Youth clubs are a powerful, yet often underutilized, way to reach young people. Research has shown that clubs complement formal schooling and that they play an important role in knowledge acquisition and skill building. Skills learned in clubs, such as how to plant a garden, open a bank account, work as a team, or perform for an audience, can also help youth develop essential life skills. Evidence shows that extended participation in high-quality clubs correlates with youth well-being, and improved outcomes in educational attainment, health, and civic engagement, as well as decreased risk behavior.
For clubs to be effective, they must be safe, stable, and structured. Youth must feel comfortable enough to learn, which means the safety, predictability, and ownership of the club are all critical. What youth learn in a club is also dependent upon how skills are developed, and how they build to more complex ones.
The goal of this toolkit is to improve the quality of clubs and to help Volunteers identify areas for their club’s improvement. The toolkit is written for anyone who wants to start a youth club or enhance its impact. It outlines many evidence-based, easily implemented, and best practice approaches, including for a club’s design and structure, the safety of club members, the role youth play in leading clubs, engagement and support from the broader community, diversity and inclusion in club participation (including leadership roles for girls and young women), and ways that clubs and camps can build on each other to strengthen long-term effectiveness and sustainability. It also highlights minimum quality standards, a short list of specific, “doable” actions that reflect the global evidence base around effective clubs.