YouthLink was a program that employed young people to use digital media arts to realize their creative voices, explore career options, and contribute to their communities. Students took basic and advanced video or digital arts production classes that culminate in the creation of a portfolio of work. In the summer, students worked as interns at local technology and nonprofit organizations.
Rockman's evaluation focused on the assessment of 21st century skills: abilities such as communication, civic engagement, and critical thinking, considered essential for success in educational and work environments. REA looked at student work for evidence of these skills and their development over time. Rockman also studied the YouthLink students' community support system by surveying internship supervisors, interviewing parents, and tracking attendance at public exhibitions of YouthLink work.
Evaluators concluded that the YouthLink program had achieved its goals of reaching out to underserved teens, providing opportunities to build IT and 21st Century skills through the real-world application of digital technologies, increasing students’ preparedness for advanced education and careers in IT, and creating a community that was supportive of YouthLink students and their technology pursuits. The growth in student achievement from beginning to advanced classes and the high ratings from mentors, as well as the impact statements from graduates and parents, suggested that the YouthLink model of classes and internships was effective for preparing students for the workforce.
One portion of the YouthLink evaluation was published as a book chapter in an edited volume:
Bass, K. M. & Bandy, E. A. (2009). Digital pathways to learning through collaborative media production. In K. Tyner (Ed.), New Agendas for Media Literacy (pp. 28-50). New York: Routledge.
Available upon request.