Young Women's Leadership Alliance: Youth–adult partnerships in an all-female after-school program

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Abstract

This article describes program strategies and adult practices that can build youth–adult partnerships. In particular, it focuses on strategies to empower girls in all-female after-school programs. The Young Women's Leadership Alliance has involved 164 girl leaders and five adult women leaders over three years. To build the partnerships, adults made two key contributions: provided guidance rather than instruction, and created a place where girls can know and speak their minds. We describe specific practices and draw on analyses of the qualitative data to provide evidence of the utility of the practices for creating youth–adult partnerships that empower and engage girls. Three program practices may be particularly relevant for all-female programs: legitimizing a range of leadership styles, creating a way for all voices to be heard, and creating a norm of respectful disagreement. This article also highlights the importance of peer relationships in building effective youth–adult partnerships. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Comm Psychol 33: 87–100, 2005.

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