Interviewed Marcel Scaife - The United Way

Series III:  Aspire Youth | Interviewed Marlon Chambers - Local Juvenile Court Liaison


What do you think is causing urban youth to fall behind their peers of differing cultural groups?  What do you see as the underlying issues and what can we do collectively to fix the problem?  Through a series of podcast, I seek to find a way to encourage urban youth from age 10-17 years and lead them to a more positive lifestyle. This project is also about letting youth know that they do not have to be a statistic or a product of their surroundings. They must make good choices through being empowered to be leaders and not followers of bad choices.  This project is important because, youth feel the need to be accepted by their peers; therefore, they tend to get involved in situations because their friends are doing it, just to be part of the group.  Society has urban youth stereotyped as most likely not to succeed and unfortunately in a lot of cases the youth view themselves the same way. This is mostly due to the lack of exposure to positive encouragement at home or there surrounding.  They have had to live their young lives seeing no hope for better.  With my project I want to aspire our urban youth for success so that we have no child left behind.  While this project is geared toward youth age 10-17, I can see where it might be beneficial to young adults as well that are not feeling empowered to reach their goals.

Literary Review

What strategies are needed to spark a positive change? The goal of the literature review is to showcase community leaders and organizations collaborating to help urban youth reach a common goal, “Success”.   A large number of the urban youth do not have a lot of positive outlook in their lives and often times are faced with peer pressure.  Youth feel the need to be accepted by their peers; therefore, they tend to get involved in situations because their friends are, just to be part of the group. Hence leading to crime, school dropouts, teen pregnancy and drug use.  In some cases, youth are acting out for various reasons, some due to their basic needs (such and food and clothing) and personal overall well-being are not being fulfilled at home.  My goal is to inspire and empower urban youth through a series of podcast focused on giving them hope which correlate directly to my communication major.

Model of Positive Youth Development

Researchers suggest that high school graduation rate for African American students are significantly lower and slower than those of other comparable groups. This is especially true of African American male which leads to low success in the job market.  Hence this is the reason there needs to be more collaborations to help improve youth academic advancement.  The Empowerment Today is a creative and interdisciplinary strategy develop by two social workers that found a way to link public and higher education, public health, hip hop and other strategies to improve the personal and academic success of male African Americans.  This enable young men to empower themselves by identifying barriers to graduation, pursue of higher education, find strategies for overcoming barriers, develop goals and objectives and put them into action, (Travis, 2010). The programs used prior research to highlight the importance of education and the need for programs that extended beyond the classroom and school walls. It further highlights the positive impact of mentorship and modeling as well as the necessity for high school collaborations.  The program also built a partnership with the schools to identify students who could benefit from early intervention.  The Empowerment Today program consisted of a full-day event, hosted by University male adult members who identify as African American.  The objective was to encourage positive energy amongst African American male with focus on education plus goals, with objectives and actions. This was also a time where the participants in the program had an opportunity to meeting and talk with other African American male students that were successful completing high education. The connection was to not only talk about positive change but show the youth examples of others males take action to be successful. While this program was deemed a success there are several opportunities for continuous improvement in areas of experiential activities.

The Youth Empowerment Strategies (YES) project

While the articles used in this research agree that youth that are faced with high rates of poverty, substance abuse, homicide, teen pregnancy and high school dropout rate lack the resources, mentorship and guidance needed to seek other avenues. In most cases this type of despair leads to hopelessness, powerlessness and no sense of purpose in life (Link & Phelan, 2000).  Programs like the “Yes Project” is a positive way to give back to the community and help to pull the youth up in the process. The Yes Project is one of the key components to empowerment is through dialogue and reflection that leads to actions.  Early intervention is key because some youth lives are permeated by poor influences due to growing up in poor neighborhoods and must learn to adapt to the rules of the game or become victim to it.  They replicate what they see in their environment, causing a repeat cycle of violence, drugs, incarceration and tragedy.  The Youth Empowerment Strategies project serves as a reminder that youth can rise above their poor conditions and initiatives like this is here to help them. 

African-American Youth and Exposure to Community Violence: Supporting Change from the Inside

Establishing a focal group for at risk children is a main focus for the individuals involved in this program.  They wanted to give the children a voice in providing a solution to their stressors. Majority of children dealing with behavior issues are exposed to violence, lack coping skills and do not have adult support to assist with processing violence.  Children expose to community violence as a victim, an offender or witness to violence is at an alarming high rate is drawing the attention of the CDC and also linked to signs of depression and anxiety. The community violence has a direct correlation to youth with problem behaviors and perpetrates aggression and violence (Fowler, Tompsett, Braciszewski, JacquesTiura, & Baltes 2009).  For the average American, we do not have to deal with this type of concern, therefore, it is important to understand the definition of community violence or more importantly behavior that is considered community violence. The National Center for Children Exposed to Violence defines community violence as “the exposure to acts of interpersonal violence committed by individuals who are not intimately related to the victim”.  These acts can include sexual assault, burglary, use of weapons, muggings, the sounds of bullet shots, as well as the presence of teen gangs, drugs, and racial divisions (National Center for Children Exposed to Violence, 2010).  This program has sort out the help of churches, community, civic organizations and school systems combat systemic causes of violence in the community.  Some of the programs that have been setup are gun buy back program to eliminate guns on the streets and anti-bullying programs at schools to instill a safe environment.  This group has gone a step further by working with the schools and community to setup an escort service for children in vulnerable neighborhoods and an after-school program aimed at helping youth be successful and know there are other options beside gang involvement as well as give them a safe zone (Sanderson & Richards, 2010).                            


The Resilience theory authored by Michael Rutter reflect on how adverse life experience can impact children in an unhealthy way. Resilience is how one bounce back or resist to crack under pressure. The resiliency model of prevention focuses on risk and protective factors.  Protective factors are characteristics statistically associated with a decrease in the vulnerability to a health risk.  Resilience is the ability of individuals to remain healthy even in the presence of risk factors. In this theory there are 7 C’s of resilience—competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control.  It is a plan for helping people develop the skills and abilities to make them happier and more resilient. Research on this topic is driven by the following questions:  What is the difference for youth whose lives are impacted by disadvantage or adverse situations?  How is it that some children successfully overcome traumatic life challenges and grow up to lead a competent and well-adjusted life? The answers to such questions would give important strategies for implementing the effects of adversity on child development and well-being (Masten, 2012).  Ann Masten is a professor at the Institute for Child Development at University of Minnesota known for her work on resilience and the impact of severe challenges on children and families. She figured out that resilience is a combination of what she calls “ordinary factors” such as their relationships, family, and individual differences such as personality, and even genetics. (Masten, 2001).  Michael Rutter utilized the Person Process-Context Model.  This model streamlined the process for researchers to study the correlation between risk and protective factors.  Rutter outlined six significant predictors of resilience. 1. Stressors--this initiate the resilience process and cause a disruption in stability in the individual, family, group or community.  2. The External Environmental Context—this includes the level of risk and protective factor’s in the child’s environment such as school. 3. Person-Environment Interactional Processes-this is the process between the child and their environment. The child passively or actively attempts to adapts and overcome stressful environment to build a safer situation.  4. Internal Self Characteristics-this is the spiritual, cognitive, behavioral, physical and emotional strengths needed to cope in different tasks, cultures, and environments. 5. Resilience Process-short term or long-term flexibility or coping procedures adopted by the individual through gradual exposure to increasing challenges and stressors that help the individual to bounce-back. 6. Positive Outcomes-successful life adjustment regardless of stress, risks and traumatic experience means that a person has a higher chance of success when faced with negative events later on in life.


This section outlines the methodology of how urban youth that has positive mentorship, engagement and opportunities tend to succeed at a higher level.  During research for my literature review, data found that early positive intervention and influence is key to changing the mindset of youth and the community stigma.   This collaboration the study aims to help understand why youth in urban communities are not succeeding at the same rate as their peers of differing race.  In quantitative groups, qualitative research is commonly viewed with suspicion and does not hold weigh because it involves small samples which may not be representative of the broader picture, it is seen as not objective, and the results are assessed as biased by the researchers' own experiences or opinions. In qualitative groups, quantitative research can be seemed as over-simplifying individual experience in the case of generalization, failing to take serious researcher biases and expectations in research design, and requiring guesswork to understand the human meaning of aggregate data (Hammarberg, 2016).  Through my podcast series, youth will gain knowledge about avenue to help them become successful and spread that in their communities.  The podcast series is available by downloading the Anchor App from your phone carriers Play Store.  The podcast link has been shared publicly on multiple youth groups on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as shared with the youth organization that were interviewed during the podcast.  The target audience is 10-17-year-old urban youth but any age could benefit from the positive message shared by each of the community leaders.


All in all, by community leaders modeling positive behavior and establishing empowerment opportunities urban youth will begin to see value in themselves and want positive change.  It takes the mindset of the village raise the child in order to see change in our youth.  The youth must begin to have pride in themselves and take responsibility for their action. What I have learned through this research is that negative self-image limits urban youth perception of themselves and what they feel they can accomplish.  Although there are many programs that provide mentorship, there are few that are exposing them to environments where they can see positive change and new possibilities. It is most important for urban youth to see modeled positive behavior.  One can only be expected to aspire to the level of their exposure. The programs that are a part of my podcast series are allowing youth to see beyond their immediate communities through new experiences.


  • Fowler, P. J., Tompsett, C. J., Braciszewski, J. M., Jacques-Tiura, A. J., & Baltes, B. B. (2009). Community violence: A meta-analysis on the effect of exposure and mental health outcomes of children and adolescents. Development and Psychopathology, 21, 227-259. doi: 10.1017/S0954579409000145
  • Hammarberg, K., Kirkman, M., de Lacey S.; Qualitative research methods: when to use them and how to judge them, Human Reproduction, Volume 31, Issue 3, 1 March 2016, Pages 498–501, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dev334
  • Link, B. G., & Phelan, J. C. (2000). Evaluating the fundamental cause explanation for social disparities in health. In C. E. Bird, P. Conrad, & A. M. Fremont (Eds.), Handbook of medical sociology (5th ed., pp. 33-46). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Masten, A. S. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American Psychologist, 56(3), 227-238. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.56.3.227
  • Masten, A.S., Tellegen, A. (2012) Resilience in Developmental Psychopathology: Contributions of the Project Competence Longitudinal Study, University of Minnesota: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ac49/c266c144cf4358a6bc0829ed516296939149.pdf
  • The National Center for Children Exposed to Violence. Community violence.  Retrieved from http://www.nccev.org/violence/community.html
  • Sanderson, R. C., & Richards, M. H. (2010). The after-school needs and resources of a Chicago community: Surveying youth and parents for community change. American Journal of Co mmunity Psychology,45, 430-440. doi: 10.1007/s10464-010-9309-x
  • Sarah Zeller‐Berkman, Occupying Youth Development: The Pitfalls and Potential of Literacy Policies and Youth Development, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy55, 8, (748-750), (2012).
  • Travis, R., & Deepak, A. (2011). Empowerment in context: Lessons from hip-hop culture for social work practice. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work. 20, 203-2


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