Youth Development Initiative


The Asian American Civic Association believes teens have the power and can lead themselves and others to live a happy, healthy, and productive life. The Youth  Development Initiative aims to establish a premier environment for youth empowerment and global citizenship. The initiative looks towards the diverse communities– locally, nationally, and internationally– as the ‘wall-less classrooms’ to promote youth leadership and engagement enabling young people to lead and contribute to society. The initiative encourages young people to embrace both traditional and modern values, helping them to develop a human spirit that appreciates focus and discipline. The initiative respects youth’s ever-changing social identity and celebrates their unique existence. The initiative will serve as the support network for families and the resource for schools and communities.

Need Identification and Purpose:

National studies make clear that a lack of structured, supervised activities for youth leave them vulnerable to risky behavior both in after school hours and during the summer. Research also shows that truly engaging out of school time programming can play an important role in boosting youth’s academic skills, overall school success, sense of competence and leadership development. Boston’s – and in particular Chinatown’s – immigrant teen population is characterized by poverty, lack of the necessary tools and skills to become socially self-sufficient, lack of English language proficiency, prevalence of academic achievement gap, and lack of leadership development opportunities. This is further compounded by the lack of after school services for this age group, particularly after 6 o’clock in the evenings and in the weekends.

Five interested issues were identified by a youth focus group in the summer of 2008:

  • “Reflecting on Teens and Jobs”
  • “Roots of Violence, Roots of Peace”
  • “Communication Skills: Gateway to Strong Leadership”
  • “Climate and Environment”
  • “Learning about our Communities, Family History and Heritage”

Based on the recommendation from the focus group, the Youth Initiative addresses the needs of this immigrant youth by delivering activities for employment, career and leadership development and the prevention of school drop-out. The age group served by this program is from 12 – 18 or 6th -12th grade students. The program will open to all low income and underachieving students. Our goal is to provide after school employment opportunities, and to enhance skills in reading comprehension, writing, mathematics, public presentation, reasoning and analysis, while increasing students’ sense of confidence, school success and engagement in learning through a series of involving projects. The program will provide opportunities for students to explore talents and modes of personal expression in areas they do not experience during the regular school day. With so many parents and grandparents of this target group working late in the evening, the center will also provide a safe haven for these teens, keeping them away from high-risk activities.


Youth Development Strategy

Current Activities:

  • Youth Council
  • Sampan Newspaper Youth Voices
  • Entrepreneur initiative: “United Way Go Lucky Green”
  • Financial literacy training
  • Summer Employment

Upcoming Event:

The youth initiative is proud to partner with Junior Achievement to launch an entrepreneur project for high school students in September 2011. Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. It helps to prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneur thinking to the workplace. Students put these lessons into action and learn the value of contributing to their communities.  Click here for more information.