Why prioritize youth interests?

Why prioritize youth interests? – Shondrea McCargo

Prioritizing youth interests is critical for the success of the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund (BCYF) and its partner organizations. BCYF was established in 2015 to support community-led initiatives that improve the well-being of Baltimore’s children and youth. To ensure that BCYF successfully serves its intended audience and provides practical strategies for positive outcomes, prioritizing youth interests is essential.


BCYF was created to support Baltimore’s young people. It is crucial to also understand and prioritize youth thoughts, needs, perspectives, and interests to address these challenges effectively. 


Prioritizing youth interests fosters a sense of investment in the organizations that support these populations. When youth feel that their interests are being heard and valued, they are more likely to feel empowered through active participation in a BCYF funded program. They will feel a greater sense of belonging and be more likely to contribute in meaningful ways. It is crucial to understand the needs, interests, and perspectives of youth and involve them in the decision-making process to ensure that BCYF funding is going to community organizations that address their needs and aspirations.


Another advantage of prioritizing youth interests is that it can lead to more sustainable outcomes. Programs tailored to youth interests are more likely to succeed in the long run, as the target audience will feel equally compelled to remain invested in its success. When youth are engaged and their ideas are included in decision-making, they are more likely to feel committed to the program’s outcomes and work towards achieving its goals. When youth are involved in the program, they can become advocates for their communities and work towards creating positive change. By prioritizing youth interests, BCYF can ensure that program activities are aligned with the community’s values and aspirations, building more resilient communities. 


Furthermore, youth invested in community initiatives at an early age are more likely to become community leaders, promoting positive change and creating a better future for themselves and their peers. By prioritizing youth interests and tailoring opportunities for exploration, growth, and mentorship, BCYF can help young people gain confidence and develop leadership abilities creating a pipeline of future leaders equipped with the skills and mindset necessary to effect positive change in their communities. 


In conclusion, prioritizing youth interests is crucial for the success of the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund and the organizations that it supports. By considering and prioritizing youth interests, BCYF can help foster investment in program conceptualization, support the long-term sustainability of programming and identify, promote, and cultivate leaders in Baltimore’s youth.