Empowering Youth Through Community Engagement

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Community Youth Outreach

Community youth outreach is a multi-channel strategy for getting teens involved with your organization’s goals. Text messages and phone calls are effective tools for reaching this demographic.

Increasingly, communities are taking the opinions of their young people seriously. Some are allowing youth to sit on library councils and parks and recreation boards.

Educating the Community

A number of community youth programs help disadvantaged people develop into healthy and productive members of society. They provide counseling, mentorship, case management, and support. Their goal is to help people avoid violence and delinquency. They also strive to build sturdy bridges of trust between the communities and the police force. They do this by creating friendly relationships with the young.

Many of these organizations rely on the expertise and networks of youth to identify local needs. They organize community forums and encourage participants to discuss solutions.

A community youth outreach program can also host events to promote its mission. An example would be a live video event to keep children and teens engaged throughout summer break. These events can be a great way to raise awareness and get new members. They can even be used to collect donations. These live videos can be posted on social media and other platforms to reach a wider audience.

Governing Body Leadership

In many communities, youths can become involved in community service by participating on a local youth council or commission. These formal bodies advise and inform government councils or boards on youth-related issues and organize civic engagement opportunities, such as citywide surveys.

Getting the word out about your youth group is critical. A simple way to reach out is to text supporters and volunteers with updates about the group’s upcoming activities. This method has a high open rate and can be an effective communication tool for younger demographics.

One church group used this approach to promote its upcoming winter yard sale by asking supporters to donate old coats and gloves and volunteer their time. These donations and volunteers helped the church raise over $3,000 for its outreach initiatives. In addition to leveraging donated items, this strategy also builds rapport with supporters and allows the organization to communicate directly with them. This is important because, as research suggests, some youths don’t respond to email or social media messages.

Community Cleanups

A community cleanup can involve the entire neighborhood or a targeted area such as a park, sidewalk, street, churchyard or schoolyard. Neighborhood clubs and associations, youth groups and sports leagues often have a lot of volunteers and can mobilize quickly. They also may have equipment such as garbage trucks and backhoes to handle bulky waste.

Identifying the supplies that are needed and arranging for them to be available on the day of the cleanup is important. A supply checklist is helpful to avoid leaving out key items such as trash bags, hand sanitizer and water bottles. If there are enough volunteer numbers, dividing them into small groups helps to improve organization and efficiency.

Holding a celebration at the end of the cleanup makes people feel good, acknowledges their work and demonstrates the importance of the effort. It can also serve as a recruiting tool for future events. After the event, the overall coordinator can write or assign others to write thank you letters to local businesses and community members for their support and to prepare a report for the community organization’s next meeting.


For many mentees, mentoring through community youth outreach is their first exposure to professional networking. Mentors can provide a valuable introduction to job opportunities and provide resources for a mentee’s career development. Mentees also gain an awareness of their potential to become a mentor one day and can benefit from the network established with their mentor.

Formal mentoring programs vary in how they select and match mentors with mentees. Key matching criteria include professional areas, demographics (e.g., gender, age, race), and human interest factors (e.g., hobbies and lifestyles). In addition, mentees often identify with mentors who share important values and attitudes.

Street outreach programs send workers on foot or in vans to find homeless youth and engage them respectfully in conversation, providing food, water, supplies, and referrals for housing and other services. The relationship parallels that of a counselor and client, but is not therapy. The basic tenets of counseling are applied to the mentorship: positive regard, boundaries, active listening, and ethical behavior.

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