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Finding Community and Forming Identity: Exploring the Role of Youth Programs Serving Blacks and Latinos.

ERIC Descriptors: Child Development; High Schools; Leadership Training; Self Concept; Student Attitudes; Study Abroad; Surveys; Urban Schools; Urban Youth

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An evaluation of the International Youth Leadership Institute (IYLI), summarized in this IUME Brief, helps fill the gaps in knowledge about how youth programs help Blacks and Latinos negotiate their adolescence and attempt to form an integrated sense of self. IYLI, founded in 1989, is an academic leadership development program for Black and Latino high school students (called Fellows) that provides leadership training and exposure to international education and career options through biweekly seminars and overseas study in Africa and Latin America. Since its inception, IYLI has been staffed by a core group of volunteers, all of whom have been of African descent. Selection to the program is based on interest in leadership, community development, and global affairs. Academic standing is not a basis for selection as a Fellow, although applicants must submit a school transcript so that staff members can offer appropriate academic support. Following IYLI's seventh year of operation, 29 Fellows, representative of the total of 109 participants over the years, completed a survey or participated in focus groups about the experiment. Seventy-five percent were girls, while 69% were Black, 10% Latino, and 21% of mixed heritage. Fellows reported that the program met their expectations, and they saw the overseas study as particularly significant. Fellows were split between perceiving Black and Latino youth as having the same or some same and some different identity needs and concerns, but their perceptions of adolescence and identity reflected their cognitive strengths. They tended to draw a connection between their participation in IYLI and identity, and they valued achieving a positive sense of self based on ethnicity. Overall, IYLI was able to meet the developmental needs of its participants because its aims and practices aligned with the reasons why Fellows joined a youth program. The evaluation of IYLI provides insight into adolescent and identity development and highlights the significance of continuity between home and school institutions for Black and Latino youth. (Contains 16 references.) (SLD)

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Author:Wilcox, Susan
Publication:ERIC: Reports
Date:Oct 1, 1998
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