Asset Builder’s Coalition support materials
I was very honored to have an article appear regarding asset building in the October 2011 edition of VOYA (page 354), the Voice of Youth Advocates. My article was entitled Mpact: An Asset Builder’s Coalition and if you are a regular reader here at TLT you know that I am a big advocate for using the Search Institutes 40 Developmental Assets in program planning and evaluation. It also provides a good framework for communicating the importance of what you do to your co-workers, administration, and community. It’s all in the article, read it. In this post I am going to share with you some of the support materials that didn’t fit into the article. You’re welcome.
Getting the Word Out
Getting things organized is often the hardest part. Before you can be a coalition, you need members. So spend some time getting organized. Develop your organizations vision, purpose and goals. Then send out invitations to area organizations that work with youth and ask them to come and share their knowledge and resources.
Text of initial letter sent to community agencies that work with teens:
- To share information regarding individual organizations purpose, goals, and upcoming events.
- To share experiences and generate ideas for marketing and promotion, event planning, and resource sharing.
- To plan a yearly community event for teens
Asset building is a framework that helps provide passion, purpose and communication when working with teens. Your passion and your purpose, to help provide teens with positive assets through your programs and services. And as you communicate with your co-workers, your administration and your community, you help them see how there is value in what you do, in what the library does in the lives of teens and for the community. Successful, engaged teens developing positive assets is not only good for teens – it is good for the local community and all of society in the long term (not an exaggeration, the Search Institute has done the research to back up this claim.)
At our first meeting I shared our vision, purpose and goals while explaining the need and benefit for an asset builder’s coalition:
At our meetings we discussed:
- What are the assets and how do you use them?
- Community organization basics: Define the goals of your organization, basic operating information, who to contact, when to refer. (I really recommend developing a wiki to share this information and allow all participating organizations the opportunity to update and keep it current. In addition, this is a good way to share a calendar of local events to avoid scheduling conflicts.)
- Marketing to teens (Our local United Way marketing coordinator was involved and she shared a lot of helpful information. United Way is really good at marketing.)
- Social media use with teens
- What types of past programming has been successful, and why.
- Basic adolescent development
- Specifics of our communities, the make up, the challenges, local history and eccentricities
Their is power in networking. Libraries today, in fact many organizations today, face a shortage of resources including staff, staff time, and money. Working with community organizations takes an investment in time, but it can reap bigger rewards. Instead of being one teen librarian working to help youth, you become a network of people working to help youth. You know the saying, two brains are better than one; by networking you increase your potential through increased knowledge and increased resources. Plus, there is great benefit to learning what is working well for others and what doesn’t as this can help influence your decision making. And as you share upcoming programming schedules, you help eliminate those conflicts that often arise when you set programming dates and times in a bubble.
The challenge is someone must take the first step and be willing to be the organizer. This takes a tremendous amount of time, energy and commitment. You have to be enthusiastic and patient; just like programming, you don’t necessarily get immediate interest and success. You have to make sure there is someone scheduled to present (cross train) at each meeting. You need an agenda, refreshments, and the ability to keep the conversation going. But most of all, you have to believe that what you are doing is important; we all fail without vision, but together you can create a common vision for the youth in your community.
End Note: Evaluating YOUR Teen Services Program Using the 40 Developmental Assets
We have discussed using the assets to evaluate and communicate your teen services program. At the end of each year I simply make a quick outline of the assets and make sure what we are doing accomplishes what we say we are doing. Think of it as creating a yearly plan and then making sure at the end of the year that you met your goals. Here is an example:
Special thanks to VOYA for the opportunity to share my passion for teens and asset building.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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