Article

Extending Support to Disadvantaged Urban Youth in Young Adulthood

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Abstract

Most young people in postindustrial societies will not full adult status until their late twenties or early thirties and rely on families and institutions for some financial and social support during this period. Disadvantaged urban youth who are not college bound have access to few resources to help them gain the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to compete successfully in the global economy. This article presents findings of a program evaluation of The Spot, an arts-based, youth driven, grassroots, drop-in center in downtown Denver, Colorado that serves youth ages 14-24, the majority of whom are 18-22. The evaluation provides evidence that a diverse, caring staff, a safe space in which to gather, and a balance between structured and challenging activities and time to "chill" with peers and staff are key components to support young adults as they move toward independence. Over the course of the evaluation, youth participants moved from a role as consultants to one of partners engaged in data collection, analysis and the presentation of results. The evaluation involved the collection of quantitative and qualitative data: this article presents an analysis of the qualitative data to provide context for the quantitative results that will be published separately.

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