How to Start a Youth Program

by Jamie M. Kisner

Starting a youth program will take some careful planning. Youth programs can save lives, improve the quality of life and create a foundation of hope. Therefore, in establishing a youth program, it is vital to cater to the needs of a target group. This will enable the best experience possible for the youngsters. There is no one way to go about starting a youth program, but there are strategic steps to help ensure that the path to helping young people is a successful one.

Determine what kinds of kids you plan to serve. There are social-economic, special needs, target age groups and gender-specific programs to consider. Create a business plan to organize the thoughts surrounding the program idea. Use the (SBA) Small Business Administration template to get started online. Remember: For the program to exist, it must make a significant difference.

Find out if there are similar programs in progress. It is prudent to review their curriculum structure and see how your youth program can be established. This research may provide information on how to obtain funding, instructors and more. Seek direction from the U.S. Find Youth Info website.

Design the curriculum for the program and take a survey on the interest level among youth in your local area. Quantify the approximate level of interest. Seek a contract agreement for space with a facility that already serves youth. Provide the facility operator(s) with estimates on the the level of interest and the proposed curriculum.

Establish the program at a multipurpose gym, a school, or other secure building; you want to avoid safety and liability concerns as much as possible. Typically, schools have guards on duty, so the expense of hiring someone is spared.

Make agreement/permission slips for the parents to sign, as authorization of their children's participation. Preferably, have the permission slips notarized to ensure the authenticity of the parents' signatures. Review all aspects of the youth program with parents, including the backgrounds of all the instructors. Liability issues must be addressed, so seek counsel from an attorney.

Market the program at local community centers, churches, schools, etc. Describe a few of the activities in person or through printed materials. Try to include pictures of youth engaging in the activities using stock photos. For example, if you are offering yoga, you should have a picture of someone doing the exercises. Include the youth program's start date and contact information in all marketing presentations (i.e., brochures). Your youth program will begin when youngsters start to enroll.

Items you will need

  • Facility
  • Curriculum
  • Equipment
  • Instructor(s)
  • Background checks
  • Teaching credentials (optional)

Tips

  • Follow the advice of the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth, a resource of the Family and Youth Services Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Make getting parents' permission as easy as possible. Refer a mobile notary to parents to help save them time trying to find one. And protect yourself in handling legal authorization matters.

About the Author

Jamie M. Kisner currently works as a South Florida entrepreneur of JMK Notary & Services and a Miami-Dade College instructor. During her spare time, she writes online content for a variety of sites, including eHow, Digital Journal, Bukisa and Homeless Voice. She holds a master's degree in business administration from Florida's Nova Southeastern University.

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