Youth empowerment evaluation to improve afterschool programming

Jenita Parekh, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Community-based participatory research necessitates that community members act as partners in decision making and mutual learning and discovery. In the same light, for programs/issues involving youth, youth should be partners in knowledge sharing and evaluation (Checkoway & Richards-Schuster, 2004). This study is a youth-focused empowerment evaluation for the Successful Youth program. Successful Youth is a multi-component youth development after-school program for Latino middle school youth, created with the goal of reducing teen pregnancy. An empowerment evaluation is collaborative and participatory (Balcazar and Harper 2003). The three steps of an empowerment evaluation are: (1) defining mission, (2) taking stock, and (3) planning for the future (Fetterman 2001). In a program where youth are developing leadership skills, making choices, and learning how to self reflect and evaluate, the empowerment evaluation could not be more aligned with promoting and enhancing these skills. In addition, an empowerment evaluation is designed to "foster improvement and self-determination" and "build capacity" (Fetterman 2001). Four empowerment groups were conducted with approximately 6-9 Latino 7th grade students per group. All participants were enrolled in the Successful Youth program. Results indicate points where students' perceptions of the program were aligned with the program's mission and where gaps were identified. Students offered recommendations for program improvements. Additionally, students enjoyed expressing their feelings about the program and appreciated that their opinions were valued. Youth recommendations will be brought to program staff; and, where possible, gaps will be addressed. Empowerment evaluations with youth will continue during the duration of the program so that youth involvement and input remains integral in the evaluation and to ascertain whether the program's goals are being met.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Parekh, Jenita, "Youth empowerment evaluation to improve afterschool programming" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1462359.