Investing in Youth Media is a compilation of success stories, lessons, and guidance for grantmakers interested in being part of the vibrant and growing field of youth media. It is a tool to help funders consider the value of youth media in connection to program areas such as civic engagement, the arts, education, youth development, and journalism.
Why are funders becoming interested in youth media? Youth media organizations offer a broad impact that belies their often small sizes and even smaller budgets. They bring together youth development and social justice in a way that is both energizing and authentic. They offer new models for educating young people who have lost interest in school, bring youth voices to public attention, and offer opportunities for artistic exploration and career experiences.
Programs are built on the best practices of positive youth development, teaching young people new skills and empowering them to make smart decisions, explore new horizons, and work toward their goals. Program graduates leave with skills in interviewing, researching, and storytelling. They learn how to develop an idea and stick with it until they get the project done. These skills become important for their professional and personal lives.At the same time, youth media organizations can engage young people in social justice issues that are important to them. Whether it's inequity in education, foster care conditions, or the politics of immigration, young people explore the landscape, develop opinions, and share those opinions, along with their personal experiences, through film, radio, and the printed word. Although they are still too young to vote, these young people have found a way to impact the issues that affect their lives.
While most funders do not have a defined youth media program, many find that youth media is an effective component of their grantmaking strategy. The case studies that follow introduce youth media programs supported by a variety of small local funders and large international philanthropies. They illustrate the links between youth media and six other program areas: youth development, social change, youth voice, education, journalism, media arts, and field building.
The resource list at the end of this publication includes contact information for all of the youth media organizations listed here as well as intermediaries and others who can help you consider, develop, and launch a youth media philanthropy program.